(Summary from Amazon.com and image from theteachingthief.blogspot.com)
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.