Friday, May 3, 2013

Train to Somewhere - Even Bunting

Summary:  Marianne, heading west with fourteen other children on an Orphan Train, is sure her mother will show up at one of the stations along the way. When her mother left Marianne at the orphanage, hadn't she promised she'd come for her after making a new life in the West? Stop after stop goes by, and there's no sign of her mother in the crowds that come to look over the children. No one shows any interest in adopting shy, plain Marianne, either. But that's all right: She has to be free for her mother to claim her. Then the train pulls into its final stop, a town called Somewhere . . .  (Summary from and image from

My Review:  Beautiful.  That's the word I would use to describe this book.  Eve Bunting is another of my favorite children's book authors.  Combine her beautiful stories with the artwork by Ronald Himler and you've got a masterpiece.  I hadn't read much about the orphan trains that used to take children from New York out west, allowing whoever wanted children, or needed extra hands for farm work to adopt children.  The nuances intimating harsh realities are crafted in a way that children can read yet still enjoy, adults can infer, and with the right discussions, enlighten children about the way the world used to be.

There are layers to this book as well.  Marianne believes her mother will come for her, as she was a girl dropped off at the orphanage because her mother couldn't care for her any longer.  She knows her mother went out west.  She truly thinks that her mother will be at one of the train stations they stop at.  This adds a layer of complexity of Marianne hoping to see her mother, and needing to come to the conclusion that what you want and what you get aren't the same things.  And to go further, that what you get is sometimes just as good, if not better.  Bunting deals with a delicate subject in a way that tugs at your heart, and creates empathy in young readers that can only be accomplished by artful writers.

I love this book and loved being able to share it with my daughters.  It's appropriate for older children too, as I would have used this as a mentor text with my middle school students.

For the sensitive reader:  If you have adoption as a part of your life, please read before reading with your children.  You'll want to be able to head off any questions that might arise.  Nothing objectionable, just a touchy subject matter for children.

Rating: 5 Stars

Sum it up:  A heart-warming historical piece of children's fiction. 

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I'm just beginning to hear of and read more about the orphan trains. My father was four when left in an orphanage in the early 1900s. Remarkably he stayed there until 16, when he was apprenticed out. I'm research all these orphanage stories and facts in hopes of writing a historical novel surrounding my dad's time in the orphanage. This sounds like a beautiful book, and your review is beautiful as well.


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