Gennifer Choldenko’s Orphan Eleven is great summer read

Orphan ElevenORPHAN ELEVEN, by Gennifer Choldenko, Wendy Lamb Books, May 26, 2020, Hardcover, $16.99 (ages 8-12)

An orphan finds her dream home in an unexpected place in Gennifer Choldenko’s Orphan Eleven.

Four orphans have escaped from the Home for Friendless Children. One is Lucy, who used to talk and sing. No one knows why she doesn’t speak anymore; silence is her protection.

The orphans find work and new friends at a traveling circus. Lucy loves caring for the elephants, but she must be able to speak to them, and to warn others of danger. If Lucy doesn’t find her voice, she’ll be left behind when the circus goes on the rails. Meanwhile, people are searching for Lucy, and her puzzling past is about to catch up with her. —Synopsis provided by Wendy Lamb Books

This is the first novel I’ve read by Gennifer Choldenko, who is well known for her Tales from Alcatraz series. Based on Orphan Eleven, it’s not hard to see why she’s a Newberry Honor author. She’s excellent at setting both scene and pacing.

There’s a charm to Orphan Eleven that you wouldn’t immediately consider based on the above synopsis. But it’s there nonetheless. Lucy’s dogged determinedness and inner strength are the trunk from which her story branches out. Experiencing the circus through her eyes is magical. Even the mundane gets a flair of life.

Orphan Eleven is an engaging read that grabs you from the first page, and makes you want to know more about Lucy and her friends long after you’ve finished.


© 2020, Cracking the Cover. All rights reserved. Unless otherwise noted, all books — digital and physical — have been provided for free by publishers in exchange for honest and unbiased reviews. All thoughts and opinions are those of the reviewer.


About Author

Jessica Harrison is the main reviewer behind Cracking the Cover. Prior to creating Cracking the Cover, Jessica worked as the in-house book critic for the Deseret News, a daily newspaper in Salt Lake City. Jessica also worked as a copy editor and general features writer for the paper. Following that, Jessica spent two years with an international company as a social media specialist. She is currently a freelance writer/editor. She is passionate about reading and giving people the tools to make informed decisions in their own book choices.

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