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Heart of a Shepherd Hardcover – January 27, 2009

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 8 - 12 years
  • Grade Level: 3 - 7
  • Lexile Measure: 850L (What's this?)
  • Series: AWARDS: Mark Twain Nominees 2011-2012
  • Hardcover: 176 pages
  • Publisher: Random House Books for Young Readers; Third printing edition (January 27, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9780375848025
  • ISBN-13: 978-0375848025
  • ASIN: 0375848029
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 0.7 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (38 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,239,676 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In Parry's debut novel, 11-year-old Brother (his given name is Ignatius: "Guess they ran out of all the good saints by the time they got to me") helps manage his family's Oregon ranch. With his father in Iraq, his four older brothers at school or in the military, and his mother painting abroad, caring for family's livestock falls to Brother, his grandparents and some hired help. Though he is eager to prove to his siblings, grandparents and most importantly, his father, that he can handle it, Brother nonetheless struggles with the rigors of the job, his father's and brothers' absence and the stress of war ("I could never do it.... I could never take those salutes and the 'yes, sirs' and then take moms and dads into danger"). Slowly, Brother fills the shoes of his elders and realizes his own calling when he is literally tested by fire. Brother's spiritual growth and gentle but strong nature, in tandem with details of ranch life and the backdrop of war, add up to a powerful, unique coming-of-age story. Ages 8-12.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From School Library Journal

Grade 4–8—In this coming-of-age story, Ignatius, the youngest of five brothers in a military family grounded in the Christian faith, promises to take care of the ranch while his father is deployed in Iraq. Since his mother left years earlier to pursue life as an artist, and his older brothers are off to school or military training camps, the 11-year-old looks to his grandparents for guidance, but often feels angry and alone trying to keep his heroic promise. Although some of the realities of the Iraq war are threaded in, the author primarily focuses on the details of contemporary Oregonian ranch life. Ignatius's series of firsts that move him beyond his absolute, always-saying-never ways are the novel's most suspenseful scenes: he stitches up his brother's head, births a calf, and survives a wildfire. In the end, his relationships with his Quaker grandfather, an Ecuadoran shepherd who works on the ranch, and a new Catholic circuit priest help him to discover his true calling, to become a military chaplain. Despite a heavy-handed message and an unevenness in tone—the present-tense first-person narrative changes awkwardly between a reflective and an imaginary play voice—it remains a good purchase for readers who are looking for realistic fiction written from the point of view of a soldier's child, along with Maria Testa's Almost Forever (Candlewick, 2003) and Gary Paulsen's The Quilt (Random, 2004).—Sara Paulson, American Sign Language and English Lower School PS 347, New York City
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Library Binding edition.

Customer Reviews

It felt like real people in real situations.
Jackie Parker
I loved it and will read Rosanna Parry again and, I hope, through many more books.
I strongly recommend this book for youth and adults.
Living in Literature

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Living in Literature on July 30, 2009
Format: Hardcover
My employment is as a director of education. I read books for youth and teenagers so that I am aware of what books, good and bad, are available to my students.

Rosanne Parry's first novel, _Heart Of A Shepherd_ is one of the most stunning stories that I have read in the past ten years. It truly is a story for all ages. Her writing is lyrical, her characters are fully developed and realistic, and her portrayal of what it is to be 12 years old is so accurate that I felt my own 12-year old self (an age I left behind decades ago) rise within my soul. (See other reviews for a sketch of the story. I don't want to repeat what others have written.)

This book is what our youth NEED to be reading. Parry's sentences are complex and her use of metaphor is breathtaking. Her conversation is realistic; each character speaks in a voice that is sincere, accurate, and believable for him/herself.

I strongly recommend this book for youth and adults. It will remind each adult of what it truly was (and is still) to be a twelve year old searching for ones true self. Youth will find in Ignatius, affectionately called Brother by his family and friends and Natch by a Jesuit priest) a character who realistically and maturely portrays what they are enduring at this point in their lives.

