Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Heart of a Shepherd” as Want to Read:
Heart of a Shepherd
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Heart of a Shepherd

3.81  ·  Rating Details ·  1,161 Ratings  ·  257 Reviews
When Brother's dad is shipped off to Iraq, along with the rest of his reserve unit, Brother must help his grandparents keep the ranch going. He’s determined to maintain it just as his father left it, in the hope that doing so will ensure his father’s safe return. The hardships Brother faces will not only change the ranch, but also reveal his true calling.

From the Hardcover
ebook, 176 pages
Published January 27th 2009 by Random House Books for Young Readers (first published January 1st 2009)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Heart of a Shepherd, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Heart of a Shepherd

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Feb 24, 2009 Kathy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: j-fiction
With his father shipped off to Iraq and his older brothers away, 11-year-old Ignatius "Brother" Alderman works with his grandparents to keep their Oregon ranch going, while coming to realize what he really wants to do with his life. Wonderfully moving story of a sensitive kid trying to do a man's job in a world that asks much of a person. The setting, in the Oregon plains surrounded by mountains, is beautifully depicted, with lots of ranch detail and much appreciation, by the characters, for the ...more
Jennifer Wardrip
Reviewed by Sally Kruger aka "Readingjunky" for

HEART OF A SHEPHERD is a beautiful book by first-time author Rosanne Parry. It draws the reader right into life on an Oregon ranch and into the life of a spiritual family dedicated to the land, their country, and one another.

Brother is the youngest of five boys raised on the family ranch. Soon, Brother will be gone to a high school boarding school, but for now it's up to him to help his father, grandpa, and grandma with the running
Feb 07, 2011 H rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2012-caudill
I'm stubbornly giving this a 4th star, though I'm not sure how many kids will be attracted to or like this quiet tale of a 12 year old boy growing up on a modern day ranch in Oregon. Ignatius (called "Brother" by one and all) is the youngest of 5 motherless boys who live with their father and grandparents on a cattle and sheep ranch. At the beginning of the story, their father is shipping out (along with many of their neighbors) to a tour of duty in Iraq. The oldest 4 boys are variously on their ...more
Mar 27, 2009 Jamie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a quiet, sensitive book about a 12-year old boy who takes on some new responsibilities when his father is shipped off to Iraq.

It has a strong sense of family and a VERY strong sense of place.
It also does a great job of talking about spirituality in a very "un-didactic" way.

I think rural kids especially would love seeing themselves in a book like this one.
Abby Johnson
Oct 19, 2009 Abby Johnson rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: blogged
Ignatius (everyone calls him "Brother") is the youngest of five boys and the only one left at home when his dad is called to fight in Iraq. He must help his grandfather keep up the ranch - tough work for any kid, but especially for Brother who has never felt called to the ranching life. As Brother gets through the year without his dad, he'll start looking for his own path in life.

This is a quietly powerful novel with a striking sense of place. Parry paints a perfect picture of the harsh beauty o
Lana Krumwiede
A book like this, quiet and deep, is a rare find these days when so many books are fast-lane action all the way. Now I love a good thriller as much as anyone else, but books like "Heart of a Shepherd" are of equal merit.

The sense of place is strong and real. I love the way the main character, even though he is only eleven, thinks about important things and has a strong desire to do right. I believe more kids think like that than we give them credit for. I also like stories that include religion
Apr 21, 2009 Susan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: booktalkers
Lovely and lyrical. A refreshing break from school bullies and fantasy, this is a tale of a 12 yr old left to help his aging Grandparents keep the family ranch running while his father is shipped to Iraq and his brothers (he has 4) are away at school. Brother loves the ranch and feels deeply the responsibility thrust upon him, but he knows that it is not his destiny to be a rancher; this knowledge comes to him during a terrible range fire.

Keep a box of tissues available!
Feb 27, 2010 Josiah rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Within the first several years after the beginning of the second U.S. war in Iraq, novels for readers of all ages began to emerge that featured themes related to the war. In my view, Rosanne Parry's Heart of a Shepherd is one of the best and most insightful of these books.

Right from the captivating open sequence it is clear that there is a lot of unique power to this book. Brother's description of the chess game that he is playing versus his grandfather comes vividly alive with the thoughtful
An absolutely beautiful book. Eleven-year-old Ignatius (called Brother) is the youngest of 5 brothers and the only one at home on their rural Oregon ranch with his grandparents when his father is called to Iraq. The four older brothers are either away at school or in the Army themselves.

The chapters are months, giving the book an almost episodic feel. The book covers just over a year, beginning in July and ending the following August.

What made this book speak to me was the thread of peace, rout
Mary Ann
As we celebrate Memorial Day, I'd like to take a moment to think about the families who have sent fathers, sons and brothers to fight in war. The Heart of a Shepherd, by Rosanne Parry, tells the story of an twelve-year old boy whose father is sent to fight in Iraq with the rest of his reserve unit. I was very moved by this story, especially because it shared with me a perspective that is so far away from my experiences here in Oakland, and yet such an important part of our American experiences i ...more
Mar 01, 2016 Teresa rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Loved the picture of this boy's life in rural Oregon, and the hardships he faces as his dad goes off to Iraq with the Reserves. His older brothers are gone, too; one's in the service and 2 are at boarding high school--the local school is only two rooms, K-8. Brother (his real name is Ignatius) has to take up the chores and responsibilities of running the family ranch with his grandparents. His mom left for Rome years ago--she's an artist.

