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The Midnight Train Home Library Binding – June 13, 2000


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Product Details

  • Age Range: 10 - 13 years
  • Grade Level: 5 - 8
  • Library Binding: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers (June 13, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0375901590
  • ISBN-13: 978-0375901591
  • Product Dimensions: 8.6 x 5.8 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #8,989,220 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In this novel set during the Great Depression, Tamar (The Junkyard Dog) adds some twists to the much-explored terrain of the orphan train. As the story opens, 11-year-old Deirdre O'Rourke and her two brothers are boarding a train at New York's Grand Central Station; their mother then walks away, "stiff-legged and fast down the street, her arms wrapped tight around her body." The scene sets the book's somber tone. An aura of despair and loneliness persists as Deirdre watches her three-year-old brother go off with new parents, then is forced to abandon her 13-year-old brother when she, too, is adopted. Miserable in her new home with an austere minister and his wife, ridiculed by children for her hand-me-down clothes and viewed by adults as a ruffian, Deirdre loses her sense of dignity and identity until she hatches a plan to find her older brother. While the story line seems to be headed toward a happy reunion of the three children, fate plays an interesting trick, changing Deirdre's course. The protagonist's gift for song seems somewhat tacked on, since readers witness little of her joy of singing; as her talent plays such a crucial role in the novel's outcome, they may be left unconvinced by the final turn of events. Still, Deirdre's realization that she is in control of her destiny comes as an uplifting epiphany, adding light to a rather grim sequence of events. Ages 10-13. (May)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From School Library Journal

Grade 5-7-Deirdre O'Rourke, 11, doesn't understand what's happening when she and her brothers, Sean and Jimmy, are bundled off on an orphan train in 1927 to find new families west of New York City. They're not orphans, but their mum says she can no longer support them. Reality sinks in when little Jimmy is chosen by a strange couple, and a furious Deirdre can't do anything to stop them. Then she ends up with Reverend Gansworthy and his stern, unaffectionate wife, who take her in only as an act of charity, and she is determined to find her brothers. Once she learns that Sean is in Texas, she runs away and joins a traveling vaudeville troupe in order to reach him. She discovers that singing is her main love in life, and that a troupe of actors can become as important a family as her brothers. Tamar does a wonderful job of incorporating the historical attitudes and realities of life for the poor during the late '20s. It's interesting to read about the ongoing tradition of orphan trains, so often connected only to the 1880s. The characters of the vaudeville troupe are convincing as a surrogate family for Deirdre, and the descriptions of her performance anxieties are real enough to appeal to any would-be performer. In spite of some inconsistencies in the protagonist's character, this book is a useful addition to the canon of orphan-train fiction.
Linda Bindner, formerly at Athens Clarke County Library, GA
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Midwest Book Review on September 19, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Deirdre and her siblings are placed on the Orphan Train and farmed out to different homes when their mother can no longer keep them; but their separation haunts Deirdre and when a passing vaudeville troupe gives her the ability to run away in search of her brother, she leaves her new home. Along the way she discovers new talents and pleasures which may change her ideas of re-forming a family in this different perspective of the Orphan Train situation. An engaging novel for young readers.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By MAB on August 15, 2002
Format: Paperback
"The Midnight Train Home" was a very good story and would be good to read along with "The Orphan Train" books. I think Erika Tamar was successful in portraying how out of place Diedre O'Rourke was when she was adopted. She also makes the reader feel happy at Diedre's happiness. This book shows how some kids were unfortunate in their new adopted homes, while other's had a better life than they had before they were adopted. The author's note in the back was very educational and informative. I just wish Tamar had included an Epilogue. Now I wish she will make a sequel or a spin-off with Rosie France. I recommend.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful By little lady blue on February 11, 2014
Format: Paperback
This novel set during the Depression tells the story of Deirdre O'Rourke, age 11, her older brother Sean and her younger brother James. Their mother, unable to care for them, sends them off on one of the `Orphan Trains'. It is never explained why the mother was unable to care for them which I think would have been an important point to make.

The children are separated (as so often was the case) being taken in by different families in different towns. Deirdre is `saved' from the family that picked her through the intervention of a neighbour placing the town minister into the position of doing his `Christian duty' by taking her in. The minister and his wife are not bad people, just somewhat austere, but Deirdre is terribly unhappy and dreams of nothing but escape to locate her brothers.

An unlikely opportunity presents itself singing with a vaudeville act and Deirdre sets off with the expressed intention of getting to Texas to locate her older brother - but Deirdre becomes enamored with the thrill of singing for an audience. Upon locating her brother who offers her a home with him and the family he has come to love or remain with the vaudeville act and choose the bright lights of the stage Deirdre finds herself with a life choice to make.

Such a choice made at such a tender age I felt may very well be sending a wrong message to the children for whom this book is intended.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Mrs. Denise I. Akers on October 5, 2013
Format: Library Binding Verified Purchase
I so appreciate the way I can obtain books at Amazon for a good price. I bought this for a granddaughter.
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