Heart of a Shepherd
By Matt Berman,
Common Sense Media Reviewer
Common Sense Media Reviewers
Growing up in the heartland beautifully, movingly portrayed.
A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
Contains much information about farm life, including a detailed description of helping a cow to give birth. Also immerses readers in the lives of military families and towns.
There's are strong messages about the importance of decency, patriotism, hard work, family, and community.
Positive Role Models
Everyone in the novel believes in strong American values, and their actions mirror their beliefs, even at great personal cost. Brother is the model of a strong and caring boy growing into manhood.
Violence & Scariness
Brothers get into a fight, which ends with one of them needing stitches. A wounded war vet comes home with a prosthetic leg.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
A graphic description of the birth of a calf, a mention of castrating cattle.
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One use of "s--t."
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Products & Purchases
OTC drug brands mentioned.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
An adult smokes, teens drink a bit of whiskey.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that is one use of "s--t," brothers fight once (though they care for each other's injuries afterwards), and there is a bit of smoking and drinking. Otherwise, there are great role models in this novel; Brother is a strong and caring boy growing into manhood.
Where to Read
Based on 3 parent reviews
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Sweet, Sensitive Story
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What's the Story?
When his father is deployed to Iraq, and his older brothers are all away in the army or at school, it falls to Ignatius "Brother" Alderman, his grandparents, and hired man Ernesto to keep their Oregon ranch going. Brother is determined to show his father that he can handle it, even though he is not sure he wants to be a rancher when he grows up. But the noble promises he makes are hard to keep.
Is It Any Good?
This is the story that we Americans tell ourselves about who we are: good, decent, hard-working, educated, spiritual people, caring for our families, friends, neighbors, and land. We come of age by facing the fire, doing what has to be done, loving deeply but quietly. As 11-year-old Brother says here, learning from his father, "That's my mission, and I'll see it done." True or not, this vision of ourselves holds an atavistic power, and in the hands of talented first-time author Rosanne Parry, it is devastatingly emotional, even when nothing bad is happening in the story.
There are many different types of tearjerkers, and some even earn their tears honestly. but there are none more powerful or honest than stories like this -- the simple tale of a kid struggling to grow up decent and strong. Even better when that kid is supported by a loving family, a tight-knit community, and wise elders who help him along the always difficult path from childhood to adulthood. That's the story we all want our children to read -- and to emulate.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about Brother's family. Are they anything like yours? Are they realistic?
What do you think about the choices Brother's father makes? Do you think he is doing the right thing?
Brother's community is also tightly knit. Is yours anything like that? Would you like it to be? Is it possible?
- Author: Roseanne Parry
- Genre: Family Life
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: Random House Books for Young Readers
- Publication date: January 27, 2009
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 8 - 12
- Number of pages: 161
- Last updated: July 12, 2017
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