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Parents' Guide to


By Cindy Kane, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 11+

Classic novel of four brave children looking for a home.

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A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this book.

Community Reviews

age 12+

Based on 2 parent reviews

age 13+

Take a Fantastic Journey with the Tillermans

I discovered this book as a young teen in my local bookstore and read it until the cover fell off. Dicey Tillerman is a relatable, plucky heroine who handles her unexpected promotion to parent with aplomb. Her siblings James, Maybeth, and Sammy all have well-developed personalities and go through realistic reactions to their plight. Kids can glean some educational value from the things the siblings, particularly Dicey and James, must learn to do on their journey. This includes handling money and deciding what foods will sustain them on a small budget. There's also a lot of great discussion fodder in the book regarding what makes a family and a home. Dicey regularly lies in order to keep her siblings from being split up. While that's understandable in context, it warrants discussion of whether she had other choices and if not, why not. Sammy and James both steal, but it is not condoned. The Tillermans' mother abandons them and is assumed to be mentally ill; while not discussed, this could be upsetting for young readers. The children briefly stay with Eunice, a cousin who sees them as a burden and makes no secret of it. She openly favors the girls while belittling the boys. Eunice is a rigid Catholic, and her behavior maligns the Church. Additionally, her priest's attitude toward the Tillermans is negative. The children are regularly called names like "bastards," and one child is referred to as "retarded." The children briefly work for an abusive man with a dangerous dog. Sammy talks about fighting in school in defense of his family. All that being said, this is a great book for the right age group.
age 10+

Grades 5 - 7 must-read

Loved it, as it portrays the amazing resilience of children - that they can overcome dreadful circumstances with just a little love and support, sometimes coming from unexpected places. I'd read it aloud to grade 5s - very thought-and-discussion-provoking. Time and place of story may require some explanation.

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (2 ):
Kids say (19 ):

The plot sprawls, but that's acceptable in a road novel. The tedium, heat, danger, and unexpected pleasures of the journey are evoked in beautiful, sometimes heart-stopping images. However, some of the adult characters' dialogue doesn't sound entirely believable.

The lead character, Dicey Tillerman, absolutely carries this book. She is a magnificent girl -- fiercely loyal, endlessly resourceful, and intuitive, yet with the short temper and quick emotions of any 13-year-old. Seen through Dicey's watchful eyes, the other children are every bit as believable.

Book Details

  • Author: Cynthia Voigt
  • Genre: Contemporary Fiction
  • Book type: Fiction
  • Publisher: Atheneum
  • Publication date: January 1, 1981
  • Publisher's recommended age(s): 9 - 12
  • Number of pages: 388
  • Last updated: July 12, 2017

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