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

Saturday, April 20, 2024

Student Saturday: Odette's Secrets by Maryann Macdonald

Genre: Middle Grade, Historical Fiction

Student Reviewer:  Camilla M.

The book an Odette's Secrets is about a young girl that went through much hardship during the Holocaust. Odette was a yound girl with curly hair. Odette started out as a young girl in Paris. Throughout the story she grew up and moved to the country and eventually back to the city. Madame Marie was her godmother, who played a big part in Odette's life. Madame Marie, her mother, and her father all cared for Odette very much.  Odette was forced to move around to escape the soldiers. She moved to the country where she met great people. Her mother then forced her out of the country to go back to the city. Odette had a hard time finding out who she was and where she belonged. She found that poetry would soothe her mind. I sometimes wonder where I belong. Just like Odette I find things and activites that help me with calming my mind. This book teaches great lessons and exceeds my expectations. I would reccomend this book to someone that likes history and heartfelt books. 

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, 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."

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 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, 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

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.

Thursday, July 1, 2021

Girl in the Blue Coat by Monica Hesse

Genre:  Historical Fiction

Source:  I purchased


This is a book I am excited to put on my school shelves.   Hanneke is a young girl in Amsterdam in the middle of Nazi occupation. She smuggles goods to help out. One request will set her on a dangerous journey. Hanneke has been asked to locate a young Jewish girl named Mirjam. For this assignment she will need to get help from a resistance group. The book is true to WWII and the horrors of the Nazis. One reason I find this such an important book for my school shelves is that we have a holocaust unit. I try to provide great books that accurately tell of the holocaust events. So many people sided with the Nazis, not because they hated the Jews but because they wanted to improve their own position in life. Some were just bystanders who didn’t agree but didn’t want to get involved. This book shows so many sides to this war. As a word of caution it is full of the violence that so many experienced. This type of history should never be watered down. I applaud this author for telling a story that is authentic and exactly what kids and adults should learn. We need more books like this that show the importance of resistance groups and people like Hanneke.

Wednesday, June 23, 2021

Ground Zero by Alan Gratz


Genre: Historical Fiction, Middle Grade, Young Adult, 9/11

Source: I purchased a copy

I loved this book. It was raw and emotional. Brandon finds himself going to work with his dad in the Twin Towers because he has been suspended from school. Trying to fix the damage done due to standing up to a bully, Brandon sneaks away from his father, who is a chef at Windows on the World. It is during this time the first plane is flown into the twin towers. Reading the raw account of events from that day brought back so many memories and emotions. The story is told in alternation chapters. The other person in this story is Reshmina, a young Afghan girl whose family is caught between the fighting between the Americans and Afghan soldiers and the Taliban. Reshmina saves the life of an American Soldier and puts her whole village in danger.  The only issue I had with this book was the set up. I didn't learn until the book was almost finished what the connection was between the two main characters. It went beyond 9/11. For this book alone I did something I've never done before. I used small sticky notes to separate the two stories. I read all of Brandon's story, then went back and read all of Reshmina's story. That was how I learned that Brandon's story takes place the year 9/11 happened and Reshmina's story takes place on 9/11 only 20 years later.

I loved the message in this story about bullies. It gave me a lot to think about and hopefully the students who read this story from my bookshelves will understand the underlying message as well.  I have read several of this author's books and loved each and every one. It is hard to read them when in school as I choose to let my students read them first.  This is a must read especially as we approach the 20th anniversary of 9/11.

