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One Came Home

3.85 of 5 stars 3.85  ·  rating details  ·  3,299 ratings  ·  669 reviews
In the town of Placid, Wisconsin, in 1871, Georgie Burkhardt is known for two things: her uncanny aim with a rifle and her habit of speaking her mind plainly.

But when Georgie blurts out something she shouldn't, her older sister Agatha flees, running off with a pack of "pigeoners" trailing the passenger pigeon migration. And when the sheriff returns to town with an unidenti...more
Hardcover, 272 pages
Published January 8th 2013 by Knopf Books for Young Readers (first published January 1st 2013)
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Counting by 7s by Holly Goldberg SloanNavigating Early by Clare VanderpoolDoll Bones by Holly BlackEscape from Mr. Lemoncello's Library by Chris GrabensteinFlora and Ulysses by Kate DiCamillo
Newbery 2014
6th out of 94 books — 362 voters
The Runaway King by Jennifer A. NielsenThe School for Good and Evil by Soman ChainaniThe False Prince by Jennifer A. NielsenRump by Liesl ShurtliffThe Ability by M.M. Vaughan
Middle Grade Novels of 2013
56th out of 328 books — 606 voters

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Community Reviews

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Okay, I want to say right now that although it failed to 100% live up to my hopes and dreams, One Came Home is still a pretty fun book.

It’s like… it’s like True Grit for tiny people. Which is tragic, what kind of parental figures won’t let their kids just read True Grit? But anyway, less swearing and fewer near-fatal snake bites and arm amputations and without that awkward spanking scene, but the same Sassy Infant Narrator Who Totally Thinks She’s An Adult Even Though All The Actual Adults Are...more
Another Newbery contender, so my critique is a bit more critical than others. There is a lot to love in this book: the historical setting was well-written, the pigeons were fascinating, and Georgie as a main character was terrific. It was a great little mystery with a lot of action.

There are two things that kept me from giving it a five, and are the two reasons I don't think it will/should win the Newbery: 1. I'm not sure how wide the audience is for the book. As an adult, I really appreciated...more
I like children's books that sock you in the gut. Not the books that telegraph their hits or do the old one-two punch you can see coming from a mile away. No way, man, I'm talking about the books where you're reading along, merrily as you please, and then this hammer of a hit comes in from out of the blue and just hocks the wind right out of you. Middle grade fiction, also known as chapter book fiction for kids, can sometimes feel like one long unending stream of samey sameness. Then you get a w...more
Barb Middleton
You can smell and taste Timberlake's sentences like beef bourguignon drenched in a saporous burgundy wine sauce. That's a mouthful, no? I've never used the word, "saporous." Makes me sound smart, don't you think? Okay, I know you are not fooled by me, but you might be fooled by Georgie. Georgie has a high-kickin' vocabulary too. She uses words like veneration, ornithology, ablutions, to name a few. She delights in using big words. Listen to her conversation with the young Garrow's girl: "'It's a...more
This book didn't quite make it for me. First of all, I am not sure what age group the book is for. The things that are of major concern in the book seem more like interests of teens, but the main character is what I would consider to be a tween.

Secondly, the narrative seems to be uneven - at times venturing into grown up things; then abruptly switching to more childish things. I suppose that is the nature of this age group, but it didn't feel natural to me. In fact, some of the plot twists seem...more
This is a slow boil of a story, set in 1871 in a small town in Wisconsin. A series of events leads to the sheriff bringing home the body of a young girl, a death her younger sister refuses to accept. As she leaves home to investigate, the story becomes part mystery, part adventure. However, it develops at a pace equivalent to two people rocking on a porch, chatting mildly about the weather. In part, this is due to a choice of the main character of Georgie as the narrator. She lends a humorous to...more
A spunky heroine and some killer writing save what was altogether a pretty ho-hum book. Setting out to prove that her older sister is not dead, Georgie is a character that many older elementary/younger junior high girls could look up to and admire. However, I think this book is geared more towards adults who read children's literature. Many of the references to the time I think will go over their heads. Plus, in the back of the book is supplemental material and a bibliography for those who want...more
Outstanding! The list of things I loved about this book would fill up my space here and more ;-) Voice, setting, fascinating (and little-known to me anyway) historical elements, page-turner plot, marvelous descriptive writing, a tremendously authentic sense of time, characters that almost walked out of the book, a puzzling mystery and even the author's note at the end was terrific. I can't wait to get this to my 5th grade book club kids. I think they will love it as much as I do.
Thirteen-year-old Georgie Burkhart can shoot as straight as can be without missing, do anything else her grandfather taught her like tracking and hiding, and tend the family store account books. She wants nothing more than to run with family store with her older sister Agatha by her side. In 1871 Wisconsin, that's about all a woman can expect to do with her life if she doesn't marry, and Georgie is NEVER getting married. Agatha, however, has other ideas. She is passionate about natural and would...more
What a great YA book (thanks, Christina!). I'd describe this as a Western set in 1870's Wisconsin, if that is even possible. (Is Wisconsin "Western" enough?) I instantly fell in love with the protagonist, Georgie --loved her spunk, stubbornness, and determination to solve the mystery behind her sister's disappearance. A lot of authors create precocious, yet totally obnoxious, characters, but Timberlake does a great job avoiding that.
I am very, very glad that the good people of the 2014 Newbery committee decided to honor this book as a runner-up. Personally, dare I say it, it is near equal with Flora & Ulysses; which won the medal, although a comparison between the two would be impossible. To sum it up; I really loved this book. It's got grit, murder, sass, threat, disaster, and beauty. The details about the pigeon migration were interesting if a little hard to believe. Although books told through flashbacks can have exc...more
Harold Underdown
I read this several months ago, and all I have to say is that I'm not surprised by it winning a Newbery Honor. This is a powerful story that doesn't let the reader go.
I had a hard time putting this book down. Amy Timberlake really knows how to create a memorable setting, unique characters and a rip-roaring plot. The backdrop is the largest known nesting of Wild or Passenger Pigeons ever in 1871 South Central Wisconsin. When 13-year-old Georgie's sister runs away and a body that could be hers is returned home, Georgie doesn't believe it. She convinces Agatha's old boyfriend, Billie McCabe, to help her find out what really happened to her sister. They find more...more
I am as outraged as Kristin that this did not win the Newbery award and was just an honor book.. really a silly story about a squirrel - I sooo dislike rodents - by Kate DeCamillo wins?? and even Kevin Henkes has an honor book with a simple little story - I looked it up - this award has to do with giving kids good literature! and that is what you get with this story... Georgie just knows her sister is not dead.. a lot of the use of that word.. and leaves her town in Wisconsin at age 13 to find h...more
Outstanding story. Reminded me of True Grit (for a younger audience).
Georgie Burkhardt refuses to accept that the body that the sheriff brought back to Placid is her sister. Sure, the corpse has red hair and is wearing the same dress that her sister owned, but the body is too decomposed to convince Georgie that her older sister Agatha is really gone. Even though her mother and grandfather accept that Agatha is dead, Georgie wants to retrace the steps that her sister took when she ran away weeks ago to find out what really happened. Putting her own life in danger,...more
Ann Carpenter
The setting was extremely well done. I especially loved the way that the author handled the differing worldviews of the people in 1871 and the modern world when it comes to the mass hunting of animals. Georgie is nonchalant (for most of the book anyway) about hunting pigeons, and while the sight and smell of millions of rotting pigeon heads and destroyed nests disgust her, it is an evisceral reaction, not a philosophical one. On the other hand, however, the descriptions of the eviscerated nestin...more
I couldn't put this book down! Set in 1871 rural Wisconsin, a young girl tries to make sense of a series of events that lead up to what everyone believes was the death of her older sister.

Georgie adores her older sister Agatha and is jealous of anything that threatens to take her away from their home. She harbors dreams that together the two will run the family store and be spinsters. Agatha has other plans. She wants to get an education and among her greatest loves in life are books.

Agatha runs...more
Cindy Hudson
Lately it seems most of the books I have been reading for young readers ages 9 to 12 have taken place in modern times and dealt with modern issues. Which is one of the reasons why I was happy to pick up One Came Home by Amy Timberlake, a historical novel set in Wisconsin in 1871. Timberlake’s tale reminded me of what I like so much about stories set in other times—their ability to transport me to an age that no longer exists and learn about what life was like for the people then. Often the issue...more
Thirteen-year-old Georgie Burkhardt adores her older sister Agatha, and when she leaves home only to have her remains buried a few days later, Georgie has to make sure that Agatha is dead. And if she isn't, then Georgie needs to make sense of what has happened. After all, Georgie blames herself for revealing her sister's dalliance with another man to her fiancé. She sets off on a detective mission for Dog Hollow where some of her sister's remains and her ball gown were found. Middle graders will...more
Destinee Sutton
I've never considered myself a big Western fan, but I loved True Grit and I sure enjoyed the heck out of this. Georgie is the kind of narrator who is amusing without being aware of it. I imagine her so serious and self-important (like Mattie Ross), but not unlikable.

