A Blog of Children's Literature

Heart of a Shepherd March 3, 2011

Heart of a ShepherdHeart of a Shepherd by Rosanne Parry
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Heart of a Shepherd by Rosanne Parry (2009)

Contemporary Fiction, 176 pages

Taking care of an entire farm is tough work, but for sixth grader Brother, the pressure is on as the only remaining son to help his grandparents run their Oregon ranch while his father is deployed in Iraq and his brothers are away. Tender-hearted Brother shares his thoughts on being a man and shows that he knows more about ranching than his self-confidence lets him admit. Dealing with the desperate need to grow up to be like his father, worrying about war and its human sacrifice, and figuring out what to do with his life, Brother struggles with many realistic situations, especially in the lives of many children of deployed service men and women. Luckily, he has strong grandparents that guide him in his father’s absence, a new priest who understands more than the rest, and modern technology to stay in touch with his faraway family members. Parry does an excellent job painting the backdrop of Brother’s ranching lifestyle, including the amount of manual labor involved in running a ranch and the dangers that nature presents. Described as a shepherd, Brother has a thoughtful and caring demeanor that ultimately leads him to understanding his calling in life. While Brother is sensitive and aware of others’ feelings, he still has the strength to hold his own among his four older brothers and inspire all children to find who they are meant to be. Although it has stereotypical boy themes, such as ranching, adventure, and manhood, Heart of a Shepherd delves deeper into a richer understanding of these threads in the book’s tapestry. I would definitely booktalk this contemporary “American” tale to fifth through eighth graders for its exploration of faith, adulthood, service, and lifestyle.


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