I’d like you to step back in time to the mid-1850′s to late 1920′s. Train to Somewhere by Eve Bunting has appeared on more than one list of recommended books to read on adoption. It’s the story of Marianne, who is heading west with fourteen other children on an Orphan Train but is also sure that her mother will show up at one of the stations along the way.
Eve Bunting is a name I have long heard in children’s literature, especially in the picture book world. She has written over two hundred and fifty books on a broad array of subjects. Due to the popularity of her books, she has been listed as one of the Educational Paperback Association’s top 100 authors. In 1996, Bunting also wrote the first picture book to be based on the actual Orphan Trains. In her acknowledgements, Bunting thanked several people including Toni Weiler who traveled West herself on an Orphan Train when she was only two-years-old.
With Train to Somewhere, Bunting gets many things right. First, although Marianne is traveling with thirteen other orphans, Bunting focuses on Marianne. Second, at each stop, the reader feels the suspense of wondering will Marianne find her mother, get adopted, or be left alone. Third, Bunting shows what Marianne is feeling: “I slide my fingers into my pocket and touch the softness of the feather. She’ll be there. She’ll want me.” Last, Bunting paints a vivid picture of the Orphan Trains by using descriptive words and Marianne’s thoughts: “This past week I watched her pack it with wash clothes, medicine, and larkspur in case there were some stowaway fleas. None of us from St. Christopher’s has any, of course. But those from other homes and from the streets might.” Train to Somewhere is an exciting and touching book to read.
Good Boy (Little Orphan at the Train) (Photo credit: cliff1066™)
What can one learn about adoption from Train to Somewhere? Well, there is the historical side of it. An estimated 100,000 homeless children were sent by train from New York City to small towns and farms in the Midwest. The Children’s Aid Society tried to place the children with caring homes.
There is also the universal side of it. Adopted children from long ago wanted foremost to live with their parents. Many of these parents wanted just as badly to keep their children, but couldn’t for one reason or another including lack of financial security. Adopted children from long ago worried about how they would appear to their prospective adoptive parents. Although sometimes adoptive parents just wanted someone to do chores or care for young ones, many times the adoptive parents did everything that they could to love their new children.
In some ways, not much has changed today. The ideal is still for parents and their children to stay together. Sometimes though there are reasons that this doesn’t work out. When this happens, the adoptive parents normally do everything they can to love their new children. Perhaps, one difference is that today more time is taken to develop an adoption plan. Back in the days of The Orphan Trains, it seems prospective parents gathered at train stations, picked out children they wanted, and that was it. Train to Somewhere makes one appreciate how much care is taken these days to ensure birth parents, adoptive parents, and adopted children all are best matched.
My rating?Bag it: Carry it with you. Make it a top priority to read it.
Américas Award for Children’s & Young Adult Literature
CLASP founded the Américas Award in 1993 to encourage and commend authors, illustrators and publishers who produce quality children’s and young adult books that portray Latin America, the Caribbean, or Latinos in the United States.
The Caldecott Medal was named in honor of nineteenth-century English illustrator Randolph Caldecott. It is awarded annually to the artist of the most distinguished American picture book for children.
The Carnegie Medal is awarded annually to the writer of an outstanding book for children. It was established by in 1936, in memory of the great Scottish-born philanthropist, Andrew Carnegie.
The Christy Awards are awarded each year to recognize novels of excellence written from a Christian worldview.
Coretta Scott King Award
The Coretta Scott King Book Award titles promote understanding and appreciation of the culture of all peoples. It is given to African American authors and illustrator.
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Dolly Gray Children’s Literature Award
The Dolly Gray Children’s Literature Award was initiated in 2000 to recognize authors, illustrators, and publishers of high quality fictional and biographical children, intermediate, and young adult books that appropriately portray individuals with deve
Hans Christian Anderson Award
The Hans Christian Andersen Awards is given to a living author and illustrator whose complete works have made a lasting contribution to children’s literature. The award is the highest international recognition an author can receive.
Kate Greenaway Medal
The Kate Greenaway Medal was established in 1955, for distinguished illustration in a book for children. It is named after the popular nineteenth century artist known for her fine children’s illustrations and designs.
Middle East Book Award
The Middle East Book Award recognizes quality books for children and young adults that contribute meaningfully to an understanding of the Middle East and its component societies and cultures.
Mythopoeic Fantasy Award
Honors fantasy books for younger readers, in the tradition of The Hobbit or The Chronicles of Narnia
Newbery Medal Award
The Newbery Medal was named for eighteenth-century British bookseller John Newbery. It is awarded annually to the author of the most distinguished contribution to American literature for children.
Pura Belpré Award
The award is named after Pura Belpré, the first Latina librarian at the New York Public Library. It is presented annually to a Latino/Latina writer and illustrator whose work best portrays, affirms, and celebrates the Latino experience.
Red House Book Award
The Red House Children’s Book Award is a series of literary prizes for works of children’s literature published during the previous year in England.
Sydney Taylor Award
The Sydney Taylor Book Award is presented annually to outstanding books for children and teens that authentically portray the Jewish experience.