by Rachel Walman
Hello families! As the We Rode the Orphan Trains Book Wrap approaches, we interviewed the book’s author, Andrea Warren. Ms. Warren has a lot of wonderful things to tell you about herself and her work. She is “delighted” that we are all reading her book about this important but little-known part of history. Though you won’t meet Ms. Warren at the next Book Wrap on September 30th (she lives very far from New York), you will get to meet another special guest. Stay tuned for more details, and enjoy this lovely interview.
DiMenna Children’s History Museum: What were you like between the ages of 9 and 12?
Andrea Warren: I was a good student, quiet and bookish. I did lots of babysitting for neighbors and with my younger siblings. My youngest sister was born when I was ten, so I had lots of household chores. I loved to ride my bike and play with friends. I took piano lessons and belonged to 4-H and church choir. I loved to swim and took my younger brother and sister swimming every day of the summer.
DCHM: What is your favorite time period in American history? Why?
AW: I haven’t thought about this, but several of my books are set in the last half of the 1800s and something seems to draw me to this time. I am very interested in the immigrants and American pioneers who settled the Midwest, so perhaps this is why.
DCHM: What is the coolest thing you’ve ever seen at the New-York Historical Society?
AW: It’s been many years since I visited, but I remember photographs of the Lower East Side at the turn of the last century. I was amazed by everything—how crowded the streets were, all the open windows in the tenements, the many ways people were engaged in work, and the presence of so many children. Fascinating!
DCHM: What is your favorite place in New York City? Why?
AW: I try to visit New York City at least every other year and I always walk across the Brooklyn Bridge. Why? It’s beautiful and [has] such an interesting history; I love the view; people on the bridge are from all over the world and everyone seems happy; for some reason, every time I’ve done this, the weather has been beautiful.
DCHM: What made you want to write We Rode the Orphan Trains?
AW: I had already written Orphan Train Rider: One Boy’s True Story, and it showed me how interested readers were in this little known chapter of American history. While researching the book, I met and interviewed many orphan train riders. They were all elderly and I realized that when they died, their history died with them because so little had been written about the orphan trains. I set to work to capture what eye-witness history I could so that future generations would know what happened from the perspective of the children who rode the trains.
DCHM: What 3 words best describe We Rode the Orphan Trains?
AW: The children: scared, brave, hopeful.