Friday, September 19, 2008

Children’s book review: Rodzina, by Karen Cushman

Children’s book review: Rodzina, by Karen Cushman

I like orphan-finds-a-home books. This one is a bit unconventional.

Polish orphan Rodzina (Polish word for family, as explained in the introduction), rides the orphan train west. She isn’t sold on the idea, and thinks slavery will be the result. (That peril, as we shall see, is not without some merit.)

At twelve, she’s not pretty, not charming. The only things she has going for her is being big for her age and good with kids -- both of which backfire on her. The people who want to adopt her seem to want her for manual labor, and she’s assigned to look after the little kids on the train trip, with little help from the unfriendly woman doctor along on the ride.

The story is an interesting insight into what the orphan train might have been like. It’s a rather sad book, with lots about grief and missing parents. But it does have a happy, though unexpected, ending.

This book has an Author’s Note at the end, that gives historical information about orphan trains, and further books to read on the subject.

However, in my opinion, this isn’t the best of the orphan-finds-a-home books. I can think of two I like much better. Gratefully Yours, by Jane Buchanan, and A Drowned Maiden’s Hair, by Laura Amy Schlitz are two that come to mind. (Perhaps I’ll review them someday.)

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