I accidentally missed #bookbootcamp this past Monday and the genre we covered in September was historical fiction. I have read many of the titles on our wiki but unfortunately, I was on single parent duty Monday night as my husband was working at Richland Library. SO, I'm blogging here as my way of contributing to our discussion, albeit a little late. Here's my list of recent historical reads for me in addition to a laundry list of suggestions that I've enjoyed. The LONG laundry lists begins...enjoy!
I love reading historical fiction and I prefer particular time periods over others, as I'm sure most of you do too. I know my students have their personal preferences. Vietnam and the Civil Rights Era are both popular historical fiction periods in my school library. I also have some 8th grade girls who love to read the Ann Rinaldi or Carolyn Meyer titles that deal with Revolutionary America or Civil War and royal historical fiction, as I like to refer to it.
Most recently I've read some great new titles that I'm recommending to my new 6th graders and my 7th and 8th graders who are doing some IRP's (Independent Reading Project) on historical fiction. Crow, by Barbara Wright, Glory Be, by Augusta Scattergood, and Lions of Little Rock by Kristin Levine are good titles for Jim Crow and the Civil Rights time periods.
Crow has a male main character, Moses, and is based in Wilmington, NC in the late 1800s. Moses' father was involved in the local African American newspaper and was attempting to get into local politics, which were not open to African Americans in the South at that time. Moses shares his experiences dealing with ignorance and hatred while learning to stand up for himself and protect his family. Glory Be and Lions of Little Rock have female main characters who tell their stories of experiencing integration and their thoughts about civil rights equality. Glory is a little younger and more self-obsessed than Marlee, the main character in Lions of Little Rock. Marlee is a very strong character who stands by her friend Liz as the segregation/integration battle was waged in her school district. I found it interesting that Marlee's parents were also on both sides of the battle as educators. Lions of Little Rock is on our South Carolina Junior Book Award list for 2013-2014 and I'm selling it like hot cakes to my students.
Looking for pioneer/prairie life, try The Quilt Walk, Hattie Big Sky (and continue with Hattie Ever After), or May B. Be forewarned, these are more for fans of Little House on the Prairie. I doubt I'd try to sell these to boys but the female main characters are definitely heroines in their own right.
Hattie Big Sky by Kirby Larson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Looking forward to the next Hattie book. She is such a strong female character and offers a great historical fiction perspective, like Laura Ingalls Wilder.
May B. by Caroline Starr Rose
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Fabulous story in verse...May B. is truly a heroic character and this is an excellent example of historical fiction for middle grades.
View all my reviews
Set in 1940, during the political unrest that would become WWII, Breathing Room by Marsha Hayles is an excellent introduction to TB and its effect during early war-time efforts on families and doctors/nurses. It's written from the perspective of a TB patient, Evvy, who has to leave her family and live in a sanatorium until she is healed. Evvy misses her twin brother and her father, but does not have a close bond with her mother. She does, however, make friends with the 3 other girls in her room and I can't say that I've ever seen a middle grade book on this topic.
For WWII fiction, always a popular time period with upper grades, Code Name Verity by Wein is a new and popular choice for girls. While I loved the suspense of the novel and figuring out who Verity might be, I again feel like this would be more of a suggestion to girls than boys. This is also more for 8th and 9th graders, less for middle grades as a whole. In addition to Verity, I'd recommend Between Shades of Gray, highlighted recently due to the popularity of the OTHER novel dealing with shades of gray. No, this does not contain similar content. B/W Shades of Gray is based on the author's family history. Set in Lithuania during Stalin's reign, 1941, the main character and her family are put on a train to Siberia as a result of Stalin's tyrannical rule over Russia. The Russian Holocaust is alive in this story. Again, I'd recommend to 7th and 8th graders. It's on the South Carolina Young Adult Book Award list for 2013-2014. I hope it wins!
For boys, I'd recommend Shadow on the Mountain by Preus or Jump into the Sky by Pearsall. Espen, main character in Shadow on the Mountain, becomes a spy for Norway while the country is occupied by the Nazis. He and his sister secretly "fight" by assisting the local Norwegians in their efforts to defeat the Germans and end their occupation. Skiing is obviously an important mode of transportation and sport in Norway but for Espen it becomes the way to survive. I liked the suspense and spy elements in this novel. Now back to the USA with Jump Into The Sky. Levi Battle was left in the care of his grandmother, who passes away in Chicago. He leaves for his aunt's house in Fayetteville, NC, where he thinks he will find his father, one of the few African Americans serving in the U.S. Army in 1945. Levi sees the harsh reality of being African American in the South during that time. U.S. Army or not, he must learn to deal with society's restrictions placed on race alone. Living in the South is so very different than living in the North during this time. This is an excellent choice for 7th and 8th graders if they're looking for this time period.
To move forward in history, for middle grade students, Hurricane Katrina could be considered historical fiction. After all, they were born around that time so their memory of it is slim and based upon oral history or what they've seen in the media surrounding the hurricane and its effects on the Gulf Coast. So, with that being said, I have a few teachers who allow that topic as historical fiction. Ninth Ward and Saint Louis Armstrong Beach are the two novels I'm recommending for that event. Ninth Ward was on last year's SC JBA list and Saint Louis is on this year's list. Again, these choices offer both a female and male perspective for this natural disaster. Ninth Ward offers some fantasy elements, courtesy of New Orleans' voodoo heritage while Saint is a musician, a cultural link to New Orleans.
Our next #bookbootcamp discussion will be the last Monday in October so check it out! I hope to make that one. We'll be reading middle grades romances during October. "See" you all there!