Showing posts with label Historical Fiction. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Historical Fiction. Show all posts

Monday, April 15, 2024

Eddie's War by carol Fisher Saller


Genre: Young Adult, Historical Fiction
Source: I won a copy from LibraryThing's Early Reviewers. The opinions expressed here are my own.

Lately it seems I am reading a lot of books about World War II.  Maybe it is because I teach literature that deals with it.  The first thing I like was that this book was written in verse. This story covers ten years. Eddie is a young boy who befriends Jozef Mirga, a Polish Gypsy. He reads the newspaper at the local library looking for information about the Nazis and Poland. This is where Jozef’s wife and son are. When Eddie’s brother goes off to war he is very proud of him. The story is full of life lessons Eddie learns as he grows up.  I highly recommend this book. It has quickly become one of my favorites of the year.

Saturday, February 24, 2024

Student Saturday: Grenade by Alan Gratz


Genre: Middle Grade, Historical Fiction
Student Reviewer: Susan T.

The details in this book truly make it an interesting and informative read. It has a great message and can teach you a lot about what happened during the war between the Japanese and Americans. The portrayal of emotion in the characters makes you feel like you can clearly understand what is going on in their perspectives. 

This book is about two boys from different sides of the war in 1945. Ray, who is a young U.S marine and Hideki, who is drafted into blood and iron corps. Both questioning if they will make it out alive, and if so, what will it take. 

To wrap up, I really enjoyed this book. It has a similar format to other war books I have read but the plot Is unique and entertaining. I would recommend this book to people who find interest in books about historical conflicts or to someone who just wants to learn more about stuff like that. 

Saturday, November 18, 2023

Student Saturday: Allies by Alan Gratz


Genre:  Middle Grade, Historical Fiction
Student Reviewer:  Delaney B.

"Allies" by Alan Gratz is a story that follows multiple characters/narrators during the events of World War 2. The main narrator is Dee, a sixteen year old American soldier in the invasion of Normandy,France, code-named Operation Overlord.

Dee and many of the other narrators get confronted throughout their war efforts but work around it successfully with the help of their new allies and friends. All of the narrators contributed to the Allied success of WWII and most end up meeting each other throughout the book, which I thought was a cool feature. 

I'm not sure I would have survived in any of the narrators' shoes, because all of their situations seemed to have lots of pressure and intimidation along with it. I would recommend this book to people interested in WWII because it gives a lot of perspective of what it was like being involved in the war. Overall, I really liked the book and it exceeded my expectations because the details and characterization were so well thought out and was overall a nice read.

Friday, August 25, 2023

Shadow of the West by Sarah Brotherhood Chapman


Genre: Young Adult, Historical Fiction
Source: I won a copy from LibraryThing. The opinions expressed here are my own.

Books about the Cold War have been my favorite for years. Very little is written about it for teens. They know almost nothing. I jumped at the chance to read this book so I could get it into the hands of my students. We have Kate who is. and American. As the daughter of a diplomat she moves a lot. This time they are in West Berlin. She meets Amy, whose father is a diplomat stationed on the east side of Berlin. Amy spends a lot of time at Kate’s house.  Kate goes to visit Amy and meets Michael. Michael and his sister are barely surviving on the east side. Of course Kate and Michael meet. This is dangerous for Michael and his sister as the Stasi watch everything.

I enjoyed this book because the author is the daughter of a diplomat who had similar experiences to that of Kate.  I enjoyed this also because I worked with two teachers and taught their daughter. They would tell me stories of living in embassies around the world, especially Russia.  Their daughter at times was clueless as to how things actually worked in those countries because they were sheltered from a lot of the things people in those country went through, all because they were a diplomat’s child.  I highly recommend this book. I believe it should be on every high school shelf.   I won a copy from LibraryThing’s Early Reviewer Giveaway.

