Donna Nordmark Aviles is available for presentations on the Orphan Train Movement.  These books fit in nicely with 4th and 5th grade curriculum and can be used to enhance other fiction works that the students may study.

Community Organizations, such as Rotary Clubs, Senior Clubs, Book Clubs and Genealogy Clubs will enjoy learning about the Orphan Trains, as well as how to search for a rider and the importance of Oral Histories and Personal Narratives. 

Signed copies of both books are made available during all presentations.  Pre-sales are encouraged at schools to allow more time for discussion and questions. 

Visit the SCHOOL PRESENTATIONS page of this website, listed above, or contact Donna Nordmark Aviles at to find out more about how to schedule your presentation!


     "It's very American - their journeys to find their places in the world.  Donna tells the truth of it.  I'm attracted to true stories and these have a lot of heart.  When you get into the minutiae of characters you find a wellspring of drama, humor and adventure.  Donna's books transport you back in time.  It's a really interesting part of our history that never really has been written about but I think will appeal to a large audience." 

    -William Rotko, Screenwriter BREACH (Universal Pictures)


"Thank you for your captivating presentation!  We know we speak for everyone who attended in saying that we were all enriched by an increased knowledge of the Orphan Trains and their impact on that segment of our country's history.  We are proud to have your books in the St. John The Beloved library and look foward to recommending you to othe librarians."

- Valerie Oldiges & Diane Naylor, SJB School


"Thank you for an interesting and informative evening.  We appreciate that you could come and share the family stories with audio, ,photos and great documentation.  Your manner is so personable and to share a story so meaningful is important as placement in history.  Many thank-yous!"

- Barbara Miller, Friends of the Hockessin Library


"Oliver was really a larger than life character.  He was so tough and such a good person.  This story should be made into a movie.  The book is very well written - my goodness, what a man!"

- Ellen Taylor, Genealogist   Phoenix, AZ


"Excellent book, even adults would love it!  It keeps one captivated, wondering NOW what will happen to these two brothers.  FLY LITTLE BIRD, FLY! touches on brotherly love and the importance of family, in addition to the contribution of historical information."

-Renee Wendinger, VP Minnesota Orphan Train Riders Assoc.


" PEANUT BUTTER FOR CUPCAKES" is bound to be considered a classic in its genre.  Rarely do you find a story than can not only teach your children important history lessons, but also how families in the past survived some of the hardest of times.  It is this final aspect that give the book its unique component, for it provides young people with a sense of respect for their ancestors - a level of respect that is very deserving but often not given.  "PEANUT BUTTER FOR CUPCAKES", like Donna Aviles' two other books, should be considered esential reading."

-Peter N. Jones, PhD Cultural Anthropologist


What wonderful stories of ambition and survival.  I truly enjoyed both books and would recommend to readers of any age.  Oliver was a remarkable and resourceful young man.

Mary Jane Klosowski, Wilmington, DE


Everyone is STILL talking about your presentation - the kids are reading your books and looking at all the "family traditions" that are up on the wall, and the teachers are using the whole concept of oral history and storytelling in all their classes.  It is a GREAT lead-up to Grandparents Day.  You did a great job and everyone loved you!"

Lois Brooks, Lower School Librarian, WCS, Hockessin, DE


"Thank you for your visit to Pope John Paul II School.  I am sending some thank you notes that the children made for you.  For many it was their first time meeting an author.  You have made quite an impression on them and have inspired many to read (including some of our reluctant readers)!"

Kate McCarron, Library Media Specialist, Claymont, DE


"The energy and excitement displayed by my students was amazing.  They couldn't get enough of learning about Oliver's journey and America's Orphan Trains."

Kristie Ridgley, Teacher of the Year, Linden Hill Elem.




B.R.A.G. Medallion Honoree



PEANUT BUTTER FOR CUPCAKES has been chosen to receive the B.R.A.G. MEDALLION!  Book Readers Appreciation Group honors deserving independently published books and works to promote greater recognition for these "Must Reads!"


USA TODAY Newspaper published a great story on the ORPHAN TRAINS on January 25th.  You can check it out HERE:


The DiMenna Children's History Museum, featuring an area devoted to the orphan train riders is now OPEN FOR BUSINESS! Located in NYC, it is part of the NY Historical Society. DON'T MISS THIS STOP on your NYC visit!


Last Fall I auditioned for and was accepted as a member of the DE HUMANITIES FORUM Speakers Bureau.  My presentation, The Orphan Train Movement of 1854-1929, is included in the 2012 catalog and I have already received many requests to speak as a representative of the forum.  DHF speaking engagements will be noted under my "upcoming events" listings.  Check out their website at for more information!




**SKYPE PRESENTATIONS** Available For Classrooms Beginning With the 2010-11 School Year!  Click Here For More Details or Email Me Directly!





