John Riley’s Daughter by Kezi Mathews
1. Explain what is wrong with Clover Martin and how it happened.
2. Describe who the following characters are: Naomi, Memphis, Clover, and Aunt
1. Retell what has happened between Memphis and Clover in the opening chapters.
2. Who is Samson, and why is he so important to Memphis?
1. Tell how this story would be different if told through the eyes of Clover rather
2. In Chapter five a stranger takes Memphis by surprise at home. Explain what you
would do in similar circumstances.
1. What would happen today if a child (or an adult with pretty severe disabilities)
disappears? How would it be different than 1973?
2. How would you feel if you were John Riley’s daughter?
1. In the end, Memphis says, “ I’m coming to understand that home isn’t brick or
board. It’s a feeling of belonging, of being at peace right where you are.” Explain
what helped Memphis come to this conclusion. And, if you were Memphis, would
Prediction Guide: John Riley’s Daughter
1. Who do you suppose is John Riley’s Daughter? Why would someone refer to
herself as someone’s daughter rather than by her own name?
2. Before the opening of chapter one, the author quotes a passage from the bible. Job
28:12. What could this seven word question tell you about what might happen?
1. When and where do you think Clover will be found?
2. Will Naomi forgive Memphis for starting another battle with Clover and making
her run off?
3. What do you suppose that guitar is so important to Memphis?
1. Do you think John Riley will show up through the course of the book?
2. Will they find Clover at the store? Will Memphis own up to starting the fight with
1. Do you think Clover is truly lost or is she, like Memphis said, “ What is Clover
trying to prove?”
2. At the end of chapter three why is Naomi “in the front yard, running back and
forth screaming, “No! No!”
1. Why would folks be talking about Memphis and the Greely boy?
2. Why did Rebecca Simmons mother tell her “to stay a country mile away from the
likes of you!”
3. What do you think happened to Memphis’ guitar? Why?
1. Why would Memphis look in Clover’s room?
2. Describe the man who comes to the door.
3. Will she tell Aunt Birdie and Naomi about the man at the door? Why?
1. Why do you suppose Memphis doesn’t really believe Clover is missing? What
purpose does this serve her?
2. “Its canopy of pines and live oaks met way up overhead, dripping down Spanish
moss laced with wild pink and white azaleas. Every living thing in there knew
when you showed up.” Describe a natural place in your own neighborhood. Also,
explain why Memphis is going there.
3. Why does Memphis think the Sheriff wants to talk to her?
1. “But when it seen me, it knowed who to come to, who’d take care of it.” Who will
do this for John Riley’s daughter? Who loves her best?
2. What kind of trouble is going to come from Memphis stepping on that red rock?
3. Samson says, “ in no way did it remind me of clover [the possum]” but does it?
1. Who does Naomi blame?
2. What is the sheriff trying to find out?
3. Who else does Naomi blame? Find a quote to prove it.
1. What is Naomi implying with the words, “nobody in my family ever looked like
2. Who did Aunt Birdie want to marry? How would all the things be different then?
3. Will the famous bloodhound find her? What makes you think so?
1. What do they need to track her?
2. What surprise happens at the end of chapter ten? Will it happen again?
1. What does Memphis do during the terrible wait?
2. What story does Samson’s mama tell to maker her feel better?
3. Do they find her?
1. How did Memphis learn about Clover’s condition?
2. What really hurts Memphis at the end of chapter 12?
1. “ I know you’re sorry, Memphis. But that doesn’t make things right. That doesn’t
undo the damage.” Who do you agree with here?
2. Are you glad Aunt Birdie asks her to stay with her, why?
1. Does Naomi ever really forgive Memphis?
2. Does Memphis forgive John Riley?
3. What happens to Samson, and in the end, how is Memphis changed?
Multiple Intelligence projects for
John Riley’s Daughter by Kezi Mathews
Pretend you are Memphis and write a letter of apology to Naomi for what happened.
Create a venn diagram (intersecting circles) comparing Naomi to Aunt Birdie. Be sure to
list what they have in common, and differences too.
In chapter 6 Mathews describes the pine woods. Using whatever natural elements you
can, create a piece of art that depicts the mood of that description. (for example: moss,
leaves, bark, etc.)
In small groups, pick a key scene to recreate. It can be one that played on or off screen in
the book. Use the book as a guide for your screenplay of the scene, but add in details like
gestures or set design of your own.
Listen to the song “Tie a Yellow Ribbon” that is mentioned on the first page of the book.
What do you think of it and why? Have you ever heard any other music from this era?
How are they different from the music of today?
As part of the scene to re-enact decide how to divide the labor of the project fairly.
Decide who should be in charge of what, and how each member will be held accountable
for their contribution. Should grades be given by the teacher or partly by team members
too? Think about all aspects of the production before assignments are decided upon.
Make a contract, and hand it in to your teacher before you begin work.
Journal slam. Write at least five notes back and forth between you and a friend who is
also reading John Riley’s Daughter. Be sure not to give anything away to your friend, but
discuss the book at length. Be sure to comment on characters, and plot…especially what
you think will happen next and why. Comment on any descriptions you think are
especially well drawn, and even admit to each other if you got lost and why. All letters
must be turned in together.