Heart of a Shepherd

Heart of a Shepherd

by Rosanne Parry

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780375848032
Publisher: Random House Children's Books
Publication date: 07/13/2010
Pages: 176
Sales rank: 682,368
Product dimensions: 5.00(w) x 7.60(h) x 0.50(d)
Lexile: 850L (what's this?)
Age Range: 8 - 12 Years

About the Author

The stark beauty of eastern Oregon and the shared purpose of the ranching community made a lasting impression on Rosanne Parry. She found a similar rapport among the military families she knew when her husband was deployed to Iraq. She now lives in an old farmhouse in Portland, Oregon, with bunnies and chickens and her husband and four kids.


From the Hardcover edition.

Read an Excerpt

Grandpa frowns when he plays chess, like he does when he prays. He's got a floppy mustache that pulls that frown right down past his chin. He used to have freckles like me, but I guess they expanded on him because his whole face is pack-mule tan, witha fan of wrinkles at the corners. Years and years of moving cattle and mending fences gives a man a fearsome look, and I bet if I work at it, I can look just like my grandpa by the time I go to board at the high school. But the fences are mended for now and the cows are up in the mountains with my older brothers, so Grandpa and me are playing chess out on the back porch.  

Grandpa's chessmen are world-famous around here. They came over the Oregon Trail with Grandpa's grandfather in the covered wagon, and before that they came straight from Paris, France. They were carved by hand from ebony for the dark side and ivory for the light. The pawns all have round helmets and longbows. Everyone else has a sword, even the bishops, and their faces are dead serious, which is what you want when there's a war on.  

Grandpa is the chess champ of Malheur County, Oregon. We've been playing each other for years, so I've got him pretty well sized up. He always opens by moving the middle pawn up two spaces. But after that first move, he's as wily as a badger and twice as tough. I haven't beaten him yet, but when I do, it will be worth a town parade.  

Now, to my mind, pawns are a shifty-looking bunch, plus they clutter up the board, so I try to clear most of them off right away, his and mine. I like my knights to have plenty of room to ride. My queen's knight rides a paint mustang. That horse has got a temper; she's lean and fast, and brave as a lion. My king's knight rides a Clydesdale; not so much speed, but plenty of power.  

Rosita's my queen, of course. She's a fifth grader up at the school, and my best friend's sister. She can birth a lamb and kill a rattlesnake with a slingshot, which is what I look for in a queen. Plus, she's as pretty as a day in spring, and she laughs when I'm the one talking.  

I bet Grandpa's working on putting me in a fork. That's his favorite move, but I see it coming a mile away, so I take a sip from a sweaty glass of lemonade and talk things over with the men. My king's bishop is all for killing Grandpa's queen before she can get us, because, after all, he is an excellent swordsman. The trouble is, Grandpa's queen would have to be Grandma, and I couldn't let anything bad happen to her, now could I? It's confession for sure, for killing your grandma.  

My queen's bishop and I talk the other bishop out of it, which we do a lot. The queen's bishop is the more reflective type because his hands are carved together for praying.  

Grandpa leans forward in his straight-backed chair, still frowning. Dad's orders sit on the card table beside the chessboard, in a tan army envelope. I made Dad show me, because I couldn't believe what he said. They're going to send him and the entire 87th Transportation Battalion all the way to Iraq. Reserve guys are only supposed to go places for two weeks--maybe three, if there's a hurricane in Texas. Fourteen months! It says Dad will be gone fourteen months, right in print. Like this is going to sound better to me than Dad is going to miss my birthday two years in a row.  

Grandma's got him in the kitchen. I can hear the buzz of the clippers through the screen door. She takes about two minutes to cut my hair, but she's been at it with Dad for half an hour. I think she just wants an excuse to rub some extra blessings into his head. I hope she keeps him in there for an hour. He's going to need all the blessings he can get in Baghdad.  

Grandpa pauses so long in the game, I get to wondering if he's even playing. He's been writing letters to our senator to oppose the war ever since it started. Half the Quaker congregations west of the Mississippi have signed them. Grandpa is not an out-loudworrier like Grandma. He just spends more time in the evening praying and writing in his journal.  

"He doesn't really have to go, does he?"  

Grandpa looks up from the board, straight at me.  

"He took a vow when he put on that uniform. A promise is a binding thing, Brother, before the law and before God, too."  

"God doesn't believe in war, does he? You don't."  

"Protest is my calling. Your dad's is to take care of the men in his command. He can be faithful in that."  

The sun is just starting to go orange, and the wind settles down like it does this time of day. The whole ranch gets quiet, like it's waiting for the next move. Grandpa scoots his bishop up three spaces. He looks at me and smiles.   A fork! I knew it. My queen's in danger! Her knight is on the other end of the fork. What'll I do?

