Tag Archives: Historical Fiction

Staff Pick: The Lions of Little Rock

Staff Pick: The Lions of Little Rock

The Lions of Little Rock

Krisitin Levine’s sensitive and engaging novel The Lions of Little Rock takes place during the struggle to integrate public schools in Little Rock, Arkansas in 1958. The narrator is 12 year old Marlee , who seldom speaks to anyone except family members. Math whiz Marlee prefers numbers to words, “ In math, you always get the same answer, no matter how you do the problem. But with words, blue can be a thousand different shades!” That changes when she becomes friends with Liz, a new girl at school. Their friendship is disrupted when Liz suddenly disappears from school after it is discovered that she is black and not welcome at the still segregated school. The story that follows is not only about Marlee finding her voice in many ways, but also about the courage it took for individuals in the Little Rock community to find their voices, come together, and stand up for what is right. The author successfully combines themes of friendship, family, and profound issues in our society with a light enough touch that makes the book a pleasure to read, and encourages the reader to reflect on all the issues the story presents.

Recommended by: Amy Friedman, The Learning Curve@Central Library

More Staff Picks

More books about school integration in Little Rock:

The Little Rock Nine Stand Up for Their Rights Little Rock Girl 1957Little Rock Nine
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Staff Pick: Freedom Song The Story of Henry Box Brown

Staff Pick: Freedom Song The Story of Henry Box Brown

Henry's Freedom BoxA fictionalized account of how in 1849 a Virginia slave, Henry “Box” Brown, escapes to freedom by shipping himself in a wooden crate from Richmond to Philadelphia.

“This is the story of Henry “Box” Brown, the slave that mailed himself to freedom. Henry was born into slavery. He loved his family, sang with them and wanted them to always stay together. After he grew up and married, his family was sold away from him. Left with nothing but music, this story tells how he took that music about “freedom-land” and created and carried out a risky escape by mailing himself in a box to Pennsylvania. The book includes a note from the author and the words from an actual letter from the man who received Henry in the box at the end of his unusual journey.”

Michael Perry, Warren Branch Library

More Staff Picks

More dramatic stories about the U.S. Postal Service::
Mailing May Calico Dorsey Mule Train Off Like the Wind
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Reader Review: Tricking the Tallyman

Reader Review: Tricking the Tallyman

Tricking the Tallyman In 1790, the suspicious residents of a small Vermont town try to trick the man who has been sent to count their population for the first United States Census.

Sandra says:

An interesting story about when the census began.  Even if it weren’t historically based, students would enjoy the scheming.”

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The Crowfield Demon

The Crowfield Demon

The Crowfield Demon

In The Crowfield Curse, orphan Will became a servant at The Crowfield Abbey so that he would have a place to live and food to eat. Will worked hard. He also learned he had a special gift. Will has the sight. That means he can see the creatures of Old Magic; creatures called the fay most people can’t see. In that first adventure, Will does something important for an Angel. I won’t tell you what, in case you want to read that one first.

In this second adventure Will still lives at the Abbey with Brother Snail, a kind monk who tends the gardens. He also has two special friends, a warrior fay called Shadlock who does work around the Abbey just to be near Will and protect him, and a hobgoblin called Brother Walter –  a small creature that can ride on Will’s shoulder and senses when danger is near.

The hob climbed down from the tree and stood beside Will, his face sharp with anxiety. “Something bad is coming,” he whispered. Will crouched down beside him. “Is it the king?” “No,” the hob said, edging a little closer to him, “Not the king. Something much, much worse than him.” “And it’s in the forest?” The hob nodded. “It’s close by, maybe in the forest, maybe here in the brothermen’s stone place. I don’t know for sure, but I can feel it.” (page 3)

Walter is right, something strange IS going on. The church’s wall has a huge crack in it that is growing wider every day – like a silent, slow earthquake is shaking the Abbey from below. The monks begin to report feeling a presence or something unknown hiding in the shadows as well as haunting dreams – nightmares. There HAS been something hidden deep under the church and the monks have inadvertantly let it loose – a demon even the fay fear.

Brother Snail, Will, Shadlock and the hob set out on a journey to save the Abbey and everyone they know from the ancient demon. Their loyalty to each other and their faith are put to the test as they go toe to toe with an ancient evil. The monks and Will are praying for some help and as is often the case, when a prayer gets answered, it is often very different from what the prayer had in mind! The story is a bit like Frodo and the ring, actually, with Will and his loyal band of friends. Brother Snail is the nurturer/worrier, Shadlock the warrior and hob the trusty sidekick. Walter is a little like Harry Potter’s Dobby, he’s very, very loyal and has some magic powers of his own that Will trusts. I have really liked how the friendship between them has developed since the beginning of The Crowfield Curse, when they didn’t even know each other yet. Author: Pat Walsh

If you liked reading about Will, Shadlock, Walter and the Brothermen at the Abbey, try these other adventures set in medieval times when spiritual beliefs and the supernatural were often mixed up together.
The Crowfield Curse Crispin and the Cross of Lead The Ramsay Scallop The Door in the Wall
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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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