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Orphan Train Rider: One Boy's True Story [Paperback]

Andrea Warren
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Sept. 28 1998

Between 1854 and 1930, more than 200,000 orphaned or abandoned children were sent west on orphan trains to find new homes. Some were adopted by loving families; others were not as fortunate. In recent years, some of the riders have begun to share their stories. Andrea Warren alternates chapters about the history of the orphan trains with the story of Lee Nailling, who in 1926 rode an orphan train to Texas when he was nine years old.

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Product Description

From School Library Journal

Grade 4-8?Between 1854 and 1930, more than 200,000 orphaned and abandoned children from the cities of the eastern seaboard were "placed out" to new homes and families in the midwest and western states. Warren's account of the "orphan-train" phenomena, and of one man's story of how it affected his life, is an excellent introduction to researching or discussing children-at-risk in an earlier generation. The book is clearly written and illustrated with numerous black-and-white photographs and reproductions. The chapters alternate information about the largest agency, the Children's Aid Society, and its history, with the story of Lee Nailling, from whom the author has gathered the facts of his own childhood journey to Texas and his eventual reunion, late in life, with some of his long-lost siblings. Human interest is skillfully interspersed with factual information to create a fascinating book about a social movement that predated today's foster homes, adoption agencies, and homeless shelters. Annette R. Fry's The Orphan Trains (New Discovery, 1994) is written for the same age group and efficiently provides detailed information for research and reports. Eve Bunting's Train to Somewhere (Clarion, 1996), a picture book, tells the story for younger children. Together these books offer opportunities for discussion about the sometimes happy and sometimes misguided efforts to care for the orphaned and abandoned in our country's past. But if only one book can be acquired, Warren's title offers a wealth of information and is rich in human interest. It should be the primary purchase.?Shirley Wilton, Ocean County College, Toms River, NJ
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

Gr. 4^-6. From 1854 to 1930, the orphan trains took homeless children from cities in the East to new homes in the West, the Midwest, and the South. In Warren's book, one man's memories of his childhood abandonment and adoption give a personal slant on the subject. Chapters telling the story of Lee Nailing, who took an orphan train west in 1926, alternate with chapters filling in background information about the trains and the experiences of other children who rode them to their destinies. Throughout the book, black-and-white photos show both the people and places in Nailing's story and the broader topic of the orphan train experience. Children will find this a good resource on an intriguing subject. Carolyn Phelan --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
4.5 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful Book for Family Discussion May 7 2002
I would like to start by saying that I think the suggested reading age is a little low. While the writing is well within in capabilities of most 4-6 graders, the subject may be a little touchy for the younger end of the group. I would be reluctant to let a sensative child read this book until at least the 5th grade.
That said, I think the book was wonderful.The writing is well done for children's non-fiction, but also is able to capture adult readers. The book is a fascinating story about one of the few surviving children who rode one of the orphan trains as well as the general story of the trains history.
My wife, 11 year old daughter and I read the book (my wife and I in 1 evening, my daughter the next) and then we discussed the concept of the trains, the needs for them and why such things are no longer in use in today's society. It made for a good family discussion and we all learned from the experience.
This book has very good content, as well as interesting information about the sociology of this country's past. It was well worth the read for both adults and our daughter and we all enjoyed it.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A wonderful book July 5 2001
In 1924, seven-year-old Alton Lou Clement's mother died in childbirth. His father, unable to take care of his seven children, sent the oldest three out into the world, gave the baby to a friend of the family, and gave the other three (including Alton) to an orphanage. Before he knew it, Alton and his brothers were bundled onto a train and sent towards Texas. The train they were riding was called an "orphan train." The orphan trains, running from 1854 to 1930, would carry young orphans from overcrowded Eastern orphanages out to (hopefully) loving families in the Midwest and West. This is the story of Alton Lou Clement (later Lee Clement Nailling), and the orphan trains.
The story of the orphan trains is one not known by many people. (I only first heard about it when reading Changes For Samantha by Valerie Tripp.) This wonderful book simultaneously tells the heart-wrenching stories of Lee Nailling, the conditions that orphans lived under, and the orphan trains that ran for nearly a century. Thankfully, the story of Lee Nailling and his brothers has a happy ending, and also contains Lee's uplifting thoughts. This is a wonderful book.
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This book would be an excellent follow-up to the movie "Orphan Train". It brings out the reality of the movement between 1854 and 1930 of 200,000 abandoned children to find homes in the West.
Chapters alternate between historical information on the movement and personal details and memories of orphans like Lee Nailling and his brothers.
The most touching moment for me was when Lee, who had every reason to be bitter and hate the world, finally found a home. Fully intending to run away again before morning, he fell asleep and was awakened by a call to breakfast. As a part of "grace" said before the meal by his mother-to-be, the boy heard, "Father, thank you for sending our new son to us, for the privilege of allowing us to raise him."
Lee commented, "I'm sure my jaw dropped in amazement. Somebody was actually thankful I was there!"
There are also many excellent photographs.
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