**Check out my BLOG @  Here you will find ongoing posts about the history of the Orphan Train Movement in America, as well as updates on my efforts, and the efforts of others, to bring back this lost piece of American history and restore the riders' rightful place in our collective conscience.  Happy Reading!!**


Display Booth - 1st Annual SPBE in NYC





FLY LITTLE BIRD, FLY! The True Story of Oliver Nordmark & America's Orphan Trains ISBN# 1932852-07-7  Ages 9 and up  RL 6.1  WINNER of the 2009 BEST BOOKS Award sponsored by USA Book News (Audiobook Format)


Holding tight to one another, vowing never to be separated, Oliver and Edward board the Orphan Train headed west to find a new home.  The year is 1906 and the boys have been told that their mother has died and they are now alone.  Follow the adventures of the Nordmark brothers as they travel on America's Orphan Train from the streets of New York City to the vast farmlands of the Midwest.  Will they find a family to love?  Will they be able to keep their promise?  The future that awaits them will be full of twists and turns, surprises and anguish, all of which will shape their lives forever!


BEYOND THE ORPHAN TRAIN A True Adventure  ISBN#1-932852-94-8  Ages 9 and up   RL 6.1 WINNER of the 2009 BEST BOOKS Award sponsored by USA Book News (Audiobook Format)


Oliver and Edward Nordmark are young boys in 1906 when they are plucked from their New York orphanage and placed on one of America's Orphan Trains to Kansas.  After being sent to different farms, the brothers lose track of one another.  In 1913, fifteen-year-old Oliver decides to hop a freight train and strike out on his own in hopes of finding his lost brother.  Follow Oliver's true story of adventure and discovery as he learns to live by his wits and survive on his own - a child alone in a man's world.  Where will he go?  How will he earn a living?  What kind of people will he meet along the way?  Will he be able to find Edward?  All your lingering questions will be answered in this, the companion story to the author's first book, FLY LITTLE BIRD, FLY!




  PEANUT BUTTER FOR CUPCAKES, A True Story From The Great Depression, ISBN# 978-1-60047-216-9 Ages 9 and up  RL 6.9  WINNER of the 2009 Literary Foundation's CHRISTOPHER ROBIN AWARD for Children's Literature.  FINALIST in the 2009 Next Generation Indie Book Award as well as the 2009 BEST BOOKS Award.

As the stock market crashes on October 29, 1929, Oliver Nordmark fears for his job at the silk mill.  When his nightmare comes true and the mill shuts down, Oliver is hesitant to allow his wife, Estella, to take a job at the local coffee shop.  When he finally gives in, with tragic results, Oliver and his six young children struggle to survive as the Great Depression takes its grip on the country.

 PEANUT BUTTER FOR CUPCAKES is the true story of the Nordmark children.  Their father, Oliver Nordmark, is the subject of the author�s first two books, FLY LITTLE BIRD, FLY! and BEYOND THE ORPHAN TRAIN.  Find out what lies ahead for May,  Bud, Margaret, Oliver Jr., Jim, and Benny as they learn their life lessons from a father who never had a parent of his own.  Life with Oliver is full of fun and adventure one minute, but marked with poverty and abandonment the next.   A story that will leave you with a deeper understanding of what life was like during the 1930�s, and how �boys will be boys� even in the hardest of times!

"Engaging, informative and educational, Peanut Butter For Cupcakes brings alive the life and times of one of the most difficult periods of U.S. history.  Unlike standard history text, or those big biographical tomes typical of books covering the Great Depression, author Donna Aviles delivers a story written to capture the heart and soul of the reader."      

   Peter N. Jones, PhD Cultural Anthropologist



Potential Movie Deal

The option contract for the screen rights to Fly Little Bird, Fly! and Beyond The Orphan Train has expired.  Los Angeles screenwriter William Rotko (BREACH, Univ. Pictures) held the rights for eighteen months but shortly after the contract was signed, his pilot for a new series with A&E was picked up, so that project, of course, took precedence.  I currently retain the publishing rights, as well as the screen and stage rights and would welcome the opportunity to talk with other screenwriters, producers, etc. who recognize the uniqueness of Oliver's story as well as the relevence it has in today's world.

School Visits  

 I am now scheduling for the 2014-15 school year and look forward to bringing the story of the Orphan Train Movement to many more students.  Although I focus on the tri-state area, I am more than happy to travel to bring this lost piece of history to your school. If you'd like to plan a visit to your school or organization, just click on the link at the top of this page to find out how!  SKYPE VISITS are also a cost effective alternative.


 Library Display at Wilmington Christian School

Donna Aviles - Author Presentation, WCS, Hockessin, DE

WCS Students - Young Readers Day Presentation



FLY LITTLE BIRD, FLY!                          $9.00

BEYOND THE ORPHAN TRAIN                 $9.00


COMPLETE SET                                    $30.00

AUDIOBOOK (Fly! & Beyond)                $20.00

Send a check or money order to Donna Aviles, P.O. Box 1303, Hockessin, DE  19707.  Please indicate if you would like your books signed and add $3.00 per book for shipping.  You may also pay via PAYPAL to email

Books can also be purchased from , or ordered from any larger bookstore.




A resident of Wilmington, Delaware, Donna Nordmark Aviles is the granddaughter of Oliver Nordmark, the protagonist of her first two books.  She has worked in many fields including foreign exchange, social services and business.  After raising three children, Aviles returned to her early love of writing and enjoys speaking to school students and organizations about the Orphan Train Movement and The Great Depression.   To view student artwork illustrating Fly Little Bird, Fly! click on the "view photo album" link on the left hand side of the page.  To contact Donna Aviles, send an email to: