Sunday, August 25, 2013

One Came Home by Amy Timberlake

Image from
Alfred A. Knopf, 2013

1871 was a pivotal year for 13 year old Georgie Burkhardt. In Georgie’s mind it all began with the great numbers of passenger pigeons that swarmed and then nested just a few miles from her home in Placid, Wisconsin. Everyone in Placid benefited from the pigeons, but after they left things were not quite the same. Georgie’s beloved older sister Agatha went missing. A body was found. And determined Georgie goes on a quest to uncover the truth with the handsome, charming, but confusing Billy McCabe. Spunky and smart, Georgie maybe the best 13 year old sharpshooter in Placid, but what happens to her when she encounters cougars, counterfeiters, caves, and murderers?

This humorous and bittersweet coming of age story is written from Georgie’s perspective as she reflects on the events of 1871. Timberlake spins an intricate tale that unfolds at just the right pace, keeping the reader intrigued as they wonder, is Agatha dead or alive? Georgie is a hard-edged, stubborn protagonist who learns the hard way that what she wants and what is best for the people she loves are not always the same thing. Through Georgie’s humorous and touching voice issues of life and death (giving and taking, changing and choosing) are addressed. The final chapter reads like an epilogue, which allows Timberlake to tie up all the loose ends giving the story a satisfying, realistic ending. However, the characters and settings, so vivid and real, will stay with the reader long after closing the book. The detailed author’s notes at the back of the book provide more information on passenger pigeons, the firestorms of 1871, and other historical and geographical references in the story. Selected sources (meant for adult readers) are also included.

Read an excerpt of the book and find yourself yearning to discover the truth with Georgie.

*Check out the discussion guide on Timberlake's website for discussion questions, more information on the historical setting, and printable activities.

*Although Timberlake only touches on the impact humans had on the extinction of the passenger pigeon, use this book to start a discussion on environmental and conservation issues.
*Other chapter books by Timberlake:

Belle Prater’s Boy by Ruth White
Moon Over Manifest by Clare Vanderpool
Three Times Lucky by Shelia Turnage

Age 10+ / Grade 5+


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