Sunday, May 16, 2004

Orphan Train

Kay, Verla. 2003. ORPHAN TRAIN. Ill. by Ken Stark. New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons. ISBN 0399236139 [Suggested Grade Levels 2 - 5]

After their parents died, living on the city streets, stealing and begging for food was life for Lucy and her little brothers. How wonderful it was when an orphanage took them in and gave them food and clean clothes. But the orphanage was very crowded and one day Lucy, Harold and David were picked to go out west on an orphan train. They were among many other children who were being sent west on the long trip. The train ride was very exciting, but when David and Harold were taken away Lucy became very sad. Finally, Lucy gets to go to live with a farmer and his wife. Lucy enjoys her warm bed and good food. She also learns to work hard around the farm, but she just can’t stop thinking about her brothers. What a wonderful surprise when Lucy sees Harold at church on Sunday. Lucy and Harold are very excited and overjoyed to see each other. But they still pray for David and wonder if they will ever see him again.

Orphan Train provides a fantastic look into an oft forgotten early twentieth century American tragedy. Readers will find themselves captivated by this colorful tale filled with both sadness and joy. Vivid and emotion filled illustrations give deep insight into the thoughts and emotions of the main characters. Each of the beautifully painted illustrations captures the feeling and emotions of the children in each seen of the book. This enthralling story is told in the form of lyrical poetry that is quite attractive to the ear. Through both the pictures and words the reader is so drawn into the story of Lucy, Harold, and David that one would almost be able to feel themselves present in the story.

This book serves as a wonderful lesson in rhythm and rhyme. Children will greatly benefit from a discussion on poetry and from an opportunity to create their own.

This is a great book for introducing a discussion on, and further reading about the period of the early 1900’s. This book could also serve as a great way to teach children to openly discuss important emotions such as sadness and fear.

Other stories about children in this period of time in similar circumstances:
Bunting, Eve. TRAIN TO SOMEWHERE. ISBN 0618040315
Kay, Verla. HOMESPUN SARAH. ISBN 0399234179

By Kristi Mays

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