Train to Somewhere

Train to Somewhere

3.5 6
by Eve Bunting
     
 

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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

Overview

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 . . .

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Inspired by a little-known chapter of American history, this characteristically incisive collaboration from Bunting and Himler (Someday a Tree, see p. 90; Fly Away Home) imagines a journey on one of the many "Orphan Trains" that, between the mid-1850s and the late 1920s, brought children from New York City orphanages to adoptive families in the West. The narrator of this finely crafted, heart-wrenching story is Marianne, a plain girl secretly dreaming of being reunited with her own mother, who promised to return for Marianne after making a new life for them in the West. Bunting ably weaves the girl's hopes and anxieties into her perceptive account of how each of Marianne's 13 companions is chosen for adoption at the various train stations while she futilely searches the crowd for her mother. Finally only Marianne remains. In the tale's optimistic ending, Marianne finds a new family in Somewhere, Iowa, the train's last stop. Here an elderly couple, who clearly had planned on adopting a boy, take Marianne in, with ultimately comforting, resonant words: "Sometimes what you get turns out to be better than what you wanted in the first place." Himler's watercolor and gouache paintings offer polished portraits of the period as they convey the plot's considerable emotion. Like Bunting's text, his art is at once sobering and uplifting-and assuredly memorable. Ages 5-8. (Mar.)
Children's Literature - Susie Wilde
Eve Bunting has always been an author who sheds light on emotional issues. Recently she has turned her writing talents to historical subjects. Train to Somewhere illuminates the times of the Orphan Trains, which ran from the mid-1850's to 1920, bringing an estimated 100,000 homeless children by train from New York City to small towns and farms in the Midwest. Bunting's tale tells the story of Marianne, a young female orphan, traveling with thirteen others on an orphan train. Bunting's genius shows when she takes the general subject into the specific by showing us Marianne's hopes, dreams, and disappointment. Marianne's mother, leaving her at the orphanage, has promised she'd make a new life for them in the West, and return before Christmas, but Marianna has "waited through so many Christmases." Still she hopes to be greeted by her mother at every stop the train makes. Her journey, marred by rude comments and rejection, turns Marianne's dreams to disappointment. She is, finally, the last orphan, headed to the last stop, the town of Somewhere. The train is greeted by an elderly couple who'd hoped for a boy, but welcome her lovingly. The woman speaks of her happy late-in-life marriage, saying "sometimes what you get turns out to be better than what you wanted in the first place." Marianne's dreams of finding her mother begin to fade in her new hopes for a secure home with people who care about her.
School Library Journal
Gr 2-4-From the mid-19th century until after World War I, thousands of homeless "orphans" were sent West by charitable agencies to find homes with families seeking workers, children to adopt, or mother's helpers. In telling the story of one child, Bunting encapsulates the fears and sometimes happy endings of those fateful trips. Marianne is among the oldest and least attractive of the 14 children sent on a train to the Midwest, and she starts the journey with hopes that her mother will be waiting at one of the stops. At each station, papers are signed and children are placed, until only Marianne remains when the last town of Somewhere is reached. Only an elderly couple, hoping for a boy, is waiting there. They look kindly at Marianne, and the grandmotherly wife sums up the story's theme when she remarks that "Sometimes what you get turns out to be better than what you wanted in the first place." By making this slice of American history into an appealing tale, Bunting offers an opportunity to compare present-day social policies with those of times past. The book is timely yet universal in showing the desire of every child for a loving family. Himler's full-page, bordered paintings portray the people and towns in warm colors and softly blended brush strokes. Beyond this gentle story lie the social issues of our own day.-Shirley Wilton, Ocean County College, Toms River, NJ
Hazel Rochman
Another heartbreaking picture book by the pair who did "The Wall (1990) and "Fly Away Home" (1991). This time, it's the story of the Orphan Train, told in the voice of one girl. Marianne is in a group of 14 homeless children traveling with a guardian from New York to the Midwest in 1878 in search of families to adopt them. The words and pictures are understated; readers will fill in the spaces for themselves. "I'm not pretty," Marianne tells us. She's the one nobody wants. She's older than the others, not as cute as the little girls, not as muscular as the boys, not manipulative. The train stops at small towns and railway sidings; the orphans try to smile and look their best; it's like an auction. The townspeople look them over ("They feel the boys' muscles through their coats" ). It's clear that some children will find loving homes; some will not. Marianne tries to tell herself that her mother is waiting for her somewhere out West. Himler's paintings in watercolor and gouache set the story against a bleak midwestern fall landscape. Occasional small pictures show the train steaming across the prairie. The group scenes of the children lined up for inspection evoke images of stiff family photos. Then, as the numbers dwindle, the focus is on individual faces staring ahead as their companions are embraced and adopted. The guardian is gentle--in one beautiful picture she combs Marianne's hair to prepare her for the last train stop--and the quiet ending is hopeful. Marianne is taken, finally, by an elderly couple. They really wanted a boy, but they like her, and they're kind. Even older students will find the history compelling and will want to find out more about what happened to those lonely children.
Kirkus Reviews
A moving piece of Americana from a veteran team (Fly Away Home, 1992, etc.), introducing the orphan trains of the 19th and early 20th century to a picture-book audience. Marianne narrates; she's among 14 children from the orphanages and streets of New York City who are being shipped to the "New West" of Illinois and Iowa in search of good homes. At stop after stop her traveling mates are chosen, some clearly for their strength and usefulness, others for their looks. Marianne is neither strong nor pretty and is repeatedly passed over. Secretly she has promised herself that her mother would be at one of the stops to meet her. In the end she is taken in by a nice, elderly couple whom readers know will treat her well. Himler's lovely watercolor and gouache paintings express both the loneliness and hope of the children in scene after scene of the rugged new country. A reminder that the good old days were not so idyllic; this book will have a place in the history curriculum, but it's also an involving read-aloud.

