Category Archives: Historical Fiction

Leaving Gee’s Bend

Leaving Gee’s Bend

Leaving Gee's Bend Gee’s Bend is a tiny little place in Alabama on the bend of a river. It isn’t even a town really, just a place with a name. It’s the place where Ludelphia Bennett lives with her family and a few neighbors who are also sharecroppers for Mr. Cobb. Old Mr. Cobb owns the land around Gee’s Bend. The Bennetts and the other familes work the farm and pay their rent with a “share” of the harvest.  It’s 1932 and times are really hard. It is the Great Depression and times are tough for everyone, especially those who are alreay dirt poor to begin with, people like the Bennetts and their neighbors.

Ludelphia’s courage starts to shine the day her mom goes into labor. Ludelphia helps her mom deliver the baby. After the birth, Ludelphia’s mom is very, very sick. Her only hope is Doc Nelson, the only doctor around and he’s 40 miles away in Camden. Ludelphia’s only ten but she sets out alone anyway on a dangerous journey for a girl of her time. It’s no small thing for a black child to set out travelling alone, but Ludelphia loves her mama and will do anything to save her.

On her journey Ludelphia meets people outside of Gee’s Bend for the very first time. She sees the wealth and modern ways of a big city. She confronts the difference between superstitian and modern medicine. And she experiences both the kindness and racism of total strangers – strangers whose help she needs in order to save her mother. Author: Irene Latham

Irene Latham Official Website

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The Two Princesses of Bammare Review by Mattea

The Two Princesses of Bammare Review by Mattea

The Two Princesses of Bamarre

With her adventurous sister, Meryl, suffering from the Gray death, meek and timid Princess Addie sets out to find a cure. Author: Gail Carson Levine

This book was a very good mix of fantasy and adventure. The main plot is about Addie,a princess,who always relied on her sister Meryl to provide protection from spiders and other things she was scared of. This all changes when Meryl falls victim to the Gray Death, a plague that has no known cure. With the help of her friend Rhys, a sorceror in training, Addie sets out on a quest on which she gets captured by a dragon, fooled by a specter, battles an ogre and defeats gryphons. The end is so surprising, it was a real page-turner! -by Mattea

Thanks Mattea for the great review.  I haven’t read that one yet but will add it to my list.

If you like reading about Addie, try these other princess heroine stories by Gail Carson Levine. Perhaps you have heard of Ella Enchanted, it was made into a movie starring Anne Hathaway (the actress who played Mia in The Princess Diaries). The book is better!
Fairest Ella Enchanted Ever The Fairy's Return
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Mare’s War

Mare’s War

Mare's War

Teenage sisters Octavia and Tali can’t believe it when they find out they have to drive all the way across the United States with their crazy Grandmother for a family reunion. She drives slow. She’s nosy. She’s bossy. She smokes. And her car smells funny.

But these are all the things they know about their Grandmother. What they haven’t thought about is all the years their Grandmother was alive before they were even born. What was she like then? What did she do?

Once they start rolling and find hours of time in the car to fill, their Grandmother starts talking and her story is not at all what the girls expected. They know that their Grandmother is strong-willed, stubborn and independent. Now they learn why. Their crazy Grandma with the weird hair and weird shoes was a soldier during World War II! She even lied about her age to get away from home sooner. She became a member of the Women’s Army Corps and served in England, Scotland and France. And does she have stories to tell. Octavia and Tali can’t believe their ears!

It turns out there are a lot of things about their Grandmother they didn’t know; things they like and admire and things they are very, very proud of…even if her car does smell funny. Octavia and Tali’s Grandma’s unit was the 6888th. It was a real unit that served during World War II. The 6888th was the only unit of African Americans in the Women’s Army Corp to serve overseas. Their Grandma was a black woman in a segregated army full of men. No wonder she has such good stories to tell!

The all black 6888th Central Postal Directory Battalion worked first in England and France handling a massive backlog of mail. The backlog of mail written to soldiers was so bad it filled warehouses and airplane hangars. After their work was done, the women were discharged without any special recognition for what they had accomplished. No recognition until February 25, 2009. Black Women’s Army Unit Receives Overdue Honors It took 65 years, but the thank-you finally came! Author: Tanita Davis Award: Coretta Scott King Award Author Honor Book 2010; ALA Best Book for Young Adults 2010

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My Name is Phillis Wheatley a Story of Slavery and Freedom

My Name is Phillis Wheatley a Story of Slavery and Freedom

My Name is Phillis Wheatley

This book is a fictionalized version of the real Phillis Wheatley’s life story.  That means it’s not an autobiography. Phillis didn’t write this book, but the author read a lot of things Phillis did write, and wrote this book pretending to be her.

Phillis is just a little girl when she is snatched from her village in Africa – a frightening…well, more than frightening…a terrifying experience. And then she tells about what it was like aboard the slave ship, it almost makes you sick yourself just to read it. Hang in there though because the rest of the story is what makes this book so powerful.

When the slave ship Phillis is on arrives in Boston, she’s laying on the dock, thousands of miles from her home and her family, a total stranger in a strange land and she’s now a slave, destined to be owned like a piece of furniture. She’s laying on the dock so sick from the slave ship she’s been left to die. That pitiful little girl…rises up to become a widely read and respected poet. How that happens is what this story is all about. Author: Afua Cooper

If you liked reading about Phillis try these:
Chains The Slave Dancer Phillis's Big Test A Voice of Her Own
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The Rock and the River

The Rock and the River

The Rock and the River

Teenage brothers Sam and Stick live in Chicago in 1968. Their dad, Rev. Roland Childs, is a respected minister and close friend of Dr. Martin Luther King. Sam’s dad believes passionately in non-violent protest and tirelessly organizes and participates in peaceful protest marches.

Older brother Stick has begun to question Dr. King’s nonviolent philosophy and has been secretly attending meetings of the Black Panthers, an organization whose philosophies are more aggressive than Dr. King’s and are different from what Rev. Child’s preaches and teaches his boys at home. Sam is torn between the ideas of has father and the ideas of his older brother, both of whom he respects and admires.

Everybody can relate to being torn between two choices and being torn between the opinions of two people you respect. When it comes down to figuring out what you think for your own self – that’s when things get hard.

After Dr. King is assassinated and Sam witnesses the brutal beating of a friend by police officers, he becomes more interested in the ideas Stick is learning about at the Black Panther meetings. He begins to attend the meetings also. The conversation the teens have at home, at school, and at these meetings are some of the best parts of the book. They are living the civil rights struggle as they face discrimination every day. Listening to these conversations you get a real sense of each philosophy and why it was chosen by the people committed to it.

This book has a pretty explosive, surprising ending. It isn’t a book for the faint hearted. These are really hard issues and there is violence in the book. It isn’t a happy story with a happy ending because it’s not that kind of story. It wasn’t a happy time. The book is true to the historical period so the violence is part of the story being told.

It is hard for Sam and Stick to stand by watching people suffer the injustices of racism. When Sam finds out Leroy, the leader of the student Black Panthers, sneaks away to talk to Rev. Childs, the same way Sam is sneaking off to the Black Panther meetings, he realizes that these issues are hard for everyone. Sam discovers that standing quiet and firm is different than doing nothing and that you can be agressive, without being violent. A really powerful, emotional book. Don’t miss the author’s note at the end – it is a great discussion of the true events, people and groups that appear in this book. Author: Kekla Magoon Award: Coretta Scott King/John Steptoe Award for New Talent 2010

Look Inside The Rock and the River

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