post written by Emma Filbrun
Title: Prairie Homestead
Author: Arleta Richardson
Series: Beyond the Orphan Train, book 3
Major Themes: Orphans, Adoption, South Dakota, Pioneer Life, Family Read-alouds, Christian Fiction, US History 1900-1950
Synopsis: After adopting the four Cooper children, Chad Rush announced that he was going to be moving his family to South Dakota to homestead new land!
We’re enjoying reading through the Beyond the Orphan Train series (also known as the Orphan’s Journey series) again. Probably 12 or 13 years ago, I read the series to my young family and recorded it onto casette tapes. A couple of the older children listened to those tapes over and over again, and loved the stories, but the younger ones had never heard them before, since we didn’t always have a tape player (and if you’re old enough to remember tapes, you also remember what inevitably happens to them!). We’ve been reading the series together again for a bedtime story so that the younger ones can enjoy these wonderful stories, and have just finished the third book, Prairie Homestead. One thing that makes it even more fun to read them now is that the older ones will occasionally comment, as I read a chapter title, that this is one of their favorite stories in the book!
The Cooper children arrived in the town of Willow Creek, Nebraska, after riding the Orphan Train, and joined the Rush family, who had asked for them. That evening, Chad Rush made an announcement to the family that astounded them all and made Ethan afraid that the Coopers would be left behind: He had bought land in South Dakota and they would be going there to homestead. Over the course of the next year, the Rush family, including the Cooper children, worked on the Nebraska farm and prepared for moving to South Dakota. Ethan had to face many challenges; would he ever feel at home and as if he belonged with his new family?
Life became even more interesting as they actually began the move. More challenges needed to be met: Henry got bit by a snake, the train went backward instead of forward, the ladies arrived in Winner, South Dakota and no men were in sight…. Then, they had to move into a soddy and learn to make their own soap. How could Manda Rush and her hired help, Polly, manage with all these challenges?
Prairie Homestead is a wonderful story of people becoming a family and working together. As they faced challenges, they grew to appreciate each other more. It was good to see how Chad softened in his attitudes toward Ethan as the year progressed, and even Manda became more unselfish. This is a great story for family read-aloud time!
Read Aloud—Ages 5 – 8, 8 – 12, Family Read Alouds
Reading Independently—Ages 8 – 12, 10 – 12, 12 – 15
Links to buy Prairie Homestead:
AbeBooks: View Choices on AbeBooks.com
Book Depository: Paperback
Keywords: Orphans, Adoption, South Dakota, Pioneer Life, Family Read-alouds, Christian Fiction, US History 1900-1950