What is JacketFlap

  • JacketFlap connects you to the work of more than 200,000 authors, illustrators, publishers and other creators of books for Children and Young Adults. The site is updated daily with information about every book, author, illustrator, and publisher in the children's / young adult book industry. Members include published authors and illustrators, librarians, agents, editors, publicists, booksellers, publishers and fans.
    Join now (it's free).

Sort Blog Posts

Sort Posts by:

  • in
    from   

Suggest a Blog

Enter a Blog's Feed URL below and click Submit:

Most Commented Posts

In the past 7 days

Recent Posts

(tagged with 'historical fiction')

Recent Comments

JacketFlap Sponsors

Spread the word about books.
Put this Widget on your blog!
  • Powered by JacketFlap.com

Are you a book Publisher?
Learn about Widgets now!

Advertise on JacketFlap

MyJacketFlap Blogs

  • Login or Register for free to create your own customized page of blog posts from your favorite blogs. You can also add blogs by clicking the "Add to MyJacketFlap" links next to the blog name in each post.

Blog Posts by Date

Click days in this calendar to see posts by day or month
<<May 2015>>
SuMoTuWeThFrSa
     0102
03040506070809
10111213141516
17181920212223
24252627282930
31      
new posts in all blogs
Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: historical fiction, Most Recent at Top [Help]
Results 1 - 25 of 1,029
1. Snow Treasure (1942)

Snow Treasure. Marie McSwigan. Illustrated by Mary Reardon. 1942. 208 pages. [Source: Bought]

Set in Norway in 1940, Snow Treasure is a true must-read for anyone who loves a good adventure story or a good war story. Snow Treasure is based on a true story too! It is about the smuggling of Norway's gold, smuggling it out of the country so that it doesn't fall into Nazi hands. How is it smuggled out? Who could hope to smuggle it out undetected without any Nazi being the wiser? Why, you let children do it, naturally.

The hero of Snow Treasure is a young boy named Peter Lundstrom. He isn't the only child from his Norwegian village involved. He has a lot of help from other boys and girls. The older and stronger can carry more gold on their sled. The younger take less. But all work together to help their country in need. They are one part of the process, adults also play a big role, of course. For it will be Peter's uncle who will smuggle the gold out of the country on his ship.

I loved everything about this one. I loved the characters. I loved Peter and his family. I loved the adventure aspect of it. It's a thrilling read. It isn't a simple, easy process. It's hard work. And each trip is a risk, of course. For they do see and hear a lot of Nazis as they are carrying on their most secret work.

Snow Treasure is a compelling read for children and adults. 

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

0 Comments on Snow Treasure (1942) as of 5/20/2015 6:41:00 PM
Add a Comment
2. TURNING PAGES: UNDER A PAINTED SKY by STACEY LEE

I'd wanted to read this book for a long time because in my head I'd heard it was historical and was a story about a Chinese girl. Somehow, my mind equated "historical fiction" with an absolutely parallel true-to-life tale of someone back in time. I... Read the rest of this post

0 Comments on TURNING PAGES: UNDER A PAINTED SKY by STACEY LEE as of 5/20/2015 10:25:00 AM
Add a Comment
3. Conspiracy of Blood and Smoke by Anne Blankman

From Becca CONSPIRACY OF BLOOD AND SMOKEPrisoner of Night and Fog #2by Anne BlankmanFile Size: 808 KBPrint Length: 416 pagesPublisher: Balzer + Bray (April 21, 2015) Sold by: HarperCollins Publishers Goodreads | Amazon The girl known as Gretchen Whitestone has a secret: She used to be part of Adolf Hitler's inner circle. More than a year after she made an enemy of her old family friend and

0 Comments on Conspiracy of Blood and Smoke by Anne Blankman as of 5/17/2015 10:19:00 PM
Add a Comment
4. TURNING PAGES: A SCHOOL FOR UNUSUAL GIRLS, by KATHLEEN BALDWIN

Reader, after you finished Robin LaFevers' His Fair Assasains series and powered through Julie Berry's The Scandalous Sisterhood of Prickwillow Place and frothed through the lighter Finishing School novels by Gail Carringer and plowed through... Read the rest of this post

0 Comments on TURNING PAGES: A SCHOOL FOR UNUSUAL GIRLS, by KATHLEEN BALDWIN as of 5/15/2015 8:19:00 AM
Add a Comment
5. Guest Post: Creating an Authentic Historical Atmosphere with Elizabeth May

Amie here first: Today we have a guest post from Elizabeth May, author of The Falconer! Elizabeth’s here to talk about the fine art of authentic, believable time travel. Spoilers: you can do it even if you don’t have a TARDIS at your disposal.

elizabethmayphotoOne of the most challenging aspects of writing historical fiction is building a believable atmosphere that resonates with contemporary readers. What many people don’t realize is that the farther back a book’s historical period goes, the more you might have the same difficulties a fantasy author might: worldbuilding and authenticity – only with the added pressure of being constrained by historical social rules and events.

So here are some tips that might help get you started 

  1. Conduct social research.

By social research, I mean taking a look at what it was like to live in the society you’re writing about — and, perhaps most importantly, researching the social class your character belongs to.  A number of cultures were deeply segregated by hierarchical structure (many are even today!).  They had different habits, diets, behaviours, beliefs, and social obligations.

Your character will be expected to be familiar with these aspects of society, and deeply aware of social taboos.  And this is where knowledge of that sort of thing is important: though certain past societies appear to have incredibly rigid social rules (think Victorian era), those living in society were, first and foremost, real people.  And real people, being the incredibly stubborn creatures they are, tend to both acknowledge and skirt etiquette.

So once you become acquainted with the everyday life and beliefs your characters would hold, you can more easily base plot points, scenes, and characterization based on that.  Not acknowledging certain social ideals might look like bad research.  However, being aware of these things gives you the ability to hang a very realistic lampshade on it if your characters decide to break them.

  1. Know the mood of your period and the lay of the land.

FalconercoverfinalEver read a book that claims it’s set somewhere and you’re like, “What? Really? I didn’t get that from the text.”  I understand not all authors are great at description, but creating an authentic setting is paramount to what we do; it’s an historical writer’s bread and butter.

Each time period — even in the same location — has its own mood, a Zeitgeist, that is very distinct.  London during Elizabeth I’s reign is vastly different to London during Queen Victoria’s reign.  Certain historical events had incredible impact on their various time periods, and should be acknowledged.

Furthermore, it helps to be familiar with the layout of the place you’re writing.  Readers respond well to visceral description, the smells, sounds, and sights of a place.  This includes weather, geographic markers, city streets or buildings, and the mood of the people living there during the time period.  I mentioned earlier that many societies were segregated in terms of hierarchy, and this absolutely would have been reflected in a city’s layout (it still is!).

  1. Be watchful for modern words, thoughts, or phrases in your writing.

I think this will probably be the most difficult for many historical writers; it’s certainly the most difficult for me.  Phrases and ideas that “sound off” or “too modern” can easily pull readers out of your story.  Try not to be too distracted or worrisome about this when you’re in the process of drafting (at the risk of severely slowing yourself down), but it’s something to be mindful of during editing.

Avoiding modern ideas is where point 1 comes in handy, but phrasing and language can be more difficult, especially the further back your historical period goes.  A great deal of English words are up for grabs, simply because it’s such a hodgepodge of other languages and much of it goes back centuries.

When in doubt, look a word up in the dictionary and see when it was first used.  Sometimes, you may find you’re forced to sacrifice authenticity for whether a word “sounds” correct.  For example, I tried to slip in a wow! (precisely the way it means now; it’s 16th century Scots), and a killjoy (18th century) into The Falconer and my critique partners said they sounded to modern.

Perhaps the most difficult thing to avoid is modern idioms and phrases.  Already in this entry, I’ve used ones like, “up for grabs,” and “bread and butter” without really thinking about it.  The way we word things is deeply engrained, so it becomes easy to pull out when writing, and even easier to skim over when editing.  So be very careful.

  1. If you’re going for authenticity, don’t be afraid to use contractions.

I know this one is terribly specific, but it’s something so common in historical writing: in an attempt to sound authentically old timey, writers forgo use of contractions.  So the “won’t” becomes a “will not”; the “I’m” becomes an “I am”; “that’s” is “that is”.  The result is dialogue and writing that can often sound overly formal and a bit wooden.

I do think it’s important to note that many books written in, say, the 18th and 19th centuries would have been written with more formality than everyday speech.  That’s why the ones that contained slang and “common language” are so notable.  So speaking patterns would have included contractions, even if certain books didn’t.

So if you’re going for realism, contractions are really okay!  If you’re going for mimicking the style of books from the era, you might use them less.

  1. Try not to overwhelm readers with the details.

Research is meant to help create an authentic atmosphere in historical books, but try not to be so overwhelmed by all the historical minutiae that you risk infodumping it in your novel.  As with any other genre of novel, details should be described organically as needed.

Instead of thinking about this strictly as a historical time period, consider what you’re doing here as worldbuilding.  You are constructing a setting with its own social mores, geography, past, political structure, etc.  Sometimes you’ll have readers who are aware of its history, and sometimes not.  The key is not to cater to any one type of reader: too much detail bogs down the story, and too little detail leaves readers wanting.

I find the best way to balance this is to get into the protagonist’s mindset.  He or she will already be familiar with these aspects of society.  Relay any information in a way that shows your character’s awareness of them.  What opinions does s/he have?  What does s/he think about her world, either positively or negatively?

This type of description is not only beneficial in that it gives readers information, but it also gives prime examples of your character’s voice and personality.  For example, in the Victorian era, upper class ladies simply didn’t leave the house without a chaperone.  Instead of giving this information as, “I can’t leave the house without a chaperone,” perhaps try something like, “I detest that I can’t leave the house without a chaperone.”  This does two things: it reveals the information, and it does it in a way that shares your heroines feelings on this aspect of etiquette (which infers that she probably has other strong opinions, as well!).

Once all the details are sorted, it’s easier to slip into the historical setting and have fun with it. Go wild, break the rules, and play with the details. Happy writing! :)

Elizabeth May resides in Edinburgh, Scotland, with her husband. THE FALCONER was her début novel. For more information, follow her on Twitter or visit her website.

Add a Comment
6. #692 – Building the Golden Gate Bridge: an Interactive Engineering Adventure by Blake Hoena

coverx
x
x

Building the Golden Gate Bridge: An Interactive Engineering Adventure

Series: You Choose Books:  Engineering Marvels
Written by Blake Hoena
Capstone Young Readers 2015
978-1-4914-0403-4
112 pages            Age 8—12
x
x
‘People living in San Francisco during the 1920s and 1930s are fascinated by the project to build the Golden Gate Bridge—the world’s longest suspension bridge yet. Will you [1] Be a designer of the bridge, working to solve the many challenges created by such an enormous project [or 2]Work as a crew member, accepting the dangers of laboring hundreds of feet in the air above the cold, swirling currents pf the San Francisco Bay? Everything in this book happened to real people. And YOU CHOOSE what to do next. The choices you make either lead you and the project to success—or to failure.” [back cover]

Review
I really like these interactive books that let you decide what happens in the story. Every possibility is true and happened to someone during the planning and building of the Golden Gate Bridge. You can be engineer, John Strauss, who designs the bridge and must decide which of three design choices available in 1919 will work best: a cantilever bridge, a suspension bridge, or a cantilever-suspension  hybrid bridge made up of parts of the former two types (pictures and description of each included); or a construction laborer (a catcher or a skywalker).

Building the Golden Gate Bridge

I began with the engineer route . . . and failed. I fared better as a laborer, first as a catcher. I catch hot rivets (heated to 1900 degrees Fahrenheit), flung to me from above, which I catch in a funnel shaped cup and hand, using tongs, to the next guy, who uses it to connect two beams. Missing even one red-hot rivet can be catastrophic. Someone could get hurt, especially someone—or thing—in the water below. Objects also tend to fall from men working higher up, mainly due to wind gusts knocking tin cups out of hands and safety helmets off heads. Looking up to see what is falling your way can get you badly hurt, if not killed. I looked up, ending my short career. Safety measures, the few used, are an interesting part of the story.

Building the Golden Gate Bridge2

Finally, I tried my hand at the last job option: a skywalker spinning cables. Standing 756 feet up at the top of the bridge, men—sorry, no women—skywalkers wait for three wheels, carrying coils of wire, to race down a guide rope. Once the wheels pass, they grab the strands of wire, gather, tighten, and keep them from twisting around one another. The supporting cables on the Golden Gate Bridge are made of hundreds of thousands of wires. The job is dangerous thanks to the heavy fog that occurs so often in the Bay area. A cowbell hung from each wheel so the wheels could be heard when the fog was thick.

Building the Golden Gate Bridge3

What is cool about the You Choose Books is the amount of history readers will learn, often without realizing they are learning. Based on true stories from the building the Golden Gate Bridge, what you will face on each path actually happened to someone. While trying to make decisions to build the bridge, stay employed, and alive, history becomes part of your story. You need to understand some part of the Golden Gate Bridge’s beginning—its history—to make your choices.

I never could get excited about something that happened years before I was born—or even yesterday’s news. I knew nothing about building the Golden Gate Bridge it was just always there. Now, I know part of the history and so will kids who read these interesting stories. For this reason, the You Choose Books series are perfect as adjunct texts for teachers. And perfect for boys, who will love the action and the ability to wipe themselves off and try another path. Girls will, too, but if there is a book made for the minds of boys, the You Choose Books are those books.

© bernard-gagnon-own-work-gfdl

© bernard-gagnon-own-work-gfdl

The Building of the Golden Gate Bridge has 2 story paths (engineer or laborer), 33 choices, and 9 possible story endings, as do all of the You Choose Books. There is also a Timeline beginning in 1872 when Charles Crooker proposed building a bridge over Golden Gate (and 61 before actual construction on the bridge began). After reading and rereading each path and its nine different endings, it is all but impossible not to know something about the history of The Building of the Golden Gate Bridge.

BUILDING THE GOLDEN GATE BRIDGE: AN INTERACTIVE ENGINEERING ADVENTURE (YOU CHOOSE BOOKS: ENGINEERING MARVELS). Text copyright © 2015 by Blake Hoena. Images copyright from various sources, as noted. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Capstone Children’s Books, North Mankato, MN.

Purchase Building the Golden Gate Bridge at AmazonBook DepositoryCapstonePub.

Learn more about Building the Golden Gate Bridge HERE.
Meet the author, Blake Hoena, at his website:  http://bahoena.com/
Find more picture books at the Capstone Young Readers website:  http://www.capstonepub.com/
.    .     .    .Capstone Young Readers is an imprint of Capstone

YOU CHOOSE BOOKS: ENGINEERING MARVELS

Building the Empire State Building: An Interactive Engineering Adventure by Allison Lassieur

Building the Empire State Building by Allison Lassieur

Building the Great Wall of China by Allison Lassieur

Building the Great Wall of China by Allison Lassieur

Building the Transcontinental Railroad by Steven Otfinoski

Building the Transcontinental Railroad by Steven Otfinoski

 

 

 

 

 

 

Review Section: word count = 614

Copyright © 2015 by Sue Morris/Kid Lit Reviews. All Rights Reserved

building the golden gate bridge you choose book series 2015


Filed under: 4stars, Books for Boys, Favorites, Historical Fiction, Library Donated Books, Middle Grade, You Choose Series Tagged: Blake Hoena, bridges, Building the Golden Gate Bridge: an Interactive Engineering Adventure, Capstone Young Readers, design and construction, Golden Gate Bridge, history, San Francisco Bay Area, You Choose Books, You Choose Books: Engineering Marvels

Add a Comment
7. Six Years of Working Hard and Believing

winter apples

As much as I love blogging, I’m not always sure other people are listening in. A few weeks ago I got an incredible email from blog reader Linda Jackson that reminded me what I do here does indeed connect with readers, sometimes in very big ways.

Hi Caroline,

Since that day I received an email from Amazon stating that May B. was a book of the month then saw your WOW Wednesday post on Adventures in Children’s Publishing, I have been totally inspired and motivated by your story. I don’t know if you know this, but I have a list of authors on my website under a tab titled Inspiration, and you are at the top of the list. What has inspired me most was your post Plow to the End of the RowAnd today I want to share with you that I have plowed to the end of the row, which is quite fitting seeing that the main character in the manuscript that finally landed me an agent actually has to work in a cotton field. 

After six years of working hard and believing, 200+ queries, 4 manuscripts (one of them rewritten multiple times, once from scratch), 4 R&R’s from agents, 7 pitch contest wins, I finally got “The Call” today.

So, that’s my story, and I wanted you to know how you influenced it…which is why I will ALWAYS BUY YOUR BOOKS! Interestingly, after reading your post on Working Hard and Believing, I remember thinking, Lord, please don’t let that happen to me. I could never survive 200 queries. When I read about Kathryn Stockett and her five years of querying, I said I could never do that. And when I read that Becca Fitzpatrick re-wrote the same manuscript for five years and even trashed it and rewrote it from scratch, I said I could never do that. have done ALL that and more. The manuscript that I queried forever and rewrote forever is still NOT the one that got an editor/agent’s attention. I had to write something new. We never know what we can survive until we have to survive it.

Thanks for being an inspiration,
Linda

***

I’ve been sitting on this email for weeks, waiting to hear where Linda’s book landed. Here’s the official news from Publisher’s Marketplace:

Mississippi-native Linda Jackson’s BECOMING ROSA, a coming-of-age tale set in Mississippi in 1955, about a young African-American girl who dreams of a life beyond the cotton fields, to Elizabeth Bewley at Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Children’s, at auction, in a two-book deal, for publication in Fall 2016, by Victoria Marini at Gelfman Schneider/ICM (World English).

Congratulations, Linda! Your story has thrilled me down to my toes and has inspired me to keep plowing. Now, readers, go out and congratulate the remarkable Linda Jackson.

The post Six Years of Working Hard and Believing appeared first on Caroline Starr Rose.

0 Comments on Six Years of Working Hard and Believing as of 1/1/1900
Add a Comment
8. Absolutely Floating

KINDLE_CAMERA_1428248077000

It feels especially appropriate that the first Blue Birds discussion I’ve had with readers was with the fourth-grade book club I help lead. These girls are dynamite and had so many great questions and observations.

The last time we met, I introduced the history behind the story, giving each girl a copy of the Lost Colony timeline before handing out their books. This background information helped them grasp the historical events so the story could unfold without confusion.

Beth (my running partner and co-leader) and I read the first four passages where Alis and Kimi meet. And the girls got it! They talked about the initial reaction both characters had to each other and how this slowly changed, how they moved from viewing each other as “other” to friend.

It can be strange for readers to candidly discuss a book with the author present, so I try to tell groups two things ahead of time:

  • If you don’ t like the book, please don’t pretend you do, just because I’m in the room. (Ideally readers will have a chance to discuss without the author present, too.)
  • My opinions on the story are only that — opinions. Once a book is in the world, it no longer belongs to the author. While I might see things one way, that doesn’t make it the only way to experience the story.

KINDLE_CAMERA_1428248102000

It’s been so satisfying to see these girls grow as readers this year. The discussions have become more natural, richer, deeper each time we’ve come together. Several drew parallels between Blue Birds and the other historical novel we read, Fever 1793. There were some predictions about the end (we’ve only read half at this point) and comments about George, who though not a main character feels like an important one, as one girl said.

In my mind’s eye I’m imagining these six sitting in their fifth-grade classrooms next year. When they get to that little textbook paragraph about England’s first colony, that doomed one called Roanoke, they’ll know the history because they now own a piece of the story. Historical fiction makes the past personal, vivid, real. I love that I got to participate in some small way in opening up the past to young readers.

The post Absolutely Floating appeared first on Caroline Starr Rose.

0 Comments on Absolutely Floating as of 1/1/1900
Add a Comment
9. Six Spins on Historical Fiction YA Novels

Young Adult novel writers are putting their spin on historical fiction, covering historical mysteries, contemporary historical reinterpretations, steampunk, historical romances, and more.

Add a Comment
10. Chatting with Toni Jordan

As much-loved Australian novelist Toni Jordan sees it, some writers have ideas banked up like circling planes waiting for their turn to land, but her creative mind is more like a desert, occasionally crossed by tumbleweed. Well, that’s some impressive tumbleweed that’s rolling along on the breeze! In her debut novel, Addition, Toni Jordan introduces […]

Add a Comment
11. #685 – Juneteenth for Mazie by Floyd Cooper

9781623701703x
x
Juneteenth for Mazie

Written by Floyd Cooper
Illustrated by Floyd Cooper
Capstone Young Readers 2/01/2015
978-1-62370-170-3
40 pages Age 6—9
x
x
“Mazie is ready to celebrate liberty. She is ready to celebrate freedom. She is ready to celebrate a great day in American history—the day her ancestors were no onger slaves. Mazie remembers the struggles and the triumph, as she gets ready to celebrate Juneteenth. This beautiful story by award-winning author and illustrator Floyd Cooper will captivate both children and adults.”

Review
Juneteenth for Mazie made me think. I read it, slowly, three times, enjoying the story more with each read. Being a children’s historical fiction and a diversity book makes Juneteenth for Mazie a picture book that deserves more than a quick glance. Young Mazie is not having one of her better days. She wants to play outside, but it is too late in the day; and eat a cookie, but it is nearly bedtime; and stay up late, but she is too young. Dad asks why his “Sugar Bear” is grumpy.

9781623701703_int4

“I can’t go where I want, have what I want, or do what I want.”

Tomorrow, Dad tells his daughter, is a day of celebrating—Juneteenth. Though not understanding, Mazie’s above frustrations mirror those of her not-so-distant relatives. What is Juneteenth? How is it rooted in early American history? Juneteenth is a celebration, much like the Fourth of July or Independence Day. In fact, another name for this celebration is Juneteenth Independence Day. Most of us know this day as Emancipation Day; some as Freedom Day. On the final page, author/illustrator Floyd Cooper explains what happened.¹

150-years-ago this year, Mazie’s fictional Great, Great, Great Grandpa Mose became a free man. Dad relates Grandpa Mose’s life beginning with working long days in cotton fields as a slave—all the time thinking of and praying for freedom and a better life—to running for the northern United States and freedom, where life would be difficult but his own; to the day Mose’s first heard President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation, and then celebrating the first Juneteenth. The newly free never forgot the huge significance of that day, even as they continued to struggle with inequality. My favorite sentences are these:

“They learned and grew . . .
“They forgave . . .
“They excelled and accomplished . . .
“They became heroes . . .”

The brown and yellow oil painting illustrations are wonderful, but I do not like the grainy-look (more pronounced in print). Cooper’s technique does give the spreads the look and feel of a time long ago that has aged, but never lost its details, despite repeat readings. 

9781623701703_int6

Rooted firmly in history, Juneteenth for Mazie relates the most important details in kid-friendly language. Cooper, while forgoing chunks of detail, keeps the story and history lesson interesting, thoughtful, and accessible to young children. His writing style and story will engage kids in history more than any textbook ever could. Teachers should find no trouble integrating Juneteenth for Mazie into their lesson plans. Juneteenth for Mazie is both heart wrenching and heartwarming.

A side note: 2015 marks not only the 150th anniversary of Juneteenth, but also the 50th anniversary of the the Voting Rights Act of 1965.²

JUNETEENTH FOR MAZIE. Text and Illustrations copyright © 2015 by Floyd Cooper. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Capstone Young Readers, North Mankato, MN.

Purchase Juneteenth for Mazie at AmazonBook DepositoryiTunesCapstone.

Learn more about Juneteenth for Mazie HERE.
Meet award-winning author/illustrator, Floyd Cooper, at his website:  http://www.floydcooper.com/
Find more nonfiction/ historical fiction picture books at the Capstone website:  http://www.capstonepub.com/

Capstone Young Readers is a Capstone imprint.

Review Section: word count = 401³

Copyright © 2015 by Sue Morris/Kid Lit Reviews
x
¹“On June 19, 1865, soldiers arrived in Galveston, Texas, announcing the end of the Civil War and the end of slavery in the United States. It was more than two years after President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation. Celebrated every year on June 19, Juneteenth commemorates the announcement of the abolition of slavery and the emancipation of African-American citizens throughout the United States.”

²Thanks to Capstone for mentioning the 50th Anniversary of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 in the Juneteenth for Mazie press release.

³Trying to keep the review portion between a 400—600 word count. Hoping that by noting this, it will keep me focused on this goal. Chide me if I miss this range (unless it is a “great review,” of course :))

FTC - Juneteenth for Mazie by Floyd Cooper – Capstone 2015


Filed under: 5stars, Children's Books, Favorites, Historical Fiction, Picture Book Tagged: abolition, Black History Month, Capstone, Capstone Young Readers, celebrations, emancipation proclamation, Floyd Cooper, Freedom Day, Juneteenth for Mazie, Juneteenth Independence Day, President Lincoln, slavery

Add a Comment
12. #682 – Juneteenth for Mazie by Floyd Cooper

9781623701703x
x
Juneteenth for Mazie

Written by Floyd Cooper
Illustrated by Floyd Cooper
Capstone Young Readers 2/01/2015
978-1-62370-170-3
40 pages Age 6—9
x
x
“Mazie is ready to celebrate liberty. She is ready to celebrate freedom. She is ready to celebrate a great day in American history—the day her ancestors were no onger slaves. Mazie remembers the struggles and the triumph, as she gets ready to celebrate Juneteenth. This beautiful story by award-winning author and illustrator Floyd Cooper will captivate both children and adults.”

Review
Juneteenth for Mazie made me think. I read it, slowly, three times, enjoying the story more with each read. Being a children’s historical fiction and a diversity book makes Juneteenth for Mazie a picture book that deserves more than a quick glance. Young Mazie is not having one of her better days. She wants to play outside, but it is too late in the day; and eat a cookie, but it is nearly bedtime; and stay up late, but she is too young. Dad asks why his “Sugar Bear” is grumpy.

9781623701703_int4

“I can’t go where I want, have what I want, or do what I want.”

Tomorrow, Dad tells his daughter, is a day of celebrating—Juneteenth. Though not understanding, Mazie’s above frustrations mirror those of her not-so-distant relatives. What is Juneteenth? How is it rooted in early American history? Juneteenth is a celebration, much like the Fourth of July or Independence Day. In fact, another name for this celebration is Juneteenth Independence Day. Most of us know this day as Emancipation Day; some as Freedom Day. On the final page, author/illustrator Floyd Cooper explains what happened.¹

150-years-ago this year, Mazie’s fictional Great, Great, Great Grandpa Mose became a free man. Dad relates Grandpa Mose’s life beginning with working long days in cotton fields as a slave—all the time thinking of and praying for freedom and a better life—to running for the northern United States and freedom, where life would be difficult but his own; to the day Mose’s first heard President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation, and then celebrating the first Juneteenth. The newly free never forgot the huge significance of that day, even as they continued to struggle with inequality. My favorite sentences are these:

“They learned and grew . . .
“They forgave . . .
“They excelled and accomplished . . .
“They became heroes . . .”

The brown and yellow oil painting illustrations are wonderful, but I do not like the grainy-look (more pronounced in print). Cooper’s technique does give the spreads the look and feel of a time long ago that has aged, but never lost its details, despite repeat readings. 

9781623701703_int6

Rooted firmly in history, Juneteenth for Mazie relates the most important details in kid-friendly language. Cooper, while forgoing chunks of detail, keeps the story and history lesson interesting, thoughtful, and accessible to young children. His writing style and story will engage kids in history more than any textbook ever could. Teachers should find no trouble integrating Juneteenth for Mazie into their lesson plans. Juneteenth for Mazie is both heart wrenching and heartwarming.

A side note: 2015 marks not only the 150th anniversary of Juneteenth, but also the 50th anniversary of the the Voting Rights Act of 1965.²

JUNETEENTH FOR MAZIE. Text and Illustrations copyright © 2015 by Floyd Cooper. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Capstone Young Readers, North Mankato, MN.

Purchase Juneteenth for Mazie at AmazonBook DepositoryiTunesCapstone.

Learn more about Juneteenth for Mazie HERE.
Meet award-winning author/illustrator, Floyd Cooper, at his website:  http://www.floydcooper.com/
Find more nonfiction/ historical fiction picture books at the Capstone website:  http://www.capstonepub.com/

Capstone Young Readers is a Capstone imprint.

Review Section: word count = 401³

Copyright © 2015 by Sue Morris/Kid Lit Reviews
x
¹“On June 19, 1865, soldiers arrived in Galveston, Texas, announcing the end of the Civil War and the end of slavery in the United States. It was more than two years after President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation. Celebrated every year on June 19, Juneteenth commemorates the announcement of the abolition of slavery and the emancipation of African-American citizens throughout the United States.”

²Thanks to Capstone for mentioning the 50th Anniversary of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 in the Juneteenth for Mazie press release.

³Trying to keep the review portion between a 400—600 word count. Hoping that by noting this, it will keep me focused on this goal. Chide me if I miss this range (unless it is a “great review,” of course :))

FTC - Juneteenth for Mazie by Floyd Cooper – Capstone 2015


Filed under: 5stars, Children's Books, Favorites, Historical Fiction, Picture Book Tagged: abolition, Black History Month, Capstone, Capstone Young Readers, celebrations, emancipation proclamation, Floyd Cooper, Freedom Day, Juneteenth for Mazie, Juneteenth Independence Day, President Lincoln, slavery

Add a Comment
13. Straight From the Source: Shannon Hitchcock on Writing Historical Fiction

Shannon Hitchcock is a freelance writer specializing in stories for children. Her work has been published in Highlights for Children, Cricket, Ask, and other magazines. Her debut novel, The Ballad of Jessie Pearl, was published in 2013.

What typically comes first for you: a character? An era? A story idea? How do you proceed from there?

I usually start with a story idea. I then spend several months researching, dreaming, and taking notes before I begin writing.

How do you conduct your research?

I start with Google, and as I browse various websites, I make a list of questions. For example: what might my heroine have worn in the 1920’s? What was life like on a farm before automation? How do you drive a Model T? Once I have my questions, I search Amazon for books that might help answer them. I purchase lots of books from used booksellers so that I can mark them up and have them handy to refer back to.

You do have a specific system for collecting data?

I buy a new notebook at the start of every project and record all of my research notes in it.

What kinds of sources do you use?

A chat with a good reference librarian is invaluable to get started. Often they have the inside scoop on resources the average person doesn’t even know about. I also use magazine articles, books, websites, historical societies, Pinterest, and interviews.

How long do you typically research before beginning to draft?

About six months. I have to fill the well before there’s anything inside to come pouring out.

At what point do you feel comfortable beginning to draft? How does your research continue once you begin writing?

When I’ve read and taken notes on all of the material I’ve identified as useful, then I start to write. I usually have a good grasp of the material at that point, but often refer back to my notes to double check facts.

What is your favorite thing about research?

My favorite thing is stumbling upon some cool fact or anecdote that will enhance the plot.

What’s your least favorite thing about research?

Sometimes it feels like the research will never end so that the writing can begin. I get impatient with it.

What’s your favorite thing about writing historical fiction?

Becoming immersed in another place and time.

What are some obstacles writing historical fiction brings?

Historical fiction is a harder sell. When my agent was shopping THE BALLAD OF JESSIE PEARL, lots of the feedback went like this, “My main concern is that this is straight historical fiction, which is a really tough sale in the marketplace these days.”

Why is historical fiction important?

Historical fiction makes history come alive. Readers can get lost in a story and learn lots of wonderful information in the process. It’s like Mary Poppins says, “a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down!”

The post Straight From the Source: Shannon Hitchcock on Writing Historical Fiction appeared first on Caroline Starr Rose.

0 Comments on Straight From the Source: Shannon Hitchcock on Writing Historical Fiction as of 1/1/1900
Add a Comment
14. Audiobook reviews

I recently reviewed two audiobooks with a peculiar connection.  Masterminds is a thriller set in the seemingly perfect town of Serenity, New Mexico.  The Way to Stay in Destiny is a character-driven novel set in the woefully imperfect town of Destiny, Florida.  Neither town is quite what it seems.  Click the links to read the complete reviews.

Masterminds by Gordon Korman.  Read by a cast of five(2015) 

[http://www.audiofilemagazine.com/reviews/read/98783/]
A contemporary science thriller set in New Mexico - a real page-turner!  This is the first in a planned series.  I'm not sure how he can top this one!



 [http://www.audiofilemagazine.com/reviews/read/99246/]
Historical fiction set in 1970s Florida by the author of Glory Be. Another paean to the power of music.  (Try Echo by Pam Muñoz Ryan, too!)




I'm confident that either of these is great in print as well.

0 Comments on Audiobook reviews as of 4/22/2015 8:47:00 AM
Add a Comment
15. BLUE BIRDS Resources and Lost Colony News!

Here are two new resources for those of you interested in learning more about Blue Birds.

Educator’s Guide
Lost colony timeline

map of algonquian tribes

And breaking news! Evidence that colonists indeed were on Hatteras Island (Croatoan)!

Archeologists Find New Evidence of Lost Colonists on Hatteras :: The Outer Banks Voice

The post BLUE BIRDS Resources and Lost Colony News! appeared first on Caroline Starr Rose.

0 Comments on BLUE BIRDS Resources and Lost Colony News! as of 1/1/1900
Add a Comment
16. Classroom Connections: LOVE TWELVE MILES LONG by Glenda Armand

Last summer at SCBWI‘s national conference, I struck up a conversation with another attendee while standing in a winding sandwich line. It was absolutely my pleasure to befriend a fellow former teacher turned author, someone who also writes historical fiction and picture books and has even tried her hand at verse. That night I bought a copy of Glenda Armand’s Love Twelve Miles Long, a beautifully moving story. I’ll let Glenda tell you more.

genre: historical fiction
setting: Maryland, 1820s
age range: 6-11
teacher’s guide
Glenda Armand’s website

This poignant story, based on Frederick Douglass’s childhood, tells how his mother, a slave, would walk twelve miles at night for a brief visit with her son. Soothing text describes how she overcomes the monotony and loneliness through songs (joyful and sad), the solace of prayer, and love. Emotional paintings capture moods, especially the joy of reunion that wipes away weariness. — Horn Book

Starting with the boy’s elemental question, “Mama, why can’t I live with you?,” the words and pictures tell the family separation story in all its heartbreak and hope. — Booklist

Share this with young readers as a series of homilies on dreams and a family love strong enough to overcome any adversity. — Kirkus Reviews

20140801_182831

Please tell us about your book.

Frederick Douglass was born a slave, escaped and went on to become a great orator and writer who championed the cause of freedom for his fellow African Americans. In his autobiography, Douglass showed the cruelty of slavery from his unique perspective as a former slave. It is a testament to Douglass’s remarkable life that President Abraham Lincoln called this former slave, “my friend Douglass.”

Love Twelve Miles Long takes place long before Frederick Douglass has become famous and successful. The setting is a farmhouse kitchen on a Maryland farm. It is evening and 5-year-old Frederick’s mother, Harriet, a slave who lives on different farm on their master’s plantation, has come to visit. The story allows the reader to peak in on mother and son as they share a few precious moments.

What inspired you to write this story?

When I read his autobiography, I was struck by Frederick Douglass’s strong feelings for his mother despite his having spent so little time with her. In fact, he only remembered seeing his mother at night on the few occasions that she was able to walk the twelve miles to spend time with her son. I believed that there was a story in those visits that spoke to the universal bond between mother and child.

Could you share with readers how you conducted your research or share a few interesting tidbits you learned while researching? 

I read Frederick Douglass’s autobiography while preparing to teach eighth grade US history after many years of teaching in the elementary grades. The passage in which Douglass mentions his mother’s night time visits touched my heart. I could just imagine the love it took for her to walk twelve miles (one way!) to spend time with her son, who lived with the cook who served as babysitter for the slave children who were too young to work.

After reading his other autobiography written later in life, I came up with the way I would tell the story of Frederick and his mother.

I decided to envision Harriet and Frederick in their master’s kitchen, the place where the visits occurred. Then, with pen in hand (literally), I “listened” in on their conversation. There were times when I felt that Harriet was guiding my pen as I wrote. For instance, at one point Frederick asks, “Why did God make us slaves?” After writing the question, I crossed it out because I really didn’t have an answer. But then I heard Harriet’ voice saying, “Let him ask the question.” So I did.

What are some special challenges associated with writing historical fiction?

I love the challenge of writing historical fiction. I like taking events that I know happened to real people (like the visits Harriet paid to Frederick) and imagining things that could have happened (their conversation) and mixing them together to make a story. To me, this makes historical figures interesting, accessible and human. 

My books are introductions to real events and people that I hope invite the reader to find out more about the subjects.

What topics does your book touch upon that would make it a perfect fit for the classroom?

Love Twelve Miles Long lends itself to many classroom discussions/topics:

  • United States History/African American History/Black History Month
  • Mother’s Day/Families/Mother-child relationships/Love
  • Childhood experiences/Memories/Separation
  • Frederick Douglass/Abraham Lincoln/Slavery/Civil War
  • Dreams/Aspirations/Empathy/Compassion/Esteem/Confidence
  • Realistic Fiction/Historical Fiction

The post Classroom Connections: LOVE TWELVE MILES LONG by Glenda Armand appeared first on Caroline Starr Rose.

0 Comments on Classroom Connections: LOVE TWELVE MILES LONG by Glenda Armand as of 1/1/1900
Add a Comment
17. The Kind of Email that Warms My Heart

The subject line says We Loved May B!

DSC_0602

Hello, Ms. Rose. 

I am sitting at my computer at school.  A lovely group of my fifth grade girl students and I JUST FINISHED reading May B!  We plan to write you “old-fashioned letters”, but just had to visit your web site and tell you how much we loved the book.

“ I liked how May was a very persistent girl.”  ~ V.

“ I liked how she was brave enough to dig out a hole and try to walk home. “  ~ M.

“I like how she took care of herself by herself in the soddy.” ~  M.

“ I like how she was brave with the wolf.”  ~M.

We loved it!!!!  Thank you!

I pretty much have the best job in the world.

The post The Kind of Email that Warms My Heart appeared first on Caroline Starr Rose.

0 Comments on The Kind of Email that Warms My Heart as of 1/1/1900
Add a Comment
18. An Interview with Anna Ingwersen, author of THE MOON GARDEN

Anna Ingwersen is a native Texan who spent her crucial years in New Mexico (still miss those sunsets) and has now settled in Edinburgh where she writes, reads, mothers, and teaches yoga. Currently, she’s working on another historical fiction novel and a short story. Her last short story,” The Snowbird,” was published in Deep South magazine. Anna’s been writing stories for as long as she can remember, including a sequel to Gone with the Wind, co-authored by Caroline Starr Rose, at the age of ten.

Please tell us about your book.

The Moon Garden is historical fiction taking place against the backdrop of pre and post Civil Rights Texas. Both main characters live under different societal constraints, James, as a black man passing for white, and Elana, as a free spirited abstract artist. Their attraction is strengthened by their shared identities as outsiders. However, their love affair cannot protect them from circumstances beyond their control, forcing decisions that, thirty years later, may finally be redeemed.

It’s a love story, but also a story about identity, ethics, and how the daily decisions we make shape the course of our entire lives. I also explore how we are limited by the times we are living in and how we struggle to create authentic lives under these constraints.

I’d never heard of Texas’s Veterans’ Land Act Scandal before reading your book. What drew you to this subject?

The Texas Veterans Land Board Scandal provided additional historical backdrop for the story. It was the biggest scandal in state history, one in which state land promoters and politicians were involved in cheating veterans, many of whom were black, out of low interest state backed loans for land. I was drawn to this scandal because at the time I was working in state government and could see how easily people can forget their ethics and forget they work as civil servants. After reading about the scandal, it just seemed ripe for a juicy novel! It was unbelievable how high and deep it ran, how a prominent lawyer investigating the scandal was the victim of an attempted murder via a car bombing, and how the story broke because an intrepid reporter from a small town followed his instincts and went on to win a Pulitzer for his work.

The glimpses you give us of both Austin and Galveston feel intimate and familiar. Can you talk a little about the importance of setting and specifically why you’re drawn to write about Texas?

I’m a Texan and spent most of my life in Austin and near Galveston. I love these two places for different reasons, and both places are very dear to my heart. Both places are very evocative for me. I suppose I’m always a bit homesick, and writing about these places helps me to be there on those days I miss hearing a mourning dove cooing outside my door or a cheeky grackle giving me a disapproving look.

Also, as a writer, I feel setting is an essential character in a book. I want a reader to feel they are fully immersed in the story and setting allows that to happen. As a reader I also love books with a well-drawn setting. It takes me somewhere new, a little holiday without leaving home.

Moon Garden moves between the 1950s past and the 1980s present. What made this the best way to tell your story?

I liked the idea of a man who had lived an extraordinary life during difficult times, looking back on his life and trying to make sense of it all. America’s history is so short and I felt contrasting the 1980s and the 1950s illustrated that really well. Only thirty years span between Jim Crow and the 1980s. So much had changed, yet for many, what they had experienced in terms of social change, wasn’t ancient history, and still isn’t!

What are some challenges associated with telling a story from two different character’s perspectives? What are some advantages?

I felt like I really knew James and Elana, so for me, I had to write from both perpectives. Both suffer from different, yet powerful societal constraints, and I was passionate about exploring that. I think if your characters both have a story to tell, then do it, just make sure they both need to be there. For a while, I didn’t want to listen to Elana and then she came out and demanded to be heard. It evolved that way naturally and through valuable feedback, I was able to let her come through.

I think the advantages of writing from two perpectives are that you get to see two different takes on the same events, that you see reality can be extremely different for two people living in the same time. I’ve always been fascinated by the diversity of experiences we all have and how it shapes our actions and who we are.

The post An Interview with Anna Ingwersen, author of THE MOON GARDEN appeared first on Caroline Starr Rose.

0 Comments on An Interview with Anna Ingwersen, author of THE MOON GARDEN as of 1/1/1900
Add a Comment
19. The Accidental Empress (2015)

The Accidental Empress. Allison Pataki. 2015. Howard Books. 512 pages. [Source: Review copy]

If you love historical fiction with a royal focus, this book may prove quite satisfying. I do love historical fiction. And this one does have a royal focus. The Accidental Empress is set in Austria (and Hungary) in the 1850s and 1860s. It tells the story of Empress Elizabeth of Austria and Emperor Franz Joseph I. She is the "accidental" empress because the arranged marriage was originally between Franz and her older sister. She accompanied her sister to court, and Franz fell in love with her and not the sister.

The book captures many events, many emotions, many tensions. DRAMA. The book has plenty of drama!!! For the most part, the book is told from HER point of view, and only her point of view. Readers can judge for themselves if her perceptions are fair or not. Plenty of arguments between husband and wife are related. In some cases, it's easy to see what it was all about. To see HER side and to see HIS side. Yes, the book is from HER point of view, but, readers can pick up on why he's acting and reacting the way he is. Not all the time, not every time, but enough to give the impression that she is far from perfect and not always right. For example, when she nags him every single time she sees him about how horrible his mother is, readers know he's not going to like her complaining and whining about how awful and horrible his mother is. Should he try to see it from her perspective, try to put himself in her shoes, to be more understanding and supportive of his wife's feelings. Probably. But you could see why it would be difficult to enjoy spending time with her. To be fair, he's not great at fidelity. And the idea that no royal could ever, ever, ever be expected to be faithful--that it was unnatural--doesn't sit easy. So I could only take my sympathy so far with him.

Actually, did I really "like" either character? I'm not sure I did. I found the book fascinating however!!!

Though I tend to think of this division of Simon & Schuster (Howard Books) being "Christian," there was nothing distinctively Christian about the book itself. It is historical fiction. It's based on real people, royal people. But it isn't your typical Christian book with a Christian message about life and love and family. I would have a difficult time classifying this as a clean read.
© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

0 Comments on The Accidental Empress (2015) as of 3/13/2015 4:36:00 PM
Add a Comment
20. Classroom Connections: THE ACTUAL AND TRUTHFUL ADVENTURES OF BECKY THATCHER by Jessica Lawson

age range: 8-12

setting: 1860 Missouri; retelling of Tom Sawyer

curriculum guide

Jessica Lawson’s website

“The deliciously impetuous, devilishly clever, and uncommonly brave Becky Thatcher is now one of my all-time favorite heroines, and I’m desperate to follow her on more adventures. Captivating, exciting, and great barrels-full of fun, this is a book to adore.”
Anne Ursu, author of The Real Boy and Breadcrumbs

A delightfully clever debut.”
– Publishers Weekly, starred review

“Young readers will race through this adventure, while teachers and adults will delight in its gold mine of creative parallels.”
– BookPage

Please tell us about your book.

The Actual & Truthful Adventures of Becky Thatcher is part origin story, part retelling of Mark Twain’s classic The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. Written from the perspective of Becky Thatcher, it takes the setting and many characters from Twain’s beloved work and forms a new plot that puts Becky in the spotlight as she grapples with the after-effects of her brother’s death and has adventures in his honor. Samuel Clemens (aka Mark Twain), who was actually a riverboat pilot on the Mississippi during the time of the novel (1860), makes several appearances and serves as a reminder that every writer’s stories and characters have an origin.

What inspired you to write this story?

I’ve always admired the wit and wisdom of Mark Twain. His books are among the most treasured of my personal collection. The Adventures of Tom Sawyer caught my eye while I was dusting my bookshelf one day, and I found myself thinking about how, as a much younger reader, I had wanted nothing more than to run around with Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn, making mischief and having adventures. As I thought about the other characters, I considered the fact that I’d never really connected with Becky Thatcher. Why was that? Upon reflection, I think it was because Becky, an iconic female character in her own right, didn’t get to embrace the same things/traits that the boys did. And although her actions and manner fit Twain’s image of the character perfectly, they didn’t really fit the girl I had been. So as an adult, I decided it could be fun to give Becky Thatcher an opportunity to embrace adventure and see what she did with it.

Could you share with readers a lesson learned while conducting research?

During my normal research process for historical fiction, one of favorite things to do is read old newspapers. Not only do I discover a sense of what sort of things were newsworthy, but I get a sense of language and culture. I also like to hunt down academic articles; for a recent Work-In-Progress, an internet search helped me find some article titles that sounded informative, intriguing, and pertinent to my setting/plot. I sent an email to the author, a professor at New York University’s Irish House, explaining who I was and that I was hoping to get access to a few of his articles that were only published in a (very large, very expensive) anthology. I was so thrilled when he responded, attaching the requested articles and wishing me luck with my project. The lesson I learned is that people, even ones that may seem intimidating in skill level/profession, are nearly always willing to help. So ask. 

With my Becky Thatcher book, my research was fairly limited, concentrating mostly on finding biographical information about Samuel Clemens’s life. I avoided close re-readings of Tom Sawyer until after I’d written several drafts to avoid any subconscious tendency to try to copy Twain’s voice. I wanted any similarities in tone to come out naturally and not be forced.

What are some special challenges associated with retellings?

I wrote something several months ago about the nature of retellings and how such a large variety of approaches exist, making it difficult to establish “rules.” But my personal guidelines for retellings always involve the following three things:

First, you should love the original work as written and have respect for the author. In my opinion, a retelling shouldn’t be undertaken in order to “fix” something that the original author did wrong, but rather to bring fresh attention and a new perspective to a well-loved tale.

There must be at least one large twist. But the twist should be a playful/thoughtful/deliberate one that has meaning within the original elements, not just a random item. Know why you’re changing a key element of the story and be confident in your reasoning.

Keep the heart of the original in mind and try your best to honor it. While my own retelling of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer alters personalities and changes plot elements, the themes of learning what it means to grow up and struggling with losing pieces of childhood are still there and are recognizable.

What topics does your book touch upon that would make it a perfect fit for the classroom?

I think the inclusion of historical figure Samuel Clemens could promote interesting classroom discussions on who the “real” Mark Twain was as a younger man and how writers form their stories.

Themes touched upon in my book are things that students deal with each day in both home life and school situations (morality, friendship, telling truth and lies, labeling people, decision-making, consequences of choices) as well as a couple of more personal, sensitive themes (loss and grieving).

Simon & Schuster was kind enough to put together a curriculum guide for the book as a standalone and also as a companion to both The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. 

The post Classroom Connections: THE ACTUAL AND TRUTHFUL ADVENTURES OF BECKY THATCHER by Jessica Lawson appeared first on Caroline Starr Rose.

0 Comments on Classroom Connections: THE ACTUAL AND TRUTHFUL ADVENTURES OF BECKY THATCHER by Jessica Lawson as of 1/1/1900
Add a Comment
21. Win a Ten-Copy BLUE BIRDS Book Club Kit!

blue birds on shelf

As I did with May B., I am donating to one lucky school, library, homeschool co-op, or reading circle a Blue Birds Book Club Kit. The kit will include the following:

  • 10 copies of Blue Birds
  • teacher / discussion guide
  • bookmarks and stickers for all readers
  • interactive Skype visit

Grades four through eight qualify. To enter, simply tell me about your readers and why Blue Bird is a good fit for your group in the comments below. That’s it! 

The contest is open to US residents only. Winners will be announced March 27. Thanks to G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers for providing the books.

The post Win a Ten-Copy BLUE BIRDS Book Club Kit! appeared first on Caroline Starr Rose.

0 Comments on Win a Ten-Copy BLUE BIRDS Book Club Kit! as of 1/1/1900
Add a Comment
22. Echo, by Pam Muñoz Ryan -- multilayered, heartfelt historical fiction (ages 10-14)

Pam Muñoz Ryan captivates readers with this multilayered story set around the tumult of World War II. Themes of hope, resilience and inspiration echo (yes, pun intended) throughout three different characters' separate stories, set in Germany, Pennsylvania and California in the 1930s and 1940s. Already, my students are raving about this, telling each other that it's one of the best books of the year.
Echo
by Pam Muñoz Ryan
Scholastic, 2015
Google Books preview
Your local library
Amazon
ages 10-14
*best new book*
Ryan's story is framed by a short fairy tale that introduces themes carried through the whole book. In this tale, young Otto started to read a magical story that suddenly comes to life -- in which the spirits of three cursed princesses are carried in a mystical harmonica. They will only be free if the harmonica can save someone on the brink of death.

The story then shifts to 1933 in Germany, where young Friedrich struggles to survive in Nazi Germany, dealing both with a birthmark on his face and an intense love of music, especially the harmonica. Ryan not only shows the conformity insisted upon by the Nazis, but also the risks people took to stay true to their ideas and passions. Through Friedrich, readers really feel the power of music to inspire and fill a person's soul. Friedrich works in a harmonica factory with his father and discovers the magical harmonica that Otto leaves behind. The chapter ends on a cliff-hanger as Friedrich tries to rescue his father from a Nazi prison camp.

I wondered if young readers would like the way Ryan shifts each section of the story to another location, following the harmonica as it travels from Europe to America in the 1930s and 1940s. Our 4th and 5th grade students who are ready to tackle a long novel are really enjoying it. Norah said,
"I liked how the author changed stories right as you were about to get bored with one story--I really liked how it was a total fairy tale in the beginning, and then suddenly changed to the beginning of WW2. I like how one object connects all the stories -- the harmonica."
Next, the harmonica travels to Depression-era Pennsylvania, where it is given to two brothers, Mike and Frankie Finnegan, in an orphanage. Once again, music plays an important role in their lives--both as a connection to their mother who taught piano lessons and to a wealthy woman who adopts them but doesn't seem to want them.

The final chapter is set in Southern California, where Ivy Lopez learns to play the harmonica and discovers she has exceptional musical ability. Ivy, the daughter of Mexican-American migrant workers, must confront segregation and discrimination.

In each case, characters find inner strength from their love of music and inspiration it provides. This comes across particularly well, as readers get the sense that each character's dreams are captured within the harmonica and passed to the next player. As Lora Shinn writes in Kirkus with her interview of Ryan:
"Echo contains lyrical, emotional descriptions of melodic pieces—often from the musician’s point of view—with such realism that it’s somewhat surprising that Ryan isn’t a working musician...
“That's the wonderful thing about music and so many of the arts,” Ryan says. “You don't have to be the one who makes the art to love and appreciate it or even to become an expert on it. Someone has to be the audience. Music is a universal language understood by both the person speaking—the musician—as well as person spoken to, the listener,” she says.”
The final chapter ties all of the stories together, as the characters meet in New York City in 1951 at a grand performance in Carnegie Hall. Several students commented that this chapter was confusing in the way Ryan jumped back and forth in time as she wrapped up each story. Even so, this is a story that they are recommending to one another with great enthusiasm.

The review copy was kindly sent by the publisher, Scholastic. If you make a purchase using the Amazon links on this site, a small portion goes to Great Kid Books. Thank you for your support.