Monday, May 18, 2020

Nevers Sara Cassidy

Genre: Elementary, Middle Grade, Fantasy, Historical Fiction
Source: I purchased a copy
This was a fun and funny book. I would say this is perfect for upper elementary and lower middle school. However, as an adult I found this a pleasure to read.
Odette is a  young girl who must take care of her mother Annalise. Annalise seems to have a habit of accidently killing people. They have come into the small French town of Nevers.  All Odette wants is to find a place they cans stay and call home and to fit in, maybe have a friend.  Odette finds a friend in a young boy named Nicois. The town is full of strange people. There is man who likes to smell people’s hands, and a man who wants to be a chicken. There is a pig and chick that have become inseparable, and then there is the donkey that brays in Latin every night. The strange thing is that Odette understands him. Odette’s mother has brought about some trouble for them because she has been looking for a box she hid under a bridge years before. Someone else is looking for it as well.
The book is a mixture of some fantasy, mystery and a bit of historical fiction all rolled into one great book. Kids will love this because they will be able to identify with the characters. This is a book I would highly recommend to readers of all ages.

Wednesday, January 8, 2020

Maybe by Morris Gleitzman

Maybe by Morris Gleitzman
Genre: Middle Grade, Young Adult, Historical Fiction
Source: Purchased

            In the previous book in this series, Felix once again helps a young girl. Anya was a girl he met after saving a baby. He meets Anya, who promises him a way to get powdered milk. Felix learned that the reason Anya was always sick was that she was pregnant. They went back to Gabriek’s farm to learn someone else had taken possession. In town, a mob attacks them, an Aussie is injured when he saves him, then needs Felix’s help to save his life with his medical knowledge. It is decided that Felix will become the face of all that Australia fought for in World War II. He is loaded on a plane leaving Gabriek behind. Unbeknownst to the pilot, Anya has hidden away on board as well. Up to this point, the tension has been a rollercoaster ride. Then the plane is going down. Felix and Anya must jump for their lives. This is their welcome to Australia. I still love this series because I can see how we are coming full circle in Felix’s life. There were so many unanswered questions for me that made me want to dive into the next and last book in this series. Unfortunately, it won't be available until July of this year. If by chance I can get my hands on it before then, just know that I will.

Tuesday, January 7, 2020

Soon by Morris Gleitzman

Soon by Morris Gleitzman
Genre: Middle Grade, Young Adult, Historical Fiction
Source: Purchased
            Soon is the fifth book in this series. The war has ended. Hatred and prejudice seem to have no end. There are those who are still Nazi sympathizers. Those who think the Jews are still filthy beasts. Felix rescues a baby when the mother thrusts it at him before she is killed.  He decides he a Gabriek will raise it. They give it a Ukranian name to hopefully protect it. Gabriek has been so traumatized that he drinks himself to sleep each night. This leaves Felix to go out and find food and work. He meets several young people that will change his life in many ways. This is one of the darker books in the series. I felt this because you would think things would start to change and have a brighter outcome after the defeat of the Nazis. However, as an American who was born well after this war, I never had to face a time when a country had to rebuild itself. It is hard enough to rebuild after a war. Bring into it the same old prejudices by just a handful of people and the outcome is the same for a while.  Change takes time. Unfortunately for some, time runs out.

Monday, January 6, 2020

After by Morris Gleitzman

After by Morris Gleitzman
Genre: Middle Grade, Young Adult, Historical Fiction
Source: Purchased

            This is the fourth book in the series. We go back in time to catch up with what had happened to Felix. Gabriek, whose wife was hiding young Felix and Zelda are dead. Gabriek if part of a resistance movement and has continued to hide Felix in a hole in his barn. On his thirteenth birthday Felix can hear people above him talking. He follows them into the woods. He assumes they are Nazis and are going to kill Gabriek and he yells to give Gabriek a chance to escape. He soon learns that Gabriek is not in danger. When they return to the farm it is on fire. Gabriek is injured and so Felix takes him back into the woods to get help. They are allowed to stay. They do make Felix prove himself. Once again he is an assistant to the doctor. It is his experiences throughout his childhood of helping assist doctors that made him a well known doctor in his adult life. In this book Felix is once again put into the position of helping save three sisters.  He has matured considerably. Now that he knows who Hitler is he no longer prays to him, but to Richmal Crompton who was a well known author at the time. I still found this a funny occurrence. The tension has gone up a notch in this book and I can’t wait to read the next one.