The time in this book is right before the Revolutionary War. Isabel and her sister Ruth are slaves owned by an old woman in Rhode Island. When their dying owner promises them freedom after her death, the two see the possibilities of a new life. To there horror, the old woman’s nephew refuses to free them after his Aunt’s death. He instead sells the girls to an abusive couple in New York. While the property of the Lanktons, the girls know only pain and work.
The Lanktons are Loyalists, people who are loyal to King George. New York is a hotbed of discontent between the Loyalists and the Patriots, people who want to break away from English rule. At first, Isabel is drawn to the Patriots and their beliefs in liberty and freedom. She agrees to spy on her Loyalists owners for the Patriots until she realizes that their beliefs about liberty and freedom don’t apply to her, a slave. Isabel realizes that if she wants freedom, she’s going to have to fight for it herself. This is a gripping story of one girl’s fight against what seem like impossible odds. Author: Laurie Halse Anderson
If you want to know what it was really like during the California Gold Rush, this book is a great place to start. It isn’t a textbook telling all the facts, this is the inside story of the gold rush told by one of the miners himself, Thomas Hartley. Thomas tells the story from the day he heard about the discovery of gold in California. All the people around him can talk about is gold, “how much and how to get it and how to spend it once you’ve got it.” Of course, they forget to talk about all the work…and the danger. Thomas’s story includes blisters and rotting teeth, scurvy, dysentery, scheamers, crooks and murderers. A true adventure that just might end in fortune. Author: Tod Olson Illustrator: Scott Allred
Gary Paulsen, the author of this book, calls it “the true and fictional account of the most valiant marshal in the West.” Mr. Paulsen adds a little here and there to fill in the places where history left gaps…but for the most part, this is the story of a real guy – the first African-American U.S. Deputy Marshal west of the Mississippi – and this was in the 1870s! Bass became a legend, even in his own time. Some outlaws turned themselves in once they heard it was Bass that would be looking for them!
Bass was born to slave parents in the 1830s but escaped to the Indian Territory during the Civil War and lived with the Seminole and Creek Indians. After the Emancipation Proclamation, which freed slaves in 1863, Bass returned from the Indian Territory and settled in Arkansas. Because he knew how to speak several tribal languages and knew the land so well, he was hired as a U.S. Marshal. In his lifetime he brought in over 3,000 outlaws. This book is the story of how he went from being a child slave to being one of the most respected lawmen in the West. A really inspiring story and fun to read too. Bass was not boring and thought up all kinds of interesting ways to trap outlaws or trick them into custody. He could fight and he could shoot when he had too, but mostly, he was smart! Truly, one-of- kind! Author: Gary Paulsen
Horace is apprenticed to a photographer and is disappointed to find out that part of his job is tricking people into believing ghosts are appearing in their family photographs. His disappointment turns to fear, however, when the image of a dead girl DOES appear in one of his photos. She’s back, and she’s NOT in a good mood. You might want to read this one in the daytime, yes, that’s it, in the daytime. Or maybe with the lights on. Or how about this advice…read this one when you are not alone. As the author Avi says, this story is about shadows, both visible and invisible, that are always lurking near. Oh, man, deliciously spooky from an all-time favorite storyteller. Author: Avi
If you like Sherlock Holmes, you will be excited by this Canadian author’s exploration of Holmes’s life as a 12-year old. It is 1867 in London. A terrible murder has been committed and an Arab immigrant has been arrested for it. Young Sherlock Holmes, with his odd ways, gets sucked into the mystery and is accused of being an accomplice. He must find the real killer or face the gallows himself. In this tense and well-written mystery, we meet Holmes’s parents and understand the circumstances of racism (Sherlock is half-Jewish) and poverty that led him to be the moody, brilliant detective he became as an adult. We also meet the younger versions of the mysterious Professor Moriarity and even Irene Adler (the only woman Sherlock Holmes ever loved). An attention-grabbing and creative book. Author: Shane Peacock