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Karen Cushman
author, Karen Cushman
author's website
Clarion Books

Rodzina Clara Jadwiga Anastazya Brodski is the new face in Karen Cushman’s gallery of unforgettable heroines. One of a group of orphans, 12-year-old Rodzina boards a train on a cold day in March 1881. She’s reluctant to leave Chicago, the only home she can remember, and she knows there’s no substitute for the family she has lost. She expects to be adopted and turned into a slave—or worse, not to be adopted at all.

As the train rattles westward, Rodzina unwittingly begins to develop attachments to her fellow travelers, even the frosty orphan guardian, and to accept the idea that there might be good homes for orphans—maybe even for a big, combative Polish girl. But no placement seems right for the formidable Rodzina, and she cleverly finds a way out of one bad situation after another, until at last she finds the family that is right for her.

This is a compelling story that is thoroughly researched, full of memorable characters, and told with wry humor and keen observation by an absolutely captivating narrator.

1.   Do you know about your ethnicity? What countries are your parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents from? Do you keep traditions alive from your ethnic background? Why is her ethnicity so important to Rodzina?
2.   Rodzina doesn't always follow the rules. Do you think there are times when this is okay to do? What would those be?
3.   Do you think the author always agrees with her characters' opinions? Think of examples of places where you're pretty sure the writer feels differently from Rodzina or Miss Doctor.
4.   If you had traveled on an orphan train, looking for a new family, what would be important to you? What type of family would you look for?
5.   What are some examples of prejudice in this story? Why do you think Karen Cushman included those scenes in the book?
When your child has finished reading Rodzina be sure to check off this book on your booklist, moving towards reading 12 books or 18 books this summer. You can register for a mile marker, our random drawing for several levels of giveaways.
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