Told in episodes, titled as months, nearly one per month (
Heart of a Shepherd by Rosanne Parry (2009)
Contemporary Fiction, 176 pages
Taking care of an entire farm is tough work, but for sixth grader Brother, the pressure is on as the only remaining son to help his grandparents run their Oregon ranch while his father is deployed in Iraq and his brothers are away. Tender-hearted Brother shares his thoughts on being a man and shows that he knows more about ranching than his self-confidence lets him admit. Dealing with the desperate need to grow up to be li
It's rare that I read a book and think, "This book could win the Newbery." But this was definitely one of those books.

When the publisher's box came, I set this one aside to read. It called to me in some way. But I kept putting off reading it. It is not my thing at all - ranchers, military families? Not my type of reading. But still I didn't take it off my pile. Once I finally picked it up, I couldn't believe how gripping the story and the character of Brother was.

Brother is the youngest of 5 boy
Cindy Hudson
Jan 08, 2010 Cindy Hudson rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Eleven-year-old Ignatius is the youngest of five sons, which is why everyone just calls him Brother. Growing up on a ranch in slightly populated Malhuer County, Oregon, Brother feels he has always been overshadowed by his older more capable brothers, who have always been around to do the hard work of ranching along with his dad and grandfather. But now his dad is leaving, his military reserve unit called to serve 14 months in Iraq, and the older sons are either away at boarding school, college o ...more
Jan 21, 2010 Jess rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A slim but moving story about a rural family of ranchers and soldiers who are spiritually inclined - doesn't exactly sound exciting, does it? But for readers who like stories with great characters and vivid settings, this is a treat. It's also not a dull, actionless story. Sure, a big focus of the book is on Brother's thoughts and feelings, as he stays home on the Eastern Oregon ranch with his grandparents, while his dad is in Iraq and his brothers are off at school. But the details about rural ...more
The Reading Countess
This book was recommended to me by a friend/author, and so the bar was set high when I received it in the mail. I was not disappointed. I have read a few books about kids whose parents are deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan (trying to seize the moment of TIMELINESS, I suppose). However, the twists in this plot make it a stand-out favorite. Set on a rural working ranch, Brother is the youngest of five boys striving to find his niche in the world. At just twelve years of age, he is thrust into a very ...more
Brother is the youngest of five boys. He lives on the family ranch with his father and grandparents. His mother his an artist who lives in Rome and has no real contact with the family. Brother's dad is in the reserves and his unit has been called up to Iraq for a 14 month deployment. All his brothers are either away in the military or at school so it is just him and his grandparents left at the ranch to take care of everything.

This is a really good book for kids about a boy dealing with his fat
"We were blown away by Heart of a Shepherd! It is so beautiful and heart wrenching!" This was part of an email I got from a mother who attends our Family Book Club with her daughter. Indeed, it's one of those books that will get you emotional.

Right off the bat, I was sucked into this unfamiliar world of ranching and military-family life I normally wouldn't have read. Brother was such a noble character, seemingly too good at times but actually very realistic considering everything he's dealing wi
Mar 22, 2011 M. rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Ignatius, called Brother since he's the youngest of 5 brothers, wonders what his place will be in the world. All the boys in his family go into the military out of college and then presumably into ranching. In college they major in subjects which will be useful in the Army. Brother's mother lives in Rome and is rarely in contact, his father is in Iraq with his reserve unit, his oldest brother is stationed far away, and the others are away at school. Right now Brother is in 6th grade in a 2-room ...more
Dec 01, 2010 Chase rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: obob
In present-day rural Oregon, 11-year-old Ignatius “Brother” Alderman is forced to face the world when his divorced father is deployed to Iraq. Alone with only his grandparents and a hired hand, Brother must take charge of the ranch, keeping the promise he made to his father: the ranch will be the same way he left it when he returns. But as the months go on, Brother learns that he was not meant to be a rancher, and he wonders if his father will ever come home. With threats and disappointment sur ...more
This book is a gem that took me completely by surprise. "Brother" is the youngest of five sons of an Oregon rancher, an Army reservist who is sent to fight in Iraq. His older brothers must all leave the ranch, too; one is a soldier stationed at Fort Hood in Texas, two are in college, and one boards at a private high school fifty miles away. Brother promises his father to help his grandparents maintain the family ranch while his father and older brothers are away. The book teaches important lesso ...more
I loved this quiet, powerful story. I loved that the characters are ones you don't often see in contemporary fiction: Brother is the youngest of 4 or 5 boys; he lives with his dad and grandparents on a ranch in eastern Oregon. All of his brothers are either in the military or will be enlisting soon and his father is in the Reserves and is being shipped out to Iraq along with many of the adults in their farm community. That's how these folks survive ranching in this day and age -- by enlisting in ...more
I'm putting this on my living "history" book list because I think it's good to help kids learn about some different things and maybe interest them to research more on these topics: war with Iraq, military families, raising sheep, wild fires in Oregon, and catholic and Quaker religions (could be other things to research as well) For those who may encourage their children to read this (because the main character, Brother, is 11-12 during the story), I like to alert parents to the fact that there a ...more
3 1/2 stars. A debut novel. A 2012 Rebecca Caudill nominee.

When his father's army reserve unit ships off to Iraq, 12-year-old Brother is left to mind the family's Oregon ranch with his grandfather, grandmother and an itinerant farmhand. The responsibility of helping to keep the ranch running and worry over his father safety in a war zone weigh heavily on Brother. His loving family's closeness and their strong spiritual life help Brother through the many months of his father's absence and some ma
Beth Nieman
Feb 12, 2011 Beth Nieman rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: 9 and up (also adults); boys
Recommended to Beth by: Charlie Cooper
Well-written account of a 12-year old boy, nicknamed "Brother," living in Oregon and learning to be a rancher; when Dad and his National Guard unit are called up to go to Iraq, the boy and his grandparents take over running the homestead. I loved the scenes that took place at the school and the church. The author has a talent for getting readers into the mind and heart of this young man. The story moves along well, the characters are fleshed out and believable, and the ending is satisfying. Alon ...more
Lisa Ard
Jul 29, 2011 Lisa Ard rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I started Rosanne Parry's book Heart of a Shepherd at 9:30pm and didn't go to sleep until I'd finished it that same night. This is a heartwarming coming-of-age story about Ignatius, a pre-teen boy facing the biggest challenge of his life. His father is called up to serve in Iraq and his older brothers are off at school or serving in the military. Ignatius (known as Brother) must manage the ranch with his grandparents and the hired hand. Battling the fear and sorrow around having his father away ...more
Feb 17, 2010 Belinda rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone!!!
Recommended to Belinda by: VSBA 2012 Reader
Shelves: 5-star-titles
I just finished reading Heart of a Shepherd by Rosanne Parry. If you have not already read this book you must stop immediately whatever you are doing, buy a copy – buy several; you’ll be glad you did – and read it. It is the most poignant, touching, frightening, strong, patriotic, funny, lyrical, spiritual, sad, celebratory, triumphant, brilliant bit of literature I have held in my hands in a long time; perhaps ever. Boys are going to love this story because of the way it will speak to th
Anne Osterlund
Nov 16, 2014 Anne Osterlund rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Brother doesn’t know where he belongs. In the operation that is his Grandpa’s cattle ranch. Or his grandmother’s Catholic faith. Or the family’s military legacy that has shipped his father to Iraq.

Nothing stays the same. Not even in a rural community with a two-room schoolhouse. Running the ranch is a lot harder with Brother’s older brothers all assigned to prepare National Guard troops for duty. And not everyone will make it back.

Heart of a Shepherd is a mid-grade contemporary novel. I like Ros
Feb 28, 2010 Jenny rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: juvenile-lit, 2010
One of the best juvenile lit books I've read in a while. It's about a junior high student whose father is in the guard along with nearly everyone else in their farming community and they get sent to Iraq for 14 months, leaving this little Catholic alter boy to tend the farm.

I also loved the descriptions of the Catholic mass, the details of how the Quaker grandfather practices his faith, and the overall religiosity of the book. Yay for teaching kids about religions!

I cried most of the way throug
Jul 29, 2010 Kristin rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a gentle book about a gentle boy, and you know, there aren't enough books like this out there. I cried - twice - reading this one. Brother is left to tend to the family ranch with his grandfather when his father is called to serve in Iraq and his siblings are all in school. The growth that Brother experiences over the course of his father's tour is so beautifully organic to the story, it's like you, the reader, help Brother get there. My favorite parts of the story are when Brother uses ...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
First clock 1 4 Oct 09, 2013 10:38AM  
  • The Girl Who Threw Butterflies
  • Truce: The Day the Soldiers Stopped Fighting
  • One-Handed Catch
  • Wild Things
  • Operation Yes
  • All the Broken Pieces
  • Greetings from Nowhere
  • How Oliver Olson Changed the World
  • The Rock and the River (The Rock and the River, #1)
  • When the Whistle Blows
  • Brendan Buckley's Universe and Everything in It
  • What Happened on Fox Street
  • Marching for Freedom: Walk Together Children and Don't You Grow Weary
  • Peace, Locomotion
  • Knucklehead: Tall Tales and Almost True Stories of Growing up Scieszka
  • The Year the Swallows Came Early
  • Faith, Hope, and Ivy June
  • The Brilliant Fall of Gianna Z.
Hey there,
I'm the author of the novels Heart of a Shepherd, Second Fiddle, Written in Stone, and the upcoming The Turn of the Tide, all published by Random House. I also wrote the picture book Daddy's Home.

All of my books have won awards, some of them bunches of awards, and obviously I'm proud of them all, so go look at the website for unbridled bragging.

I write because I love the power of story
More about Rosanne Parry...

Share This Book

“A person can live a little bit broken...Most of us do, I guess.” 15 likes
More quotes…