What people say about One Came Home:
"2014 marks the 100th anniversary of the passenger pigeon's extinction. . . . But even with the passage of a century, the story of this bird retains its power and continues to engage us. There is no better evidence of this than Amy Timberlake and her wonderful novel "One Came Home." . . . This book will go a long way to keeping the passenger pigeon saga alive for a new generation of young readers."
-- Joel Greenberg, author of A Feathered River Across the Sky: The Passenger Pigeon's Flight to Extinction
"One of the best children's books of early 2013 tells the tale of a young girl whose sister goes missing during the largest passenger pigeon roosting ever. ...And what a story. Georgie Burkhart is a heroine right out of the Old West – a cougar-defying, gun-toting, mule-riding girl with a sense of humor and an evolving sense of honor. With each page, she digs herself deeper into trouble, sometimes bailed out by her companion, Agatha's former true love. Even more often, she's saved by her own wits and guile. Georgie's memories of Agatha are beautifully, seamlessly woven into the telling of this story. ..."One Came Home" is a rare gem of a novel. It's an adventure about a most unusual topic, set in a place and time not often written about for readers of any age. The writing is both luminous and laugh-out-loud funny, the author well-informed and passionate. As Georgie remarks about her four-legged traveling companion, this book possesses "a cornucopia of admirable characteristics." Well done, Amy Timberlake. You've created a character and a great adventure we won't soon forget."
-- Augusta Scattergood, The Christian Science Monitor
[Timberlake]... masterfully weaves Georgie’s story with the story of Passenger Pigeon hunting at its peak, women’s right to an education, a murder mystery, counterfeiters, and even a love story or two. Being a girl in a boy’s world is another theme in this book that will strike a chord, especially with female young birders. It isn’t easy being the only girl in a male-dominated activity, as others have discussed on this blog. We need more female role models and this book delivers in spades. The way Timberlake allows Georgie’s tenacity, intelligence, ingenuity, talent, and capability to shine through even amidst seemingly insurmountable circumstances and obstacles had me cheering her on from page one. I was riveted from the moment I opened the book. This was easily one of my favorite reads of 2013, and it is something that will be enjoyed by birders and non-birders alike. Definitely put this one on your list.
-- Jennie Duberstein, "2013 Young Birder Gift Guide," American Birding Association
"This marvelous tale of the Wild West that was Wisconsin in 1871 has a murder mystery, a memorable heroine, and most of all, a fascinating backdrop, of passenger pigeon migration and the “pigeoners” that followed the birds. ...The writing is fresh and funny (“a fresh pile of horse apples confettied with flies”). Timberlake has plotted a compelling mystery and coming-of-age tale, and the page-turning suspense yields to a satisfying conclusion, wrapping in almost as an afterthought another 1871 event, the deadly firestorms that devastated Chicago and small towns along the Wisconsin shoreline of Lake Michigan."
-- Jean Westmoore, The Buffalo News
"Amy Timberlake’s historical novel “One Came Home” is a lively valentine to sisterhood and a bird that no longer exists: the passenger pigeon, which once flew in flocks so vast and dense that they blocked the sun. It is 1871, and the tart-tongued narrator of this tale, Georgie Burkhardt, 13, refuses to accept what her town of Placid, Wis., holds true: that her older sister Agatha is dead. ... Timberlake balances humor with heart in this gripping adventure . . . Timberlake offers a fascinating glimpse into an important, little-known year in the American Midwest and at the “winged mass” that filled its sky."
— Mary Quattlebaum, The Washington Post
"Late in "One Came Home," a character declares that "no one should underestimate Georgie Burkhardt," the sharpshooting "pigtailed hoyden" who's the heroine of Amy Timberlake's novel. How right that fellow is. Georgina, 13, sets out on a mule, carrying a Springfield single-shot rifle, in search of her missing sister Agatha. During her quest, she faces a wild animal attack, proposes marriage and gets into a gunbattle. .. .While the publisher lists "One Came Home" as a book for readers 9 years and older, many adults would enjoy both its story and its depiction of 1870s Wisconsin as a frontier, the state's name barely pronounceable by New Yorkers. ...Timberlake has written an entertaining and compelling novel about the value of a single life, be it human or avian."
-- Jim Higgins, The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
"...The adversarial relationship between Georgie and Billy provides superb comic relief in a gripping, gritty story that unwinds as a mystery involving passenger pigeons, counterfeiters, and more than one guilty secret. But it’s Georgie’s voice that really brings the story to life, with its original, folksy turns of phrase and self-deprecating humor that make it as entertaining to read as a Christopher Paul Curtis novel. ..."
