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Rodzina by Karen Cushman

Rodzina (2003)

by Karen Cushman

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This would be a good book to use when talking about the old west and the orphan trains. I think students will enjoy this book because they will be able to feel the loneliness of the main character. ( )
  Kate_Schulte078 | May 4, 2015 |
Reviewed by Jane O'Reilly (The New York Times Book Review, May 18, 2006, Vol. 108, No. 20)

Horn Book (The Horn Book Guide, Fall 2003)
'Rodzina is prickly, stubborn, and heart-sore, but she's also honest, likable, and smart'

Kirkus (Kirkus Reviews, March 15, 2003, Vol. 71, No. 6)
  elliottruth | Oct 22, 2009 |
Another kids book from Karen Cushman, who has a great sense of history and an even better eye for detail; this one is about the orphan trains that took “unwanted” American children west in the late 1800’s. Though it’s not as enchanting as some of her medieval stories, this book still had Cushman’s trademarks: the endearing, diamond-in-the-rough main character, the slightly wacky supporting cast, and the gradual enlightenment that helps along the happy ending. A solidly enjoyable read.
  beserene | Sep 29, 2009 |
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 origin of orphanages, orphan trains, and a bibliography of selected resources for students to read or view. The author included Polish culture and customs throughout the story. A glossary of Polish words and pronunciations is also provided. ( )
  marciaskidslit | Aug 17, 2008 |
Author: Karen Cushman
Publisher/Date: Clarion Books, New York-(2003)

Summary: A twelve year old Polish American girl is boarded into an orphan train in Chicago with fears about traveling to the west and a life of unpaid slavery. Rodzina was a young girl that had lost her whole family. Her two brothers were burned in a house fire, her father had died while he was working, and her mother passed away for the fever. Rodzina had lived off the streets of Chicago until one day the orphan agency picked her up.

Personal Extension: This historical fiction book was very interesting to find out through a little twelve year old girl all the things that she had been put through and still just at a small age. Rodzina went through some hard times but the end tops it off and really got me!

Extension: In the classroom I would discuss slavery and what it was back then. What the people had to go through if they were a slave.
  Cr123 | Mar 25, 2008 |
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I was ten years old when Grandma Lipski took me to the Polish cemetery in Chicago to show me her mother's grave. In front of a gravestone marked Rodzina Czerwinski she sat and cried, while I watched her, this tough little grandma who never cried.
Many years later, when I thought about writing a book about a Polish girl from Chicago, I decided to call her Rodzina after my great-grandmother. I checked with my father to make sure I had the spelling correct, and I discovered that Rodzina was not her first name, but was the Polish word for "family." The gravestone marked the resting place of the rodzina Czerwinski, or Czerwinski family.
Rodzina is about the search for a family, and I decided that while Rodzina was not my great-grandmother's name, it was the perfect name for the girl in my story. And so she is Rodzina.
I would like to dedicate this book to my family -- the Czerwinskis, the Cushmans, and the Lipskis, who were kings in Poland.
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On a cold Monday morning in March, when a weak, pale sun struggled to shine and ice glistened in the cracks in the wooden street, a company of some twenty-two orphan children with stiff new clothes and little cardboard suitcases boarded a special railway car at the station near the Chicago River.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 044041993X, Paperback)

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 Polish origin? As the train heads west, all Rodzina has is a small suitcase and her family memories from the past. Will Rodzina ever step off the train to find the family that deep in her heart she’s searching for?

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:13:03 -0400)

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A twelve-year-old Polish American girl is boarded onto an orphan train in Chicago with fears about traveling to the West and a life of unpaid slavery.

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