Donna Nordmark Aviles has extensive expertise on the Orphan Train Movement.  Her presentations are interactive, as well as educational and fun!   Ms. Aviles' books fit in nicely with 4th through 12th 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. 

Contact Donna Nordmark Aviles at 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.  This story 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.






"A terrific contribution to the literature on orphan trains,

from the descendant of a train rider."


~Christina Baker Kline, Author of the New York Times bestselling novel, "Orphan Train"



I am pleased to announce, after obtaining new and important historical information, my first two books (Fly Little Bird, Fly! & Beyond The Orphan Train) will soon be joined into one book -






Display Booth - 1st Annual SPBE in NYC





PEANUT BUTTER FOR CUPCAKES, A True Story From The Great Depression, ISBN# 978-1-60047-216-9 Ages 9 and up.  Honored with the IndieBRAG MEDALLION for 2009.  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  book, Orphan Train To Kansas.   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







School Visits


 I am now scheduling for the 2018-19 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 send an email to or check out the link above.


 Library Display at Wilmington Christian School

Donna Aviles - Author Presentation, WCS, Hockessin, DE

WCS Students - Young Readers Day Presentation



ORPHAN TRAIN TO KANSAS (Pre-order for Feb, 2018) - $15.00


BOTH BOOKS - $25.00


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 $3.75 for shipping.

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





Donna Nordmark Aviles resides in Delaware and is the granddaughter of Oliver Nordmark, the protagonist of her 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.  She enjoys speaking with school students and organizations, and is passionate about sharing the nearly lost history of the Orphan Train Movement.  She welcomes your questions or comments in the GUESTBOOK section of this website.  To contact Donna Aviles, send an email to: