Reviews for One Came Home


Booklist Reviews 2012 December #2
To find out what really happened to her purportedly dead sister, sharpshooting 13-year-old Georgie Burkhardt and her sister's one-time suitor Billy McCabe follow the trail of pigeon hunters and discover far worse going on near Placid, Wisconsin, in 1871. Georgie tells her story in a first-person narrative that rings true to the time and place. She is smart, determined, and not a little blind to the machinations of adults around her, including Billy, who has been sent by Georgie's storekeeper grandfather to follow her and keep her safe. She does notice that Billy is well made, but this is no love story; it's a story of acceptance, by Georgie, her family, and her small town. Timberlake weaves in the largest passenger pigeon nesting ever seen in North America, drought and fatal fires along Lake Michigan that year, a currency crisis that spawned counterfeiters, and advice on prairie travel from an actual handbook from the times. Historical fiction and mystery combine to make this a compelling adventure, and an afterword helps disentangle facts from fiction. Copyright 2012 Booklist Reviews.

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BookPage Reviews 2013 February
Homing where the heart is

Georgie Burkhardt knows that the unidentifiable body buried in the family plot is not that of her older sister, Agatha, who recently ran away. In the adventurous historical novel One Came Home, based on two actual events in Wisconsin in 1871, the spunky 13-year-old heroine and best shot in Placid, Wisconsin, sets out to find her sister. She prepares for the trip with advice from Randolph B. Marcy’s The Prairie Traveler (a real book from which the author quotes), a few gold dollars and a Springfield single-shot rifle, and is surprised when Billy McCabe, Agatha’s unrequited love interest, shows up to accompany her.

The pair follow the path Agatha took with pigeoners, who crossed the Midwest trailing the country’s largest recorded migration of the now-extinct passenger pigeon. On the long ride atop a stubborn mule, the outspoken, headstrong girl has plenty of time to reflect on the events that led to Agatha’s departure (including Georgie’s own guilty actions), the handsomeness and unexpected kindness of Billy, and the meager clues that may lead to Agatha’s return. She tells it all in folksy narration, topped with self-deprecating humor.

Georgie’s not just a thinker, though. She roars into action when faced with cougars, ruthless counterfeiters, a mistaken woman who resembles Agatha and even death. As she makes some hard decisions, she learns to see the world beyond appearances and her own wishes. The author seamlessly introduces food, clothing, transportation and societal manners from the time period, allowing readers to learn about the era without even realizing it. Through Georgie’s unrelenting journey, Timberlake has crafted a True Grit for the middle school set.

Copyright 2012 BookPage Reviews.

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Horn Book Guide Reviews 2013 Fall
When her older sister Agatha is found dead (but unrecognizable), Georgie is certain that there has been a mistake. With her sister's unwelcome suitor Billy McCabe, Georgie sets off to find her sister, or, at least, to find out how she died. The adversarial relationship between Georgie and Billy provides superb comic relief in a gripping, gritty story set in 1870s Wisconsin.

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Horn Book Magazine Reviews 2013 #1
Thirteen-year-old Georgie Burkhardt is content with her life in Placid, Wisconsin, where she helps Ma and Grandfather Bolte run the general store and is known as the best shot in the area. Her older sister, Agatha, dreams of higher education, even though few colleges in 1871 accept female students; she has repeatedly turned down marriage proposals from a local boy, Billy McCabe, and has set her sights instead on bookish Mr. Olmstead, whom she admires mostly for his personal library. When Agatha runs away and is later found dead at the side of the road outside a nearby town, Georgie is certain that there has been a mistake and her sister is still alive (the body, left to the elements and wild animals, is in such bad condition that only the dress and auburn hair identify it as Agatha). Georgie sets off on an uncooperative borrowed mule, with Billy McCabe as an unwelcome companion, to try to find her sister, or, at least, to find out how she died. The adversarial relationship between Georgie and Billy provides superb comic relief in a gripping, gritty story that unwinds as a mystery involving passenger pigeons, counterfeiters, and more than one guilty secret. But it's Georgie's voice that really brings the story to life, with its original, folksy turns of phrase and self-deprecating humor that make it as entertaining to read as a Christopher Paul Curtis novel. kathleen t. horning

