In a town not so far away and a time not so long ago, baby Rose was left on the porch of Greenwoods Orphanage, where Mrs. Hartley and the children under her tender care become her family. But when tragedy strikes, Rose loses the only home she has ever known and she is abruptly shipped to Irongates—a place that seems as cold and cruel as her previous home was kind. Strict headmaster Mr. Crampton immediately seems to dislike Rose and makes sure she and the other children are punished for any minor infraction of his rules. Rose soon makes friends with Emily, but in spite of her gentle and forgiving nature, some of the children will take any chance they can to get her into trouble. When she learns that every Christmas Mr. Crampton’s generous brother gives an orange to each child, Rose waits in eager anticipation.