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Kindred Souls



Gentle tale of a boy fulfilling his grandfather's last wish.

What parents need to know

Educational value

In addition to learning something about modern-day farm life and pioneer-era prairie sod houses, readers will benefit from observing Jake's love and respect for his grandfather and his willingness to listen to old stories and take each day at his grandfather's pace.

Positive messages

Jake gradually realizes and then accepts that nothing lasts forever and that part of love is being able to let someone go. Family unity is emphasized by example, not in a preachy way.

Positive role models

Jake is a caring and thoughtful boy. Though he senses that giving his grandfather his heart's desire -- to rebuild the sod house he lived in when he was a boy -- will mean the end of something for him personally, he makes it happen because he knows how important it is to his grandfather. Jake's grandfather is a vibrant and observant man at age 88, and the people around him treat him with love and respect. Jake's family is supportive of his plan to build the house, and everyone pitches in to help.

Violence & scariness
Not applicable
Not applicable

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that Kindred Souls is a story about the last months of a grandfather's life, told from the point of view of his 10-year-old grandson, Jake. Though Jake asserts that his grandfather will live forever, he must come to terms with the fact that everyone dies eventually. Jake's journey to this understanding is handled with sensitivity and honesty.

Kids say

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What's the story?

Jake knows his 88-year-old grandfather, Billy, will live forever. Every day during the summer, Jake and Billy take the same walk around the farm. And every day, when they come to the small wall that's all that remains of the sod house Billy grew up in, Billy says, "I miss that sod house." When Billy gets sick and has to go the hospital, Jake is sure he'll be OK. All the same, he decides to rebuild the sod house for Billy. Jake's parents and siblings get drawn into the project, too, and it becomes a bond among all of them as they anticipate Billy's homecoming. The sod house comes to mean both the beginning and the end of something for Jake.

Is it any good?


Patricia MacLachlan's gentle pace matches the summer days on Jake's farm; not much happens in KINDRED SOULS, but it's pleasant and warm. Jake witnesses various phases of life on the farm -- a calf is born, the hummingbirds get ready to go south -- and always, in the midst of the modern-day tractors and computers, the past is kept alive through his grandfather's memories and Billy's interest in them. It's a sweet and honest look at a boy's last days with his grandfather, from the Newbery Award-winning author of the Sarah, Plain and Tall series. 

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about why it was so important to Jake's grandfather to have the sod house rebuilt. Why do you think Jake didn't want to do it at first?

  • What do you think Jake's grandfather means when he tells Jake he's a kindred soul? Do you have a kindred soul?

  • What does Lucy the dog do that might indicate she really is an angel, as Jake's brother suggests? Does she do anything to indicate she's just a dog?

  • If you've read other books by Patricia McLachlan, how does this one compare? 

Book details

Author:Patricia MacLachlan
Genre:Family Life
Topics:Great boy role models
Book type:Fiction
Publisher:HarperCollins Children's Books
Publication date:February 7, 2012
Number of pages:119
Publisher's recommended age(s):7 - 10

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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Parent Written bycamtdmremjam April 17, 2012

Sweet book, although a little sad.

I was drawn into this book by the cover illustration. I was in the children's section of the library with my 7 year old and I decided to read it first to see if it would be a book she could read (she reads at a fourth grade level). After reading it last night, I think she will have to wait to read it. I think when she is nine or ten, I will allow her to read it. I just think for her it would be a little too sad. I loved it and think it is a good quick read for adults. I cried as it reminded me of my own dad passing and different things we did before he died. It is a good book if you are dealing with death in the family.
What other families should know
Educational value
Great messages
Great role models


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