Weird side note: I read Navigating Early recently and I couldn't help but be struck by the similarity in the plots. Both books are about a kid going after a supposedly dead older sibling. Is this going to be a new thing? Like journe...more
One Came Home follows the story of a thirteen-year-old girl in 1871 who makes a journey to a neighboring town to find out the truth about her sister, who disappeared and is believed dead. This already has all the trappings of a great young adult novel: a strong female character who accomplishes great things, a smattering of history, and a strong plot following it.

However, it never quite lived up to its promise.

Georgie, the main character, was rather dull, honestly. She's a sharpshooter, which h...more
Holly Ristau
This historical novel for tweens has a strong female 13-year old protagonist named Georgie who is funny and outspoken. Georgie goes to find out what really happened to her sister who is believed to be dead. 1871 in Wisconsin was an eventful time that included mass pigeon migration and historic fires.

As much as I liked the book, there were times I was exasperated with Georgie and her actions, much as her caretakers must have felt. I don't know why one of the characters had to die, I felt like th...more
Julie Pickett
Historical fiction for tweens who want a really good yarn with a fantastic main character in Georgie Burkhardt. She is tough, smart, and pulls no punches. She can shoot a finger right off a trigger -- which she does -- , she can teach herself to ride a horse (okay, a mule) by jumping right on it, and she has no qualms about sneaking out of her house at midnight to trek across Wisconsin looking for her missing sister, who she absolutely does not believe is dead. And let's not forget the pigeons....more
Brandy Painter
One Came Home is solid historical fiction, a mystery, and tale about a gun toting girl who lives on the Wisconsin frontier. The plotting is interesting and the pacing works for the plot. Sort of. The story has several flashbacks and these are sometimes jarring and rambled. I know that was meant to show Georgie's frame of mind, but it made the story rather awkward in places. The mystery and action are wonderfully done when they're included and will probably keep readers engaged, particularly if t...more
Bob Collins
Amy Timberlake's latest book, One Came Home, is the story of 13 year old Georgie Burkhart who doesn't believe that the body the Sheriff brought home was that of her missing older sister. Set in rural Wisconsin in 1871, Georgie runs away from home to find the sister that everyone else believes is dead. She finds an unexpected ally and more adventure than she'd anticipated. Part historical novel, part mystery, this is a YA book that adults will find enjoyable, too. Well-drawn, believable character...more
KJ, Madame Librarian
Definitely worthy of all the praise it's getting. It's extremely difficult to write a J-Fic (rather than a YA book) that deals with things like death, fatherlessness, murder, jealousy, and all the fun things that go along with living in an 1871 Wisconsin town.

Imagine if Little House on the Prairie met Veronica Mars with a healthy dose of True Grit. That's what this book is, and it's awesome.
Kris Patrick
I'm furious. Furious with the Newbery committee for choosing ALA darling Kate DiCamillo's typing squirrel book over One Came Home. What I especially like, aside from the strong, plucky female protagonist and the Midwest setting, is that Timberlake retells the story in several places to help young people follow the plot line. I think all K-12 readers, regardless of age or reading level, need this scaffolding. No need to be a fan of historical fiction. We know these students are rare. Anyone who l...more
When 13-year-old Georgie Burkhardt stubbornly leaves home to track her sister down (the sister everyone else believes dead), she finds herself in a whole mess o' trouble. It's 1871; she lives in a small town in Wisconsin, surrounded by wild animals and woods and rocks and desperate criminals; and did I say she was stubborn? She gets walloped by all of these things (including her own stubbornness) before she winds up back home, having a learned a few things. I loved Georgie and loved her story.

Julie Williams
This story starts with the identification and burial of Georgie sister Agatha. But Georgie doesn't believe it is her sister and sets off on an adventure to find the truth. Agatha had run off only days before and no one had heard from her since. But how could she be dead? With the help of Agatha's ex-boyfriend Billy, Georgie travels to where the body was found in search of the truth. What she finds is not what she expected and she finds herself in quite a pickle.

Amy Timberlake did a great job wit...more
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Mock Newbery 2015: April Read - One Came Home 27 244 Aug 03, 2014 06:05PM  
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Amy Timberlake's newest book, One Came Home, has been called "a True Grit for the middle school set" (Bookpage), "a valentine to sisterhood and a bird that no longer exists" (The Washington Post), and "a rare gem of a novel" (The Christian Science Monitor). It's also a 2013 Junior Library Guild pick, and it's been awarded starred reviews by Kirkus, The Horn Book, School Library Journal and The Bul...more
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“I say let all the earth be alive and overwhelmingly so. Let the sky be pressed to bursting with wings, beaks, pumping hearts, and driving muscles. Let it be noisy. Let it make a mess. Then let me find my allotted space. Let me feel how I bump up against every other living thing on this earth. Let me learn to spin.” 1 likes
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