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Worth Hardcover – June 1, 2004

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 8 - 12 years
  • Grade Level: 3 - 7
  • Lexile Measure: 830L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 160 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers; 1ST edition (June 1, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0689857306
  • ISBN-13: 978-0689857300
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.8 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (38 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #161,556 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Grade 5-8–As 11-year-old Nathaniel rushes to bring in hay ahead of an approaching thunderstorm, his leg is crushed beneath a wagon when the team of horses, spooked by lightning, lurches out of control. His father brings one more conflict to their late-19th-century Nebraska homestead in the person of John Worth, a boy taken off the orphan train to help take up the slack. The family is already tense about previous financial failures and the loss of a daughter. Now fence cutters exacerbate the land-use conflict between ranchers and farmers by freeing cattle to trample the crops on which the farmers' survival depends. The author convincingly conveys the boys' gradual realization of the value of one another's friendship. Other themes include the importance of reading and education, meeting challenges head on, relying on and playing a responsible role in your community, and recovering from loss. A special strength of the book is the characterization of Nathaniel's mom, whose fierce anger is emotionally balanced by her dedication to her family's well-being. Although she works as a tinker, she lets her husband take credit in deference to the mores of the time. A satisfying piece of historical fiction.–Joel Shoemaker, Southeast Junior High School, Iowa City, IA
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

*Starred Review* Gr. 3-7. LaFaye's novel is one of the first to tell the Orphan Train story from the viewpoint of a kid displaced by a newcomer. Even worse than the pain that 11-year-old Nate felt when his leg was crushed in an accident is rejection by his pa, who takes in young John Worth to pick up Nate's work on their small farm. Nate's angry first-person narrative is brutally honest, and, at first, he is bitterly resentful of John, an orphan who lost his family in a New York City tenement fire: "Just 'cause he lost his father didn't mean he had a right to mine." Through Nate's narrative comes a sense of the grueling daily work, the family struggle to try to hold on to the land and avoid failure. In addition, there's some late-nineteenth-century history about the local wars between cattle ranchers (who want grazing land) and farmers (who need room for crops), and in an exciting climax, Nate and John ride together to warn the farmers and prevent the fence-cutters from causing a cattle stampede. Only an awkward metaphor about the Greek myths seems patched on. The short, spare novel doesn't need the heavy heroic parallels; it tells its own story of darkness and courage. A great choice for American history classes. Hazel Rochman
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

More About the Author

when I started elementary in a small town in central Wisconsin, I discovered that I had a serious problem--I was a complete and total geek! I showed up at school with my clothes on backwards (not to start a new fashion trend, I just pay a lot of attention when I was getting dressed); I talked to myself (why not, no one else would); and I was constantly making up stories.

By the time I was 8, most of the kids in school hated me. They called me names, threw things at me, and generally made my life miserable. I want to do something to make them want to get to know the real me, becuase I felt sure that they'd like me if they really got to know me.

My big plan back then was to break a World Record in the Guiness Book of World Records, then I'd become famous and everyone would want to get to know me. Unfortunately, I could find a record I could break. Then I found Dorothy Straight who published a novel when she was six. I thought, "If a six year old can do, then so can I." That's what started me on the road to becoming an author.

Since then, I've become an author and a writing teacher. I've published nearly a dozen books including WORTH which one the 2005 Scott O'Dell Award and my most recent title THE KEENING which tells the story of a grieving girl who discovers she has a hidden family talent-- she can see the dead.

More importantly, I've realized that it's wonderful to embrace your inner geek, believe in the person God made you to be, and use the gifts God make you to try and make the world a better place. I hope my books do that.

Happy Reading!

Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By E. R. Bird HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on March 8, 2006
Format: Hardcover
You know, you can never have too many awards for works of children's fiction. Sometimes that's the only way you're ever going to find an audience for a perfectly nice but sadly forgotten title. Take, "Worth" as an example. Until it won itself a rather prestigious Scott O'Dell Award For Historical Fiction, I hadn't heard so much as a breath upon the wind about it. It seemed nice enough, of course. But historical fiction is something I find myself unconsciously avoiding. When the O'Dell honor fell upon it, however, I picked "Worth" up for some good reading. What I found proves that no matter how great a book is, if it gets lost in the shuffle then it may remain an exceptional but forgotten title. I'm pleased to see so many kids reviewing it on their own. Hopefully that will mean that "Worth" will become a classic simply by word of mouth.

It all would have been fine if the lightning hadn't come. That was the whole reason why Nathaniel, his father, and his mother were out in the fields working like mad to get their crops in before the rain fell. In his haste to help out, Nate gets his pitchfork stuck in the ground and, in freeing it, happens to be in the way of the horses when the lightening spooks them. The wheel of the wagon and the horses themselves break the boy's leg all to pieces and though he lives he'll never walk the same again. This is a particular problem on a farm where every family member has to pull their own weight. That means Nate has to be replaced by John Worth, an orphan from New York City who's been taken in by Nate's pa. No one likes John, but as Nate slowly begins to learn this stranger's story he crawls a little bit away from his own self-pity and into liking this odd city slicker.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful A Kid's Review on October 5, 2006
Format: Paperback
Nathaniel James lives in the American Midwest on the family farm. He thinks he has it good, until the storm arrives on the plains. As his family tries to save the crops from the wind and devastating rains, a flash of light blinds Nathaniel's eyes. When he awakes, he finds himself screaming in pain, and notices that his leg is red-hot, struck by lightning. When the village doctor arrives, he tells Nathaniel's family that his leg will never properly heal. That starts a chain of downward events that will make him feel miserable. The first is that Nathaniel must go to the village school and learn with a group of first-graders. After limping home and receiving taunts from the schoolchildren, Nathaniel finds his father and his mother arguing. The answer appears when a boy arrives to Nathaniel's farm. Since Nathaniel's leg is forever damaged, his father bought a boy named John Worth from the Orphan Train, who does all of the work that Nathaniel used to do. Feeling like he's been replaced, Nathaniel begins to hate John immedietly. Also, Nathaniel has trouble reading, and even children several years younger than him are able to outperform him in mathematics. Nathaniel becomes so infuriated that he tosses his English book out his window, only to hear John's attempt to pronounce words. Things become worse until he meets a Greek girl named Anemone, and borrows a book from her on Greek myths to help him read. As things for Nathaniel begins to improve, the situation within the community is bleak. A war is about to begin between the farmers and the ranchers. Over a long rivalry with the Danver and Gantry family, and asa result, several farms and ranches have been damaged. However, there is a more personal struggle, as Nathaniel hits John after both begin to shout at each other.Read more ›
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Class 15 on April 6, 2005
Format: Hardcover
This book is about a boy named Nate who is a farmer's son. Nate likes helping his father on the farm. One stormy day Nate was working with his father and a wagon ran over his leg leaving him crippled. When Nate gets better he goes to school because he can't work on the farm. Nate's father brings a boy home to do all of Nate's work named John Worth. This makes Nate feel worthless to his father so he starts hating John. At school Nate finds out a war is starting with kids and adults against other kids and adults but he just stays out of it and meets two Greek kids. They are picked on just like him so he makes friends with one of them. Nate has to face school and John. Maybe Nate hasn't learned enough about John to know whether or not he really hates him.

I liked the parts in the book that were happy because those parts didn't come very often. I also liked the parts that are about Nate with his Greek friend. The sad parts are okay but not as good as the others. One of my favorite parts of the book is when Nate meets the Greek kids because its happy for the first time and it is something good that happened to Nate.

There were some very unrealistic parts in the story that I didn't like. For example, when people were laughing and all was happy Nate continued to think to himself that he hated John Worth. I also disliked some of the sad parts because Nate's family treated John like a boy treating ants with a magnifying glass, with John being the ant.

I liked this book a lot so I'd actually give it a 4 ½ out of 5.

Fairfax, California
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