Tag Archives: Historical Fiction

Alchemy and Meggy Swann

Alchemy and Meggy Swann

Alchmey and Meggy Swann

Turned out by her mother and sent to live with her father, Meggy shows up in London and her dad wastes no time showing his disappointment. “What use is a daughter to me?” (page #8) He was expecting a boy. I guess he didn’t pay too much attention when Meggy was born.

So Meggy’s stuck in London at her father’s house where it is dark and cold and quiet. Meggy has no food. Her dad seems to have let her in the door and then promptly forgotten she exists. He’s closed up in his shop studying alchemy, searching for the elixir of life…while Meggy sits cold and alone, starving.

Enter Roger, her dad’s errand boy. Roger knows his way around London. Roger knows how to get food. Roger knows how to survive. Roger also knows how to smile, have fun…and be a friend, something Meggy has never had before. Author: Karen Cushman
                                                    

If you like stories like Meggy’s set in the Middle Ages try some of these. They also feature tough kids, some orphaned like Meggy, living in a time period that was rough even for people in a family. These kids are survivors in the worst of circumstances. They are feisty and strong and often funny too, like Roger. Some of them are girls trying to be feisty and strong at a time when girls were really not supposed to act that way.
The Midwife's Apprentice Catherine Called Birdy The Door in the Wall Crispin the Cross of Lead
The Ramsay Scallop Alanna The First Adventure The Trumpeter of Krakow
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The Year of Goodbyes

The Year of Goodbyes

The Year of Goodbyes

12 year old Jutta Salzberg lives in Germany in 1938. She likes going to school and being with her friends and having fun – just like you. Jutta lives in 1938 though, when Adolf Hitler and the Nazis were in power. Hitler and the Nazis were responsible for the oppression and killing of Jewish people in Germany from 1941-1945. Jutta and her family are Jewish and try to live normally even though rules keep being passed that make their Jewish customs and way of life illegal. Finally, Jutta’s dad realizes that the only way they will survive is to leave everything and everyone they know and try to get to America.

In this book Jutta tells about her last year in Germany as she gradually says goodbye to all of the things and people she knows. Her friends leave one by one, because Jutta’s Dad is not the only Dad who fears what will happen to his familyi f they stay. Jutta doesn’t just tell you what happened though. This book is Jutta’s real autograph book. Young girls at this time in Germany kept autograph books which they would pass to each other to leave messages – kind of like Facebook on paper.

Jutta was a real girl and it is her daughter, Debbie Levy, who shares Jutta’s book with us. In the authograph book you can read messages that Jutta’s friends wrote that give you glimpses into the scary things that are happening around them. It ‘s hard to imagine that grown-ups would purposely hurt children in this way, but they did.

At the end, Debbie then tells what happened to each of the girls in the book, the girls that were Jutta’s friends before they all had to try to make an escape to safety. Of the 30 people mentioned in the book, only half of them survive. This one might bring some tears to your eyes, but it will make you feel really good too knowing that friendship can survive really terrible situations.

Here are some stories of other kids who were caught in the war just like Jutta. Kids who were sent away, hidden or had to run away. Anne Frank is also a real girl who left behind a very famous diary.
Number the Stars Best Friends Forever a WW II Scrapbook The Dragonfly Pool Anne Frank
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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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