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Heart of a Shepherd 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 23 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Gets boring at times but for 90% of the book nice.
Mother-Daughter-Book-Club More than 1 year ago
Eleven-year-old Ignatius is the youngest of five sons, which is why everyone just calls him Brother. Growing up on a ranch in slightly populated Malhuer County, Oregon, Brother feels he has always been overshadowed by his older more capable brothers, who have always been around to do the hard work of ranching along with his dad and grandfather. But now his dad is leaving, his military reserve unit called to serve 14 months in Iraq, and the older sons are either away at boarding school, college or in the military as well. Brother will have to work with his grandparents to make the ranch run smoothly while his dad is gone.

Brother works hard at the ranch, but he's not sure that ranching will be his life's calling. He has always had a tender heart for animals that die, and working to keep things together will test him in ways he can't imagine. Yet he's determined to show everyone in the family that he can be counted on to hold things together while they are gone.

Heart of a Shepherd by Rosanne Parry reveals the heart of today's ranching communities and the values that keep those communities together: the importance of family, the church, love of and service to our country, and neighbors pulling together during times of crisis. Along the way Brother finds out what's most important to him, and how to find his own path while honoring his family members' commitments.

Even for those unconnected to the land, the story will resonate with it's portrait of a boy working to go where his heart tells him. The story has appeal for both middle-grade readers in fourth grade and up, as well as adults.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
My 11 year old son, who hates to read & feels forced to do so, loved this book. He enjoyed this book so much, he read it twice. For that, I would have given it 6 stars since we have a constant struggle to find something that really interests him that he wants to read.
caroljeanr on LibraryThing 27 days ago
A very timely topic that children of military families will appreciate. Yet, I was disappointed and found it confusing. The writing could have been clearer and the author tried to cover to many bases, epecially in the religion area.
GaylDasherSmith on LibraryThing 27 days ago
Such an unusual story. Usually a book will have a military backdrop or a ranching backdrop. This has both. Communities can be multi-focused as can people. There were strong military women who cared deeply for their families. Wonderfully written. My favorite of the Caudills this year.
ECHSLibrary on LibraryThing 27 days ago
I've always wondered what it would be like to live on a ranch in Eastern Oregon. This was a realistic depiction of how strong folks there need to be. Brother has to bear extra responsibilites on the ranch when his dad is sent to Iraq and his brothers are away at school. This has a strong emphasis on faith without being judgmental or preachy. I really liked this book.
BratGirlC on LibraryThing 27 days ago
This was a truly sweet and wonderful book about a 12 year old boy whose father is serving in Iraq. The youngest of 5 brothers, he is left behind with his grandparents to take care of the family ranch. Everyone he knows has a family member in the service, most under his father, a Colonel in the Army Reserve. This book made me both laugh and cry, and find a deep connection with Brother.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Is it a type of mystery or something cause I like that type of stuff and actoin so what type of book is it?
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TeensReadToo More than 1 year ago
HEART OF A SHEPHERD is a beautiful book by first-time author Rosanne Parry. It draws the reader right into life on an Oregon ranch and into the life of a spiritual family dedicated to the land, their country, and one another. Brother is the youngest of five boys raised on the family ranch. Soon, Brother will be gone to a high school boarding school, but for now it's up to him to help his father, grandpa, and grandma with the running of the place. As each day passes, it seems he is given more responsibility. Brother decides that's proof that they think he's growing up and will soon be man enough to handle his share of the work. When news breaks that his father's reserve unit is about to be shipped off to Iraq, Brother realizes he doesn't have a choice. Ready or not, he will be the only one left to help his grandfather run the ranch. With his father gone, he pitches in and learns how to handle everything from raising the bum lambs, literally lending a hand/arm with the calving, and making decisions like whether to use traditional branding or acid branding. Constant chores keep him busy, but he still has time to worry about the safety of his father commanding troops in Iraq. He knows he is not alone, since many in the community have fathers, mothers, and sons serving their country, leaving just a few family members to do what needs to be done here at home. The story is an interesting mix of young and old. The experience of the old is passed to the young when it comes to handling ranch chores, as well as the rules of life in general. There is a strong sense of spirituality among the characters with the incorporation of a variety of faiths - Catholic, Quaker, and Baptist. It is evident that a higher power plays a major role in the lives described in HEART OF A SHEPHERD. The appeal of this book should reach far beyond its YA audience. I look forward to reading more by Rosanne Parry in the future.
pegzi50 More than 1 year ago
This book was recommended to me by a children's author in my community. I can't thank her enough or recommend this little gem to anyone, young or older enough either. I relate to it on so many levels. I'm a practicing Catholic from a small Western town. My son served in the Iraq war (has been home safe for some time). The main character, Brother, just a kid missing his Dad, not ever knowing his mother, matures so gracefully with the help of his Grands, his school friends and the small ranching community he lives in that he comes out not just knowing his life calling, but as a true hero. I plan to order this book for my Catholic and non-Catholic friends and family. I hope and pray that Ms. Parry writes many more like THE HEART OF A SHEPHERD.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Weird name brother:)
Audrey Higgins More than 1 year ago
i like it a lot
Grace Kleind More than 1 year ago
This book sounds sooooo boring . Is it really worth the price?
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Terrible. I would not recommend it to anyone.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago