The Hired Girl By Laura Amy Schlitz Candlewick Press $17.99 ISBN: 978-0763678180 Ages 12 and up Bildungsroman. Definition: “A novel dealing with one person’s formative years or spiritual education.” A certain strain of English major quivers at the very term. Get enough Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man shoved down your gullet and […]
The Tightrope Walkers by David Almond Candlewick, March 2015 Reviewed from an ARC Oh, I am conflicted about this one. This is gorgeous, gorgeous writing — even the first line pulls you in and lets you know that you’re in for something unusual here (“I was born in a hovel on the banks of the […]
Audacity by Melanie Crowder Penguin/Philomel, January 2015 Reviewed from ARC I have a copy all marked up with post its; Audacity is full of lovely language, creatively placed text (srsly, such nice design), and strong recurring images, and I want to put lots of quotes in for oooh-ing and aww-ing purposes. However, I GUESS […]
Publisher’s description: “This is East Texas, and there’s lines. Lines you cross, lines you don’t cross. That clear?” New London, Texas. 1937. Naomi Smith and Wash Fullerton know about the lines in East Texas as well as anyone. They know the signs that mark them. They know the people who enforce them. But there are […]
Schlitz, Laura Amy. The Hired Girl. 400p. Candlewick. Sept. 2015. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780763678180.
Gr 6-9–Fourteen-year-old Joan Skraggs is a reluctant drudge on her family’s farm, and no one appreciates her. She pours her thoughts and emotions into her diary, which is the lens through which readers experience her life. And life on her family’s 1911 hardscrabble Pennsylvania farm grinds on endlessly. She loves to read and longs for more education, but is trapped by her circumstances. Her boorish father pushes […]
Bray, Libba. Lair of Dreams. 704p. (Diviners: Bk. 2). ebook available. Little, Brown. Aug. 2015. Tr $19. ISBN 9780316126045.
Gr 10 Up–This breathtaking sequel to The Diviners (Little, Brown, 2012) is worth the wait. The novel opens in 1927 New York City, as construction continues on expanding the subway system. When workers break through to an older and forgotten train station, they develop a “sleeping sickness,” trapped first by dreams and then “nightmare[s] from which they will, never, ever wake.” Bray […]
Hilton, Marilyn. Full Cicada Moon. 400p. ebook available. Dial. Sept. 2015. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780525428756.
Gr 4-8–Mimi tells her story in this novel in verse that will resonate with fans of Jacqueline Woodson’s Brown Girl Dreaming (Penguin, 2014). The seventh grader describes arriving in small-town Vermont from Berkeley in 1969. While filling out a form, the teen is perplexed by which ethnicity to check off: her father is a black college professor, and her mother is Japanese (they married when he […]
Judith St. George, known for her historical works and mysteries, died June 10 at 81. Her more than 40 works include the Caldecott-winning So You Want to Be President?
These works of historical fiction from Junior Library Guild expertly blend fact and storytelling, tackling figures such as magician Chung Ling Soo and events such as Operation Pied Piper.
Today we look at two fabulous historical fiction works exploring historical periods unfamiliar to most Americans. First up is a starred review of Michelle Moran’s Rebel Queen, which tells the story of the Indian Rebellion of 1857. Specifically, it tracks the exploits of Rani Lakshmi, the queen of a smallish kingdom in northern India called […]
Two exciting and very different historical novels today. First, a medieval murder mystery set in 1350 England. A 17-year-old is called home to run his family’s Manor after his brothers and fathers are killed by the plague. That’s hard enough, but then a young girl is murdered. We are not the only ones singing the praises […]
I’ve written about my regard for Kristin Hannah‘s novels before. The last one I read and reviewed was Night Road, and we also reviewed Fly Away in 2013. Hannah has a way with contemporary family stories. She writes deeply emotional women’s fiction with great characters, usually facing loss or tragedy. This year she brings those […]
Considering that it is based on a police case from almost 30 years ago, it is astonishing how much currency Joyce Carol Oates’s new novel has. A black teen is found beaten and apparently raped, naming only “white cops” as the perpetrators before lapsing into silence. The ensuing polarized reactions on the parts of the […]
My Near-Death Adventures (99% True) By Alison DeCamp Crown Books for Young Readers (an imprint of Random House) $16.99 ISBN: 978-0-385-39044-6 Ages 9-12 On shelves now Children’s historical fiction novels often divide up one of two ways. In the first category you have your important moments in history. In such books our heroes run about […]
The War That Saved My Life By Kimberly Brubaker Bradley Dial Books for Young Readers (an imprint of Penguin) $16.99 ISBN: 9780803740815 Ages 9-12 On shelves now. As a child I was what one might call a selective reader. Selective in that I studiously avoided any and all works of fiction that might conceivably be […]
Today, we review two books that examine the environmental destruction of small towns, and the ensuing fallout in the community at large. In Rene Steinke’s Friendswood, the eponymous town has been the victim of chemical leaks from a nearby oil refinery. Most of the town seems ready to move on once the EPA has cleared […]
The 2015 Scott O’Dell Award for Historical Fiction goes to Dash, by Kirby Larson, published by Scholastic Press. While Mitsi is going to miss spending time with her beloved dog Dash now that Christmas vacation is over, she is looking forward to seeing her best buds Mags and Judy. Mitsy thought the trio would always […]
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Thorfinn is a teenage boy and a member of a mercenary crew of Vikings that raid towns in France and England and return to their home base in Denmark. But Thorfinn isn’t interested in battle or treasure. As a boy he dreamed of sailing on a long ship and becoming a Viking warrior. Now he […]
Two books that follow professional stage magicians, or illusionists, top our week. I was completely entranced by The Magician’s Lie, a terrific historical yarn that reads like a modern thriller. The title magician is a young woman, and the only woman making the circuit in the first decade of the 20th century. It is her […]
Althea and Oliver by Cristina Moracho Viking, October 2014 Reviewed from final copy This book really amazed me by being a story that is bigger and harder and rougher and rawer than I thought it would be. It’s been named for two year’s best lists, and garnered three starred reviews, so it’s not just me […]