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One Came Home Paperback – January 7, 2014
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From School Library Journal
Gr 5-8-Thirteen-year-old Georgie Burkhardt can shoot better than anyone in Placid, Wisconsin. She can handle accounts and serve customers in her family's general store. What she can't do is accept that the unrecognizable body wearing her older sister's blue-green gown is Agatha. Determined to discover what happened after Agatha abruptly left town with a group of pigeoners, Georgie sets out to follow her route. In return for the loan of a mule, she reluctantly allows Billy McCabe, one of Agatha's suitors, to accompany her. The journey includes a menacing cougar and ruthless counterfeiters, but Georgie's narration offers more than action-packed adventure. She unravels the tangle of events that led to Agatha's sudden departure and acknowledges her own role. By turns humorous and reflective, Georgie's unique and honest voice includes confusion about her feelings for Billy and doubts about her ability to kill even in desperate circumstances. Timberlake seamlessly integrates information about two significant events that occurred in Wisconsin in 1871: the largest recorded nesting of passenger pigeons in spring and devastating firestorms in fall. Georgie's physical and emotional odyssey that occurs between those two events will linger in readers' minds.-Kathy Piehl, Minnesota State University, Mankatoα(c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.
To find out what really happened to her purportedly dead sister, sharpshooting 13-year-old Georgie Burkhardt and her sister’s one-time suitor Billy McCabe follow the trail of pigeon hunters and discover far worse going on near Placid, Wisconsin, in 1871. Georgie tells her story in a first-person narrative that rings true to the time and place. She is smart, determined, and not a little blind to the machinations of adults around her, including Billy, who has been sent by Georgie’s storekeeper grandfather to follow her and keep her safe. She does notice that Billy is well made, but this is no love story; it’s a story of acceptance, by Georgie, her family, and her small town. Timberlake weaves in the largest passenger pigeon nesting ever seen in North America, drought and fatal fires along Lake Michigan that year, a currency crisis that spawned counterfeiters, and advice on prairie travel from an actual handbook from the times. Historical fiction and mystery combine to make this a compelling adventure, and an afterword helps disentangle facts from fiction. Grades 6-9. --Kathleen Isaacs --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.
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Top Customer Reviews
This is a good story about the 13 year old’s ‘coming of age’ during her road trip. It also gives a pretty good depiction of what Midwest life was like back then.
Additionally, this story also introduces pigeoneers (a word that I never even heard of before this story). Evidentially, there were millions upon millions of wild pigeons (passenger pigeons) that came together every year to roost in the large tracts of native forests that were still standing in Ohio, Wisconsin and all across the Midwest during the latter half of the 1800s. Pigeoneers were the hunters that followed the birds to their roost and slaughtered them by the hundreds of thousands (every year) for sale as delicacies in restaurants along the East Coast. Anyway, the missing girl had run off with a crew of pigeoneers (two men and a woman).
If you read this book, I’d recommend researching Wisconsin wild pigeons on-line when you’re done with the book. It’s a tragic extinction event that American history kinda forgets about.
Before Georgie sets off to find out what really happened to Agatha she needs transportation. As it turns out, she ends up "renting" a mule from Billy McCabe, the sheriff's son and Agatha's former suitor. If riding a mule weren't humiliating enough, Georgie discovers Billy is going to be her partner on this journey. The pair have several adventures, some life-threatening, as they search for clues to Agatha's death.
Thirteen-year-old Georgie is feisty and stubborn, a crack shot, and something of a loudmouth. Cocky, handsome Billy is surprisingly compassionate and thoughtful. The two make an interesting pair in this action-filled story. An added bonus is the well-researched information about passenger pigeons and the people who hunted them to extinction.