For Educators—Discussion Questions for Mary Mae and the Gospel Truth

1. What is Mary Mae’s relationship with her granny? What do they learn from each other? Why is Granny so interested in what Mary Mae learns at school?

2. Would it be possible to build an ark such as is described in the Bible? What would be some of the problems involved? Consider the questions Mary Mae asked.

3. Some believe that we should view the Bible as history, not stories. Do you agree or disagree?

4. Is Mary Mae a good choice for Mrs. Noah? Why or why not? What do Brother Lucas and Sister Coates expect Mary Mae to gain from the puppet show?

5. Explain Brother Lucas’ attitude toward Mary Mae. Why does he shorten Mary Mae’s part?

6. Why is Mary Mae’s mother so afraid of fossils? Consider Chapter 7, when she’s warning Mary Mae that they are the “Lord’s test,” and Chapter 15, when they’re at the Falls of the Ohio.

7. In what ways is Mary Mae deceptive?

8. Why does Mary Mae think Miss Sizemore’s description of the universe’s beginning sounds like the Creation in the Bible? What kind of teacher is Miss Sizemore? How is she an inspiration to Mary Mae?

9. What are Mama and Daddy’s visions of school? Consider these remarks: “when I was in school . . . we stayed inside and learned our lessons.” (Daddy, p. 25 ) “Hobbies don’t belong in school.” (Mama, p. 94) Why does Mama say teachers ought to stick with “spelling and numbers” (p. 11)?

10. What role does music play in this book? Why does Mary Mae’s Granny pass on her box of music and guitar to Mary Mae?

11. Discuss the theme of age. Consider Granny, Little Lukey, the ages of the earth, fossils, the Bible, the generations in Mary Mae’s family.

12. Do you think Mary Mae has won over Mama and other members of her church? What do you expect will happen in the future?

Additional Discussion Questions for Mary Mae and the Gospel Truth

I have divided these loosely into categories so that you might use them according to the interests of your class or audience.


1. Mary Mae, looking at a chart on the age of the earth, says to Miss Sizemore, “It’s like reaching into a sock and finding no toe?” What does she mean?

2. How is a pill bug like a trilobite?

3. Why is Mary Mae so stunned by the crab at the restaurant (Chapter 11)?

4. Do you have any fossils in the ground where you live? What kind?

5. Describe how a fossil is made.

6. What is the Cincinnati Arch? Describe.

7. What is the geological makeup of the area in which you live?

8. What is the use or purpose of a “collection”? Why does Mary Mae want one?

9. Why does Mary Mae think Miss Sizemore’s description of the universe’s beginning sounds like the Creation in the Bible?

10. What is a redshift?

11. How did the Wisconsonian Glacier change the landscape of what is now southern Ohio (pp 80-81)?

12. Why does Granny say, “Time ain’t something we can pin down that good”?

13. What does Mary Mae mean when she calls the fossil beds “God’s science lesson”?


1. Mary Mae and her family are Fundamentalists. What are some of their beliefs?

2. Is Noah’s ark a story or a history?

3. Describe the music at Mary Mae’s church. Is it similar to or different from music you have heard at other churches?

4. Why are Mary Mae, her mother, and Granny distributing John 3:16 stickers?

5. Why can’t Mary Mae find the number 6000 in the Bible?

6. Do you think counting the generations in the Bible is an accurate way of determining the earth’s age?

7. Why does Shirley Whirly say, “Digging goes against my religion”?

8. How would the puppet show have been different if Mary Mae and Chester had started out with marching the animals into the ark?

9. Each member of Mary Mae’s family has a different view of Heaven. Is there such a place? Can each view be true?

10. Where did Mary Mae get her idea of Judgment Day?

11. How does Mary Mae see God? Consider her prayers and her views of Heaven and Judgment Day. How does Mary Mae’s mother see God?


1.  What does Mary Mae mean when she says “Granny ain’t cussing, she’s just talking to the Lord”?

2. Describe Orlin, the preacher’s son. In what ways does he behave as the minister’s son?

3. What is the relationship between Mary Mae and Chloe? Why does Mary Mae find Chloe annoying at times?

4. Are Pastor Tillbury and Mrs. Tilbury people to admire? Why or why not?

5. What does Mary Mae mean when she says she’s “feeling God’s grace, ” p. 126?

6. Is Mama being foolish for not letting Mary Mae go back to school after she shows them the fossils in her backyard? Why doesn’t Mama listen to daddy? Why does Daddy say Mama’s being stubborn?

7. Why does Granny say about Mrs. Noah, “She might have something to say”?

8. How would you describe the exchange between Mary Mae and Chester during the puppet show?

9. Why is Mary Mae afraid to look at her mother after the puppet show?

10. Mary Mae claims at the end that she’s “pure in heart.” Do you agree or disagree?

11. How is I-71 important in this story?

School/Home School

1. What are the advantages and disadvantages of home schooling?

2. Describe Mama as a teacher. Why does she think teaching will be easy?

3. Describe the advantages and disadvantages of teaching only from the Bible?

4. What help is Granny when Mary Mae finds she can’t go to school?

5. Describe Mr. Trimble’s office. What kind of person is he?

6. Why does Mr. Trimble insist Mama bring in a curriculum?

7. Does Miss Sizemore treat Shirley Whirly fairly? Why or why not?

8. Do you think Mary Mae should have asked for other assignments at school?

Creative Activities for Students Reading Mary Mae and the Gospel Truth:

1. How do you think the world was created? Write or draw your vision.

2. How do you imagine God? Write or draw your thoughts.

3. Read Mary Mae’s interview with a trilobite. Research another fossilized animal and write your own interview.

4. Write a how-to—How to Dig Up Fossils.

5. Find a good place to dig for fossils and begin a fossil collection.

6. Research the history of the Bible. Who wrote it? How old is it?

7. Make a model of a mountain that has been cut away for a road, showing the strata, or layers of rock.

8. Make a model of a glacier.

9. Make a timeline of the history of the earth or the history of the universe

10. Make a diorama of the Ordovician era.

11. Compare Genesis with creation stories of various cultures. Illustrate them. What are the similarities? What are the differences?

12. Build a puppet theatre like the one described in the story. Or, use a refrigerator box and cut off the back side; use the front side for the puppet window.

13. Make puppets, then act out the puppet show, which can be found under “Pages” on the blog.

14. Write your own puppet show based on Genesis.

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