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A Family Apart (Orphan Train Adventures) Paperback – December 18, 1995


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A Family Apart (Orphan Train Adventures) + Caught in the Act (Orphan Train Adventures) + A Place to Belong (Orphan Train Adventures)
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 12 and up
  • Grade Level: 7 and up
  • Lexile Measure: 820L (What's this?)
  • Series: Orphan Train Adventures (Book 1)
  • Paperback: 176 pages
  • Publisher: Laurel Leaf; Reprint edition (December 18, 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0440226767
  • ISBN-13: 978-0440226765
  • Product Dimensions: 4.4 x 0.5 x 6.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (44 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #102,065 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

This first book of the Orphan Train Quartet tells the story of Frances Mary, 13, eldest of the six Kelly children. Life in New York's grim 19th century slums consists of hardship for the poor but honest Kelly clan. When widowed Mrs. Kelly feels that she is no longer capable of providing for her children, she sends them west on the Orphan Train, to be adopted by farm families. Frances masquerades as a boy in order to be adopted with Petey, the brother she promised her mother she would protect. The practical difficulties Frances faces in maintaining this disguise are handled in an amusing and thoughtful manner. Since Frances and Petey are adopted by a couple with strong abolitionist sympathies, it should come as no surprise that Frances, just days after her arrival on the farm, finds herself helping two runaway slaves on the Underground Railroad. Though the plot is predictable and sometimes overly sentimental, and the Kelly family lapses into stilted Irish syntax, the rapid succession of high-spirited adventures make for lively reading. Ages 10-up.
Copyright 1987 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From School Library Journal

Grade 5-8 First of a projected quartet of orphan stories, each about a member of the same family of children transported by orphan train from New York to St. Joseph, Missouri, and surrounding areas. A kind of period piece, circa 1860, A Family Apart has a distinct Horatio Alger tone. Well constructed incidents, including the widowed mother giving up her children so they can be sent west to find a better life, a grass fire set by sparks from the train, and a holdup of the train contribute to fast action and considerable suspenseparticularly about the oldest girl, Frances, who disguises herself as a boy so she can better help her brothers and sisters. An Orphan for Nebraska (Atheneum, 1979) by Charlene Joy Talbot is a similar orphan train story, but about one boy. Patricia Beatty's That's One Ornery Orphan (Morrow, 1980) is more humorous but less of a saga. What happened to orphans and street children of the last century may well appeal to many of today's children who hear so much about street children and abducted and deserted kids. George Gleason, Department of English, Southwest Missouri State University, Springfield
Copyright 1987 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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We read this book when I was in 5th grade.
Christina Gordon
In my educated opinion, I think that this book is great for a historical fiction report and also a good curl-up-with kind of book.
Rachel
A Family Apart will help explain about ultimate sacrifice and love.
Jenny

