Category Archives: Historical Fiction

The Best Bad Luck I Ever Had

The Best Bad Luck I Ever Had

The Best Bad Luck I Ever Had

Dit Sims lives in tiny Moundville, Alabama in 1917. He’s got nine brothers and sisters and his Dad routinely forgets his name. It’s summer, it’s hot and Dit’s best friend is away for the summer. When he finds out that a new postmaster is coming to town, Dit hopes the new postmaster, Mr. Walker, has a son close to his age that will want to go fishing and play baseball.

The postmaster comes, and Dit is disappointed to learn that he doesn’t bring a son, he brings prissy, brainiac Emma who always has her nose in a book and doesn’t know one thing about baseball. Dit’s town is disappointed to learn that the Walkers are African-American.

Dit’s family welcomes the Walkers and the two families slowly build a relationaship sharing chores and helping out when family members are sick. Dit and Emma start building a friendship too. Dit teaches Emma how to throw and hit a baseball. Emma helps Dit with math and introduces him to exciting adventure books like Treasure Island. Slowly, over the summer, the two kids become best friends.

Some people in Dit’s town don’t welcome the Walkers, especially the town sheriff. Some people object to Dit and Emma’s friendship, even object to the Walkers living in Moundville at all. When the two kids witness a racially motivated shooting and realize their friend, the town’s black barber, is unjustly blamed and sentenced to hang, they secretly come up with a daring plan to save him.

This story brings the injustice and horrors of racial bigotry to life. It’s a story about friendship between people and how that friendship is stronger than the forces around it that try to tear it apart. Two thumbs up historical fiction. Author: Kristin Levine

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all the broken pieces

all the broken pieces

all the broken pieces

In 1975, toward the end of the Vietnam war, many children were airlifted away from the fighting in Vietnam and sent to The United States. Many of the children were orphans, but some of the children were put on the helicopters by their own parents, parents who hoped to keep their children from being hurt in the war.

Can you imagine how sad it would be to have to send your child to strangers in a strange land? And what if you were one of the children? Would you understand if your mom or dad sent you away, even it it was for a good reason?

all the broken pieces is the story of one of these children, Matt Pin, who still has nightmares about the war and carries in his heart a secret he is afraid to tell. It’s a secret he’s even afraid to think about too much.

Matt is 12 now and has loving adoptive parents here in The United States. He goes to school and he plays baseball. He is living the American dream his mother hoped for him when she put him on the helicopter to escape the war. But underneath the dream are Matt’s memories and the memories of what he left behind in Vietnam. These memories are too strong to ignore and too important to keep hidden.

I loved reading this story and watching Matt begin to reveal the pieces of his life he has kept secret. Matt’s story is the kind that makes you cry. Imagining yourself in his shoes, or in his Vietnamese mother’s shoes – that’s really hard. But Matt’s story also makes you feel good because you see the hope and goodness that grew out of a bad thing. That doesn’t mean the War didn’t cause a lot of pain, it just means that people survived the pain and made good things happen as they moved forward. That’s a really hopeful message. Author: Ann E. Burg

Look Inside all the broken pieces

More stories about other kids who lived through the Vietnam War and found their own ways to cope and their own kind of hope for a more peaceful future:
Kaleidoscope Eyes Cracker the Best Dog in Vietnam Shooting the Moon Vietnam War
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Kaleidoscope Eyes

Kaleidoscope Eyes

Kaleidoscope Eyes

13 year-old Lyza lives in New Jersey in 1968 with her Dad and her hippie sister. Lyza’s mother has abandoned the family and they are trying to keep it together with just the three of them. As Lyza says about the time since her mom left, “our family began to unravel/like a tightly wound ball of string.” This book is written as a series of poems that make Lyza’s experiences seem even more real. It’s kind of like reading her diary or listening in on her thoughts.

Lyza’s grandfather’s death is another emotional blow for a family already on the edge. While cleaning out his house, Lyza discovers something curious, an envelope labeled, “for Lyza only.” In the envelope are old maps and clues that may lead to the pirate treasure of Capt. Kidd – a treasure that might be buried somewhere in Lyza’s hometown.

Lyza recruits her best friends Malcolm and Carolann to help her understand the clues and old maps. The kids operate in secret, doing their research by day and sneaking out at night to do their digging.

For Lyza, there are some mysteries she can’t solve by herself, like the reason her mother left. Other mysteries, like the whereabouts of Captain Kidd’s treasure, she just might be able to unravel with the help of a few good friends.

This story is set during the Vietnam war. Lyza has a lot of loss around her. Her mom has left, her Grandpa dies and boys from her town are dying in the war. All of this could make a person sink into despair, but instead, Lyza chooses to be alive. She chooses to grab the adventure that is handed to her. I really liked that about her. Life is unpredictable and sometimes very hard. But it IS life and life has all kinds of wonderful things and good surprises in it too. You can’t really have one without the other. I liked reading about a girl who is learning how to handle both. Author: Jen Bryant

all the broken pieces is the story of a boy from Vietnam who survived the war and is learning to accept life as it comes. If you liked the treasure hunt part of Kaleidoscope Eyes, try the next three.
All the Broken Pieces The Mysterious Benedict Society and the Perilous Journey Maze of Bones Treasure Hunts Treasure Hunts
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Kid Review: Bud Not Buddy

Kid Review: Bud Not Buddy

Bud Not Buddy

This is a very good or I mean a very interesting book. It talks about a guy that lived in an orphanage, until one day the Amos’s adopted him. Author: Christopher Paul Curtis.” Reviewed by: Katherine

Bud’s life with the Amos’s is tough and he eventually decides to run away. Bud has some clues about who he thinks his father is and is determined to find him. This book won the The Newbery Medal AND the Coretta Scott King Award in 2000. Author: Christopher Paul Curtis

Another really excellent book by Christopher Paul Curtis is Elijah of Buxton. Read the blog post about that one.

  • Read Chapter One from Elijah of  Buxton
  • Listen to an Exerpt of Elijah of Buxton
  • Watch a video interview with Christopher Paul Curtis
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    Thirteenth Child

    Thirteenth Child

    Also Known as Harper

    Eff and her family live in the American frontier during pioneer times. But this isn’t your regular frontier story – in this story the pioneers have magical skills! What Columbus discovered in the New World is a dangerous place where dragons and mammoths and bears live. (As if grizzly bears aren’t bad enough, throw in some prehistoric creatures and some magical beasts!) The settlers have used their magic to set up a magical barrier – an invisible force field – to keep the dangerous animals away from their settlements.

    Eff’s twin brother Lan is the seventh son of a seventh son. In their magical world being a seventh son is good – it means powerful magic. Eff is a thirteenth child. Some people think thirteenth children are bad luck. Even some of Eff’s relatives believe that Eff is cursed and will bring bad luck to everyone around her. Eff believes it too until the year everything changes.

    This is a really original story set in an unlikely place. I think we are all used to reading magical stories set in the Middle Ages with knights and castles, but this time Patricia Wrede has done something really different. I liked that about this book. I also liked Eff. If lots of people around you were telling you you were bad luck…it would be hard not to believe them, wouldn’t it?  I liked watching Eff fight for belief in herself. I can’t wait for book two. Author: Patricia Wrede Series: Frontier Magic (This is the first one – more will follow.)

     

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