Category Archives: Historical Fiction

Staff Pick: An Elephant in the Garden

Staff Pick: An Elephant in the Garden

An Elephant in the Garden

1944. Elizabeth’s mother works at Dresden Zoo, where her favorite animal is an elephant named Marlene. When the zoo director tells her the dangerous animals must be shot to prevent them running amok when the town is bombed, Elizabeth’s mother moves Marlene into the back garden to save her. And then the bombs start to fall…

Author: Michael Morpurgo

“This remarkable story, based on actual events, tells of young girl named Lizzie living with her family in Dresden, Germany during World War II. While her father serves his country, Lizzie’s mother takes a job at the nearby zoo where a bond is formed with an orphaned elephant named Marlene. As the threat of bombing looms, the zoo must face the task of disposing of the animals. Unable to think of Marlene being put down, the family houses her in their garden until the bombs finally fall. Along with the other surviving residents of the city, the family makes their way through the country side in search of safety.  Lizzie soon learns, however, that having an elephant as a travel companion in the midst of war can make the trek far more complicated. Morpugo has crafted a unique coming-of-age story with an unusual friendship at the heart of it that proves that some bonds are unbreakable.”

By :  Jeff Huttinger, The Learning Curve Central Library

More Staff Picks

If you liked The Elephant in the Garden you might like some of these books about animals at war:
Cracker the Best Dog in Vietnam Faithful Elephants Saving the Baghdad Zoo Soldier Bear
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Staff Pick: Soldier Bear

Staff Pick: Soldier Bear

Soldier Bear

Believe it or not, a bear served in the British Army during WWll. In 1942 five Polish soldiers adopted a bear cub from a boy in the mountains of Iran. They named him Voytek, which means “Smiling Warrior” in Polish. Voytek loved army life and the soldiers loved Voytek. He slept in the tent with them. He drank beer and smoked cigarettes. He took showers. He even caught a spy!

In order to travel with his company to Italy, he was officially enlisted as Private Voytek. During the battle of Monte Cassino he joined the soldiers passing ammunition to the front and never dropped a shell. The officers were so impressed they made a picture of Voytek with a bomb in his paws as the emblem of the Transport Company of the 2nd Polish Corps.

Read about Private Voytek’s amazing adventures in this book based on the true story of Voytek, the bear that went to war. Soldier Bear won the 2012 Batchelder Award for most outstanding book translated to English.

Mary Sullivan – Decatur Library

More Staff Picks

If you liked reading about Soldier Bear you might like some of these books about animals at war:
Cracker the Best Dog in Vietnam Faithful Elephants Saving the Baghdad Zoo An Elephant in the Garden
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Eliza’s Freedom Road

Eliza’s Freedom Road

Eliza's Freedom Road

Eliza is a slave on a tobacco plantation in Alexandria, Virginia in the 1850s.  Eliza is unusual because she has been taught to read and write. Eliza keeps a diary of her life on the plantation and she is a good storyteller.

Eliza tells about how it felt when her mother was sold away. She tells about how scared she is when she hears Sir’s boots walking toward her. Her words make her experiences feel real while you reading her diary. I felt scared when Eliza felt scared. Just thinking about the sound of the boots, “thump, thump, thump” gives me shivers.

Eliza overhears a conversation about herself before an upcoming slave auction:

Late in the day, a man came to see Sir. When I passed through the parlor I heard him say something to Sir about the price I would fetch. I pretended I did not hear the talk. But I am in so much fear.” page 29

Eliza decides it is time to run. She has a quilt her mother made that has pictures in it. The pictures, a mysterious women called the Conductor and a series of friends help Eliza find her way to freedom on the Underground Railroad. This is a great book if you want to feel like you are right there, hearing and seeing and feeling the same things that Eliza heard and saw and felt. Author: Jerdine Nolen

 

If you like Eliza’s story here are some more books you might like about escaping slaves, the Underground Railroad, and slave quilts:
Jefferson's Sons Chains Bud Not Buddy Her Stories
Leaving Gee's Bend Show Way Meet Addy Art Against the Odds
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Staff Pick: The Mighty Miss Malone

Staff Pick: The Mighty Miss Malone

The Mighty Miss Malone

Deza Malone is on a journey.  The verbose 12-year old, whom readers first met in Bud, Not Buddy, has lived her entire life in Gary, Indiana, with her mother, father, and 15-year old brother, Jimmie.

A passionate reader, she wants to be just like her teacher, Miss Needham, when she grows up.   But it is 1936 and the Great Depression has forced her father to look for work in Flint, Michigan.  When a month goes by without a letter from him, her mother decides the family should follow him to Flint.

Their trip north takes them through a hobo camp, where Jimmie disappears, bringing even more changes for Deza.  Her mother finds a job in Flint, and Deza faces life in a new city with a new school, new teachers, and new neighbors, all while remaining hopeful that her family will be reunited.
I love Deza’s spunky personality and how she remains true to herself as she dreams of finding that place called Wonderful. Author: Christopher Paul Curtis

Recommended by: Janet Spaulding – Selection

More Staff Picks

If you liked reading about Deza and her family try one of these:
Bud Not Buddy Roll of Thunder Hear My Cry Leaving Gee's Bend Zora and Me
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Staff Pick: Landed

Staff Pick: Landed

Landed

This story is about a little boy who is from China and will be joining his father and two oldest brothers in America. In order to be “landed”, leaving for the desired state to join their families, immigrants must pass a series of questions to prove that they are who they say they are and that they are a part of the family that they claim. The story tells what the boy does to prepare for the process and how he passes the test. Author: Milly Lee

By: Lauren Freeman – Pike Library

More Staff Picks

Here are some more books about kids coming to America and finding their way:
The Dragon's Child Inside Out and Back Again The Day of the Pelican
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