Study Guide

Homecoming Introduction

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Homecoming Introduction

You think you're tough? You don't know tough until you've met the Tillermans.

Dicey, James, Maybeth, and Sammy are four of the most hardcore kids ever to grace the pages of a novel. These guys are only thirteen, ten, nine, and six when their mother abandons them in a mall parking lot, but instead of panicking, they decide to head to their aunt's house for help. Of course, her home just so happens to be eighty miles away. And did we mention that they plan to cover all this ground on foot? And here you thought the hobbits had it rough on the way to Mordor.

Cynthia Voigt said she came up with the idea for Homecoming when she "saw a bunch of kids waiting in a car at a parking lot [… and wondered] what would happen if nobody came back to get them?" Yes, those are the depressing (and intriguing) thoughts that keep writers up at night. Later, Voigt wrote six more books about the Tillerman kids and their adventures, but Homecoming is the place where it all started.

Why has the Tillermans' story captured the hearts of so many readers over the years? We're thinking it's because they're so resilient in the face of a really tricky and dangerous situation. Seriously—if someone left Shmoop all alone in the middle of Connecticut, we'd probably curl up into a little ball and cry. But even though what happens to these kids is super unfair, they don't spend a whole lot of time feeling sorry for themselves. Instead, as the tough are known to do, they get going.

Another reason readers love this scrappy crew? They love each other. Dicey, James, Maybeth, and Sammy don't have many friends, but they're as close as siblings can be. This is why they decide to make their little journey on foot: They can't risk asking for help from some strange adult who might just call social services and have them split up into different foster homes. And so as much as their journey's motivated by abandonment, it's also motivated by love. Think about that the next time your sister borrows your favorite sweater without asking… 

What is Homecoming About and Why Should I Care?

Do you love strong female leads? You know, girls who kick butt and take names, refusing to let the world hold them down. We're assuming you answered yes (because you're not a hater), so get excited to spend some quality time with Dicey Tillerman in Homecoming.

Sure, Dicey doesn't spend her time shooting arrows, hacking computer systems, or excelling at potion making, but that doesn't mean she's just your typical thirteen-year-old girl—nope, Dicey does extraordinary things in our ordinary world. When the Tillermans' mom abandons her kids, Dicey takes charge, leading her three younger siblings on a multi-state trip to find a home, armed with little more than a map, a couple of bucks, and the shoes on their feet. See? This girl has guts.

Before Katniss Everdeen, Lisbeth Salander, and Hermione Granger, there was Dicey Tillerman. So grab a copy of Homecoming and get ready to be reminded of just how incredible teenage girls can be. 

Homecoming Resources


Cynthia Voigt
The author's official website. Check out all her awesome books today, and read up on her life while you're at it.

Ease on Down the Road
Bust our your walking shoes—here's a map with all the most important sites on the Tillermans' east coast journey.

Travel the Tillerman Way
Check out this itinerary to learn more about the stops the Tillermans make on their way home.

Movie or TV Productions

Homecoming (1996)
This 1996 made-for-TV movie depicts the Tillermans' big adventure, but cuts out a whole lot of fun traveling plot points. Guess it's no fun to watch four abandoned kids wander around and starve. 

Articles and Interviews

Scholastic Interview with Voigt
Wherein this super cool author talks about writing for kids and where she got the idea for Homecoming.

An Author Talks Books
An interview with Voigt from way back in 1983 when the sequel to Homecoming (named Dicey's Song) won the Newberry Medal.


An Interview with Voigt
The author talks about writing awesome books and living ocean-side.

Animal House
Bluto isn't as fond of the song "I Gave My Love a Cherry" as the Tillermans are, but to be fair, their version is probably way more awesome.


Dobro Guitar
Listen to "Greensleeves" played on a dobro guitar and you'll feel like you're sitting in Stewart's dorm room all over again.

June Carter Cash plays her autoharp, just like Edie does in Rockland State Park.


Cynthia Voigt
Our author hanging out and generally being awesome.

Homecoming Cover
You can't judge a book by its cover, but this is one of our favorites.

Breakfast with Gram
Here's a movie still featuring the Tillerman kids sitting down for a meal with their grandmother. Will she let them stay? The delicious pancakes say yes to us.

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