Author of the Month Amy Timberlake

Photo of author Amy Timberlake in the grass
Source: mjalexander.com

Travel back to 1871 Wisconsin for pigeon nestings, a missing sister and a giant fire in One Came Home by Amy Timberlake, February's Author of the Month and 2014 Newbery Medal Honor winner.

One Came Home is available in multiple formats.

Just how does a book win a Newbery Honor? Laura Jenkins, children's librarian at the Uptown Branch, was a member of 2014's Newbery Committee and explains what made One Came Home special for her: "Wow! When you meet Georgie Burkhardt in this book that is an amazing mix of historical fiction, adventure and mystery, you won’t forget her.  When I read One Came Home, I was completely drawn into her world and I had to remind myself that Georgie wasn’t a real person. Amy Timberlake writes so vividly you can just see the dress that is made from a fabric of 'living deep blue-green interwoven with hints of color (midnight, robin-egg blue, evergreen, gold.)' This book could have been just an exciting yarn, with counterfeiters and a feisty heroine who’s a great shot with a rifle, but it’s also a funny and moving story of a journey of  hardship, heartbreak, terror and, finally, resolution. On top of all that, there’s fascinating information about something you didn’t even realize you wanted to know: massive migrations of passenger pigeons before they became extinct.  Every Chicago child learns how important 1871 was in our history, but they probably don't know what was happening so close to us in Wisconsin on the very same day. Once you read this book, you will!"

Questions and Activities:

  • Did you know that the passenger pigeon nesting event actually occurred in the spring of 1871? The area covered was close to 850 square miles, with an estimate of 136 million nesting pigeons. Why don't we see passenger pigeons today?
  • 100 years ago this year, the last passenger pigeon, a bird named Martha living at the Cincinnati Zoo, died. Find out how you can remember celebrate the passenger pigeon and what we can do today to prevent the extinction of other species with Project Passenger Pigeon.
  • Placid, Wis. is a fictional town, but the dells of the Wisconsin River do exist. If you travel to the Wisconsin Dells area today, you can see many of these formations yourself. Can't wait until spring to see this amazing area of Wisconsin? Check out the photographs of H.H. Bennett.
  • Another important job done by the United States Secret Service, besides protecting the president, is finding and capturing counterfeiters. How do you know if your money is the real thing?
  • We are all familiar with the Great Chicago Fire, but why are we not as familiar with the Great Peshtigo Fire?
  • Amy Timberlake has also written a western/tall tale for children, The Dirty Cowboy.
  • What is the Newbery Medal and how do you win it?
  • Want to use One Came Home for your next book club? Try these questions to spark your discussion.

Looking for even more? Find out about Amy Timberlake and her writing process for One Came Home.

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