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

23 of 23 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on August 9, 1999
Format: Paperback
This book has got to be one of my favorites. My fifth grade teacher read the whole series to us that year. the other books in the series are as followes- 1) A Family Apart, 2)Caught in the Act, 3) In the face of Danger, 4)A Place to Belong, 5) A Dangerous Promise, 6) Keeping Secrets, and 7)Circle of Love. There is also a series called the Orpan Train Children which is based on the book Circle of love. the books in that series are as follows 1)Lucy's Wish, 2)Wills Choice, 3)Aggie's Home, and 4)David's Search. I hope u enjoy all of these books as much as i have
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Alexander Nordquist on January 21, 2004
Format: Paperback
My mom bought me the orphan train adventures series a long time ago, and I never really read them because I wasn't that much into reading. But now, after I read this book, I am reading all the stories in this series 30 minutes a day! This would really be a good book to read.
The story is about a 13 year old girl named Frances Mary Kelly who lives with her mom and her brothers and sisters named Megan, Mike, Danny, Peg and Petey. The family is very poor and the mother realizes that she cannot afford to keep all of them. So, to solve that problem she sends them on an orphan train to live in the west with more wealthy families. Each of the children gets separated into different families and the second part of the story tells how Frances and Petey get along with their new family. I thought that the story was very interesting and when I finished one chapter I was so curious that I had to read more than one. What I also liked about the book was that it was very easy to understand what is happening. I have read many other books including Harry Potter where there are so many things that are happening at once that it's just to hard to keep track of everything so that's another good point of the story.
The other books in this series include: Caught In the Act, In the Face Of Danger, A Place To Belong, A Dangerous Promise, Keeping Secrets and Circle Of Love. The other books tell you the stories of the other kids and I also recommend them.
This was one of the best books I have read so far and I am going to read the whole series!!!
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 19, 1999
Format: Paperback
I thought that A FAMILY APART was a really good book. It helped me to understand what a poor teenager's life was like in the mid 1800's. The story was mainly about a thirteen year old girl named Frances, who lived with her mother and five siblings in New York. After Frances' father died, the family lived in poverty. The mother worked at all hours of the day to support her family. Therefore,she never had time to properly care for her six children, so she sent them on an orphan train to St. Joseph's, Missouri to live with farm families who could feed them and care for them. The children were very upset to leave their mother. They were upset because they would be separated from their brothers and sisters also. Frances did however get placed in a home with her six year old brother, Petey. Frances learned to cope with, and love her new family. Frances had some very exciting adventures while she was living with her new family in Missouri. This book helps the reader understand love, sacrifice and trust. If I were you, I'd sacrifice a little bit of time to read A FAMILY APART.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful A Kid's Review on March 11, 2004
Format: Paperback
Good Book! It has action, adventure, and helps you learn about history all in one book. I enjoyed reading it and if you read this book, be sure to check out the rest of the series, too! People of all ages would love it. I'd recomend this book to everyone I meet!
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful A Kid's Review on April 1, 2004
Format: Paperback
This was a thrilling book about a poor family that live in newyork the family has to deal with many problems first the dad dies, then the 3rd eldest gets in to some trouble because he is a copper thief Mike (the copper thief) is sent to a hearing The judge announces under there mothers wishes that the children ( Petey, Peg, Danny, Mike, Megan, and Frances) are to be sent west on the orphan train. Before the train leaves Frances the eldest child overhears that two kids in the same family are more likely to be adopted if they are boys. So Frances promising her mother that she would take care of her youngest brother cuts her hair and pretends to be a boy named Frankie. That's just the beginning Frances and her brothers and sisters encounter many other things on there quest to the west. Read this fantastic book and your eyes will open up to a whole new world of adventure thieves, slaves, fear, and depression it's sure to make your heart ache.This is a book you will always remember.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Nicole Rega on March 23, 2010
Format: Paperback
I think I read this book for the first time in 6th grade. I'm feeling a bit nostalgic lately so I've been rereading books from my childhood. I remembered that while I liked the Orphan Train series, It always bugged me that at some point (I don't remember which book) the children were allowed to go back and live with their mother and most of the 6 children declined. Having reread it, it still bugs, but I can see why the children chose to live apart through the characterization of Frances Mary in this first installment. Good reason or not, their mother abandoned them. There has to be ramifications stemming from that.

Anyway, this books sets the stage for the rest of the series as the children are sent out west on the Orphan Train. History wise, at times it appears as if the author read a few textbooks and went from there trying to explain historical events like the Missouri Compromise or the Fugitive Slave Act through wooden and clunky dialogue.

The climax in which Frances Mary, who disguises herself as a boy in order to be adopted with her youngest brother is cliche and predicable. She joins her new family in helping slaves on the Underground Railroad and is nearly arrested for her part. However, once everyone realizes she's a girl all is forgiven and the charges are dropped. I can't decide if that's historically accurate or merely the stereotype of the period. The Underground Railroad part is strange as well. It is interesting to read about Frances Mary's new relatives leaving their privileged homes in New England to move to Kansas in order make it a free (non slave) state. However, Frances Mary too easily accepts (and her adoptive parents too easily tell) their views on slavery and the like.
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