For the Love of Pete (An Orphan Train Story) by Ethel Barker
February 11, 2013 in Barker Ethel, Book Club Possibility, Books With Social Studies Content, Elementary Educators, Journal Writing, Making Book to Book Comparisons, Making Predictions, Middle Grade Novel, Middle School Teachers, Reading Skills, six traits of writing Tags: Book Club Possibility, books that teach voice, Editor 911, six plus one traits of writing
This is a book I am EXTREMELY excited to tell you about for several reasons. . .
- I helped to edit this book in its beginning stages in 2009, as part of my Editor 911 business.
- It is a terrific HISTORICAL FICTION book for upper middle grade/tween/younger YA audience by a delightful author.
- Ice Cube Press is a wonderful small publisher that also published DIVORCE GIRL (see my post:http://margodill.com/blog/2012/07/30/the-divorce-girl-blog-tour-and-giveaway-ya-or-adult/ ) which is one of the best books I read last year!
- You can use this book to teach history AND writing lessons such as voice. There are TERRIFIC voices throughout this book.
*Historical fiction, upper-middle grade/tween/younger YA (set during the Orphan Train days)
*Three main characters: a street-smart boy, an older sister, and a younger sister–all three have chapters in their voice
*Rating: Well, is it appropriate to give a rating to a book you helped to edit? For the Love of Pete is a very well-written book with an interesting story/adventure that will appeal to both boys and girls–perfect for the classroom and/or home school setting!
Short, short summary: The book starts out with a bang! Iris and her sister Rosie have to flee their New York tenement when their mother is murdered. This puts them out on the street, where they meet a “street rat”, Pete (love this character!). The three come to rely on each other and become friends. When they are put on the Orphan Train and taken to Iowa, they hope to stay together–but adults have different ideas about where the children should be and with whom. However, you can’t squash a child’s spirit or determination, and Pete, Iris, and Rosie work hard to get back together again.
So, what do I do with this book?
1. Compare a nonfiction book, such as Orphan Train Rider: One Boy’s True Story by Andrea Warren, to Ethel Barker’s book. What makes For the Love of Pete historical fiction? What true facts can you learn from it about the Orphan Train? Can you tell the author did research to make the characters experience the same things as the actual boys on the Orphan Train? (The back of the book does have a small section on the Orphan Train with a photo of boys living on the street.)
2. As mentioned, this book is told in three different voices–Pete, Rosie, and Iris. Ethel Barker does an amazing job with each voice, and this is a perfect example of voice to use with a six plus one traits lesson. You can read a bit of each chapter to the students, and without looking, they can tell you which character is speaking. Which voice do they hear? What makes that voice unique? Is it word choice? Sentence fluency? Which voice do they like best? Have a discussion about voice using this book as a starting point (since it has such a strong voice!).
3. This is also a great book to study characters, motivation, and feelings. Each character has their own motivation throughout the story (and it changes a bit as the characters develop). For example, ask students what is Pete’s motivation in the beginning of the book for helping the sisters. How does he follow through on this? Why does this motivation fit his character? As for feelings, how does Iris feel toward the end of the book? (Sad and determined) Why?