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Kirkus Reviews 2012 December #1
In 1871, in the small town of Placid, Wis., a sister goes missing and a great adventure begins. Disconsolate over the end of a promising courtship, Agatha Burkhardt runs off without so much as a goodbye to her younger sister, Georgie. When the sheriff attempts to locate and retrieve Agatha, he brings home not the vibrant sister that Georgie adores, but an unidentifiable body wearing Agatha's ball gown. Alone in her belief that the body is not her sister's, Georgie sneaks away in the dead of night, determined to retrace Agatha's steps in order to solve the mystery of her disappearance and, she hopes, to bring her home. To Georgie's surprise, she's joined on the journey by her sister's former flame. And what a journey it is, fraught with mountain lions, counterfeiters and marriage proposals. The truly memorable characters and setting--particularly descriptions of the incredible phenomenon of passenger-pigeon nesting and migration--and the gradual unraveling of the mystery of Agatha's disappearance make this one hard to put down. The icing on the cake, though, is Georgie's narration, which is fresh, laugh-out-loud funny and an absolute delight to read. Georgie's story will capture readers' imaginations with the very first sentences and then hold them hostage until the final page is turned. (Historical fiction. 9-12) Copyright Kirkus 2012 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

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Library Media Connection Reviews 2013 May/June
Historical novels aren't often set in Wisconsin, nor do they feature a nesting of passenger pigeons. But Amy Timberlake has made the coming, nesting, and after-effects of the birds an integral element of her novel. The quality of the writing shines through. Thirteen-year-old Georgie goes with her sister Agatha's former boyfriend, Billy, to search for her when everyone else in town believes Agatha to be dead. Even though a body was found wearing a dress of the same fabric as Agatha's, and there was a funeral for Agatha, Georgie believes Agatha is alive, and she will be the one to find her. In an afterword, the author explains what is true, and gives a list of sources. It is easy to see how much research went into this story. Ellen Spring, Librarian, RSU#13 Schools, Owls Head School, Rockland District Middle School, St. George School, Thomaston Grammar School, Maine [Editor's Note: Available in e-book format.] RECOMMENDED Copyright 2012 Linworth Publishing, Inc.

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School Library Journal Reviews 2013 January

Gr 5-8--Thirteen-year-old Georgie Burkhardt can shoot better than anyone in Placid, Wisconsin. She can handle accounts and serve customers in her family's general store. What she can't do is accept that the unrecognizable body wearing her older sister's blue-green gown is Agatha. Determined to discover what happened after Agatha abruptly left town with a group of pigeoners, Georgie sets out to follow her route. In return for the loan of a mule, she reluctantly allows Billy McCabe, one of Agatha's suitors, to accompany her. The journey includes a menacing cougar and ruthless counterfeiters, but Georgie's narration offers more than action-packed adventure. She unravels the tangle of events that led to Agatha's sudden departure and acknowledges her own role. By turns humorous and reflective, Georgie's unique and honest voice includes confusion about her feelings for Billy and doubts about her ability to kill even in desperate circumstances. Timberlake seamlessly integrates information about two significant events that occurred in Wisconsin in 1871: the largest recorded nesting of passenger pigeons in spring and devastating firestorms in fall. Georgie's physical and emotional odyssey that occurs between those two events will linger in readers' minds.--Kathy Piehl, Minnesota State University, Mankato

[Page 128]. (c) Copyright 2012. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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VOYA Reviews 2012 December
Thirteen-year-old Georgie's world is upended when her beloved older sister, Agatha, runs away after Georgie tells her sister's fianc something she has accidentally seen and assumes to understand.   When the town sheriff tries to catch up with Agatha, he returns with an unidentifiable body wearing her sister's distinctive handmade ball gown.  Although her family is convinced it is Agatha, Georgie refuses to believe her sister is dead, and sets out on the frontier, determined to find her and rectify the terrible situation she feels she instigated This premise sets the stage for a unique historical novel set during a massive and largely forgotten 1871 wild passenger pigeon migration in southern Wisconsin. Georgie Burkhardt is a scrappy and likable heroine, a straight-shooter, with her rifle as well as with her mouth. Part western, part mystery, with plenty adventure and a touch of romance, One Came Home will be enjoyed by readers of many genres and remembered for its setting and the unusual natural phenomenon it brings to life.--Elaine Gass Hirsch 4Q 3P M Copyright 2011 Voya Reviews.

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