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

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
new posts in all blogs
Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: historical fiction, Most Recent at Top [Help]
Results 1 - 25 of 1,070

I review this book with mixed emotions. It touches on an important piece of history, using fictional characters to give eyewitness accounts to a fictional and nonfictional events. In many ways, it is successful; its Kirkus and Booklist stars attest... Read the rest of this post

0 Comments on TURNING PAGES: NIGHT ON FIRE, by RONALD KIDD as of 10/2/2015 12:18:00 PM
Add a Comment
2. Enchantress

Maggie Anton visits Congregation B'nai Israel

I interviewed author  Maggie Anton about Apprentice, the first book in her Rav Hisda's Daughter series, back in October 2013 - you can listen to that podcast here. Here is my follow-up interview with her about the second book in the series, Enchantress, which continues Hisdadukh's story.


Or click Mp3 File(22:00)


Produced by: Feldman Children's Library at Congregation B'nai Israel 
Supported in part by: Association of Jewish Libraries  
Theme music: The Freilachmakers Klezmer String Band  
Facebook: facebook.com/bookoflifepodcast  
Twitter: @bookoflifepod 
Support The Book of Life by becoming a patron at Patreon.com/bookoflife!
Your feedback is appreciated! Please write to bookoflifepodcast@gmail.com or call our voicemail number at 561-206-2473.

0 Comments on Enchantress as of 10/1/2015 11:52:00 AM
Add a Comment
3. Top 5 stories with a spark of science, especially for girls (ages 4-14)

Only two generations ago, our grandmothers faced serious limitations on the careers they could pursue. Today, our girls can do anything they put their minds to, but far fewer women pursue scientific careers than men. Here are two picture books and three novels that share the exciting spark that fuels so much passion in young scientists.

The Most Magnificent Thing
by Ashley Spires
Kids Can, 2014
Your local library
ages 4-7
This picture book celebrates the trials and tribulations that come with making things. As the young artist & engineer pulls a wagon full of odds and ends, she starts designing her magnificent creation. But science is hard work, filled with disappointments, before a triumphant ending.
Rosie Revere, Engineer
by Andrea Beaty, illustrated by David Roberts
Abrams, 2013
Your local library
ages 5-8
This rhyming picture book tells the story of shy Rosie who likes to build things hidden away in her attic room. Her great-great-aunt Rose comes to visit, helping young Rosie see her way through her current contraption’s failure: for now she can try again. Rosie the Riveter would be proud, indeed.
Chasing Secrets
by Gennifer Choldenko
Wendy Lamb / Random House, 2015
Your local library
ages 9-12
Turn-of-the-century San Francisco comes to life for young readers as 13-year-old Lizzie Kennedy accompanies her father on medical house calls, forms a friendship with the son of Jing, her family’s beloved cook, and grapples with the injustices that exist with gender, class and race. Local author Choldenko creates a tender and gripping story of friendship, mystery and persistence.
The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate
by Jacqueline Kelly
Henry Holt, 2009
Your local library
ages 9-14
A natural-born scientist, 11-year-old Calpurnia would like spend time examining insects, getting to know her scientist grandfather or reading Darwin’s controversial The Origin of Species. But in 1899 Texas, all around her expect young girls to learn to sew, run a household and attract a future husband. Readers adore this witty heroine, and will be thrilled to read the sequel just published this year.
The Fourteenth Goldfish 
by Jennifer L. Holm
Random House, 2014
Your local library
ages 9-12 
When a vaguely familiar teenage boy shows up at Ellie’s house, she is confused until she realizes that her grandfather has discovered a way to regenerate himself. But now he needs Ellie’s help regaining access to his laboratory. Young readers love the relationship between Ellie and her grandfather, but they also feel her growing excitement for scientific discoveries.

This article was originally published in Parents Press, September 2015. Many thanks for all of their support. On Wednesday, I'll share 5 nonfiction books that highlight the accomplishments of women scientists.

The review copies came from our school library, public library and home library. 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 Top 5 stories with a spark of science, especially for girls (ages 4-14) as of 9/29/2015 1:36:00 AM
Add a Comment
4. The Marvels by Brian Selznick, 672 pp. RL 4

Books like The Marvels by Brian Selznick are why I read and books like The Marvels what keep me reading, in the hopes of recreating the magical experience of being completely immersed in another world, another time. If you have read The Invention of Hugo Cabret then you know the special gift and pleasure you are in for when you hold this gorgeous 672 page tome in your hands and prepare

0 Comments on The Marvels by Brian Selznick, 672 pp. RL 4 as of 1/1/1900
Add a Comment
5. Classroom Connections: THE TOWN THAT DISAPPEARED by Sandy Carlson

age range: 8-12
genre: historical fiction
setting: 1871, Michigan
teacher’s guide
Sandy Carlson’s website

Please tell us about your book.

Just how many homes and friends does a kid have to lose in twelve years?

Driven from his neighborhood during the Chicago fire of 1871, Adrian and his parents move to the Michigan wilderness where his father lands a job at the sawmill. The town is called Singapore – as if a name could make a tiny spit of a town into a great seaport.

Back in Chicago, it was easy to keep his hobby a secret, even from his father. But in this small town, will people discover who the true knitter of the family is? Only his best friend, big R.T., keeps him level.

Adrian’s attempts to protect his new – and first – girlfriend, Elizabeth, from the school bully seem to backfire, especially when he hears Jake’s big brother, Otto the Monster, is heading to town.

Then, just as Adrian starts to feel that Singapore is his home, he discovers the moving sand dunes along the Lake Michigan shore are slowly burying his town. He tries to stop it, but how can he fight both man and nature?

What inspired you to write this story?

An elderly friend from church grew up in Saugatuck, Michigan. She remembers running down the sand dunes as a child and diving into the Kalamazoo River. Some days there would be a roof exposed from Singapore, an 1800’s buried town. Other days there might be a different roof. And still other days there was nothing but sand and the river. I couldn’t stop thinking about what it would have been like to have lived through that time – when my town was threatened to be buried by active sand dunes.

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

First of all, I need to walk the land where the story takes place, even if it’s 150 years after the time of the story. Each time I return and wander the streets or dune hills or beaches, I feel rather ghostly – imagining what it was like back then. The unceasing waves coming in would be the same. The wind blowing dry sand around the dune grass would be the same. The crying sea gulls would be the same, as well as the quiet stillness in the woods or just a little farther up river from the Lake.

My limit for doing library research (done in various Michigan towns) is about three hours. After that I find myself rereading a line several times. When I start rereading, I scoop up all my notes, pile the books and magazines and news clippings, put everything away, and wait for another day to do more research with a cleared mind.

I especially love staring at old photos of the area in which my book is set…imagining what it would be like to be there, and then I compartmentalize and focus on the photo, ignoring people around me; for I’m sure they think I’m crazy, on drugs, or have fallen asleep.

Sometimes research falls right into my lap. I went to a jeweler to re-clasp a necklace. I noticed a box of watch “guts” on the counter and asked about them. He was a watch man. I told him of my grandfather’s pocket watch. He informed me that real pocket watches weren’t very common because they cost as much as a buggy (or today’s SUV). (A nice historical fact which shoots down all the westerns I’ve ever seen.)

What are some special challenges associated with writing MG historical fiction?

How to get my book into the hands of kids. Actually, I know a lot of my readers are adults, because they are interested in local history.

If a kid is a reader, they’re likely to read anything, especially if they can relate to the characters or are interested in an area or a specific time. Libraries and booksellers often prefer the hottest and latest and most popular books. As long as I continue developing the craft of writing to make my characters, plot, and language golden, well, then, I’m golden, too.

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

The book begins with a new kid moving to town. Nearly every kid today has either moved, or been in a classroom which received a new student. (Relevant.)

There are several true local stories in the book, as well as description of jobs kids would do, like chopping wood, working in the family store, or knitting. (History.)

There’s a bully in town, but there may or may not be a resolution. You’ll have to read it to find out. (Resolutions.)

Adrian is ahead of his time, trying to find a way to stop the dunes from burying his town. (Environmental Studies.)

The post Classroom Connections: THE TOWN THAT DISAPPEARED by Sandy Carlson appeared first on Caroline Starr Rose.

0 Comments on Classroom Connections: THE TOWN THAT DISAPPEARED by Sandy Carlson as of 1/1/1900
Add a Comment

Review by Elisa WALK ON EARTH A STRANGERby Rae CarsonSeries: Gold Seer Trilogy (Book 1)Hardcover: 448 pagesPublisher: Greenwillow Books (September 22, 2015)Language: EnglishGoodreads | Amazon The first book in a new trilogy from acclaimed New York Times-bestselling author Rae Carson. A young woman with the magical ability to sense the presence of gold must flee her home, taking her on a

0 Comments on WALK ON EARTH A STRANGER by Rae Carson as of 1/1/1900
Add a Comment
7. The Marvels, by Brian Selznick: mystery unfolding through art and text (ages 10-14)

"Either you see it or you don't."
As you open the heavy novel The Marvels and read this epigraph, you wonder--just what am I supposed to see? What pieces fit of the story together? What details in his multilayered drawings does Brian Selznick intend as hints for plot twists to come? What imagery from his rich descriptions stand out?

Please join me as I ruminate over the wonder of Brian Selznick's masterful story The Marvels. And definitely add your name below for a chance to win a giveaway of this beautiful novel.
The Marvels
by Brian Selznick
Scholastic, 2015
Your local library
ages 10-14
As in Wonderstruck, Selznick tells two entirely different stories, one in pictures and the other in text. Instead of intertwining the two narratives, The Marvels begins with nearly 400 pages of continuous pictures, telling the story of Billy Marvel and his family of actors, who flourish in London from the 17th to 19th centuries. The text then jumps nearly a century later, to Joseph Jervis, a boy who runs away from home, seeking refuge with his uncle in London. Joseph's eccentric uncle lives in the Marvel house, and young Joseph is intrigued by its portraits and ghostly presences.

The book trailer for The Marvels is wonderful -- giving you a taste for the story, Billy's shipwreck and the sense of drama created by the theater setting.

I'm sure our Emerson book club will be talking about this as we go through our Mock Newbery discussions. Honestly, I haven't been able to fully digest this story. What parts of a story do we pay attention to? Can we see more when we look again? How does the text develop the characters and setting? The Marvels, like Selznick's other masterpieces, is definitely a story that demands multiple readings.

Brian Selznick is setting out on a multi-city tour to celebrate the release of The Marvels! Find out where to meet Brian Selznick on his tour for #THEMARVELS here.

Please complete the rafflecopter below to enter for a chance at winning your own copy of The Marvels plus a Marvels jigsaw puzzle.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Giveaway open to US addresses only. Prizing and samples provided by Scholastic.

Here are some snippets from other reviews:

  • "Art is seen to illuminate life and life to constantly spark art — a point further reinforced in the afterword when Selznick reveals his inspiration. Rich with “miracles and sadness,” a bookmaking tour de force, this novel is as full of marvels as its title suggests." -- The Washington Post review
  • "Upon completing The Marvels, I sat still, feeling as I did after a remarkable theatrical experience, say a dramatic opera, a visually stunning film, or a striking play, in awe of what I’d just experienced. Hours later it lingers with me, a gorgeous work of art." -- Monica Edinger, Educating Alice
  • "As a mentor text, this book is an excellent anchor piece for looking at character development and characterization. We see especially how Joseph develops as a character and how he changes throughout the book. It's simple and subtle but remarkable at the same time." -- Jen Vincent, Teach Mentor Texts
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 The Marvels, by Brian Selznick: mystery unfolding through art and text (ages 10-14) as of 9/21/2015 2:55:00 AM
Add a Comment
8. My Writing and Reading Life: Eric Pierpoint

Eric Pierpoint is a veteran Hollywood character actor who’s begun a writing career with several screenplays in development. His ancestors came west on the Oregon Trail in the mid 1800s, so Eric and his dog, Joey, followed in their wagon wheel tracks and traveled cross-country researching The Last Ride of Caleb O’Toole.

Add a Comment
9. WWW: Dear Protagonist/Dear Antagonist

How appropriate that while we TeachingAuthors share epistles to our Teen Selves these two weeks, invited Guest Author Angela Cerrito’s WWW focuses on letter writing!

Angela is my treasured SCBWI kin. We first met in 2004 at the SCBWI Winter Conference in New York; she’d (deservedly) won the Kimberly Colen Memorial Grant which funded research in Warsaw, Poland that led to her recently published middle grade novel THE SAFEST LIE (Holiday House). That research included interviews with the novel’s inspiration, Irena Sendler, the Catholic social worker and spy who rescued more than twenty-five hundred children from the Warsaw ghetto, as well as readings of testimonies from many of those children held in the archives of the Jewish Historical Institute.

This powerful historical novel tells the story of nine-year-old Anna Bauman who in 1940 is smuggled out of the Warsaw ghetto and struggles to both hide and hold onto her Jewish identity.  Her journey brings to the page the sacrifices endured, the dangers faced and the heroism shown by the children rescued, their parents and their saviors. It illuminates yet another tragedy of the Holocaust: rescued children who lost not only their loved ones, but their very identities and Jewish heritage.

Anna is a truly unforgettable character. Her first person narrative falters not once. This novel’s craft is noteworthy.  Just enough reader-appropriate concrete details and dialogue allow the young reader to live inside this long-ago ugly world, yet like Anna, miraculously take heart and hope.  Anna's attempts to retain her identity will make for meaningful connections and reflective discussions.

The Kirkus reviewer wrote that “Cerrito effectively evokes the fears, struggles, and sheer terror these children faced through her protagonist's first-person account, which allows readers into her private thoughts. Anna's three years in hiding encompass much of what these saved children experienced... and readers are left to ponder what the future might hold for this brave girl. Balancing honesty and age-appropriateness, Cerrito crafts an authentic, moving portrait.”

The School Library Journal  reviewer commented that “Anna's present-tense narrative voice is vivid, and readers will connect with her from the start. From the moment she recommends her friends for scarce vaccinations to her inquiries about a baby she helped rescue years ago, she demonstrates her loyalty. Fans of Lois Lowry's NUMBER THE STARS or Kimberly Brubaker Bradley's THE WAR THAT SAVED MY LIFE are likely to enjoy reading this book next. VERDICT: a suspenseful and informative choice for historical fiction fans.”

You can read an excerpt here
An Educator’s Guide is also available. 

Angela currently serves as SCBWI’S Assistant International Adviser and is co-organizer of SCBWI’s Bologna Children’s Book Fair.

She’s also the author of the compellingly told THE END OF THE LINE(Holiday House).

Thank you, Angela, for sharing your writer’s expertise today. I am beyond delighted to introduce you to our readers.


Esther Hershenhorn

                                           * * * * * * * * * 

Dear Protagonist/Dear Antagonist

In THE SAFEST LIE, the main character reflects on three letters sent by her grandmother from the Łodz ghetto.
Letters are a powerful way to record history and convey ideas. A particular advantage is that the letter writer can record his or her thoughts without interruption.
Below is a two-part writing exercise that can be used with students from the moment they have identified a protagonist and antagonist or at any time during the writing and revising process.

Have your protagonist write a letter to the antagonist.
IMPORTANT! This is a letter that will never be delivered. Allow the protagonist to get all of his or her feelings into the letter-  every grievance, every gripe, and be sure to include as much detail as possible. [Don’t reveal Step 2 until students have completed Step 1]

Discussion points after Step 1:
How did it feel to write that letter?
Did you learn anything new about your protagonist? About the antagonist?
How would your protagonist feel if the letter were actually delivered?
How would the antagonist react?

We are about to find out….

Very unexpectedly, the letter was delivered to the antagonist who read it, reacted and wrote back.
Now, write the letter your antagonist would write to the protagonist after reading the letter in Step 1.

Discussion points:
How did if feel writing from the antagonist’s point of view?
Did you learn anything new about the antagonist? About the protagonist?
What did you learn about their conflict?
Will this change anything in your plot as you revise the story?


Use the premise above to:
(1) write emails between the protagonist / antagonist
(2) create audio recordings / video recordings of messages acting as the protagonist / antagonist.

Note: Is the story set in the future? If so, use the message system the characters would use (i.e. brain chip messages, laser portals, inter-space pod transmissions, optic output devices) or whatever fits your story.

Additionally, rather than use your own story, use these protagonist/antagonist writing exercises with a recent book you’ve read.

0 Comments on WWW: Dear Protagonist/Dear Antagonist as of 9/16/2015 9:30:00 AM
Add a Comment
10. #HeadsWillRoll Blog Tour Feat. Texts to ANNE & HENRY...

From Becca... Today we are hosting a stop on the #HeadsWillRoll Blog Tour for Anne & Henry by Dawn Ius! I'll be reviewing the book in texts to the book rather than writing a letter, because I thought since I was reviewing a modernized tale, I should modernize my reviews. Check it out, and don't forget to enter the giveaway!  ANNE & HENRY  by Dawn Ius Publisher: Simon Pulse (September 1,

0 Comments on #HeadsWillRoll Blog Tour Feat. Texts to ANNE & HENRY... as of 9/15/2015 12:55:00 AM
Add a Comment
11. Starring Sally J. Freedman as Herself by Judy Blume, 376 pp, RL 4

I was nine when Judy Blume's only novel for kids set in the past was published. Starring Sally J. Freedman as Herself debuted in 1977, sandwiched between Blume's better known novels for older readers, Forever and Wifey. Being just the right age in the 70s, I read the core cannon of Blume's books - Blubber, Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret, Then Again, Maybe I Won't, Deenie and

0 Comments on Starring Sally J. Freedman as Herself by Judy Blume, 376 pp, RL 4 as of 9/4/2015 3:34:00 AM
Add a Comment
12. Razorhurst by Justine Larbelestier

Allen & Unwin, 2014

Kelpie has been on her own for most of her life.  She has vague memories of her childhood, but the street life in Razorhust is her home.  She's been fortunate, getting help from people in the city...whether dead or alive.  Kelpie lives on the streets of Razorhurst, a  part of Sydney divided between two gangsters, their henchmen, and a beautiful moll.  And it's when Kelpie steals into a home she shouldn't have that her world completely changes.

Looking at the murder scene was rough enough, but now the ghost of  is following her.  What's more, Kelpie is being used as cover by Dymphna, who thought she was smart enough to leave gang life, or at least take over.  With the law prohibiting guns in Australia in the 1930s, everyone thought gang violence would wane, but razors came out, just as deadly.

Dymphna and Kelpie are polar opposites.  Called the "Angel of Death" because all of her boyfriends end up dead,  Dymphna is well taken care of by Gloriana Nelson, who considers her one of her most valuable assets.  Beautiful, well-coifed and dressed, Dymphna exudes glamour, although her path in life is far from glamorous.  Kelpie, on the other hand, is small, looking more like a child (although she's a teenager), fiercely (or perhaps ferally) independent, and hasn't known the inside of a bath tub in a long time.  And while they may be different, they share one very important thing in common-they both can hear and see ghosts...

They're now both on the lam.  Mr. Davidson, one gang leader, is stalking Dymphna, where his stalking has very serious undertones.  Gloriana is also searching for her, for reasons she doesn't have to explain.  And friends of Kelpie's are also following her, trying to make sure both she and Dymphna stay alive.  But is that possible in a cat and mouse game of the 1930s, where lawlessness abounds and innocent lives are considered a small loss in the pursuit of glory, power and control?

What makes this book such a standout is how Justine Larbelestier creates a dual-genred novel (both supernatural and historical fiction) that wraps itself around real history  and biographies of Australia and Australians in this book.  Readers will not only get caught up in the storyline but also begin to make connections and differences  between both the U.S. and Australia and how gangsters shaped the country.  Although this book is filled with male characters, both good and bad, it's the two females that create the strength in this novel.  Larbelestier uses the ghostly characters as a backdrop to further strength Kelpie's and Dymphna's character flaws and attraction.  I thoroughly enjoyed this one and consider it a strong historical fiction novel for YA. 

0 Comments on Razorhurst by Justine Larbelestier as of 8/26/2015 4:57:00 PM
Add a Comment
13. Chasing Secrets, by Gennifer Choldenko | Book Giveaway

Enter to win a copy of Chasing Secrets (Wendy Lamb Books, August 2015), written by Gennifer Choldenko. Giveaway begins August 26, 2015, at 12:01 A.M. PST and ends September 25, 2015, at 11:59 P.M. PST.

Add a Comment
14. History Comes Alive in Chasing Secrets by Newbery Honor-Winner Gennifer Choldenko

Newbery Honor–winning author Gennifer Choldenko deftly combines humor, tragedy, fascinating historical detail, and a medical mystery in this exuberant new novel, Chasing Secrets.

Add a Comment
15. A Bitter Truth

A Bitter Truth. Charles Todd. 2011. HarperCollins. 352 pages. [Source: Library]

I am continuing to love the Bess Crawford mystery series by Charles Todd. Bitter Truth is the third book in the Bess Crawford series. The book opens with Bess on leave--once again. Bess takes pity on a woman, a stranger, named Lydia. She's distraught and she's clearly been beaten. For better or worse, Bess becomes very involved in a family matter. Good will come out of it perhaps, but, not without sacrifice and risk. For Bess says yes to Lydia's pleas to come home with her, and agrees to pretend to be her long-time friend in front of Lydia's family including her husband, Roger. How will Lydia's in-laws react to her bringing someone home? Surely Roger will mind the interference, right?

The family Bess meets is a strange one in many ways--dysfunctional certainly. But is anyone in the family capable of murder? For that is what we all know it will come down to...a mystery is almost always a murder mystery.

I felt Bess's discomfort throughout the novel. She's witness to some very awkward family scenes. And strangers are confiding in her things that are very personal, almost intimate. Every time Bess tries to leave the family--something happens to prevent it. Though of course, eventually, she does HAVE to leave because she's a nurse stationed in France. Still the family haunts her a bit...

A Bitter Truth is a well-written historical mystery. It wasn't one that I "enjoyed" particularly because enjoy is the wrong word. There was nothing "fun" or "light-hearted" about it. But it was certainly compelling and intense.

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

0 Comments on A Bitter Truth as of 8/19/2015 11:04:00 AM
Add a Comment
16. Classroom Connections: MY NEAR-DEATH ADVENTURES (99% True!)

age range: 8-12 years
setting: 1895; Michigan’s Upper Peninsula
teacher’s guide
Alison DeCamp’s website

Please tell us about your book. 

It’s the winter of 1895. Eleven-year-old Stanley Slater finds himself stuck in a lumber camp in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan with his meddlesome cousin, Geri (who insists on diagnosing him with all sorts of 19th century diseases), his evil granny, his sweet mama and a variety of unsavory characters like Stinky Pete (who may or may not be a Cold-Blooded Killer).

What inspired you to write this story?

I grew up with family stories, as we all do. I have always been particularly fascinated by my Great-Grandmother Cora who made her daughter (my grandmother) get married at 15. My grandmother ended up having a baby, naming him Stan, and then raising him as a single mother, working in a variety of places, including a lumber camp.

I also always thought my great-grandmother was incredibly mean. She was the inspiration for my characters’s crabby granny. Obviously. Click through to see her.

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

I researched everything from 19th century outhouses to 19th century slang terms. Google, of course, is great for this, but I also contacted people who are experts in the history of lumbering. I read all sorts of books (many no longer in print) and my 86 y.o. father and I took a field trip to Hartwick Pines, a fascinating state park about 1-1/2 hours from my house.

One of the things that I found interesting is that the Paul Bunyan tales may have been oral history in some camps but that they weren’t universally well known until around 1916. For that reason, I chose not to include references to Paul Bunyan in the book. I was also surprised with the hours lumberjacks put in on a daily basis, the fact that alcohol was not permitted in most camps, and that talking wasn’t allowed during meals—too readily this would lead to fights. Also, cooks were paid really well because a good cook would often be a lure to get the best men. And, finally, lumberjacks didn’t really like being called that in the early history of the job—being a “jack” was somewhat derogatory in the 1850s – 1870s—which is why they are also called Shanty Boys. They did embrace the term more toward the end of the 19th century, however.

What are some special challenges associated with writing historical fiction?

I think it’s challenging to write historical fiction accurately with enough detail and authenticity without being too didactic (as in defining every term or historical event). I also found the little things difficult—how far would it take to get somewhere via wagon, for example. Or how much did 25 cents buy in the 1890s? Some homes had telephones, others didn’t; some streets had electric lights, some didn’t. How were homes heated? Where did water come from? Even if I never specifically used these details in the book, it’s important to at least know the answers since it’s the world where our characters are living.

What makes your book a perfect fit for the classroom? 

One of the things I’m excited about (and what I would have loved as a teacher) is the inclusion of all of the images. Many of them are accessible from the Library of Congress website (loc.gov) and would be a great start-off point for additional research and/or a non-fiction tie-in.

I’ve also included some actual songs and recipes from the time period, which could lend themselves to Common Core standards. And the historical fiction is based on true stories so the connection to CCSS in history/social studies in the middle grades is definitely an option.

The post Classroom Connections: MY NEAR-DEATH ADVENTURES (99% True!) appeared first on Caroline Starr Rose.

0 Comments on Classroom Connections: MY NEAR-DEATH ADVENTURES (99% True!) as of 1/1/1900
Add a Comment
17. Choosing a great chapter book to read aloud (ages 8-12)

As we start looking forward to the beginning of a new school year, I am craving routine in our lives. I love settling down with a read-aloud, either as a teacher or a family. It brings a sense of calm, but sharing a story together also creates a wonderful moment in itself. School Library Journal recently asked a group of librarians what they look for in choosing a read-aloud. I wanted to share my answer and some terrific ideas from friends:

"During this time, I pay special attention to stories that cultivate kindness and community, as well as courage and tenacity. These are qualities and topics that we’ll be talking about throughout the year.

This fall, I’m excited to recommend three new favorites: Katherine Applegate’s Crenshaw; Gennifer Choldenko’s Chasing Secrets; and Rita Williams-Garcia’s Gone Crazy in Alabama. Conversations about these novels will center on friendship, family, and community." -- Mary Ann Scheuer
Read-aloud favorites for Fall 2015 
What do you look for in read-aloud favorites? Here are some recommendations from other friends:

"Mitali Perkins’s Tiger Boy is an engrossing tale about a young Bengali boy who undertakes incredible risks to save a tiger cub... Vivid action and suspense, conveyed in simple, clear language, make this a captivating choice." I love this choice from Lalitha Nataraj, at the Escondido Public Library, CA. Tiger Boy makes a great read-aloud (see my full review), and if you have the opportunity -- definitely invite Mitali Perkins to come speak with your students. She's wonderful!

"I look for stories with descriptive language, suspense, and a conflict that will make listeners think when selecting chapter book read alouds. Chris Grabenstein’s Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library makes an excellent choice, offering a perfect blend of mystery, adventure, puzzles, and literary references." My students have loved Grabenstein's mysteries, and I definitely agree with this recommendation from Cathy Potter, the librarian at Falmouth Elementary School, ME.

Daryl Grabarek, editor of SLJ's Curriculum Connections newsletter, suggests one of my favorite chapter books, Toys Go Out, by Emily Jenkins and Paul O. Zelinsky: "Jenkins imbues her characters (stuffed animals and a ball) with enormous personality, and their trials and triumphs ring true to this audience, who are thrilled to hear more of their adventures in Toy Dance Party. And now there’s newly released picture book Toys Meet Snow." Families at our school have loved reading this series aloud at home, and it works particularly well for a kids across a range of ages.

Finally, friend Allison Tran of the Mission Viejo Library, recommends A Whole New Ballgame, by Phil Bildner, "a feel-good story about friendship, basketball, and the surprising things that happen when an inventive teacher shakes up the fifth-grade curriculum. Readers will instantly warm to the likable and refreshingly diverse cast of characters. The realistic dialog makes this a pleasure to read aloud." I haven't had a chance to read this yet, but I am definitely looking forward to trying it soon. I love how Allison described the book’s message of teamwork.

Definitely check out the whole article in School Library Journal. Thanks again to Daryl Grabareck for a great column in SLJ. 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 Choosing a great chapter book to read aloud (ages 8-12) as of 8/13/2015 9:09:00 PM
Add a Comment
18. New Shoes, by Susan Lynn Meyer | Book Review

Set in the 1950s during the infamous days of Jim Crow, New Shoes is a story of an African American girl who comes up with a brilliant idea to remedy the far-too-often degrading experience of buying shoes, especially for back-to-school.

Add a Comment
19. A Lot in Love with A LITTLE IN LOVE by Susan Fletcher

Review by Paola A LITTLE IN LOVEby Susan FletcherAge Range: 12 and up Grade Level: 7 and upHardcover: 288 pagesPublisher: Chicken House (August 25, 2015)Goodreads | Amazon Inspired by Victor Hugo's classic, Les Miserables, A Little in Love beautifully conveys the heartbreaking story of street girl Eponine.Paris, 1832A girl lies alone in the darkness, clutching a letter to her heart.Eponine

0 Comments on A Lot in Love with A LITTLE IN LOVE by Susan Fletcher as of 1/1/1900
Add a Comment
20. #718 – Marvelous Cornelius: Hurricane Katrina and the Spirit of New Orleans by Phil Bildner & John Parra

Marvelous Cornelius: Hurricane Katrina and the Spirit of New Orleans

Written by Phil Bildner
Illustrated by John Parra
Chronicle Books      8/04/2015
44 pages     Age 3—5

“In New Orleans, there lived a man who saw the streets as his calling, and he swept them clean. He danced up one avenue and down another and everyone danced along—The old ladies whistled and whirled. The old men hooted and hollered. The barbers, bead twirlers, and beignet bakers bounded behind that one-man parade. But then came the rising Mississippi—and a storm bigger than anyone had seen before. Phil Bildner and John Parra tell the inspirational story of a humble man, and the heroic difference he made in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.” [inside jacket]

Marvelous Cornelius, the person, embodies the best of us. Day-to-day he performed his job—one many would consider unglamorous—with dignity, enthusiasm, and a spirit of giving to those he served. People responded positively to this larger-than-life man. Kids enjoyed his spirited antics. When disaster struck in the name of Hurricane Katrina, this French Quarter-New Orléans resident went to work cleaning up his city with the same joyousness as before, only this time, the residents responded not only with enjoyment to see their local “hero,” but pitched in following his lead. Together—including many volunteers from outside of New Orléans—Marvelous Cornelius led his neighbors in cleaning up their beloved city. Just as he did on his daily job, Marvelous Cornelius helped keep New Orléans clean, for he was a garbage man by trade; garbage man extraordinaire.

s2With the use of many writing techniques—alliteration, repetition, and exaggeration—author Bildner keeps the story lively. Children will enjoy Cornelius Washington’s story of how an ordinary citizen can help keep their city or town upbeat, their neighbors friendly and joyous, and their streets clean, making for a wonderful place to live.

Marvelous Cornelius_Int 2At times, the illustrations  portray Marvelous Cornelius as a literal giant emphasizing his larger-than-life persona. He becomes more realistic when portrayed with the residents he served. I would have liked to have seen a more multicultural representation of the residents of New Orléans, though artist Parra may have decided to show a true representation of the resident’s Cornelius Washington actually served. Of note: the illustrations do show a multicultural people once the city is swept clean of the “gumbo of mush and mud.”

s1The art is a delight with its rustic feel and animations of Cornelius “Tango-ing up Toulouse” and “Samba-ing down St. Peter.” I loved the changing text size and font when Marvelous Cornelius sang out his familiar calls:


Marvelous Cornelius_Int 3

At story’s end, the author writes more about New Orléans, its people, and Hurricane Katrina (which brought major devastation to this coastal city). Bildner also delves into his writing style, saying his use of alliteration, repetition, and exaggeration helped him write Cornelius Washington’s story as a folktale, similar to that of John Henry. Together with artist Parra, Bildner has succeeded in writing a story every child should read and will most definitely enjoy. Teachers can find many lessons in Mr. Washington’s story of an average person who rose to heroic heights simply by doing his best every day.

MARVELOUS CORNELIUS: HURRICANE KATRINA AND THE SPIRIT OF NEW ORLEANS. Text copyright © 2015 by Phil Bildner. Illustrations copyright © 2015 by John Parra. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Chronicle Books, San Francisco, CA.

Purchase Marvelous Cornelius: Hurricane Katrina and the Spirit of New Orleans at AmazonBook DepositoryiTunes BooksChronicle Books.

Learn more about Marvelous Cornelius: Hurricane Katrina and the Spirit of New Orleans HERE.
Find a Common Core-Aligned Teacher’s Guide HERE.

Read more about Katrina’s Children HERE.
Watch the full length video Katrina’s Children free HERE.

Meet the author, Phil Bildner, at his website:  http://philbildner.com/
Meet the illustrator, John Parra, at his website:  http://www.johnparraart.com/
Find more picture books at the Chronicle Books website:  http://www.chroniclebooks.com/


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

Full Disclosure: Marvelous Cornelius: Hurricane Katrina and the Spirit of New Orleans, by Phil Bildner & John Parra, and received from Chronicle Books, is in exchange NOT for a positive review, but for an HONEST review. The opinions expressed are my own and no one else’s. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Filed under: 5stars, Children's Books, Favorites, Historical Fiction, Library Donated Books, Picture Book Tagged: alliteration, Chronicle Books, community spirit, Cornelius Washington, exageration, folklores, Hurricane Katrina, John Parra, joy, Katrina's Children, Marvelous Cornelius: Hurricane Katrina and the Spirit of New Orleans, Phil Bildner, repetition, writing technique

Add a Comment
21. Enchanted Air: Two Cultures, Two Wings by Margarita Engle

Please tell us about your latest book, Enchanted Air.

Thank you for your interest!  Enchanted Air, Two Cultures, Two Wings, is a verse memoir.  In one sense it’s a travel book about the unusual experience of visiting relatives in Cuba during the Cold War.  On another level, it’s simply about being bicultural, an experience shared by so many U.S. Latino children.  I wrote this memoir as a plea for peace and family reconciliation, a process which quite amazingly began on December 17, 2014, during the same week when advanced review copies of Enchanted Air arrived on my doorstep!  Of course, I rushed to revise the historical note to include President Obama’s announcement about the renewal of U.S.-Cuba diplomatic relations, changing my tone from a desperate plea to a song of gratitude.

There have been a number of verse memoirs published the last few years.  Could you explain how you decided to use verse for your memoir?  What does verse offer that prose doesn’t?

While I was writing Enchanted Air, I had no idea that Jacqueline Woodson and Marilyn Nelson were also working on their own verse memoirs!  I was familiar with wonderful older verse memoirs by Lee Bennett Hopkins and a few others, but basically I expected Enchanted Air to languish alone on a librarian’s cart, with no one quite sure where to shelve it.  Now, thanks to Brown Girl Dreaming’s National Book Award, I think verse memoirs will suddenly find their own place in the world.  I chose poetry because free verse allowed me to transform memories into present tense, bringing childhood emotions back to life. 

Already, Enchanted Air has garnered enormous praise.  It’s a Junior Library Guild title and has earned three starred reviews.  Your other books have won such prestigious awards as the Pura Belpré Medal, the Claudia Lewis Award, the Newbery Honor, the International Reading Association’s Children’s Book Award, the Américas Award, the Jane Addams Award, and the Lee Bennett Hopkins Honor, just to name a few. 

How have you learned to deal with such acclaim?  How do you set the possible pressure of such praise aside when working on something new?

Acclaim is wonderful when it happens, but life keeps me humble.  I still receive plenty of manuscript rejections, especially for my biographical picture books about great Latino scientists who have been forgotten by history.  As far as pressure, there’s nothing I can do to influence grownup reviewers and award committee members.  All I can do is write from the heart, picturing my readers as children.

This is your fourth book to release this year.  How do you handle the juggle while continuing to work on new projects?

Three picture books—Drum Dream Girl, Orangutanka, and The Sky Painter—were released within weeks of each other by sheer coincidence.  I wrote them all in different years, but publication coincided simply because the illustration and book design process is so much slower and less predictable than the writing.  Now I’m back to working on historical verse novels, with only an occasional burst of inspiration leading to another picture book idea.

Learn more about Margarita and her books at www.margaritaengle.com.

The post Enchanted Air: Two Cultures, Two Wings by Margarita Engle appeared first on Caroline Starr Rose.

0 Comments on Enchanted Air: Two Cultures, Two Wings by Margarita Engle as of 1/1/1900
Add a Comment
22. Wish You Well

Wish You Well. David Baldacci. 2000/2007. Grand Central Publishing. 432 pages. [Source: Library]

I enjoyed reading David Baldacci's Wish You Well. That is, I "enjoyed" it as much as one can enjoy a book with so much heartache in it. Some of the heartache was completely predictable, I won't lie. But some of it wasn't.

Readers meet Lou (Louisa) and Oz (Oscar). These two undergo a lot in the course of a year. The family is in a car crash. Their father dies at the scene. Their mother is left in a coma, of sorts. She's able to eat and drink, but, not to talk or walk. She's essentially dead to the world, unable to give any sign to anyone that she is still in there. The two go to live with a great-grandmother in Virginia. This great-grandmother raised their father. Her name is Louisa. Life in the country is certainly different than life in New York City, but the two adjust quickly. They enjoy spending time with Diamond, an orphan boy around their age, and Eugene, a black man who lives and works with them on the farm. Their mother lives with them as well. They manage to nurse her and do all the farm work as well. One man, a young lawyer, takes it upon himself to visit the family often. Cotton reads to Alicia (the mother) as often as he can. The children quickly bond with him. So they've experienced loss certainly, but, they've made new friends as well.

Is life perfect? Not really. Oz and Lou would give anything to have their parents back. And Oz especially is still counting on his mom waking up again. Lou secretly wants this just as badly. But she's older, and "wiser," and doesn't want anyone to know that she believes in wishes and happy endings. She can't help herself for wanting and wishing, but, she's ashamed of it at the same time. She hates herself for it in a way.

The book chronicles their adventures and misadventures in the country. The setting is 1940, by the way. I won't spoil the book; yes, a few things are predictable. But not everything in my opinion.

Wish You Well is a coming-of-age story written for adults. Don't be confused by the child narrator, this one really is an adult book.

What I liked best was the characterization and the setting. I liked Lou and Oz and Diamond. I liked Louisa and Cotton. I liked spending time with them. And the historical setting was a nice touch. 

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

0 Comments on Wish You Well as of 8/5/2015 1:29:00 PM
Add a Comment
23. RWA response to That Book

In my post on Wednesday I wrote I haven't had to explain to her (yet) why our Temple has a perimeter of ugly concrete planters, because if you put flowers in it, maybe we can glide over the fact that our house of worship needs protection against car bombs.

She asked this morning when I was dropping her off at school (her preschool meets at our Temple.) And yes, because we put flowers in them, I could glide over the fact they're there to protect against car bombs. I told her they were planters for flowers, for decoration, to make things pretty. I dodged the question. Maybe I shouldn't have, maybe I should have tried to put a positive spin on them and said they're REALLY COOL because we can put flowers in them AND they protect us. They're pretty AND strong! And put it in a way she could understand, but after this week and the conversations online about this book and all the greater issues it raises and brings up, I'm just tired and sad and hurt. So I told her they were planters for flowers, for decoration, to make things pretty.

And when I got home, I saw that RWA put out an official response. I'm going to quote the entire thing here:

The Board of Directors of the Romance Writers of America (RWA) has received a great deal of heartfelt and moving feedback about some of the finalists in this year's RITA contest. We want the membership to know we have heard your concerns and have spent days discussing them.

The question that we must answer is what RWA as a writers' organization should do when issues arise regarding the content of books entered in the RITA contest. Discussions about content restrictions inevitably lead to concerns about censorship. Censoring entry content is not something the Board supports. If a book is banned from the contest because of its content, there will be a move for more content to be banned. This is true, even especially true, when a book addresses subjects that are difficult, complex, or offensive.

There were 2,000 entries in the RITA contest this year. The RITA is a peer-reviewed award. There is no vetting of content before a book may be entered. Books are entered, not nominated, and those books are judged by fellow romance authors. The Board believes this is how the contest should be run. RWA does not endorse the content of any book entered in the contest. We do believe, however, that education and conversation are important in dealing with the concerns expressed. To that end, we will open an online forum on the RWA website for members to discuss their concerns. This is not a perfect solution, but we believe open dialogue, not the censorship of content, is the right way to handle the issues expressed.

They missed the point entirely.

Because here's the thing: there are already a lot of guidelines and content restrictions surrounding what is eligible to be entered. For instance, the book has to be a romance, and they define what that is. (And let's not forget, the set-up of this book is not a romance. The set-up of this book is a major imbalance in power dynamic [honestly, I can't think of a larger one right now] leading to Stockholm Syndrome disguised as a romance. If they had sexual contact, it would be straight-up rape.)

Guidelines aren't censorship. (And let's be really careful using the word censorship when we're talking about the Holocaust, ok?)

Mostly, this statement utterly fails to address the fundamental problem. RWA does not endorse the content of any book entered in the contest. The problem wasn't that the book was entered. I've been on several award committees--bad stuff gets nominated and entered all the time. That's why there's a process between entry and winner. The board believes in the process, but that process completely failed this time. Because the problem was never that the book was entered. The problem is that it was a FINALIST. Being a finalist is a big deal. "RITA FINALIST" becomes part of an author bio and book marketing. It's a big deal. RWA endorses its finalists. If it didn't, the RITA would become a meaningless award.

But we should all feel great, because RWA is going to have a new forum on its (member-only) website where the echo chamber that created this debacle can talk about it. I'm sure the people who were betrayed and now feel unsafe by this book being a finalist and this non-response will feel super-duper comfortable participating in this forum.

I've gotten a lot of support these past few days. So many people have shared my post and reached out to me. I haven't heard anything from Bethany House, but four members of the RWA board wrote back in a personal capacity, and at least one more shared my post on Twitter. I've dodged a lot of the hate that others have gotten. There was deafening silence from some quarters, but it's the same places that are usually quiet when Jewish issues come up, until they're called out on it. I had hoped they wouldn't ignore something this egregious, but wasn't surprised when they did. But I also found some really strong allies, and greatly expanded my "Jewish twitter" circle.

In response to Wednesday's post, many Jews nodded and said "yep" and many non-Jews went "wait, what? really?" at my experiences. It's one of the reasons I shared, because I think it's often hidden. As Katherine Locke said in her post,
It is not easy to be Jewish in America. Many think it is because of stereotypes, but when push comes to shove, especially online, we turn toward our own and huddle close. It’s a collective memory safety measure.

It's also one of the reasons why I've started Instagramming our Shabbat candles.

I'm Jewish by Choice, which means I converted 4 years ago, after going before the Bet Din, after years of studying and classes, after a decade of soul searching. I made a conscious decision to be Jewish and I love it.

This morning, after I dodged the planter question, before I saw the RWA response, I celebrated Shabbat with my daughter's preschool. We said our blessings and thanked G-d for all we have. We sang joyful songs. It was adorable (because, preschool) and wonderful.

Shabbat Shalom.

Bim bom, bim bim bim bom, bim bim bim bim bim bom.

0 Comments on RWA response to That Book as of 8/8/2015 6:07:00 PM
Add a Comment
24. Chasing Secrets, by Gennifer Choldenko (ages 9-12): exciting historical fiction that explores many current issues

News broke last week that a California child was infected by the plague after visiting Yosemite National Park.  Naturally, this caused alarms among families visiting the mountains--what causes this? how common is it? will my family be infected? Today we know that this serious illness is transmitted by rodents (see this info sheet)--but what about 100 years ago?

Gennifer Choldenko's newest historical fiction, an exciting story set in San Francisco during 1900, explores many important issues we are still debating today: the spread of infectious diseases, opportunities that women have to pursue careers in sciences, and discrimination against California's Asian American community. On one hand, Chasing Secrets reads like exciting historical fiction, but on the other hand it provides an opportunity to talk about issues our society is still wrestling with today.
Chasing Secrets
by Gennifer Choldenko
Wendy Lamb / Random House, 2015
Your local library
ages 9-12
*best new book*
Turn-of-the-century San Francisco comes to life for young readers as 13-year-old Lizzie Kennedy accompanies her father on medical house calls and wrestles with the realization that a strange new diseases is affecting many people, yet the authorities are reluctant to acknowledge its presence. Lizzie is a terrific character--thoughtful but headstrong, eager to explore but a bit naive, and determined to do the right thing.

Lizzie forms a friendship with Noah, the son of Jing, her family’s beloved cook, who is hiding in Jing's room in Lizzie's house. As she gets to know Noah, she grapples with the injustices that exist with gender, class and race. Young readers today will not only find Lizzie a compelling character, they too will reflect on these issues that affected San Francisco at the turn-of-the-century and impact us still today.

I particularly like the way my friend and excellent reviewer Brenda Kahn sums up her thoughts on Chasing Secrets:
"The San Francisco setting is particularly vivid, especially the juxtaposition of high society life and the poverty of Chinatown. Characters are well-drawn as well, with Lizzie being particularly appealing. There's humor, heightening suspense, and tragedy. While this is a work of historical fiction, thoughtful readers will make modern day connections to persistent problems of race, class, sexism and access to health care."
Bay Area author Gennifer Choldenko, who won the Newbery Honor for Al Capone Does My Shirts, creates a tender and gripping story of friendship, mystery and persistence.

The review copy was kindly sent by the publisher, Wendy Lamb/Penguin Random House. 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 Chasing Secrets, by Gennifer Choldenko (ages 9-12): exciting historical fiction that explores many current issues as of 1/1/1900
Add a Comment
25. Monday Review: OUT OF DARKNESS by Ashley Hope Pérez

Summary: Ashley Hope Pérez's latest novel comes out on September 1. I tell you this so you can brace yourself. Out Of Darkness is historical fiction of the most wrenching kind: based on a real-life tragedy, with plenty of collective guilt to go... Read the rest of this post

0 Comments on Monday Review: OUT OF DARKNESS by Ashley Hope Pérez as of 1/1/1900
Add a Comment

View Next 25 Posts