Finders Keepers is designed for middle-grade readers (10 and up). As an aid to busy teachers, I offer this discussion guide. I put the questions together with help from my daughter-in-law who is a reading specialist. I hope they’re useful to you.
A whisper in the dark draws 12-year-old Cade to a hole in the paving where he finds a beautiful triangular stone. When he takes it home as a gift for Mum, she and his older brother, Roth, recognize it as a precious heart stone. Worse, they recognize Cade as a Finder, one who can sense the stones. Most folks believe Finders are demented and dangerous because the stones are addictive. By law, Finders are given to the miners who “let” them hunt the valuable stones and keep them under control. Unknown to Cade until now, Mum is a Finder too. Worried that the Watch will seize Cade and send him to the hellish mines, Mum goes out to get rid of the stone but is arrested herself. Cade and Roth vow to free her. When they look in the mines, she’s not there, so they set about searching the city.
Violent weather, illness, and earthquakes disturb their search, and superstition says that when the calendar changes to the year 4000 in a few weeks, the world will be swept with plagues and fire. Superstition also says that heart stones will cure the sick and protect a household, so Cade’s not surprised when he sees a girl, Shan, steal a heart stone. She realizes he felt the stone and asks him to use his Finder ability to help her avert catastrophe when the calendar changes. All they need to do is steal stones to use as “anchors” on the altar in the old ruined temple.
While helping Shan, Cade learns which miner has Mum, and he and Shan break in and find both Mum and the triangular stone Cade originally gave her. Mum is swept from Cade’s grip in a riot. In the meantime, Roth has come down with plague. Terrified Roth will die, Cade keeps the triangular stone rather than giving it to Shan for the temple, but when the chaos grows worse, Cade decides he has to help the city, not just his own family. He sneaks into the governor’s mansion and, with Shan’s help, steals the triangular stone back. They run to the temple through earthquake, storm and fire, and Cade risks his life to get to the collapsing altar. Cade fits the stones into place, at the same time, losing the power of Finding. He, Mum, and Roth are reunited, and Cade realizes that his unselfish actions saved the city.
QUESTIONS FOR DISCUSSION
Chapter 1. The story is about Cade finding out some things about himself and deciding what kind of person he wants to be. What does he think it means to be a Finder? Is he right in what he thinks?
Chapter 2. Cade doesn’t know if he wants to go where the heart stone is or if he wants to go to Mum’s help. What do you think?
Chapter 3. Roth and Cade are brothers. How are they like and not like brothers you know?
Chapter 4. Should Cade have helped the thief who was arrested? Was he wise or cowardly not to?
Chapter 5. The girl steals a stone, but she tells Cade, “It wasn’t theft. That stone doesn’t belong to them.” What do you think that might mean?
Chapter 6. If you were Cade, would you tell Roth what happened?
Chapter 7. Shan describes a scary situation due to happen when the calendar changes. Some people thought disaster would happen when the year 2000 came around or in the year when the calendar of the Maya ended. Is such a thing likely to happen? Why or why not?
Chapter 8. What can you tell so far about what Shan’s life is like?
Chapter 9. How does Cade feel when he and Shan are stealing the stone? Does he always feel the same?
Chapter 10. How does Cade feel about someone “owning” his mother? Does someone really own her?
Chapter 11. Cade has been in a tavern before but Shan hasn’t. What does this say about the way each of them is being brought up?
Chapter 12. How does Cade react to so many heart stones? What’s a bigger danger to him: the thief who cut him or the stones?
Chapter 13. Why does Cade keep the stone? Is that the right thing to do?
Chapter 14. How does Cade treat Granny? What does that tell you about him?
Chapter 15. What do the people in Cade’s old neighborhood think about Finders? Why do they think this way?
Chapter 16. Roth doesn’t want Cade near Shan. Why? Do you agree?
Chapter 17. Cade was surprised to learn Shan was the governor’s daughter. Were you? Looking back, do you see any clues as to who she was?
Chapter 18. Cade is very afraid of drowning in the cellar. How does he overcome his fear and keep going?
Chapter 19. Cade arranges the stones in a pattern different than the one marked on the altar top. What does that mean?
Keled helps Shan and Cade even though he’s angry at them. Does that change your opinion of Keled?
Chapter 20. Is Captain Menard Cade’s ally or his enemy?
Shan still wants her father’s approval. Cade doesn’t understand. Do you?
Chapter 21. Duval says Cade did a brave thing. Do you agree?