Nettie and Nellie Crook: Orphan Train Sisters

9781250068354. ea vol: 192p. (Based on a True Story). glossary. maps. photos. Feiwel & Friends. 2016. Tr. $15.99.
Gr 3–5—The lives of "real" children growing up during extraordinary circumstances are documented here in these slightly flawed fictionalized biographies. In Orphan Train Sisters, five-year-old twins Nettie and Nellie Crook are sent west on an orphan train after their neglectful parents are deemed unfit to care for them. They end up in an abusive household, only to get rescued once again and moved to yet another home, the trauma of which isn't adequately captured. The book lacks in-depth characterization and has uninspired dialogue that fails to entirely engage. Primary source photographs and maps as well as vintage-looking black-and-white drawings add an authentic element but also somewhat distract from the narrative. In Civil War Drummer Boy, nine-year-old John Lincoln Clem, who eventually becomes known as "Johnny Shiloh," runs away from home to join the Union Army but is rejected because of his age. He eventually becomes a drummer boy, fights in battle, and gets captured and sent to the Andersonville Prison. What should be a riveting story falls flat with inaccurate use of language (the word moron didn't exist at the time), clunky vernacular such as the use of the term idjit in some places and idiot in others, and excessive and repetitive use of the word fellas. A glossary of terms and drummer's calls is appended. An author's note in each book briefly describes the time period and concludes with a summary of the adult life of the main character/real person. Elementary-aged readers might do better to look for the "Dear America," "My Name is America," and "I Survived" series (all Scholastic) or even the nonfiction "Who Was?" series (Penguin) instead.
VERDICT These title will appeal only to the most die-hard fans of historical fiction.

Be the first reader to comment.

Comment Policy:
  • Be respectful, and do not attack the author, people mentioned in the article, or other commenters. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  • Don't use obscene, profane, or vulgar language.
  • Stay on point. Comments that stray from the topic at hand may be deleted.
  • Comments may be republished in print, online, or other forms of media.
  • If you see something objectionable, please let us know. Once a comment has been flagged, a staff member will investigate.



We are currently offering this content for free. Sign up now to activate your personal profile, where you can save articles for future viewing