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"As in Cushman's Newbery winner, The Midwife's Apprentice (1995), the hero of this lively historical novel is a mean, ugly orphan, desperate for home, and her adult mentor is both as tough and as needy as the orphan child. Here the setting is the U.S. in 1881 on the orphan train going west from Chicago to California, but the story of the wild, lonely pauper kids is like something out of Dickens . . . Twelve-year-old Rodzina's first-person account of the uproar on the journey makes the dramatic history immediate . . . The orphan train boss is a woman doctor, cold and distant, and as lonely as Rodzina. Yes, it’s clear that these two strong women will get together by the end; how that happens makes a great story." — Booklist, starred review

About the Book

Clarion Books is honored to announce the March 2003 publication of Rodzina, the new novel by Karen Cushman, winner of the Newbery Medal for The Midwife's Apprentice (Clarion Books, 1995) and a Newbery Honor for Catherine, Called Birdy (Clarion Books, 1994).

Famed for her uncompromising heroines, Karen Cushman has created her most compelling narrator to date: an ungainly, combative twelve-year-old orphan whose rough exterior guards a sensitive, bruised heart. Traveling by train from Chicago to California, the orphans on the train have been told they'll be adopted by loving families. Skeptical Rodzina is not convinced. Her journey, filled with memorable characters, high humor, and no small amount of grit, is touching and unforgettable — the orphan train story as only Karen Cushman could tell it.

Of Rodzina, Newbery Medal–winning author Sharon Creech says, "What a terrific read! I loved it!" Newbery Medal–winning author Karen Hesse says:

I read Karen Cushman's Rodzina until the wee hours of the night, sitting in the big cozy chair by the fire in my bedroom, and it was perfect. I loved Rodzina’s feisty and fully realized character, I loved the interaction between characters, I loved how she brought me to care so much about each individual in the large cast . . . Cushman has put a fresh spin on the orphan train experience. But even more, she once again demonstrates her brilliance at bringing to life an unconventional spitfire protagonist and leading the reader to root for her, heart and soul. Hooray, hooray for Karen Cushman.
Hooray, hooray for Karen Cushman's Rodzina.

About Karen Cushman and Rodzina

Karen Cushman was born in Chicago, raised a family in Oakland, and now lives on Vashon Island in Seattle. Her research in medieval English history and culture led to the writing of her first two novels. She says, "I grew tired of hearing about kings, princes, generals, presidents. I wanted to know what ordinary life was like for ordinary young people in other times."

About her inspiration for writing Rodzina, Cushman has this to say:

I was ten years old when Grandma Lipski took me to the Polish cemetery in Chicago to show me her mother’s grave. In front of a gravestone marked Rodzina Czerwinski she sat and cried, while I watched her, this tough little grandma who never cried.

Many years later, when I thought about writing a book about a Polish girl from Chicago, I decided to call her Rodzina, after my great-grandmother. I checked with my father to make sure I had the spelling correct, and I discovered that Rodzina was not her first name but was the Polish word for "family." The gravestone marked the resting place of the rodzina Czerwinski, the Czerwinski family.

Rodzina is about the search for a family, and while Rodzina was not my great-grandmother's name, it was the perfect name for the girl in my story. And so she is Rodzina.

I would like to dedicate this book to my family—the Czerwinskis, the Cushmans, and the Lipskis, who were kings in Poland.

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