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3.68  ·  Rating Details ·  1,274 Ratings  ·  157 Reviews
In 1881, 12-year-old Rodzina Clara Jadwiga Anastazya Brodski wishes she didn't have to board the orphan train in Chicago. But she has no home, no family, and no choice. Rodzina doesn't believe the orphans are on their way out West to be adopted by good families. She's sure they will become slaves to strangers. Anyway, who would ever adopt a large, tough, stubborn girl of P ...more
Audio Cassette, 0 pages
Published April 22nd 2003 by Listening Library (first published January 1st 2003)
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This book was all right. It was a fast read, obviously, being juvenile, but I wasn't overly attracted to the characters or the situation. Rodzina is a 12 year old girl who reluctantly boards an orphan train heading west, believing firmly that she would be handed over to someone who would want her for a slave. Rodzina is twice selected by a family at the stops the train makes along the way, and both times, it turns out that she was pretty much right in assuming that these people would want someth ...more
It is 1881 and Rodzina,12,is an orphan on the streets of Chicago. She is herded into an orphanage for a few days before she will be on the Orphan Train heading west to California. She lost her father to an accident, her mother to the 'fever' and her brothers to a fire. She is alone, scared and not as grown up as she dares to be. The train she is on is filled with 20 orphans all hoping to be placed in a loving home, all the while, they fear it could be a home of slavery, poverty or abuse. Rodzina ...more
The book Rodzina tells the coming-of-age story of a strong female character and her resilience to never give up her search for a family. The story shows Rodzina’s strong will, hope, and personal integrity. Rodzina gave fate a fighting chance. Rodzina is an excellent historical fiction book for upper elementary students. It tells a good story and gives the image of the hardship, loneliness, fear, and struggles of these orphaned children. The author’s note provides additional information on the or ...more
Jun 15, 2009 Jan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
How did I not know the history of the children's orphan trains in the United States? I found myself fascinated all the way through, not just with the events of this journey, but also with the delightful characters.
Rodzina Brodski, a 12-year-old Polish orphan girl from Chicago, and two dozen other children were put on an orphan train headed west in the hope that they could be adopted by good families. Not every family wants a child to love and cuddle, however. In the early 1880s, westerners wer
Newberry winner about a young girl on an orphan train in 1880's. Solid historical novel.
Rodzina is a 12 year old orphan living in 1881 Chicago when she is forced to board an Orphan Train headed west. As one of the oldest girls on the train, she becomes like a big sister to the younger ones: Joe and Sammy (“Joe ain’t my brother!”), whiny green-eyed Gertie, and the loveably gullible Lacey. Without a home or parents, this is all Rodzina has, and she wonders where fate will place her.

I really enjoyed this story, and it’s a good historical fiction pick that will evoke a lot of discussio
Aug 27, 2009 Anika rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It will sound corny, but I have to say again how much I love Karen Cushman. She keeps getting better with every book I read and Rodzina is no exception. From the first paragraph I was hooked, and all I can say is wow. I literally could not put the book down and finished it in four hours. The characters are so interesting and they build as the story continues, taking on new layers with each stop of the train. Though the ending is a bit predictable, it really doesn't become so until the last few c ...more
Coming from Karen Cushman, I thought it would be better. It's a good book about the orphan train, and I was impressed at the way language was used to convey who the character was, internally, but ... it seemed to lack what I so much enjoyed in Catherine Called Birdy and The Midwife's Apprentice. Maybe I just need to find more children's historical fiction from the medieval period.
Apr 19, 2010 Megan rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: pre-teens
Recommended to Megan by: Teresa
Shelves: childrens-lit
This is another book my sister-in-law's class is reading this year (she is a 5th grade teacher), and she subsequently recommended to me. I was very surprised to learn about the existence of orphan trains, which brought children from over-crowded eastern cities out west to be placed in families. It also serves as a great introduction to America in the late 1800's and talks a bit about immigration, factory work, gender and racial issues, as well as the day-to-day hardships that many families faced ...more
Dec 09, 2010 Sally rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
What a wonderful story of the orphan trains! A group of orphans from Chicago are taken to several towns in the midwest and the west to find homes for them in 1880. Escorting them are a woman doctor and a hard man. The story is from the perspective of Rodzina, a Polish orphan, who is 12. She's been told by someone in Chicago before she leaves that they are only being sold as slaves, so she's not at all interested in going, but has no choice. We learn about the different children and who takes the ...more
Nov 13, 2010 Jenny rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: children-s-books
This is a historical fiction story of a Polish girl, Rodzina, who is part of the Orphan Train heading west to be adopted. The two people in charge of these orphans, Miss Doctor and Mr. Spracht (spelling? I listened to this, not read it), often leave Rodzina in charge of the older orphans. Rodzina feels that they are both uncaring and fears she is being taken to be sold as a slave. She desperately wants someone to love her and want her...she wants a family. Yet it seems that no one decent will wa ...more
Sara Elkington
Dec 30, 2010 Sara Elkington rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Doesn't this book make you feel lucky and grateful? Chances are... we haven't had it nearly as rough as most of this book's characters. I admire how the author allows us to admire her characters' strength and it in turn is a reminder to me to be thankful for the era in which I live. Thank goodness that we have regulations over orphanages. Thank goodness we have regulation on what is considered child abuse/neglect. While the setting is tough, the writing and story-telling has plenty of perks so i ...more
Stacy Ford
Jan 03, 2011 Stacy Ford rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jan 11, 2012 Annette rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: juvenile-fiction
What I like about Karen Cushman: Every book she writes has a female heroine who has been given a set of problems to overcome. They always triumph in the end, but they aren't rescued by any prince or knight in shining armor. They learn to work through their problems through hard work and perseverance. The heroine is always feisty and has a lot of spunk which is what makes her keep going when things get rough and what she really want's to do is lay down and die.

