“Questions, Questions, Questions” | A Gift from Chapter XI of Miss Missy’s School

Dear Readers and Their Grownups,

We’re just about one-third of the way through Miss Missy’s School Book I: A Pack of Farm Dogs Starts a School. You will never guess what happens in this chapter!

If this is the first “gift” from Miss Missy’s School you’ve seen, the gift is the gift of family reading. We’re posting excerpts–sometimes whole chapters–from the book for middle-grade and young adults, and their grownups. We’ve compiled all of the links to the gifts on a single, easy to navigate, page. In addition to links for online reading, there are also links to printable PDFs of each post so that you don’t have to look at a screen during family reading time if you’d rather not.

If you have a minute, please share this. Missy, booklover that she is, doesn’t really do social media, but Miss Missy’s School is on Instagram. As one reviewer said, “Miss Missy’s School is a wonderful story with something for people of any age, making this a great book to read all together.” I’d hate for your family and friends to miss out! 

Before we get started, I thought you might find this pretty cool.

Tommy finds all sorts of interesting things when he and Bebe go to the lake or into the woods.

See those things that look like chips of wood? The two on the bottom are petrified wood–wood that has been turned into stone, or more acurately, fossilized wood.

The chips on the top are two small chips that remained after the beavers chopped down a tree near the watershed of the lake.

XI: Questions, Questions, Questions

IT WAS A VERY pleasant afternoon, a bit chilly but nice. The people had finished their Saturday chores, including putting the shutters on the porch windows. The Big Dogs— including Tiger the Cat— had finished theirs, too. They all gathered on the porch to relax before Saturday Supper.

Bebe and Tommy— no one called him “Little” anymore!— were nowhere to be seen. They were down by the watershed of the lake examining the beavers’ lodge. Bebe would rather have gone swimming, but Tommy wanted to make some careful observations. Bebe figured she could find some new sticks the beavers had chiseled, so she went along.

Noticing their notable absence, Marica took the opportunity to ask how Tommy was.

“Grew like a weed this summer, Ma’am!” Aubrey answered. “And wearing me plumb out, to tell the truth. I can hardly do a thing without him asking me question after question. ‘How does Mr. John’s swivel chair work, Mommy?’ And ‘Why does Caroline plant cabbages in the fall?’ And ‘How do beavers build a lodge?’ It’s exhausting. I jest don’t know the answers to all of his questions. What was it he insisted you teach him the other day, Gil?”

“The Greek alphabet,” Gilbert said with a smile. “That blew me away! He’s so inquisitive.”

“Tell me about it!” Caroline agreed. “I was planting a cover crop up in the tomato garden when Tommy passed by. ‘What’s a cover crop?’ ‘What’s nitrogen?’ ‘Why do plants need nitrogen?’ I finally just told him to go ask you, Mom!”

“And ask he did!” Marica exclaimed. “He has such a keen interest in gardening. I ended up giving him an old horticulture book to study.”

Seems everyone had a story to tell about Tommy’s insatiable curiosity.

[snip; more stories about Tommy asking questions]

“Oh my. I am very sorry everybody. Tommy should know better than to waste your time like that,” Aubrey said a bit embarrassed.


“Oh no! Rocky’s one hundred perrrcent correct,” Tiger insisted. “It’s wonderful that Tommy’s mind burrrns with currriousity.”

“John! John! You simply must tell your story,” Missy implored.

“I wish I could, Missy, but I need to get started on supper. You were there, you tell it,” he said. “Hey Marica, can you please come and help me find that pot I like to use for chili?”

[snip; Missy tell’s John’s story about Tommy and ice cream! When she was done, “Everyone laughed because everyone knew the feeling.”]

“He has so much to learn,” said Aubrey shaking her head. And then after a few seconds she said, “But come to think of it, so do I. Jest the other day I had to ask Miss Caroline who Queen Victoria was. She seems like such a nice lady. Wish I knew more about her.”

“My Dear,” Gilbert said sweetly, “As someone once said, ‘Learning is not attained by chance, it must be sought for…’ Perhaps we can find a book about Victoria in Marica’s library.”

“Ruff!” Rocky offered to help. He knew where Marica kept her collection of English history books.

Missy sighed and said thoughtfully, “As you all well know, I adore books. But books can only take one so far. I have tried, on many occasions, to use books to teach myself Euclidian geometry. And on many occasions, I have failed miserably.”

This was a stunning confession from Missy. It led to many minutes of silence wherein they all sat quietly reflecting on what they knew they did not know.

“You know what?” Aubrey broke the silence. “You know what we need? … ”

As Someone Once Said

“Learning is not attained by chance, it must be sought for…” Abigail Adams (1744-1818) self-educated, patriotic, and influential woman during and after the American Revolutionary period. She was the wife of John Adams (second President) and mother of John Quincy Adams (sixth President). The letters Abigail and her husband wrote to one another show her strong influence on him and his thinking. A witty and cheerful woman, she “mixed laughter with learning.”

Don’t forget to share this gift with your friends and family. Here’s the page that lists all of the gifts so far! Thank you.