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Train to Somewhere Paperback – April 17, 2000

4.1 out of 5 stars 38 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Inspired by a little-known chapter of American history, this characteristically incisive collaboration from Bunting and Himler (Someday a Tree, see p. 90; Fly Away Home) imagines a journey on one of the many "Orphan Trains" that, between the mid-1850s and the late 1920s, brought children from New York City orphanages to adoptive families in the West. The narrator of this finely crafted, heart-wrenching story is Marianne, a plain girl secretly dreaming of being reunited with her own mother, who promised to return for Marianne after making a new life for them in the West. Bunting ably weaves the girl's hopes and anxieties into her perceptive account of how each of Marianne's 13 companions is chosen for adoption at the various train stations while she futilely searches the crowd for her mother. Finally only Marianne remains. In the tale's optimistic ending, Marianne finds a new family in Somewhere, Iowa, the train's last stop. Here an elderly couple, who clearly had planned on adopting a boy, take Marianne in, with ultimately comforting, resonant words: "Sometimes what you get turns out to be better than what you wanted in the first place." Himler's watercolor and gouache paintings offer polished portraits of the period as they convey the plot's considerable emotion. Like Bunting's text, his art is at once sobering and uplifting-and assuredly memorable. Ages 5-8.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From School Library Journal

Grade 2-4?From the mid-19th century until after World War I, thousands of homeless "orphans" were sent West by charitable agencies to find homes with families seeking workers, children to adopt, or mother's helpers. In telling the story of one child, Bunting encapsulates the fears and sometimes happy endings of those fateful trips. Marianne is among the oldest and least attractive of the 14 children sent on a train to the Midwest, and she starts the journey with hopes that her mother will be waiting at one of the stops. At each station, papers are signed and children are placed, until only Marianne remains when the last town of Somewhere is reached. Only an elderly couple, hoping for a boy, is waiting there. They look kindly at Marianne, and the grandmotherly wife sums up the story's theme when she remarks that "Sometimes what you get turns out to be better than what you wanted in the first place." By making this slice of American history into an appealing tale, Bunting offers an opportunity to compare present-day social policies with those of times past. The book is timely yet universal in showing the desire of every child for a loving family. Himler's full-page, bordered paintings portray the people and towns in warm colors and softly blended brush strokes. Beyond this gentle story lie the social issues of our own day.?Shirley Wilton, Ocean County College, Toms River,
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 4 - 7 years
  • Grade Level: Preschool - 3
  • Paperback: 32 pages
  • Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers; Reprint edition (April 17, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0618040315
  • ISBN-13: 978-0618040315
  • Product Dimensions: 0.2 x 10.2 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (38 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #33,070 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
I looked on the 'Returned Books' cart at my elementary school library. I had a class just sitting down and a chance to read to them. I picked the new book with a familiar author name and a 'Newbery Notable' award on the cover.
I expect anything reccommended by a Newbery award to be good. Even so, I was caught by surprise. I started tearing up and had to pause to take a deep breath several times, trying not to cry. Bunting tells us what Marianne sees and thinks and says on her train ride west as she moves away from her life at the orphanage and toward a new life. But will she find her mama waiting for her, as promised?
I did break down at the end, for a brief moment. I quickly gathered myself and finished the last few lines. I never had an experience quite like that before. 'Train to Somewhere' is a moving book, and a great read-out-loud for elementary school.
(Something I discovered: If you want to read out loud, the parts in italics--Marianne's imagined pleas to her mother--work well when read in a whisper. An emphatic whisper.)
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Format: Paperback
I enjoyed this book especially because my grandmother was a rider on an orphan train when she was around 11 years old. She is still spry at the age of 98. The story she tells me is almost identical, for she felt she was tall, plain and ugly. Her mother died in New York and her and all of her brothers and sisters (6 of them) came to Texas. I think everyone should know about this part of our history. Eve Bunting did a wonderful job of telling the story that so many orphan train riders will never have the opportunity to tell.
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Format: Paperback
I am the parent of two children who were adopted at older ages, and who remember wanting and needing a family, remember dreaming about their lost birth parents, like the heroine of this story. The first time I read this book aloud, I cried and my daughters were rigid with empathy. The second time we all cried, in a good way. It is a favorite book of our whole family now. Highly recommended for any adopted child at about age 7-8--a wonderful fable about loss, pain, being (not) chosen, and the meaning of family and happiness. Quite brilliant.
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Format: Hardcover
This historical fiction for young readers is extremely well-written and remains true to the plight of the many orphans that rode the orphan trains. Without spelling out what happens to each of the 14 orphans aboard the train to "Somewhere", it does give young readers the perception that there were happy endings and some uncertain endings. At the same time, it instills the value of family and unconditional parental love to a child. A must read for children and adults alike!
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Charmingly illustrated book based on true stories of the Orphan Trains. Great book for children today to learn to
understand something of our history without "preachiness," and with a positive ending. Good book to use to discuss
what is an orphan and why the Trains were needed, as well as the fact that not all of the orphan stories had a good
ending. Some were mistreated. Some orphans had to be relocated, and some returned to the orphanages. Age seemed
to be a factor, too. So glad to have this book!
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Format: Hardcover
This story offers hope to any child who suffers major disappointments in life. It is sad but exhilarating in the end. Great reading for adults and children.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I love this historical fiction story! The story is about Marianne, a little girl who's mother dropped her off at an orphanage and promised to come back and get her. Marianne and 14 other kids board the train and hope to find their family or someone to adopt them at all the stops. You feel sad for Marianne's situation and also feel as you are reading the story and her mother isn't at each stop, a sense of nervousness, hoping that her mother will show up or that someone will adopt her.

True that this is a story with sad elements, but it's a great way to showcase to children that there are many children who are less fortunate than them and that there are children who don't have families like they do. It's a great reality check for kids. Sadly, these orphan trains were reality many years ago and the author does a fantastic job of bringing this concept to the modern age of children and making it understandable. Be prepared for some tough questions from kids as they try to understand how this could happen to other kids. The book is very well written and the illustrations capture that time period so well. The concept is more suited to older children between the ages of 8 and 12.
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Format: Paperback
This is a very moving story. My then-second grader checked it out from the school library some years ago to read for homework, thinking it was a story about trains. After he finished, he brought it to me in tears, he said he guessed it was okay that it had a happy ending, sort of, but he was still very sad after reading it. So we sat down and read through it together, focusing on the positive parts until he felt better. It brought me to tears, too. If your child is young or very sensitive, be sure to read this one with them (maybe even read it yourself first before reading it together).
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