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Friday, May 22, 2015

'Orphan Train' Author Coming to Bradford

The University of Pittsburgh at Bradford and One Book Bradford are teaming up to bring “Orphan Train” author Christina Baker Kline to Bradford this fall.

Kline will visit Pitt-Bradford at 7:30 p.m. Nov. 5, when she will give a talk that will be open to the public in the Bromeley Family Theater of Blaisdell Hall. Her best-selling novel “Orphan Train” will be used as a common reader in freshman seminar and creative writing classes on campus.

Community members are encouraged to read the book and attend as well. One Book Bradford is a collaborative venture under the auspices of the Bradford Area Public Library that annually chooses a book for the community to read together. Its annual events culminate with a visit to Bradford from the author.

Pat Shinaberger, chairwoman of One Book Bradford, said, “Our committee is very excited to join Pitt-Bradford in bringing an author of Kline’s caliber to Bradford. We are hopeful this is just the beginning of something great between our two groups.”

“Orphan Train” deals with orphaned, abandoned or homeless children who were sent from the East Coast to the rural Midwest to be raised by foster families between 1854 and 1929. Irish immigrant Vivian Daly is one of those children, and many years later, young Penobscot Indian Molly Ayer stumbles upon her story.

Moving between contemporary Maine and Depression-era Minnesota, “Orphan Train” has been described as “a powerful tale of upheaval and resilience, second chances, and unexpected friendship.”

“Orphan Train” has spent more than 90 weeks on The New York Times bestseller list, including five weeks at No. 1, and has been chosen as a common reader by more than 50 communities and colleges.

Dr. Nancy McCabe, director of the writing program at Pitt-Bradford and author of two books on the adoption of her daughter from China, said that what first made her want to bring Kline to Bradford is that “Orphan Train” is “a good read and very engaging.”

She was also intrigued by the historical tie-in of the orphan trains and, from a writer’s perspective, the shifting points of view in the story between Vivian, the Depression-era orphan, and Molly, a modern foster child who meets Vivian as part of a community service project.

Those who are interested in the orphan trains and orphanages of the early 20th century will also have a chance to view the PBS series American Experience’s documentary on the orphan trains on Oct. 19. Details of the showing will be announced later this summer.

One Book Bradford will also hold a community discussion of the book on Sept. 19 and is planning a talk on the history of orphanages in the Bradford area.

Funding for Kline’s visit will be provided by the Pitt-Bradford Spectrum Arts Series and freshman seminar.

For more information on Kline or the book, visit www.christinabakerkline.com, which provides book group discussion guides and historical background on orphan trains, including the itinerary for Vivian Daly’s train, which traveled through Buffalo, N.Y., and Erie.

Copies of the book will be available for purchase at The Panther Shop at Pitt-Bradford after July 1.

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