-- Kathleen T. Horning, Starred Review, The Horn Book
"I like children’s books that sock you in the gut. Not the books that telegraph their hits or do the old one-two punch you can see coming from a mile away. No way, man, I’m talking about the books where you’re reading along, merrily as you please, and then this hammer of a hit comes in from out of the blue and just hocks the wind right out of you. Middle grade fiction, also known as chapter book fiction for kids, can sometimes feel like one long unending stream of samey sameness. Then you get a whiff of something like One Came Home and it does you a world of good. Kids need a little variety. If they’re going to read historical fiction (and they are) then why not give them bloody interesting historical fiction for once? Something with gunplay and counterfeiting and true affection between sisters and gowns and all that stuff? A mystery and quest tale all at once, Timberlake’s latest lifts her from the masses of samey same middle grade onto another level. And kid readers end up the winners."
-- Betsy Byrd, "Review of the Day," Fuse #8, School Library Journal
...Timberlake builds original plotting atop the classic foundation of a journey, flirting with clichés only to subvert or ground them. Readers won’t be sure whom to believe about Agatha, and they may also see, as Georgy does not, how much Georgy’s dream of running the family store with her sister is Agatha’s nightmare. Georgy’s narration is innocent, eager, and rich with appropriate small-town period formality, moving smoothly from comic adolescent petulance to raw plainspoken loss: “There is nothing so final as turning around.” The book additionally brings to atmospheric life the deluge of the passenger pigeon flocks, roosting in colossal numbers and supporting an entire industry of “pigeoners,” and also vividly portrays the foreboding tinder-dry Midwestern setting, where drought crisped the land so that the slightest spark could—and does—ignite the countryside. With its historical backdrop, enjoyable narrative, and endearing heroine, this will appeal both to fans of Philbrick’s The Mostly True Adventures of Homer P. Figg and Kelly’s The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate."
-- Deborah Stevenson, Starred Review, The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books
"...In the adventurous historical novel One Came Home, based on two actual events in Wisconsin in 1871, the spunky 13-year-old heroine and best shot in Placid, Wisconsin, sets out to find her sister. ... [Georgie] roars into action when faced with cougars, ruthless counterfeiters, a mistaken woman who resembles Agatha and even death. As she makes some hard decisions, she learns to see the world beyond appearances and her own wishes. ...Through Georgie’s unrelenting journey, Timberlake has crafted a True Grit for the middle school set."
-- Angela Leeper, Bookpage
"... The truly memorable characters and setting—particularly descriptions of the incredible phenomenon of passenger-pigeon nesting and migration—and the gradual unraveling of the mystery of Agatha’s disappearance make this one hard to put down. The icing on the cake, though, is Georgie’s narration, which is fresh, laugh-out-loud funny and an absolute delight to read. Georgie's story will capture readers' imaginations with the very first sentences and then hold them hostage until the final page is turned."
-- Starred Review, Kirkus
"... Timberlake seamlessly integrates information about two significant events that occurred in Wisconsin in 1871: the largest recorded nesting of passenger pigeons in spring and devastating firestorms in fall. Georgie’s physical and emotional odyssey that occurs between those two events will linger in readers’ minds."
-- Kathy Piehl, Starred Review, School Library Journal
"... a unique historical novel set during a massive and largely forgotten 1871 wild passenger pigeon migration in southern Wisconsin. Georgie Burkhardt is a scrappy and likable heroine, a straight-shooter, with her rifle as well as with her mouth. Part western, part mystery, with plenty adventure and a touch of romance, One Came Home will be enjoyed by readers of many genres and remembered for its setting and the unusual natural phenomenon it brings to life."
-- Elaine Gass Hirsch, VOYA
"... once this book gets going you better hang onto your hat. ...Mayhem, murder and mystery ensure, and 13-year-old sharpshooter Georgie Burkhart decides to sort things out. ...Vivid language (the pigeons turn the sky into "feathered fabric") and strong emotion (Georgie "will endure anything" to find her sister) make this a winner. Grade: A"
-- Trisha Springstubb, The Cleveland Plain Dealer
"...Timberlake weaves in the largest passenger pigeon nesting her seen in North America, drought and fatal fires along Lake Michigan that year, a currency crisis that spawned counterfeiters, and advice on prairie travel form an actual handbook from the times. Historical fiction and mystery combine to make this a compelling adventure, and an afterword helps disentangle facts from fiction."