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LaFaye, A.
New York : Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2004.
IL 3-6, RL 5.0
ISBN 0689857306

(3 booktalks)

Click on the book to read Amazon reviews



Booktalk #1

In the late 19th century, life on a Nebraska homestead involved lots of hard work.  Everyone in the family is expected to do his share.  But when 11-year-old Nathaniel is seriously injured in an accident, he cannot do his share.  And he wonders if his leg will ever be well enough for him to work again.  Needing some help, Nathaniel's father adopts a young boy from an Orphan Train.  John Worth lost his family in a fire in New York City and has been sent west on the Orphan Train in search of a home.  Nathaniel understands why his father needs Worth but is afraid that he will take Nathaniel's place in the family.  Will these two boys ever feel like brothers or will they be suspicious of each other forever?

Booktalk #2

After Nathaniel's leg is crushed in an accident, his father brings home an orphan boy, John Worth, to help work the fields. Worth has come to Nebraska from New York City on the Orphan Train, which brings homeless children west to find new lives. Nathaniel feels increasingly jealous of the boy who has taken over not only his work but the attention of his father, who has barely spoken to him since his injury. In school for the first time he is far behind even his youngest classmates, and he feels as useless there as he does at home. Meanwhile, Worth is still grieving for his family and his old life. As the farm chores prevent him from going to school, he also resents losing his dream of an education and a good job. And for all the work he does, he knows he will never inherit the farm that he's helping to save. But a battle between ranchers and farmers ó and a book of Greek mythology that Nathaniel reads aloud each evening ó forges a connection between the two boys, who begin to discover that maybe there is enough room on the farm, and in the family, for both of them.  (Rebecca Caudill Young Readersí Book Award 2008)

Booktalk #3

His leg crushed by a wagon, eleven-year-old Nate feels useless because he cannot work on the family farm in nineteenth-century Nebraska.  When his father brings home an orphan boy, John Worth, to help with the chores, Nate feels even worse.  This strains family relationships even more. There are lots of other unspoken sorrows in this story  -  the death of Nathanís sister, the loss of Johnís family in a fire, fear of losing the farm again-  and both boys resent giving up their dreams of an education.  A book of Greek mythology and the clash between the ranchers and the farmers helps to bring the boys together.   (Jean B. Bellavance for Pennsylvania Young Reader's Choice Awards, 2007-2008)

SUBJECTS:     Frontier and pioneer life -- Nebraska -- Fiction.
                        Fathers and sons -- Fiction.
                        Orphans -- Fiction.
                        Nebraska -- History -- 19th century -- Fiction.
                        Historical fiction.

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