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On Sale: January 27, 2009
Pages: 176 | ISBN: 978-0-375-89250-9
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Synopsis|Excerpt

Synopsis

When Brother's dad is shipped off to Iraq, along with the rest of his reserve unit, Brother must help his grandparents keep the ranch going. He’s determined to maintain it just as his father left it, in the hope that doing so will ensure his father’s safe return. The hardships Brother faces will not only change the ranch, but also reveal his true calling.


From the Hardcover edition.

Excerpt

Grandpa frowns when he plays chess, like he does when he prays. He's got a floppy mustache that pulls that frown right down past his chin. He used to have freckles like me, but I guess they expanded on him because his whole face is pack-mule tan, witha fan of wrinkles at the corners. Years and years of moving cattle and mending fences gives a man a fearsome look, and I bet if I work at it, I can look just like my grandpa by the time I go to board at the high school. But the fences are mended for now and the cows are up in the mountains with my older brothers, so Grandpa and me are playing chess out on the back porch.  

Grandpa's chessmen are world-famous around here. They came over the Oregon Trail with Grandpa's grandfather in the covered wagon, and before that they came straight from Paris, France. They were carved by hand from ebony for the dark side and ivory for the light. The pawns all have round helmets and longbows. Everyone else has a sword, even the bishops, and their faces are dead serious, which is what you want when there's a war on.  

Grandpa is the chess champ of Malheur County, Oregon. We've been playing each other for years, so I've got him pretty well sized up. He always opens by moving the middle pawn up two spaces. But after that first move, he's as wily as a badger and twice as tough. I haven't beaten him yet, but when I do, it will be worth a town parade.  

Now, to my mind, pawns are a shifty-looking bunch, plus they clutter up the board, so I try to clear most of them off right away, his and mine. I like my knights to have plenty of room to ride. My queen's knight rides a paint mustang. That horse has got a temper; she's lean and fast, and brave as a lion. My king's knight rides a Clydesdale; not so much speed, but plenty of power.  

Rosita's my queen, of course. She's a fifth grader up at the school, and my best friend's sister. She can birth a lamb and kill a rattlesnake with a slingshot, which is what I look for in a queen. Plus, she's as pretty as a day in spring, and she laughs when I'm the one talking.  

I bet Grandpa's working on putting me in a fork. That's his favorite move, but I see it coming a mile away, so I take a sip from a sweaty glass of lemonade and talk things over with the men. My king's bishop is all for killing Grandpa's queen before she can get us, because, after all, he is an excellent swordsman. The trouble is, Grandpa's queen would have to be Grandma, and I couldn't let anything bad happen to her, now could I? It's confession for sure, for killing your grandma.  

My queen's bishop and I talk the other bishop out of it, which we do a lot. The queen's bishop is the more reflective type because his hands are carved together for praying.  

Grandpa leans forward in his straight-backed chair, still frowning. Dad's orders sit on the card table beside the chessboard, in a tan army envelope. I made Dad show me, because I couldn't believe what he said. They're going to send him and the entire 87th Transportation Battalion all the way to Iraq. Reserve guys are only supposed to go places for two weeks--maybe three, if there's a hurricane in Texas. Fourteen months! It says Dad will be gone fourteen months, right in print. Like this is going to sound better to me than Dad is going to miss my birthday two years in a row.  

Grandma's got him in the kitchen. I can hear the buzz of the clippers through the screen door. She takes about two minutes to cut my hair, but she's been at it with Dad for half an hour. I think she just wants an excuse to rub some extra blessings into his head. I hope she keeps him in there for an hour. He's going to need all the blessings he can get in Baghdad.  

Grandpa pauses so long in the game, I get to wondering if he's even playing. He's been writing letters to our senator to oppose the war ever since it started. Half the Quaker congregations west of the Mississippi have signed them. Grandpa is not an out-loudworrier like Grandma. He just spends more time in the evening praying and writing in his journal.  

"He doesn't really have to go, does he?"  

Grandpa looks up from the board, straight at me.  

"He took a vow when he put on that uniform. A promise is a binding thing, Brother, before the law and before God, too."  

"God doesn't believe in war, does he? You don't."  

"Protest is my calling. Your dad's is to take care of the men in his command. He can be faithful in that."  

The sun is just starting to go orange, and the wind settles down like it does this time of day. The whole ranch gets quiet, like it's waiting for the next move. Grandpa scoots his bishop up three spaces. He looks at me and smiles.   A fork! I knew it. My queen's in danger! Her knight is on the other end of the fork. What'll I do?  
Rosanne Parry

About Rosanne Parry

Rosanne Parry - Heart of a Shepherd
   ROSANNE PARRY spent her first years as a teacher in Taholah, Washington, on the Quinault Indian Reservation. There she learned to love the taste of alder-smoked, blueback salmon, the wind and the cold mists of the rain forest, the sounds of the ocean and the eagles, and the rhythm of a life that revolved around not the clock and the calendar, but the cycle of the salmon running up the river and returning to the ocean. While there she never met a child who could not tell her a story--usually one that included a monster of epic proportions. The writer she became had everything to do with the people she came to cherish and the land between the Pacific and the Olympic Mountains where stories seemed to grow out of the earth all around her, tall and sturdy as cedars. To learn more, please visit RosanneParry.com.
Praise | Awards

Praise

Starred Review, Kirkus Reviews, December 1, 2008:
“This first novel is an unassuming, transcendent joy.”

Starred Review, Horn Book Magazine, May/June 2009:
"Brother's honest voice conveys an emotional terrain as thoughtfully developed as Parry's evocation of the Western landscape."

“Isn’t it wonderful that there are books like this—about good people, about striving, and about doing the right thing!”
—Patricia Reilly Giff, two-time recipient of the Newbery Honor

“A true evocation of modern ranch life, a life rooted in community and love, a life seldom written about with such grace and authenticity.”
—Molly Gloss, finalist for the PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction


From the Hardcover edition.

Awards

WINNER 2009 Kid's Indie Next List "Inspired Recommendations for Kids from Indie Booksellers"
WINNER 2009 Publishers Weekly Flying Start Author
WINNER 2009 Horn Book Fanfare
WINNER 2009 Kirkus Reviews Best ChildrenÂ’s Books
NOMINEE 2011 Tennessee Volunteer State Book Master List
NOMINEE 2010 Wyoming Indian Paintbrush Master List
SUBMITTED Publishers Weekly Flying Start Author
NOMINEE Missouri Mark Twain Award
NOMINEE New Jersey Garden State Children's Book Award
WINNER Hawaii Nene Award
NOMINEE Kansas William White Award
NOMINEE Tennessee Volunteer State Book Award
NOMINEE 2014 Minnesota Maud Heart Lovelace Award
WINNER Minnesota Maud Heart Lovelace Award

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