Book #7 (August/Sept.) – Hannah’s Dream

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This month’s book is: Hannah’s Dream by Diane Hammond


Summary (from

For forty-one years, Samson Brown has been caring for Hannah, the lone elephant at the down-at-the-heels Max L. Biedelman Zoo. Having vowed not to retire until an equally loving and devoted caretaker is found to replace him, Sam rejoices when smart, compassionate Neva Wilson is hired as the new elephant keeper. But Neva quickly discovers what Sam already knows: that despite their loving care, Hannah is isolated from other elephants and her feet are nearly ruined from standing on hard concrete all day. Using her contacts in the zookeeping world, Neva and Sam hatch a plan to send Hannah to an elephant sanctuary—just as the zoo’s angry, unhappy director launches an aggressive revitalization campaign that spotlights Hannah as the star attraction, inextricably tying Hannah’s future to the fate of the Max L. Biedelman Zoo



Discussion Questions (Warning: Spoilers Ahead!):


Before Reading:

1. Before reading the story, what do you think Hannah’s dream might be?

2. What expectations do you have for this story? Are you interested in reading about an elephant?


Chapters 1-5: 

3. Explain the relationship between Samson and Hannah.

4. Why do you think Max Biedelman left Hannah in Samson’s care after he’d only been working there for 6 days?

5. While talking to Max, Samson tells her, “Ever since the baby died Corinna hasn’t had much use for God or the Bible. She says when God lets you down like He did to us, He doesnt deserve our respectfulness.” Do you agree with this statement?

6. Consider Neva’s training in elephant care and background in zookeeping. Who do you think will benefit more from Neva’s arrival – Neva, Hannah, Samson, or all 3? Why?

7. Why might Truman have gotten a pig as a pet despite his orderly nature and boring personality? Do you think the pig will do some good for both Truman and his son?


Chapters 6-10:

8. How do you feel about Harriet taking on the persona of Maxine? Do you think it is right to be exploiting her in this way?

9. Corinna lost a child by miscarriage while Neva gave hers up for a adoption. Do you think both suffer their loss in the same way? In what ways do they try to make up for their loss?

10. Who do you think Miss Effie really was to Maxine? Why does Harriet feel that she is not important to her portrayal of Maxine?

11. Do you think Harriet’s plan will increase visitors to the zoo, or is this a bad decision?


Chapters 11-15:

12. What do you think of Johnson Johnson’s generosity towards Neva? Do you think their friendship will turn into something more?

13. What is Hannah’s Dream?

14. Are you as crafty or as inventive as Johnson Johnson? What’s the best thing you’ve ever created?

15. What are your thoughts on zoos? Do you approve of them? Do your views on zoos and sanctuaries differ?

16. Was Harriet right to assume that her and Truman could be something more? Do you pity her now that you know differently?

17. Who or what does Harriet realize she is in love with?

18. What creative idea do you have for Hannah? A new toy? A game? How would you help her keep from being bored?





17 responses to “Book #7 (August/Sept.) – Hannah’s Dream

  1. 1. I think Hannah’s dream may be about being free and in a safe place. She is tired and her body broken, all she wants is peace.
    2. The synopsis reminded of the movie, “Like Water for Elephants”. Hannah’s dream may be fulfilled, but it will be full of drama.

  2. 1. I think Hannah’s dream is to be free.
    2. Since reading Water for Elephants and falling in love with the main elephant in that book, I am very excited to read another elephant story. They are such sweet and smart creatures! I hope that this story has a happy ending.

  3. 1. Hannah’s dream is about her freedom. She is dreaming about her freedom in a safe and beautiful environment.

    2. I think Hannah will fullfill her dream, but it will be difficult. However I think it is a beautiful story full of hardships and in the end reaching her goals. I never read a story about elephants, so I am interested.

  4. 1. I also think Hannah’s dream is to be free, but maybe also find some friend elephants.
    2. I haven’t read or seen “Water for elephants” so I don’t feel the connection with this book or movie. But I read somewhere “Hannah’s dream” is like “Marley and me” for elephant lovers and this story was really touching both as a book and movie. I expect the story to watch the elephant grow and and describe the feelings. I think elephants are very sensitive animals and also a bit mysterious. They have certainly many secrets that people can’t understand yet.

