Last year Mrs. Snyder suggested this book to Mrs. Edwards. It’s called Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline. It sticks out in my mind, mostly because every time Mrs. Edwards brings it up, she reminds Mrs. Snyder of all the ‘cry moments’ from the story. Apparently this was a pretty powerful novel, so I did a little Google research about it… which you can imagine is very difficult for me with the whole water versus computer thing, but I have skills! Here’s what I found out: From the 1850’s to early 1900’s, displaced or orphaned children were transported from New York across the Midwest United States. These children were placed (auctioned off) with families, often being separated from their siblings or used in a servitude position. It was intended to be a ‘Child Welfare Program,’ but with very few regulations and no oversight, children were sold for reasons far surpassing those of families who just wanted to love children.
Orphan Train is an intriguing, suspenseful, emotional story of Molly who has been bouncing around through various foster homes and is close to ‘aging out’ of the program with no one to help her in life. Molly doesn’t get along well with her current foster mother and spends a lot of time not at home. She is visiting the library one day and decides to ‘keep’ a tattered copy of Jane Eyre, her favorite novel, but gets caught when the security system activates. She is sentenced to community service and lands a cleaning job with Vivian, an elderly woman who needs assistance cleaning out her attic. Although Molly really just wants to do what she must to get credit for her service hours, Vivian insists on pushing conversation and reminiscing about the things that Molly uncovers.
We learn Vivian’s amazing tale of being a child on the Orphan Trains in the early 1900’s and Molly finds a deeper connection with Vivian than she ever could have imagined. Read this incredible story of finding family after giving up all hope of looking!!
This is an excellent story for students living in foster homes or those who have been orphaned to identify and find hope. It isn’t often that teenagers seek solace or understanding from the elderly, even their own grandparents, as they more often assume that these people lived in a too-far-removed time and simply don’t understand what dilemmas are happening to modern kids. This story really exposes the universal theme of desolation, hope, and what family actually means to many kids. The images above are taken of a real poster and orphan train headed across the Midwest. I think this trailer does a great job of providing an intriguing taste of this excellent novel.
Book Trailer: Orphan Train. (2013, April 1). Retrieved from https://youtu.be/JmgbE6I9Hnw.
Kidder, Clark. “Homes Wanted for Children.” (2014). JPEG file.
“Orphan Train.” wcfcourier.com, 2013. JPEG file.
Wendinger, Renae. "The Orphan Trains and Newsboys of New York.” (2013). JPEG file.