*The Knight family, which consists of Mr. Knight and his three children –Gus, Angie and Richard, is a farming family living in a small district in Turtle Lake, Iowa, USA in 1917.
*The novel centred on Richard, a fifteen-year-old boy, who begins a correspondence with a poet, Joyce Kilmer, while Mr. Kilmer is serving the country during World War I.
* Richard is a budding poet himself but is unable to get the encouragement he needs from his family. Richard’s father is a good, hardworking farmer but he is very reserved and hardly shares his feelings with his children. Furthermore, Gus and Angie do not understand poetry and think that Richard is odd.
*One day, Mrs Hansen, Richard’s English teacher, reads a poem by Mr Kilmer in class. While the other boys feel that the poetry is boring and meant for ‘sissies’, Richard is inspired by the beauty of the poem, Mrs Hansen further explain that Mr Kilmer is a brave and patriotic man as he has volunteered to be a soldier to fight in the war. Richard’s admiration for the poet compels him to write a latter to Mr Kilmer and thus begins their correspondence.
*During the war, Richard takes solace in his friendship with Hannah and the letters from Mr Kilmer. Through his letters, Mr Kilmer encourages Richard to continue writing poems and not to keep this talent a secret. Richard finally manages to read his poem in class, gaining the admiration and respect of most of his fellow classmates.
* One day, Richard hears the dreadful news that Mr Kilmer has been killed in battle. In his grief, Richard writes a poem in Mr Kilmer’s memory. The Schermers, who have always been supportive of his talent, suggest that Richard send his poem to The Turtle Lake Weekly, a local newspaper, in the hope that it gets published. Later, the paper carries an obituary for Me Kilmer along with a special section with Richard’s poem.
* After reading the poem, Richard’s father is finally able to open up and share his sadness of having lost his brother, Roland, in the war several years ago. The poem enables father and son to have a closer bond.