1. How is The Story of Edgar Sawtelle a coming
of age novel?
2. What is the significance of the epigraph to the novel, taken
from Charles Darwin''s The Origin of Species? How
does it relate to the story it precedes?
3. What role do mysteries play in the novel? In what ways is
The Story of Edgar Sawtelle a mystery?
4. Telegrams, the shape of words, muteness, barking, crossword
puzzles . . . what is the importance of words in The Story
of Edgar Sawtelle? And what about things that can''t be
put into words?
5. How are Sawtelle dogs different from other dogs? What role do
they play in the telling of the novel, and how do their perceptions
change your view of the human characters?
6. What is the significance of the chapter titles (such as "A
Thin Sigh," "Pirates," etc.) Did any surprise you, or give you
7. Hamlet is famously about a son seeking revenge for
his father''s death by poisoning (to be a little reductive).
How does The Story of Edgar Sawtelle echo
Hamlet? In what ways is it different?
8. How is death and mourning described and experienced
differently at different times in the book?
9. How would you characterize the relationship between Edgar and
his mother, Trudy?
10. How would you describe the pacing of The Story of
Edgar Sawtelle? What effect does it have on your
experience of the book?
11. How does The Story of Edgar Sawtelle
compare to other books you have read which are prominently
about animals? What makes it better or worse?
12. What is the importance of magic in the novel?
13. To what extent does Edgar create his own problems?
14. What role do settings play in The Story of Edgar
15. "As they worked, they put the sky in place above, the trees
in the ground. They invented colour and air and scent and gravity.
Laughter and sadness." Describe the different kinds of
training in the book and what they contribute to your sense of the
characters and the story.
16. Why does Edgar leave the farm without waiting for Trudy''s
17. "He wouldn''t have gotten into the car with Henry if he
hadn''t trusted him. There were moments when Edgar understood Henry
better than Henry understood himself. What Henry couldn''t see was
that, ordinary or not, he was trustworthy. That much was clear as
day." How is trust important in the novel? How do people, and dogs,
18. In what ways is The Story of Edgar Sawtelle
an American book?
19. In its glowing review of the novel, The Washington Post
Book World said that the idea of "a story about a mute
boy and his dogs sets off alarm bells. . . . Handicapped kids and
pets can make a toxic mix of sentimentality." How does The
Story of Edgar Sawtelle avoid this danger?
20. Why did David Wroblewski choose to end The Story of
Edgar Sawtelle the way he does? What is the effect of the
ending of the novel?