Book Club: A Lion to Guard Us

Our Family book club had another meeting this morning. This time it was at our house and we discussed A Lion to Guard Us.

My kids all really enjoyed this book, as did I. There was SO much to explore in this book and I could've taken a lot of different angles. For time's sake, I had to leave out things like famous places/icons in London, the Bermuda Triangle, island vegetation and wild life, and building a model of Jamestown, VA.

Well in advance of the meeting I asked parents to help their kids create a diorama depicting one of the many settings in this book. Here are the dioramas that my girls did:
This one depicts an island setting with palm trees (above).

Here's another (below) depicting the night the kids were kicked out of Mistress Trippet's house and ended up on the docks at night where they met a crazy woman who wanted to snatch Meg away.

Other settings could include Miss Trippet's house, Dr. Crider's home, the ship, or Jamestown.

So here's how our 1 hour meeting went today:

We started by discussing a few lead in questions from below until we had established the living conditions of the children and their plight in life. Then we made biscuits (the ones Jemmy and Meg may have eaten on the steps with their stew behind a closed door).

Baking Powder Biscuits (makes about 1 dozen)

1/3 cup shortening1

3/4 cups all-purpose flour

2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

3/4 teaspoon salt

3/4 cup milk

Heat oven to 450 degrees. Cut shortening into flour, baking powder and salt with pastry blender until mixture resembles fine crumbs. Stir in just enough milk so dough leaves side of bowl and rounds up into a ball. (Too much milk make the dough sticky, not enough makes biscuits dry.)Turn dough onto lightly floured surface. Knead lightly 10 times. Roll 1/2 inch thick. Cut with floured 2-inch biscuit cutter. Place on ungreased cookie sheet about 1 inch apart for crusty sides, touching for soft sides. Bake until golden brown, 10 to 12 minutes. Immediately remove from cookie sheet.

We continued to work our way through the critical thinking questions/activities as we prepared the biscuits. THen while they were baking we had each child present their diorama.

We then held a character vote. I listed 5 main characters on the board and provided each child with a ballot to vote for one of the five as their favorite. We discussed "characters" and the voting process. The ballots included a space to draw a picture of the favorite character. The ballot box was an empty kleenex box.

By then our biscuits were more than ready so we ate and discussed a few more critical thinking questions from below.

I had planned to do the copper polishing experiment, but we ran out of time. Our family did this experiment on our own today instead of our regular science lesson. See below.

Critical Thinking Questions

1. What is the father’s name? Why did James Freebold travel to Virginia? He was a carpenter and they asked him to help build houses in VA. Why did the rest of the family have to stay behind in London? Because VA was a wild place not ready for women and children.
2. Why is the brass lion’s head door knocker important to the Freebold children?
5. Why does Amanda decide to journey to the New World?
6. According to Ellie, why does Mistress Trippett want to keep the Freebold children in her home?
7. Why does Mistress Trippett feel she is entitled to Amanda’s money? Why does Amanda disagree?

Fainting: Read and discuss the following information. Can your student determine the cause of Mistress Trippet’s fainting?

Fainting is a temporary loss of consciousness due to a drop in blood flow to the brain. The episode is brief (lasting less than a couple of minutes) and is followed by rapid and complete recovery. You may feel lightheaded or dizzy before fainting.
When you faint, you not only experience loss of consciousness but also loss of muscle tone and paling of color in your face. You may also feel weak or nauseated just prior to fainting, and you may have the sense that surrounding noises are fading into the background.
Fainting may occur while you are using the bathroom, coughing strenuously, or when you have been standing in one place too long. Fainting can also be related to fear, severe pain, or emotional distress. A sudden drop in blood pressure can cause you to faint. This may happen if you are bleeding or severely dehydrated. It can also happen if you stand up very suddenly from a lying position.
Ask the kids to act out Miss Trippett’s fainting spell.

9. How does Dr. Crider help the children on the night they are chased out of the Trippett house?
10. Why do the children have to travel in the hold of the ship? What are the living conditions in the hold? Dark, crowded, smelly, no place to lie down.
14. Who is it that often carries the lions head and polishes it? (Jemmy). Why do some people aboard the ship think the lion’s head door knocker is made of gold? (Jemmy told the children it was gold because he wanted to show them he had something even more important than their toys).

Copper Cleaning Experiment

While she is sitting in Dr. Cinder’s kitchen, Amanda thinks to polish the copper pots and pans. What is copper and why do copper objects need polished? Copper is a rock found in the ground. It is a kind of metal and looks like a brownish reddish orange rock when it is found. Copper is a good conductor or carrier of heat. Copper is used to make wires, plumbing pipes, doorknobs, faucets and even lamps and jewelry. Copper in small amounts helps plants grow. Copper tarnishes or changes color and looks dirty when it is exposed to air. Did you know pennies have copper in them? They do, and copper pennies, like copper pots and pans tarnish. How do you clean copper? Let’s do some experiments to find out? Our question to answer is What kind of cleaner will work best to clean copper? Create a chart and make a prediction or hypothesis about which cleaner: dish soap and water, vinegar and baking soda, lemon juice, household cleaner or toothpaste, will clean copper best. Then set to work testing your prediction. Results: The lemon juice and vinegar and baking soda should work to clean the penny the best. The acids in the vinegar and lemon juice react with the metal (copper) in the penny and clean the tarnish off.
Alternative: silver polishing.

16. Why do you think the composition of the lion’s head door knocker is so important to the ship’s passengers?
19. What do they find to eat on the island? Eggs, fish, wild pigs (pork) served on leaves. What do they build their houses with? Rocks, Logs, Branches, mud, and palmetto leaves for roofs.
Do you think the children enjoyed living on the island? Why?
20. Describe Mr. Freebold’s condition. Will he be okay?


  1. I am really happy I found your blog. I am considering homeschooling my kids (they are only 2 years and 4 months old now, but I am trying to educate myself on all the options). I have a question. It might be a silly one, but I moved to the US 5 years ago and don't know everything about education. Did you write critical thinking questions yourself or did you get them somewhere?


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