Kids, Review

Beyond the Orphan Train series by Arleta Richardson

We’re celebrating Children’s Book Week on Faithfully Bookish! I’ll be sharing some of our family’s kids favorites (books or series) from our family’s collection. Who doesn’t love a traveling adventure?! Beyond the Orphan Train series by Arleta Richardson appeals to children of all ages. Feel free to return the favor and tell us all about your kid lit favorites in the comments!


about the books

Looking For Home by Arletta Richardson

Beyond the Orphan Train series by Arleta Richardson - Faithfully Bookish reviewWith his mother dead, his father gone, and his older brothers and sisters unable to help, eight-year-old Ethan Cooper knows it’s his responsibility to keep him and his younger siblings together—even if that means going to an orphanage.

Ethan, Alice, Simon, and Will settle into the Briarlane Christian Children’s Home, where there’s plenty to eat, plenty of work, and plenty of talk about a Father who never leaves. Even so, Ethan fears losing the only family he has. How can he trust God to keep him safe when almost everything he’s known has disappeared?

Whistle-Stop West by Arletta Richardson 

Nine-year-old Ethan Cooper has managed to keep his family together for a year in a Pennsylvania orphanage. Now he and his siblings are boarding a train headed west. He can’t help but worry: Mr. and Mrs. Rush in Nebraska have agreed to adopt all four Cooper children, but what if they change their minds?

In the meantime, Ethan and his siblings encounter their first dust storm, explore train cars, and watch friend after friend leave with new parents. The children dream that soon they will have a new ma and pa too.

Prairie Homestead by Arletta Richardson

Since their mama died and their pa left, Ethan, Alice, Simon, and Will Cooper have not known much of a home. But now that the orphan train has taken them to Mr. and Mrs. Rush in Nebraska, their dreams of home may become a reality.

The kids discover that life on a farm is full of challenges. Ethan learns how to drive a plow, watch for snakes, and deal with bullies at the country school. Alice learns to slop the hogs and live with a big sister who isn’t exactly welcoming. Will seems to be the only one of the four that their new mother likes. And Simon disappears—again.

Across the Border by Arletta Richardson

Life on the Rush farm in South Dakota is not easy. Even so, over the past four years, Ethan Cooper and his siblings have grown to feel they belong with their adoptive family.

Then Chad Rush makes an unexpected announcement. The family is moving again—this time to Mexico! Ethan is scared. What dangers will they face in another country? What will it be like to live on an oil homestead instead of a farm? And what about his dreams of getting an education? He can’t leave his siblings after he’s promised they would stay together—can he?

Based on a true story, this conclusion to the Beyond the Orphan Train series reminds us that the same God who is with us from the start never lets us go.

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Why We Love Beyond the Orphan Train

Ever since we fell in love with the Little House books and Bud and Me by Alta Abernathy, the kids have been fascinated by the late 19th and early 20th century time period.

We love the bond shared by the Cooper siblings and Ethan’s protective nature. Although their story starts out sad with their father’s abandonment, the death of their mother, and separation from their older siblings and baby sister, Ethan, Alice, Simon, and Will travel across the country, meeting new people, and experiencing different cultures.

Our favorite thing about this series is that it is based on a true story. Arleta’s Grandma’s Attic Treasury is also a family favorite and based on stories told to the author by her grandmother.


About the Author

A teacher and librarian, Arleta Richardson was a beloved children’s author. Her popular Grandma’s Attic series, which recounts her grandmother’s childhood on a 19th-century farm on the shores of Lake Michigan, has reached more than 2 million people around the world.
Are you familiar with the Beyond the Orphan Train series?!


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