Pros: Easy to read, the little details are good.
Cons: Covers too broad a scope.
This book, written for ages 10 and up, is the true story of Lee Nailling (born Alton Lou Clement), an orphan train rider. This book was written in 1996 and Lee, unfortunately, passed away in 2001.
The story starts out describing how Lee's mother died and his father could not handle Lee and his 6 other siblings so he gave them away. Lee and his brother Leo, were placed in an orphanage. The Children's Aid Society places the brothers and one other brother on the orphan trains to the Midwest. Lee is placed 3 times before he finds a good match and loving home to grow up in. As he grows older he is able to find out what happened to his brothers and sisters and eventually provide the information to write this book.
There is a lot of information on orphan trains and the history of what else was going on the country at the time. Although this is important I think it took away from more things we could have learned specifically about Lee's life.
The book did provide a lot of little details about Lee's life. One part recounts when Lee was in the orphanage and another child poked him so hard with a fork over Lee reaching for some food that Lee wore a scar for life.
Another story is when Lee is at his second placement he is learning about feeding chickens. His second day there he wakes up real early and lets all the chicks out to eat. He comes back later with the farmer and all the chicks are dead because they drowned in the morning dew. Lee is devastated and to top it off the farmer and his wife send him away to another home that very day.
Lee has so many positive things to say about his third and final placement. The author does a wonderful job of describing the love and patience his foster parents had for him. They are presented as a very special family.
When Lee loses his little brother in WWII you feel so sad, but when Lee is able to contact his long lost brothers you have to just feel good about the whole situation. The ups and downs of Lee's life are well presented in this book.
There are a lot of photos in the book, but a large percentage are of other orphan train riders. I wish there had been more of Lee, although I imagine he just didn't have more to share. But the photos that are included, do add to the story.
Overall, this is in interesting biography of an orphan train rider. A man who is sharing a story that was probably embarrassing him was a child, is providing an important part of history to the readers of this book.