Form and Content

Shiloh is a poignant, realistic story of a boy and a dog and the circumstances that bring them together. Yet, there is more to the story of Marty Preston, an eleven-year-old who befriends a stray, abused dog. This protagonist is faced with a moral decision when he does not want to return the abused beagle to its rightful but mean owner, Judd Travers. He wants to fulfill the hill country code of honor of not lying, not cheating, and showing respect for others’ rights. The novel is set in the mountains of West Virginia. Although the events could happen in almost any rural area, Phyllis Reynolds Naylor captures the flavor of the area through the rich West Virginia dialect of Marty, the narrator of the story. The tale covers a brief time span and is written in short, fast-paced chapters.

Marty Preston wants a pet, preferably a dog, but his poverty-stricken parents cannot afford another mouth to feed. One Sunday afternoon, Marty is thrilled when a beagle follows him home from the Old Shiloh schoolhouse. His father, aware that Judd Travers, a mean, bewhiskered, tobacco-chewing neighbor recently acquired a new hunting dog, insists that the beagle be returned. Together, Marty and his father take the dog to its owner, who, after kicking it, promises to “whup the daylights out of him” if he wanders off again. As Marty accompanies his father on his mail route, he gathers aluminum cans for recycling money in hopes of offering to buy Shiloh, the name...

(The entire section is 600 words.)


While walking in the tiny community of Shiloh, West Virginia, Naylor saw the dog she wrote about in this story. Instead of inventing a...

(The entire section is 201 words.)

Literary Qualities

Shiloh is written in first-person present tense, with Marty as the narrator. Although the unusual style takes a few pages to get used...

(The entire section is 202 words.)

Social Sensitivity

Class distinction is apparent in Naylor's novel in the contrast between Marty's four-room home and his friend David Howard's two-story house...

(The entire section is 170 words.)

Topics for Discussion

1. How do folks around Friendly get down to business when visiting with a neighbor?

2. What is Marty's first plan to get Shiloh?...

(The entire section is 194 words.)

Ideas for Reports and Papers

1. How does Phyllis Reynolds Naylor give Shiloh a Southern flavor? Cite examples from the book.

2. Marty dislikes Judd...

(The entire section is 165 words.)

Related Titles / Adaptations

Naylor is very adept at using a Southern setting and capturing the colloquialism and speech patterns of the area. Although Night Cry...

(The entire section is 67 words.)

For Further Reference

Chevalier, Tracy, ed. Twentieth-Century Children's Writers. Chicago: St. James Press, 1989. John D. Stahl lists Naylor's books and...

(The entire section is 291 words.)