  5. 1. Hannah’s dream is to be free and with fellow elephants.
    2.I beleive that Hannah’s dream will be fufilled but that she might have to endure some stuff before that happens. this is my first elephant book ever so I can’t wait to start reading it.

  6. 3. What a beautiful relationship between Samson and Hannah. They are like best friends or even father and daughter. They have a very tight bond. It is so tight, Samson does not want to retire from his job until he definitely sure Hannah will be taken care of.
    4. I think Max Biedelman saw special qualities in Samson. He watched Hannah very attentively. Although he had no clue how to take care of an elephant, Max felt Samson and Hannah would have a special bond.

  7. 3. They have tight bond kinda like father and daughter
    4. I think Max Biedelman saw someone she could trust with Hannah when she talked to him and saw that he watched Hannah during his lunch and break times.

  8. 3. I think their relationship is like a father and child.
    4. I think she was a good judge of character and knew that Sam would take good care of Hannah in the way that Hannah needs most.
    5. Well, I understand why people get mad at God when bad things happen. It doesn’t seem fair at all when terrible things happen, but I don’t necessarily agree with the statement.
    6. I think Neva because she’s going to realize that Sam is a good keeper for Hannah even without any formal training. I think Neva will start to look at zookeeping in a different way thanks to Sam.
    7. Even though he is so orderly and boring, I think that deep down he’s not really that kind of person. There’s someone more fun just waiting to come out. And maybe the pig will help him!

  9. 1. I think to be free and not be in a Zoo anymore.
    2. To be honest, I really don’t know. I would have never picked the book myself.

    3. I think their relationship is really tight. Since they have been working together for so long, it is like they are family.
    4. Maybe she saw something trust worthy in Samson.
    5. I don’t really believe in a God so I don’t know.
    6. I hope Hannah, because it seems that she has been hurting even though Samson has been really good to her.
    7. Maybe to get a bit more fun in his life, since he seems to find his life quite boring as well!

  10. 5. Although I do not agree with Corinna’s statement, I do understand how she feels.
    6. I think all three will benefit from Neva’s arrival. It is obvious Neva’s abilities will be tested and stretched. Also she may learn some new things from Hannah and Sam. Sam and Hannah need Neva’s expertise to help them achieve the dream.
    7. Truman is so predictable, I think he purchased the pig to be spontaneous for once in his life. I hope the pig helps Truman and Winnie enjoy life a little more, especially since the divorce; they both need a good diversion.

  11. 1. I think Hannah’s dream is to be with other elephants.
    2. That it will be emotionally involving and have me not wanting to put the book down.
    3. To me they are like family and have a very deep connection and trust.
    4.I think Max saw something in Samson – he was kind, honest, compassionate and had a way with the animals.
    5.I think this is a very very personal situation and can understand people who have strong beliefs could be shaken and think this way, but I don’t really agree with the statement.
    6.All three because they can all learn from each other – and learn from each other.
    7. Maybe Truman bought the pig so his son would be happy, maybe he thought it would be good for both of them – I see him as a caring person who hasn’t had much opportunity to have fun in his life so maybe now is the time!
    8.I think being Maxine gave Harriet an outlet for her personality – she could be another person and not have worries about her looks, her size, name calling or anything else, I think she took it too far but taking on the persona brought people to the zoo which was a good thing.
    9.They both suffer the loss of a child – Corinna’s loss was for ever and must be devastating, knowing you would never see that child grow and be a part of the family, Neva’s loss would be as devastating but always in her mind must be the thought here child is out there somewhere and would she ever know if she saw him- as we see in the dentist rooms.
    10. Effie was Maxine’s life partner I believe. Harriet, I don’t think, understands or accepts their relationship.
    11.I think Harriet’s plan was good and did bring more people to the zoo, but it became too all consuming and turned destructive.

  12. 3. Samson has taken care of Hannah for decades and they are really close. Samson thinks of Hannah like his own daughter and it she is even more important to him as he doesn’t have real kids. Samson would do everything for Hannah and Hannah trusts Samson entirely.
    4. I think Max saw the way Sam was watching Hannah and recognised that he will take good care of her. Maybe when Hannah’s elephant companion hadn’t died Max would have waited with giving this job to Sam. But now Max realised that Hannah needs a real friend to keep her from grieving. So Max trusted her intuition and, like it turned out, made the best choice!