Monday, August 14, 2023

Thirteen Doorways, Wolves Behind Them All by Laura Ruby


Genre:  Young Adult, Historical Fiction
Source:  I purchased a copy

I love reading books set in the time period of WWII.  Then you add in a young girl named Frankie and a ghost named Pearl, whose stories alternate and you have the setup for a great book. The thing that really sets this book apart from so many other of this time period is the difference between the treatment of males and females.  There are so many things a female is expected to do just because of her gender. Yet we have a story here to show how strong the female can be and how they rise above the expectations for the time period. We also look at the difference in treatment between those who have money and those who do not.

Frankie is living in an orphanage. The story takes place in America. This surprised me because I figured as a World War 2 book it would have taken place in Europe. However, this was a refreshing detail. Frankie, her sister and brother all live in an orphanage because their mother is dead and their father can’t afford to take care of them.  I got angry at the fact that their father meets another woman, whose children are also in the orphanage, and they get married. The marriage wasn’t the issue. It was the fact their father was moving out west and taking his new wife and her children and their brother with them. The only reason the brother went was because he had aged out of the orphanage. Another unique aspect of this orphanage was the way they separated the boys and girls. Girls were required to take care of the dinner dishes from the boy’s side, but not allowed to talk or acknowledge them without repercussions.  Some of the nuns came across as just looney or sadistic.  The storyline is engaging and kept me reading.  A bonus for me was learning that this is based on the true life story of the author’s Mother-in law.  A strange book, yet engaging. I will say it was difficult in the very beginning to keep the two perspectives straight. If you stick with it, which I say you should, you will soon find yourself so invested you can’t stop reading it.  So glad to have read and recommend this book.

Friday, July 28, 2023

Always by Morris Gleitzman


Genre: Middle Grade, Young Adult, Historical Fiction
Source: I own a copy

I enjoyed this entire series. This is a fitting end to it.  We find Felix's past and present reconnecting through a young boy named Wassim.  Felix, in helping Wassim, realizes that even though he has always held out hope for mankind to be better than they were when he was a child, witnessing the atrocities of the Holocaust, there is still so much hatred and prejudice in the world. But maybe he can help change Wassim's life a bit.  This is a series I have not only recommended to my students, daughter and granddaughter, but one I will read from beginning to end this coming school year. Why?  Since I have all of them I want to read straight through. This is one roller coaster of a ride series. I definitely recommend it to everyone.

Thursday, June 1, 2023

Escape to the Everglades by Edwina Raffa and Annelle Rigsby


Genre:  Middle Grades, Upper Elementary, Historical Fiction
Source:  I own a copy.

I have owned this book for a long time. As we neared the end of the school year and I had packed away my books for the year, I found this book. It had been left on one of my bookcases.  I decided to take it home then give it to my grandson to read. I am so glad it was left behind. I loved this book.

Running Boy receives his adult name at the naming ceremony and hopes that will end the bullying by Tiger. He is also eager to join Osceola's group to fight against the injustice being done on the Seminoles and other Native Americans. Tiger doesn't consider him a true Seminole because his mother was Seminole and his father was white. That is why he was given his father's name, Will Cypress.  His uncle agrees he is a man now and can decide on his own to join Osceola. He reminds him to remember who he is. He isn't just a Seminole he is also white. His uncle tells him that things are not always as black and white as we think. 

Will understand these words when he meets a woman and her three sons who help him hide out and point him in the direction of Osceola's camp. The few days he stays with them he learn what it means to be both white and Native American. He learns what his uncle means when he says he belongs to both worlds and he learns to accept who he is as a man and what it means to "do the right thing."

Wednesday, March 29, 2023

The Book of Lost Names by Kristin Harmel


Genre: Adult, Historical Fiction
Source: I own a copy

    During World War II Eva Abrams and her family live in France. She was born there, but her parents came from Poland. Eva, on her home one day is stopped by a friend and warned she and her family need to get out of France.  Over dinner she tells her parents. Her mom believes that things will change because the Jews have done nothing to the Germans. Her father tries  to tell her that fliers have been placed under their door for a couple of weeks and that it is possibly a ploy by the Germans.  After her mom has retired to  her bed, Eva’s father joins her in the library. He makes her promise him that if something happens to him and her mother that she will get out. He has already paid for fake papers. She promises. She and her mother are watching the children of a neighbor who had to take care of her sick mother. The irony is the mother can’t stand them because they are Jews.  She hears a knock down the hall and watches as her father is arrested by the Nazis. She finds herself in a position where the man her father paid has not completed the job because he fears what will happen to him and his family if he is caught helping the Jews. He reminds Eva that her father told her one day her artistic talents would help her. He convinces her that she can complete the forgery of the documents.  She is determined and does just that. She and her mother escape. She finds herself in a position to help children using her talents.

    This is the fictional story of forgers who helped people by forging documents for them. The author tells a compelling story that you can’t put down. Your emotions are so high you feel as if you have been transported back in time and are working alongside Eva.  This is a must read for people who love to read about World War II. I loved the fact that I learned something new from reading this fictional book.

Sunday, March 19, 2023

Cracker: The Best Dog in Vietnam by Cynthia Kadohata


Genre: Middle Grade, Historical Fiction
Source: I purchased a copy to facilitate my review.

This is one of those books I have had on my school shelves for quite some time. A student read it and then asked “the question”, Have you read this book? Why no I had not gotten to it yet. So they recommend it be one I read over Spring Break. Unlike my students I grew up as a young teen during the Vietnam War. I had background knowledge they didn’t have. Dogs were used for scouting, to check out tunnels, find hidden enemies. Many of these dogs were left behind after the war.

Cracker is a dog who was paired with Rick, a young man who enlisted in the army. She had been a show dog, then the dog of a young boy who had to give her up. An ad in the newspaper is how she ended up in the army. When Rick is injured Cracker does her best to protect him. This is a story about a brave dog, a young man and his love and trust in this dog. There are some very tense moments in the book. This is definitely a book I want to pass on to my grandson Jacob. I think with some front loading of information about the Vietnam War, this will become one of his favorite books as well.

Saturday, March 18, 2023

Student Saturday: Cloud and Wallfish by Anne Nesbet


TThis week's student reviewer is Conner M.

This book is about a boy and his family. One day his parents picked him up from school in a hurry with the car all packed up headed for East Berlin. The boy not knowing what was going on started to ask questions. By the time they got to the Iron Curtain (Berlin Wall) it explained everything. By the time they got to the wall it was laready too late. The curtain was already closed with guards all around. The boy's name is Noah. His parent found a way to get him to East Berlin where he meets a girl named Claudia. He calls her Cloud. She lives with her scary grandmother a floor away from him.

If you don't know anything about the Berlin Wall then this is a good book to get you started. I recommend this book to everyone.

Saturday, March 11, 2023

Student Saturday: The Plot to Kill Hitler by Andy Marino

Student Reviewer: Langdon

Genre: Middle Grade Historical Fiction

“The Plot to Kill Hitler” by Andy Marino, book one, is a thrilling story set in Berlin in the year 1943. The main character Max, a twelve year old boy, and his sister Gerta, age thirteen are living with their mom and dad in Berlin. At this time, Berlin, Germany is under Nazi Control. This causes Berlin to get air  raided every night by the allies. One cay Max and Gerta discover their parents are a part of an anti-Nazi rebel group and they are dragged into it. Their parents don’t agree to this demand, but the leader of this rebel group does. Once Max and Gerta went on their first mission they noticed a suspicious man seeming to follow them. Max acts normal walking away but takes a long way home Will Max escape?- To sum it up, “The Plot to Kill Hitler,” by Andy Marino, is a thrilling story about love, conspiracy, and mystery.

Saturday, February 18, 2023

Student Saturday: Bitter Melon by Cara Chow


Student Reviewer: Nadya Perez
Genre: Young Adult, Historical Fiction

Saturday, February 11, 2023

Student Saturday: I Survived the Hindenburg Disaster by Lauren Tarshis

Student Reviewer: Langdon B.
Genre: Middle Grade, Historical Fiction

This book is based on the Hindenburg disaster of 1937. “I Survived the Hindenburg Disaster: is about Hugo and his family taking a four thousand mile journey across the ocean to save his four year old sister Gertie. While living in Africa she contracted Malaria and had become very  sick and needed to go back to America. Tis trip was no vacation to  Hugo. He was worried for his sister. Because he had always wanted to fly on the Hindenburg he was amazed he was finally flying on it. Once on the Hindenburg Hugo and his family dropped off their bags and explored it.  While exploring, Hugo found a girl his age named Marty. They became good friends and talked about their adventures around the world. They talked for hours and even met each others’ family. The next day at breakfast Hugo, Marty and their families sat together and chatted about all sorts of things. A Nazi officer walked through the dining room. Everyone froze in fear as he started talking about how a U.S. spy had stolen a top secret Nazi document and was now on the Hindenburg. Marty’s Dad, who rode on the Hindenburg regularly said they had seen no spy activity but would be on the lookout. The Nazi said something in German and left. I feel everyone should check this book out, especially if they wat to read the end.

All in all, “I Survived the Hindenburg: is a short read for all ages. It’s an amazing story based on a true event in history, meaning you’re reading a good story and learning at the same time.

Thursday, February 9, 2023

Salt by Helen Frost


Genre: Middle Grade, Young Adult, Historical Fiction
Source: I own a copy

I have loved all of Helen Frost's books. This one was a little more special to me. I grew up in Indiana.  I lived on a farm until we moved to Florida when I was fourteen. One of my favorite past-times along with my sisters was looking for arrowheads on our property. Helen's book about a friendship between a Native American Family and a white family was hopeful and hard at the same time. What do you do when you hear rumblings of war? For James and his family who have a trading post outside the fort, they continue on the way they have always gone. They trade with the Indians, who are their friend. James best friend is Anikwa, a young boy of the Kekionga, a part of the Miami tribe.  He too has heard rumblings of war.  Many of his people have decided they will side with the British if it comes to war. 
I felt so terrible for James and his family. James had to witness his friend Isaac's hatred for the Native Americans. He really has no basis to his hatred, which makes it all the more tragic.  As I read and saw what each side did I wondered if Anikwa and James could remain friends.  You will need to read the book to find out what happened.

Thursday, January 5, 2023

The Yellow Star Shines Like a Candle in the Dark by Aaron Seth


Genre: Children, Middle Grade, Historical Fiction
Source: I own a copy

This is definitely an inspiring story. Aharon and his brother are attacked by a group of boys who hate Jews. They hit his brother in the head and throw dirt in his eyes. Someone comes to help them. Someone who is not a Jew. We learn there are consequences for people who stood up for the Jews. This is a simple yet powerful story. This is something I want to read to my students when we  talk about the difference between bystanders and upstanders during World War II. It should read this in class whenever the Holocaust is going to be taught.

Sunday, January 1, 2023

Blue Birds by Caroline Starr Rose


Genre: Middle Grade, Historical Fiction, Novel in Verse
Source: I purchased a copy

This is such a powerful book. I love this author's work and the fact that she writes in verse. This is the story of the Roanoke Colony that disappeared. Alis and her family have just landed. She can't wait to meet up with her Uncle, who had sailed away to this strange place. When they arrive, they find the village empty except for some bones and a burned-out building. The natives seem friendly at first. Soon, tensions rise between the two parties.  

This is much more than just a history lesson. This is a story of resilience, of friendship and how sometimes doing the right thing means making hard choices. We meet Kimi, a Roanoak Native, and Alis, one of the settlers. She is the only girl in this group. When she meets Kimi for the first time, a bond is made, and now it will be tested.

I am glad I made this one of my first reads of the new year. It was worth it. 

Saturday, December 17, 2022

Student Saturday: Ground Zero by Alan Gratz

 This review is written by my student Axel L.

