For Release: Immediately
Department of External Affairs
Free Library of Philadelphia
1901 Vine Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103-1189
(215) 567-7710
FAX (215) 567-7850
Contact: Communications and Development
For Release: Immediately
Contact: Communications and Development


The Free Library of Philadelphia’s flagship literacy program opens its 2015 season with an appearance by the featured author and the performance of a musical piece composed by a Curtis Institute of Music student.


The Free Library of Philadelphia kicked off the 13th season of its annual One Book, One Philadelphia program on January 22 with a special evening of discussion and performance.


The kickoff celebration began with opening remarks by Free Library of Philadelphia President and Director Siobhan A. Reardon, who recognized the lead sponsor of this year’s program, Walmart, in addition to primary sponsors the Field Foundation and PECO, as well as media partners WHYY, Philadelphia City Paper, Harmelin Media, and Keystone Outdoor. Reardon then invited Marie Field, Chair of One Book, One Philadelphia, to speak.  


Field emphasized how One Book connects the city and strengthens our communities through the shared act of reading, saying, “One Book provides unique opportunities for people from diverse backgrounds to interact, to exchange views and personal stories, and to gain understanding of each other's lives, thereby coming to the realization that whatever our differences might be, we share a common humanity, belong to the same human family.”


“This year, One Book, One Philadelphia will examine the importance of heritage and memories, the value of intergenerational relationships, and the fundamental power of family,” said Reardon.  “Orphan Train is a truly engaging and easy to read novel, and I encourage everyone in Philadelphia to check it out, join in the conversation, and participate in as many of the thought-provoking One Book events as possible.”


“Walmart is proud to sponsor the One Book, One Philadelphia program for the fifth year in a row.  Over the last five years we have donated $425,000 in support to help ensure this important program continues to engage Philadelphians of all ages.  It’s a wonderful partnership, which our associates and customers can get behind.” said Rick Phillips, Human Resources Market Manager for Walmart.   


In addition to a special appearance by Kline, who was interviewed by WHYY’s Arts and Culture reporter Peter Crimmins, the kickoff featured a debut performance of an original musical composition inspired by Orphan Train, written TJ Cole, a composition student of the Curtis Institute of Music. Her composition was performed by the Singing City Children’s Choir, under the direction of Steven Fisher.


Tonight’s event was just one of more than 100 engaging and educational One Book programs that will take place through March 19. Book discussions, children’s craft workshops, historical presentations and panel discussions, and film screenings are just some of the wide variety of events offered in One Book, One Philadelphia’s 13th season. 


Orphan Train is the compelling story of Vivian, a 91-year-old widow once orphaned as a child, and Molly, a troubled teen who has been shuffled from one unstable foster home to another. The two women develop a bond, with Vivian treasuring her Irish immigrant roots and Molly finding comfort in her ancestral Native American tradition. The novel sheds light on an era when thousands of orphaned children were taken from crowded cities to face uncertain futures in the rural Midwest and connects with the importance of heritage and memories in shaping who we are, the value of intergenerational relationships, and the fundamental power of family. The Library Journal calls it, “A compelling story about loss, adaptability, and courage... With compassion and delicacy Kline presents a little-known chapter of American history.”


Companion books for teens and children are also a part of the program. The middle-grade companion book, Rodzina by Karen Cushman, tells the story of a stubborn, headstrong young girl as she boards an orphan train to a new future. The children’s companion book, Locomotive by Brian Floca, describes how steam engine trains work and how the transcontinental railroad changed the country. It recently received the prestigious Caldecott Medal.


The One Book website at is devoted to more resources, including downloadable discussion guides, recommended reading lists, event calendars, and more.



About the Author

Christina Baker Kline is a novelist, nonfiction writer, and editor. In addition to Orphan Train, her novels include Bird in Hand, The Way Life Should Be, Desire Lines, and Sweet Water. She served as Writer-in-Residence at Fordham University from 2007 to 2011 and has co-edited or written four nonfiction books. She has taught fiction and nonfiction writing, poetry, English literature, literary theory, and women's studies at Yale, New York University, and Drew University, and she is a recipient of a Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation Fellowship, a Fordham Faculty Research Grant, and a Writer-in-Residence Fellowship at the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts. Born in Cambridge, England, and having lived in the American South and Maine, she is a graduate of Yale, Cambridge, and the University of Virginia. She currently lives in Montclair, New Jersey with her husband and three sons.


About One Book, One Philadelphia

Founded in 2003 by the Free Library and the Mayor’s Office, One Book motivates tens of thousands of people to read the featured selection and participate in discussions, events, workshops, classes, and more.  All Free Library locations will have several hard copies of Orphan Train—as well as the middle-grade companion book, Rodzina, and children’s companion book, Locomotive—for customers to borrow with a Free Library card. In addition, the Free Library will have Orphan Train available as an ebook for download from its website as well as for loan on circulating electronic reading devices. The book will also be available in audio format as a CD.


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The 61-location Free Library of Philadelphia system advances literacy, guides learning, and inspires curiosity with millions of digital and physical materials; 25,000 yearly programs and workshops; free public computers and extensive Wi-Fi; and rich special collections, including  those at Parkway Central Library and at The Rosenbach of the Free Library of Philadelphia. With more than 6 million in-person and 9 million online visits annually, the Free Library and the Rosenbach are among the most widely used educational and cultural institutions in Philadelphia and boast a worldwide impact.


Department of External Affairs, Free Library of Philadelphia, 1901 Vine Street, Philadelphia, PA 19103-1189
(215) 567-7710, FAX (215) 567-7850