(Image from Barnes & Noble)
Frances Sweeney isn't overly fond of the Lower East Side orphanage where she lives, but at least she and her little brother are together in the home. It's far better than starving on the streets, that's for sure. When she receives the news that she'll be boarding an "orphan train" bound for the Midwest, she doesn't know what to think. As long as the 11-year-old can sneak Harold aboard, maybe it will all turn out okay for the parent-less children.
Jack Holderman has much in common with Frances. He's also from the Lower East Side, he's also 11, he's also on the train. The difference? He has parents. But the Holdermans have little money with which to provide for their son—it's better to cut him off, send him to greener pastures (literally). Jack can't help feeling abandoned, especially considering all the horror stories he's hearing about orphans being placed with new families just to get abused and overworked.
As their train chugs toward Kansas, Frances and Jack decide they must escape. How will they survive on their own? They don't know, they just know it will be better than the alternative. And, when they meet another kid who's in charge of a magical land called Wanderville, it seems they've found the perfect home. But are the children really safe here? Can young orphans, on their own, really be safe anywhere?
Wanderville by Wendy McClure channels classic children's series, like Little House on the Prairie and The Boxcar Children, to tell a tale full of adventure, tenacity and hope. It's about children making their own way in the world, despite the many problems they encounter. While it seems a bit far-fetched at times, Wanderville is a positive, upbeat historical tale that will remind kids that they're stronger than they think they are—no matter what trials they may be facing.
(Readalikes: Reminded me of We Rode the Orphan Trains by Andrea Warren and Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline)
If this were a movie, it would be rated:
for violence and scenes of peril
To the FTC, with love: I received a finished copy of Wanderville from the generous folks at Penguin. Thank you!