Wanderville [NOOK Book]



Jack, ...
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Jack, Frances, and Frances’s younger brother Harold have been ripped from the world they knew in New York and sent to Kansas on an orphan train at the turn of the century. As the train chugs closer and closer to its destination, the children begin to hear terrible rumors about the lives that await them. And so they decide to change their fate the only way they know how. . . .

They jump off the train.

There, in the middle of the woods, they meet a boy who will transform their lives forever. His name is Alexander, and he tells them they've come to a place nobody knows about—especially not adults—and "where all children in need of freedom are accepted." It's a place called Wanderville, Alexander says, and now Jack, Frances, and Harold are its very first citizens.

2014 Parents' Choice Award Recommended Fiction

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  • Author Wendy McClure
    Author Wendy McClure  

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
First in a historical-fiction series, McClure's book is inspired by the orphan trains of the 19th and early 20th centuries. Eleven-year-old Frances and her seven-year-old brother, Harold, meet up with 11-year-old Jack on a train bound from New York City to Kansas; fearing the worst for what lies ahead, they decide to jump off the train. Lost in the Kansas wilderness, they meet another young New Yorker, Alexander, himself escaped from the cruel conditions of a working ranch, and they become the first citizens of Wanderville, a "town" in the woods that he is creating for runaways. Author/editor McClure (The Wilder Life) celebrates bravery, ingenuity, and the bonds of family and friendship in this old-fashioned story of children fending for themselves, building a community, and eluding the adults who seek them. Close calls maintain suspense, but most of the characters—including the four children—lack full development; certain adults, such as the cruel ranch owners, are little more than stereotypes. Still, readers should enjoy vicariously participating in the children's independence and will appreciate their hard-earned triumphs. Ages 8–12. Agent: Sarah Burnes the Gernert Company. (Jan.)
School Library Journal
Gr 4–6—Somewhat reminiscent of the "Boxcar Children" series (Albert Whitman), this book centers around the "Orphan Train Movement" that occured between 1853 and 1929. Readers are introduced to 11-year-old Jack, who has been abandoned by his parents after the death of his older brother. Frances, also 11, and her younger brother, Harold, suffer a similar abandonment. Their unfortunate circumstances bring them together, along with other children, on a train headed to Kansas and a "better situation." As the train chugs closer to their destination, the children become concerned about rumors of horrible working conditions and abuse. Jack hatches a plan to escape and encourages Frances to join him. Readers will be swept away by the bravery of the young heroes. While background information about the era can be gleaned from the text, pair this title with Andrea Warren's Orphan Train Rider (Houghton Mifflin, 1996) for deeper historical context. Readers of series fiction who enjoy learning about the past will gravitate toward this accessible novel and will be impatient for the sequel.—Annette Herbert, F. E. Smith Elementary School, Cortland, NY
Kirkus Reviews
In 1904, three children from New York City's Lower East Side are sent to Kansas on an orphan train. Jack's father drinks and does not want him. Frances and her little brother, Harold, have no parents to care for them. They meet while boarding the train at Grand Central Station and start out on a journey fraught with unanswered questions while under the supervision of two matrons, one sympathetic and one coldhearted. When rumors spread about their placements, the three children jump the train in Kansas and meet a boy named Alexander. He has fashioned a children's-only town for himself called Wanderville, building it with his imagination and stolen food. (Alexander refers to taking food from the nearby town as an act of liberation, a usage more suited to the latter half of the century.) As it turns out, the rumors were true; the other children have been delivered to a Dickensian work farm. A dramatic rescue and sympathetic townspeople put a stop to the horrors, and the three orphans and Alexander are ready for their next adventure and book as they set out for California. The tale is fast-paced but superficial, and beyond the immediate appeal of its subject, it offers no sure sense of place or character development. Perhaps it's intended as a fiction tie-in to Common Core Curriculum studies, but it's not at all successful, compelling or memorable. (Historical fiction. 8-12)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781101619179
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA)
  • Publication date: 1/23/2014
  • Series: Wanderville , #1
  • Sold by: Penguin Group
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 224
  • Sales rank: 755,879
  • Age range: 8 - 12 Years
  • File size: 938 KB

Meet the Author

Wendy McClure
Wendy McClure (WendyMcClure.net) is the author of The Wilder Life: My Adventures in the Lost World of Little House on the Prairie and several other books for adults and children. She is a senior editor at Albert Whitman and Company, where her recent projects include books in the Boxcar Children series. She received an MFA from the Iowa Writer’s Workshop and has been a contributor to the New York Times Magazine and This American Life. She lives in Chicago with her husband.
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Customer Reviews

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  • Posted February 22, 2014

    Jack wasn¿t an orphan, but his parents put him on an orphan trai

    Jack wasn’t an orphan, but his parents put him on an orphan train after his older brother died in a factory fire. His parents couldn’t afford to have Jack live with them anymore. Jack makes friends on the train. His new friends, Frances and her little brother Harold, are just happy to not be separated from each other. The kids hear horrible rumors about the place they’re heading for, the Pratcherd Ranch. So, they hatch an idea. When the train stops, the kids jump off it! Soon after, they meet Alexander, a kid who had escaped from the Pratcherd Ranch. They become friends and they make a town where kids in need can find refuge. The children call it Wanderville.

    This was an outstanding, well-written book. Ms. McClure has instantly become a favorite author of mine with this book! The story was one I couldn’t put down. I really identified with the characters who were taken from New York and left in Kansas (we recently moved from just outside Philadelphia to a VERY rural area). Ms. McClure’s writing style really draws you into the story. It made it seem like I jumped off the train with Jack, Frances, and Harold. There is some very minor violence at the Pratcherd Ranch, but most of it happens between chapters and isn’t graphic. I love the history I learned about the orphan trains too. I first learned about them in Clare Vanderpool’s “Moon Over Manifest,” but learned more about them from this book. Jack sounds like a boy I’d love to be friends with. He’s pretty adventurous. I think kids will love this book! I can’t wait for Book 2! :D
    *NOTE* I got an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review

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