Also, you can tell that Ms. Cushman
Jan 18, 2011 Lavender911 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Rodzina is a twelve year old Polish American girl that was boarded onto an orphan train in Chicago when her parents died and not even the orphanage wanted her. She has fears about traveling to the West and a life of unpaid slavery. On the train, she meets Lacey, a "slow" sweet girl who wants to be Rodzina. She also meets Miss. Doctor a female doctor who is very strict. With the other orphans and Miss. Doctor, she travels to the west and changes her heart.

When I first opened this book, I thought
Candi Olsen
This story was good and enjoyable but at the same time there wasn't much to it. I think the author tried to be light and fluffy on a heavy subject and it ends up diluting the story a little. It still is an easy read. I also think it's a bit insightful because all of us really just want to be accepted and loved.

Before this book I had no idea there even were orphan trains. It was eye opening. This story does end happy but by the sounds of it there were many true stories that did not end so. Here a
Dec 25, 2012 Natalie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm afraid the first thing I need to start with is the cover. I am not one who usually makes a big deal about what the cover of a book has (though my graphic designer husband says everyone judges books by their cover even if they don't know they are doing it). First of all I really like Trina Schart Hyman. I love a lot of her art work. I can tell she read this book and thought a lot about Rodzina and what she would possibly look like. Second, I admit this is what I imagine Rodzina looked like at ...more
Jul 04, 2012 K. rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people interested in the American orphan train
Another contender for 12/13 read aloud. This one a probably.

This is another "Orphan Train" book, but so much better done than "Gratefully Yours." Rodzina herself was a fabulous character, I loved her almost from her first sentence. This book seemed to capture all the heartbreak and the anticipation and the fear and the worry that might have been wrapped up in the small breast of an orphan sent out on the Orphan Train.

Cushman did a great job with the characters. There were some surprises about
Judy Khalifa
Oct 23, 2012 Judy Khalifa rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
“That’s pronounced Rodzina,” I interrupted, making that sound between a D and a G and a Z that it seemed only Polish mouths could make, sort of like the G-sound in bridge or cage or huge, but not quite. The lady doctor sounded like a bumblebee with her Rod-zzzzzz-ina."

Rodzina is the name of a Polish girl who lived in Chicago after her family had left Poland. Sadly, her two brothers died in a fire, her dad died because a crazy horse hit him in the head, and her mom was weak and sick so she died.
Jan 17, 2013 Mary rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Overall this was a good kids chapter book. But that is precisely why I didn't like it as much as Cushman's other books I have read. The Midwives Apprentice, for example I thought could be read and enjoyed equally by all ages, but Rodzina did not hold the same quality. While it did have issues and perspectives that were very meaningful and more mature it just didn't read as well as it could have. I liked the history in it and the culture of the American West in the 1800s, it was very interesting. ...more
Flora Stan
Feb 27, 2013 Flora Stan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Rodzina is a great historical fiction chapter book about a young polish orphan. The story tells of Rodzina, who unfortunately lost her family in a series of unfortunate events. She is left alone in Chicago and later is taken to an orphanage. Rodzina, being a large 12 year old polish girl, is not very hopeful that she will be placed in a good home. Rodzina goes through several homes until she finds one that is right for her.
This story can be used for upper elementary students. I could see studen
Bethany Cain
Oct 28, 2014 Bethany Cain rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was one of my favorite books as a teen. I have always enjoyed historical fiction geared toward various ages and audiences. Reading Rodzina by Karen Cushman opened up a new facet of history that is not often mentioned in text books. The Orphan Trains. Rodzina is a young Polish immigrant after the death of her entire family she is left all alone in the unfamiliar country of America. She finds herself on a train with a motley, cantankerous crew of other orphans headed West in search of a forev ...more
2.5/5 stars