  13. 8. I was horrified to read how Harriet took on the persona of Max. She knew nothing about Max, except through the photos and other writing she found in the office. She did not take time to interview people who really knew her. I could understand Harriet using Max’s memorabilia to possibly set up a memorial room, but to dress up and pretend to be Max was over the top.
    9. Corinna and Neva both lost children in different ways. One through the miscarriage and the other through adoption. One doesn’t have a living child and the other has a living child, but doesn’t know who he may be. Because of this, I don’t feel their loss is exactly the same…only one can have hope of maybe seeing her child alive.
    They both are hard working women and have allowed their work to replace the pain in their hearts.
    10. I think that Miss Effie was Max’s companion. Through Sam’s flashbacks, we see Miss Effie played an important role in Max’s life. Harriet would not know this. She did not know the two ladies personally. Harriet only want to focus of Max alone. This way she was a one woman act.
    11. I think Harriet’s plans to get more visitor’s to the zoo may help a little in the beginning, but will shape up into a disaster.

  14. 6. I beleive all three will benefit, i think they will help each other see things in a different way than they normally would.
    7. I beleive he bought the pig so his son would be happy, hopefully the pig will help them come out of their neat and orderly shell and provide some fun in their lives.
    8. If she had made more of an attempt to know about Maxine before imposanating her then I would have been fine but it’s exploiting since she thinks she can just dress up and pretend to be just like her.
    9. They both lost a child but it was in different ways for both so they will not suffer in the same way as only one has a chance to see their child again. I believe they make up for their losses by immersing themselves in their work.
    10. I think Miss Effie was Maxine’s friend, companion, and partner in pretty much every part of her life. Since Harriot didn’t even care to find out about Maxine I don’t think she going to care about Miss Effie it’s all about her and making money for the zoo as fast as possible.
    11. I think it will bring more visitor’s to the zoo but it might start becoming too much for her in the end.

  15. 1. I think Hannah’s dream is to leave the zoo and back to the wild.
    2. I hope this story will be a really touching one,also have a pretty adventurous journey.At last have a happy ending for Hannah.And yes,I am interested in reading a story based on elephants,I thought of elephants as grateful and kind creatures,and very smart of course:)

  16. 1. I think Hannah’s Dream is to return to her family.
    2. I expect the story to be a happy one. I’m hoping it won’t have anything sad in it, and I hope the elephant doesn’t die.
    3. I think the relationship between Sam and Hannah is sort of like, maybe Father/Daughter, since he loves and protects Hannah and Hannah loves him in return.
    4. I think she believed in him as a person and trusted him. She saw how he watched the elephant and knew he’d be the right person for the job.
    5. No, I don’t agree with this statement, although I can understand where she is coming from.
    6. All 3. Neva will help Sam get Hannah out of the zoo.
    7. I’m not sure why he chose the pig rather than just get a dog. Maybe he thought it would be easier or shake things up a bit. I think the pig will be beneficial to Truman, too.
    8. I don’t like it at all. I think she’s making fun of the woman in a way by doing this and trying to avoid her own problems by imagining herself as someone else.
    9. I don’t think their loss is the same. Neva willingly gave up her son and Corinna lost a child she didn’t want to lose. It’s both loss, but it’s not the same.
    10. I’d like to think a really close friend, but it’s possible they were more. Maxine does, after all, likes people to call her “sir” which is unusual for a woman.
    11. I think it will increase visitors but at some point she will receive the wrong kind of attention, I think.
    12. From Neva’s POV, I don’t think it will blossom into anything more. but Johnson is really nice, though.
    13. To be free! 🙂
    14. I’m pretty crafty, but I don’t know what the best thing I’ve ever created is…
    15. I approve of zoos, mostly because they can protect animals that are going extinct and use those animals for breeding to protect the species. I’m fine with sanctuaries of course.
    16. Well, it’s easy to assume that someone likes you, especially if you receive attention from them. I won’t say she is wrong in it, but she should have asked him instead of assumed.
    17. I’m guessing with Maxine? Although…maybe it’s something else…like realizing she was supposed to be a man or something.
    18. I like when zoos freeze fruit in ice for the animals, like a popsicle. I think it would be fun for the elephant.

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