The book, "Ground Zero" by Alan Gratz talks about a boy named Brandon who is with his father in one of the Twin Towers. They both go to floor one hundred and seven where his father works. The dad took Brandon with him because he wanted to show Brandon where he worked and what he did.

One of the most important points in the book was when Brandon got stuck in an elevator after the plan crashed into the tower. The book makes the scene so realistic. Another important scene is when Brandon was trying to help a small group of people escape from a different elevator. When he tries the elevator falls all the way down. This was another realistic look at what happened to people on 9/11.

A connection I made was reading the book and seeing it from Brandon's point of view and watching things on the news about how other people helped each other escape. This is a great book and I would recommend it to everyone

Wednesday, June 8, 2022

Catherine Dickens: Outside the Magic Circle Heera Datta

Genre: Historical Fiction

Source: I received a copy to facilitate my review. The opinions expressed here are my own.


I can’t remember a time when I couldn’t wait for Christmas to come to watch “A Christmas Carol” by Charles Dickens. After reading this book my feelings toward the author have been tainted.  While I saw him as a wonderful and successful writer, I never knew who he was. To understand who he was you must understand the Victorian time period he lived in. 

Imagine you have married the man of your dreams only to have him blame you for everything that he doesn’t like in your marriage. Imagine your young sister who lives with you to help you with your children, suddenly sides with your husband.  You are removed from your home, while your sister and your children stay with your husband.

This is for the most part a fictionalized account. We know for a fact that Charles Dickens was separated from his wife. We also know that even though he wrote terrible things about her. She kept her mouth shut. Part of this I believe was because she loved him, and part of it was because that is the way things were handled during this time period.  Women pretty much had no rights.  She was publicly humiliated through his writings. Up until her death she pretty much kept quiet. Yet she made sure her daughter received letters Charles had sent her to be sent to the Smithsonian. It was her way of letting the world know he really wasn’t all that bad.  She believed this until her death. Maybe that is what helped her survive this situation.

Even though this story took place in the 1800’s this could be anyone’s story today. I believe that is why it is such a good book. It is so applicable to present time.  A great book to be read by anyone wanting to know more about the real Charles Dickens.

Friday, March 11, 2022

I Survived The Hindenburg Disaster, 1937 by Lauren Tarshis

Genre: Upper Elementary, Middle Grade, Historical Fiction, Adventure

Source: I own a copy 

Hugo, his sister Gertie, their parents and their dog Panya are going to America on the Hindenburg.  They had spent the previous year in Kenya. Hugo’s parents are scientists. They have loved it there, but Gertie got malaria. They have only the hope of new medicine in America to save her life. On the Hindenburg, Hugo and his family are introduced to the man in charge of the Hindenburg and his daughter. There are Nazi soldiers on board because they are looking for a spy.  All of this is tense enough. When the actual event happens you get a small feel for what it was like inside the Hindenburg when it burst into flames and hit the ground. All of this took a little over thirty seconds. I was handed this book by one of my students and told I needed to read it over Spring Break. I am glad I did. I highly recommend it.

Monday, January 17, 2022

Zane and the Hurricane: A Story of Katrina by Rodman Philbrick

Genre: Middle Grades, Historical Fiction

Source: I own the book

 After years and years of reading I am finally able to say that I lean toward books that area about disasters, survival and are emotional. I’ve realized recently that no matter what the genre those are some of the things the books all have in common.  This book is no different. Zane and his dog go to visit his great-grandmother in New Orleans. As Hurricane Katrina heads toward them, they evacuate. Then Zane and his dog are separated from his great-grandmother. He makes his way back to her house where he waits out the storm in her house.  Trapped in the attic he is rescued by Mr. Tru and Malvina. From here the story is about survival. The author has done a lot of research to show what it was like during the aftermath of the hurricane. He doesn’t shy away from the racial or political atrocities the people of New Orleans faced.  This is what makes this such a valuable read. Kids need to read, understand and discuss matters such as this book brings about.  I would highly recommend it.