As I read this I thought about how much I miss historical fiction! The historical aspect was good with this book, but I couldn't connect with the main girl (which could be because I am not a 12 year old or could be a fault of the audio version, I don't know) or any of the other characters. I get that it was a sad, scary time and Rodzina JUST WANTS TO GO HOME, but it was too blatant and over repeated which turned my sympathy into annoyance. However, I think this would be good historica
Mz. Diana Gagliardi
A fine historical fiction that educates even when you aren't looking :)

Rodzina is an orphan- left on the Chicago streets after her caring Polish parents pass away. She is ornery and thinks the orphan train she and the others are on is heading to people who want slaves. She is prickly to those around her because she doesn't want to be here, she doesn't want to be an orphan! Her parents loved her...

there are actually a number of times when she thinks about her parents and what they would want for
Jan 09, 2015 Chloe rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
When I first saw Rodzina I almost didn’t read it because I did not like the cover, but you should never judge a book by its cover so I decided to give it a try. I was not disappointed. This book is very enjoyable. Unlike some books, it just took off, literally, on an orphan train, and I was hooked. The cover is a little misleading, it shows Rodzina as big tough girl, which she is but, she is also vulnerable, caring, and nervous about finding a family. Lacey, on the cover she looks like a miserab ...more
Sarah Holland
1. Personal reaction – I really enjoyed this book! Rodzina was a very lovable character. I had a difficult time putting the book down. I definitely got attached to Rodzina as a character. As much as she resisted, she could not help but be kind and loving to the younger orphans. She found positive attributes of people that had hard exteriors.

2. Purpose(s)/Use in the classroom
• I would use this book during a social studies unit on the United States in the mid to late 1880s. The aspect of Rodzina
Gracie Larcher
Personal Reaction: I found Rodzina to have an unique story line. This was this first book I've read about orphans during this time period, and overall it was very interesting. At points I did feel that the book dragged on and it wasn't my favorite but I do think some students would find interest in it and it does have good educational value.

Read Aloud: This book would be great to read when introducing a history unit to the class. Students are able to learn about orphans during this time period
Booktalk: Rodzina is 12 years old and all alone in the world. She lived in an orphanage because both her parents are dead. Now, she and a bunch of other orphans are being put on a train west from Chicago. They will stop in small western towns where people will look them over like merchandise at the store and decide if they want to adopt them. Rodzina would just assoon strike out on her own and take care of herself. Her friend Melvin told her that orphans were sold to families out west who wanted ...more
Historical fiction for grades 4-7 about a Polish immigrant girl whose family dies in Chicago. Like so many children of that era (1881), Rodzina is put on an orphan train and shuttled out west in hopes of finding a family for her and the other 20 or so children in her company. Rodzina deals with many difficult situations with strength, wit, hope, and her intellect. Along the way readers will get to know more about the Orphan Train, more about Polish people--their foods, their words, their customs ...more
I picked up this book because I like Cushman's writing ... and the cover caught my attention, probably because the girl is neither an endearing waif nor a Disnified beauty.

I wanted ... someplace where I would belong, with a real family, people of my own who cared for me.p 171

There's nothing earth-shattering, surreal, or 'fantastical' in that statement, but it's honest, and it probably describes the thoughts of just about every child who ever rode an orphan train. In a way, this is a coming-of-ag
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Karen Cushman was born in Chicago, Illinois.

She entered Stanford University on a scholarship in 1959 and graduated with degrees in Greek and English. She later earned master’s degrees in human behavior and museum studies.

For eleven years she was an adjunct professor in the Museum Studies Department at John F. Kennedy University before resigning in 1996 to write full-time.

She lives on Vashon Isla
More about Karen Cushman...

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“I feel safer when you're here. You're so big and sturdy, like a beautiful tree I can lean on and not knock over.” 4 likes
“[in the context of 1881] "Don't you want to get married and have babies? Mrs. Bergman used to say that women need-" "What women need is more exercise, shorter skirts, and their own way once in a while.” 0 likes
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