Title: Looking for Home
Author: Arleta Richardson
Series: Beyond the Orphan Train, book 1
Major Themes: Orphans
Synopsis: After their mother died, Ethan and his brothers and sister were sent to live in a children’s home.
I remember when I first came across the Beyond the Orphan Train series (also known as the Orphan’s Journey series), not too long after Looking for Home, the first book in the series, was published. My sisters and I had already read all of the Grandma’s Attic books, by the same author, so we were excited to find another wonderful series by her. These books are based on memories told to the author by the man who had been Ethan, the main character in the series, who actually rode the orphan train in 1909.
Ethan was only eight years old when his mother died. The four oldest children in the family were able to take care of themselves, but not the younger ones at the same time. A neighbor was happy to take the baby—but the decision was made that the four others would have to go to the children’s home in a nearby town. Ethan knew he was responsible for all three of the littler children, and he took his responsibility seriously. He got them safely to Briarlane Christian Children’s Home, and was happy to hand them over to Matron, but he still watched over them as closely as he could.
When Will, Ethan’s youngest brother, disappeared and no one could find him anywhere, Ethan blamed himself, but this turned into the beginning of his learning about God’s care for him. Then, when his sister found something that had gone missing from the director’s office and Ethan was afraid he would be sent away from the Home as a result, he learned more about God. At the end of the book, an even bigger event was coming up—what would happen next?
This is a great story about some of the children who found new homes by riding the orphan trains. It is also a wonderful story about a real little boy who loved his family and learned about God’s love for him. Anyone who enjoys the Little House books or the Grandma’s Attic books will also enjoy this series. One big difference is that this series features a boy, rather than girls, which is unusual. These books have been quite a favorite in our family; I recorded them on cassette tapes many years ago when I read them aloud, and my oldest listened to them over and over.
WARNING: In chapter 2, someone says tarnation three times, and someone else uses that word once in chapter 7.
Read Aloud—Ages 5 – 8, 8 – 12, Family Read Alouds
Reading Independently—Ages 8 – 12