With his mother dead, his father gone, and his older brothers and sisters unable to help, eight-year-old Ethan Cooper knows it’s his responsibility to keep him and his younger siblings together—even if that means going to an orphanage.
Ethan, Alice, Simon, and Will settle into the Briarlane Christian Children’s Home, where there’s plenty to eat, plenty of work, and plenty of talk about a Father who never leaves. Even so, Ethan fears losing the only family he has. How can he trust God to keep him safe when almost everything he’s known has disappeared?
The first book in the Beyond the Orphan Train series, Looking for Home takes us back to 1907 Pennsylvania and into the real-life adventures of four children in search of a true home.
When I was given the opportunity to review this book I was a bit confused. I had never heard of the orphan trains. Apparently (according to Wikipedia anyways)
The Orphan Train Movement was a supervised welfare program that transported orphaned and homeless children from crowded Eastern cities of the United States to foster homes located largely in rural areas of the Midwest. The orphan trains operated between 1853 and 1929, relocating about 200,000 orphaned, abandoned, or homeless children.In this series Richardson bases the main characters on the lives of 4 orphans and their experiences. While names have been changed the events are as close to accurate as the memories of those the characters have been modeled after.
That being said, I think this would be a great way to introduce younger children to this time in history. The main character, Ethan, is 8 years old in 1907 when this story begins. He is the oldest of the children being sent to the orphanage with his 3 younger siblings and is tasked with looking out after them. His older siblings had obtained work and thus were able to support themselves, but unable to support their younger siblings. Ma has passed on and Pa is out "working on a boat" but we are led to believe that he has abandoned the family.
As the first in the series this 12 chapter, 170 page book covers the children's trip to the local orphanage and their first year there. It is written in such a way that an elementary age child would easily be able not only read the book but connect with the characters. I believe this would also be a wonderful read aloud for lower elementary students as well. And if you are a lover of living books, this would be right up your alley.
Look for reviews of the next 3 books to come soon!