Parry writes with true respect and reverence for youth. She does not, as many wildly popular authors do, write in overly simplistic language nor does she create one dimensional relationships between her characters. She accurately portrays the complexity of being a human and human relationships with one another.

In addition to being beautifully written, _Heart Of A Shepherd_ is finely edited. So many books today are chock full of errors that should be caught by an editor.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Cynthia Hudson on January 28, 2009
Format: Hardcover
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.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By The Children's Book Reporter on October 21, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Ignatius (known as "Brother") Alderman is twelve years old and the youngest of five brothers who work on a cattle ranch with their father and grandparents. Brother has never been quite the same as his brothers--three of whom are in the military (like their dad) and all of whom are tougher ranchers than Brother thinks he will ever be. But when his dad's army reserve unit is deployed to Iraq, Brother is left to be the man of the house with all his brothers away with army training or college or military high school. He handles the conflicts and dramas of ranch life with courage and hope, and eventually finds his calling in an unlikely way.
Heart of a Shepherd was a believable, moving story told by a talented new author who brings grace and tangibility to her words. Rosanne Parry brings the experience of a young rancher to life so realistically that as a reader you can practically smell the horse sweat and see the stars in a clear mountain sky. This story is full of drama and emotion, handling difficult issues with a sensitive and credible touch.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Jackie Parker on August 12, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Heart of a Shepherd by Rosanne Parry made me cry twice. That's not really a trait I look for in books, but, hey, that's later on, lest it be a turn-off for you. Before all that, Heart of a Shepherd made me laugh and cheer out loud. Full of endearing characters, it was just what I was hoping to read over a holiday weekend. Also, it was short. And sometimes, you just want a short book. One that lacks commitment.

Brother (that's what everyone calls him) is counting down the months until his officer father returns from combat in Iraq. In the meantime, he's the man of the ranch with his aging grandparents while his four older brothers are off at school or stationed elsewhere, and a barely known artist mother in Italy. Brother, being the youngest, is the only one not somehow involved with either the Army or ROTC. Everyone else knows just who they are and what they will do with their lives, but Brother can't really see himself as a soldier or a rancher. And those are about the only things he knows.

Brother is a charming and thoughtful boy who purposefully crumples up his perfectly done homework (to keep up appearances) and has read all the dragon books on his shelf - so he steals ship books from his brothers. He's shouldering a great deal of responsibility and handles it seriously, but appropriately, for a kid his age - there is the necessary worry and fear that would be inherent in that situation. He also personifies his chess pieces as his loved ones - and purposely loses because he can't bear to kill his grandpa's queen (being grandma). Adorable.

There was a lot of honesty in this story. It felt like real people in real situations. While religion was portrayed in the best of light, this isn't an "inspirational fiction" book.
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More About the Author

Rosanne Parry was born in Oak Park, Illinois and grew up in Portland, Oregon. She and her husband live in Portland in an old farm house where they are raising four children, three chickens and five kinds of fruit. She writes in a tree house in her back yard.

Her first novel Heart of a Shepherd was named a Best Book of the Year by Kirkus Reviews, a Best Children's Book of the Year by the Washington Post, and a Horn Book Fanfare Book. In 2010 it was chosen for the Oregon Spirit Book Award given by the Oregon Council of Teachers of English. It received the Rodda Award from the Church and Synagogue Library Association, and it was named on Honor Book for the Judy Lopez Memorial Book Award given by the Women's National Book Association.

Her historical novel Second Fiddle was named an INDY NEXT pic for the Spring 2011 list. It was a Parents' Choice Award winner 2011 and and Oregon Spirit Book Award winner in 2012. Her newest novel Written in Stone is a Junior Library Guild selection.

Rosanne presents workshops in person at writers' conferences and on line at The Loft Literary Center. She works with children of all ages in schools. If you wish to contact her for a school visit there is information about that on her website at www.rosanneparry.com .

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