©2015 Mary Ann Scheuer, Great Kid Books

0 Comments on Echo, by Pam Muñoz Ryan -- multilayered, heartfelt historical fiction (ages 10-14) as of 3/23/2015 2:09:00 AM
Add a Comment
23. In Tandem: BLACK DOVE, WHITE RAVEN, by ELIZABETH WEIN

Welcome to another edition of In Tandem, the read-and-review blog series where both A.F. and I give our two cents at the same time. (You can feel free to guess which of us is the yellow owl and which of us is the purple owl...we're not telling!)... Read the rest of this post

0 Comments on In Tandem: BLACK DOVE, WHITE RAVEN, by ELIZABETH WEIN as of 3/23/2015 11:27:00 AM
Add a Comment
24. Straight From the Source: Kathryn Fitzmaurice on Writing Historical Fiction

When Kathryn Fitzmaurice was thirteen years old, her mother sent her to New York City over the summer to visit her grandmother, who was a science fiction author. After seeing how her grandmother could make the characters in her books into whomever she wanted, Kathryn decided that she, too, wanted to become a writer someday. Years later, after teaching elementary school, she now writes full time and lives with her husband, two sons, and her dog, Holly, in Monarch Beach, California.

Kathryn is the author of The Year the Swallows Came Early (2009, HarperCollins), A Diamond in the Desert (2012, Viking), and Destiny, Rewritten (2013, HarperCollins). Visit her at www.kathrynfitzmaurice.com or at http://kathrynfitzmaurice.blogspot.com/   

How did you conduct your research for A Diamond in the Desert?

Kathryn:  Very carefully and with an amazing amount of note taking.  I conducted several interviews over the course of two years and read through four years of THE GILA NEWS COURIER, which was on microfiche.  I collected photographs and maps, printed several pages from the newspaper, and kept all of this in a file.  I made sure to find at least one other back-up source, which confirmed what I had learned, so that I had two primary sources.  In some cases, I was unable to do this, but for the most part, I did my best to confirm what I had learned.  This was so that when the copy editor asked a question, or was attempting to confirm a fact, I could easily send her what I had.

How long do you typically research before beginning to draft?

Kathryn:  I make sure ALL of my research is complete before I start writing.  This is because I want to understand everything that has happened in my story before writing the first word.  I need to know how the story will begin and how it will end.  I believe that by making a timeline in my office on the wall (with sticky notes) that this helps me to know where I am going.  Each day, I can write, using the timeline as a reference, and then the next day, I am able to pick up where I left off.  I also like to place photographs on my wall and maps of the area I am writing about.  All of these things help to keep me grounded in the time period I am writing about. 

What is your favorite thing about research?

Kathryn:  Finding something I had no idea had happened, and then deciding whether or not to include it in my manuscript. 

What kinds of sources do you use? 

Kathryn: Phone and in person interviews, newspaper articles from the Pacific Region National Archives Center in Laguna Niguel, online research, The Japanese American National Society in San Francisco, and California State University at Fullerton provided a collection of Japanese American interviews.

What’s your favorite thing about writing historical fiction?

Kathryn: Being able to give a copy of the finished book to the person whose life it was written for.  In my case, I was able to do this because the gentleman I interviewed is still alive.  This was such a thrill and to this day, nothing brings more joy than to see how happy Mr. Furukawa was when he first opened A Diamond in the Desert and saw that it was dedicated to him.

Why is historical fiction important?

Kathryn: Historical fiction novels are able to show young readers a part of our history they may not be aware of.  These stories are important because often times, readers are introduced through a medium that brings more understanding and therefore, perhaps, more compassion toward a situation or group of people. 

The post Straight From the Source: Kathryn Fitzmaurice on Writing Historical Fiction appeared first on Caroline Starr Rose.

0 Comments on Straight From the Source: Kathryn Fitzmaurice on Writing Historical Fiction as of 1/1/1900
Add a Comment
25. The Sittin' Up - a review

I would never think of "North Carolina fiction" as a genre in children's literature, but I seem to have read quite a bit of it lately. I picked up Three Times Lucky  because my daughter is attending college in North Carolina.  I loved it!!  Later, I had the good fortune of reviewing The Ghosts of Tupelo Landing (also by Sheila Turnage) for AudioFile Magazine.  I can't say enough how quirky and wonderful and timeless these books are!

Another North Carolina book caught my eye last year (I love the cover art!) but I just got around to reading it.

The Sittin' Up by Sheila P. Moses (Putnam, 2014).

The premise for The Sittin' Up is an interesting one.  The year is 1940, and former slave, Mr. Bro. Wiley has died.  Stanbury "Bean" Jones is 12 years old, finally old enough to attend his first "sittin' up," an area tradition with similarities to an "Irish wake" or Judaism's "sitting shiva."  There is not a lot of action in The Sittin' Up - something I've seen it knocked for in other reviews.  I, however, loved the opportunity to take my time and get to know the rich personalities of the Low Meadows community, where they treat death with sorrow, remembrance, practicality, and humor.

Mr. Bro. Wiley lived with Bean and his parents, Stanbury and Magnolia Jones, and was revered by the everyone in the closely-knit African American community. Bean's father, a stutterer, is generally accepted as a leader of the community and is a foreman on the tobacco farm where many of the Low Country men work for the white, wealthy, Mr. Thomas. Bean's mother is Magnolia, a kind, commonsense woman with a baby on the way.

Other characters include Miss Florenza (the bootlegging sinner who dares wear red to a sittin' up) and Miss Lottie Pearl (Pole's busybody mother and Magnolia's best friend),

"Yes, Lord. Please help us," Miss Florenza said.  Miss Lottie Pearl rolled her eyes at Miss Florenza.  Poor Miss Florenza can't even talk to Jesus without Miss Lottie Pearl putting her two cents in.  

Bean's best friend is Pole (they go together like a bean to a pole), and there's the preacher (who is more concerned with fancy clothes, cars, and women, than his parishioners),

"I thought we were in a Depression," Pole whispered to me.
"We are." I whispered back.
"Look like to me Reverend Hornbuckle should have been thinking about how the folk at Sandy Branch Baptist Church are gonna eat come winter instead of buying a new car," Pole said.  Wasn't sure if the preacher heard my sassy friend, but she didn't seem to care.  She got a whole of Miss Lottie Pearl in her as sho' as Mr. Bro. Wiley was dead in the house.
There's also Uncle Goat the liar,
Ma swears Uncle Goat is the biggest liar in Northampton County.  Papa said that ain't so.  He said Uncle Goat is the biggest liar in the state of North Carolina. That's how he got the nickname Goat.  Ma says he eats the truth up faster than a goat eats grass.

Even Mule Bennett has a personality,
"I will never forget Mr. Bro. Wiley," I thought as we headed to town.  Mule Bennett must have felt the same way.  He was slowing down and barely lifted his head.  Papa kept saying, "Get-get, get up, mule, get up." But Mule Bennett took his own sweet time.
Mr. Bro. Wiley,the reader gets to know through the remembrances of the living.

Yes, this is a story about segregation and how a great catastrophe serves as a catalyst for change, but that is the backdrop for a story that is mostly about people - wonderfully flawed people - people who sometimes do the wrong thing, but choose the right one when it matters - people who know the value of dignity and community - people who find sorrow and joy and humor in the small occurrences of daily life  - people - just plain people - just like us.

I may have nothing in common with North Carolina sharecroppers of 1940, but these people "spoke" to me, nonetheless.  If you enjoy historical fiction with a character-driven plot, you'll love The Sittin' Up.



Next on my list of North Carolina fiction: Stella by Starlight. More on that one later.

0 Comments on The Sittin' Up - a review as of 1/1/1900
Add a Comment

View Next 25 Posts