From the Publisher
"A moving piece of Americana from a veteran team, introducing the orphan trains of the 19th and early 20th century to a picture-book audience. . . . A reminder that the good old days were not so idyllic; this book will have a place in the history curriculum, but it's also an involving read-aloud." Kirkus Reviews with Pointers

"The book is timely yet universal in showing the desire of every child for a loving family. Himler's full-page, bordered paintings portray the people and towns in warm colors and softly blended brush strokes. Beyond this gentle story lie the social issues of our own day." School Library Journal, Starred

"A heartbreaking picture book tells the story of the nineteenth-century Orphan Train in the voice of the plain girl nobody wants. Himler's beautiful, understated paintings show the train steaming across the prairie and the children trying to smile and look their best, hoping that someone will adopt them." Booklist, Editor's Choice

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780547346106
Publisher:
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Publication date:
04/17/2000
Sold by:
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
32
Sales rank:
1,177,294
Lexile:
440L (what's this?)
File size:
7 MB
Age Range:
5 - 8 Years

What People are saying about this

From the Publisher
"A moving piece of Americana from a veteran team, introducing the orphan trains of the 19th and early 20th century to a picture-book audience. . . . A reminder that the good old days were not so idyllic; this book will have a place in the history curriculum, but it's also an involving read-aloud." Kirkus Reviews with Pointers

"The book is timely yet universal in showing the desire of every child for a loving family. Himler's full-page, bordered paintings portray the people and towns in warm colors and softly blended brush strokes. Beyond this gentle story lie the social issues of our own day." School Library Journal, Starred

"A heartbreaking picture book tells the story of the nineteenth-century Orphan Train in the voice of the plain girl nobody wants. Himler's beautiful, understated paintings show the train steaming across the prairie and the children trying to smile and look their best, hoping that someone will adopt them." Booklist, Editor's Choice

Meet the Author

EVE BUNTING has written over two hundred books for children, including the Caldecott Medal-winning Smoky Night, illustrated by David Diaz, The Wall, Fly Away Home, and Train to Somewhere. She lives in Southern California.

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Train to Somewhere 3.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 6 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Its been theer years since i read this book for the first time amizaing i still rembered my class had to get tissuse for my teacher it truley teaches kids how fourchnet they r
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I decided to order this book after reading other children's books by Eve Bunting. I am so glad that I did. This book is excellent. It tells about a girl going on the Orphan Train. Most of the children get chosen early until it is just the girl and the woman that works for the orphanage. It is a very touching story. It would be a great conversation starter to use in the classroom while learning about the time period. I am a studying to be a Elementary school teacher and I think that this is an excellent addition to my personal library.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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