Tag Archives: Historical Fiction

BFG, Flora and Ulysses, Ben & Me, and Ender’s Game

Oh, I am hard-pressed to say which of the characters in these books for kids/young adults I love the most! The Big Friendly Giant, Ulysses the flying squirrel, Amos the mouse who lives in Ben Frankin’s fur hat, or Ender, the 6-year-old military mastermind. Okay, my feelings for Ender aren’t exactly affection or delight like I have for the others, but this is my most recent batch of books read for homeschool. The BFG was yet another Roald Dahl I’d never read before, and I’m…

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Homeschool 3rd Grade Weeks 1&2–Madeleine L’Engle & US History

We’ve hit the ground running with my 3rd grader. We read aloud A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle, which remains basically one of the greatest books of all time, and it was so fun to experience again it through my daughter. I’ll be reading it later this fall with the 4th/5th graders and I think we’ll have some great discussions about sacrifice, fear, and flaws. The first two books we finished for Sonlight Core D were A Lion to Guard Us by Clyde Robert…

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Uglies Trilogy and Detectives in Togas

I had mad love for Scott Westerfeld’s Uglies trilogy back when I first read it. Imagine a dystopia where until age 16, you are “ugly.” Then you get a whole bunch of surgery to become beautiful, and then live in paradise until you die. All parties, no war. Everything is beautiful, and Tally Youngblood can’t wait until her birthday–until she meets Shay, who tells her about the world outside, and asks Tally to escape with her. Tally is a great character–I think she’s more awesome…

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YA and True Crime Together At Last

More like I am indulging in a pet genre while researching books to use in homeschool coop next year. I’ll start with YA, and two by Karen Hesse. Letters from Rifka is about a teenage girl emigrating from Russia to NYC in 1919. Great character, wonderful historical detail, and lots of emotion made it a great read. I’d love to read it with the 4th/5th graders but it’ll have to wait because last year we read When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit, and there’s too much…

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Shirley: A Novel by Susan Scarf Merrell

Synopsis: A young couple spends a year at Bennington College living with gothic writer Shirley Jackson and her philandering husband. Review: George and Martha from Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? have nothing on Shirley and Stanley, in real life (as chronicled in the wonderful biography Private Demons), and Shirley: A Novel delivers every ounce of juice you would hope for. Even better–the plot and characters are nothing short of excellent. Author Susan Scarf Merrell uses a thriller structure, and the plot is filled with allusions,…

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The Shining Girls by Lauren Beukes

Synopsis: Time travel makes a vicious serial killer unstoppable, but when one of his “shining girls” survives, the paradoxes in her case send her looking in the right direction, even as the killer grows more disorganized and deadly. Review: The Shining Girls is, quite simply, a great crime story with time travel element that probably has Stephen King kicking himself for not thinking of it first. In 1932, Harper has found a house filled with shining objects, and when he steps outside he can will…

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Quintessence by David Walton

Synopsis: In an alternate version of Europe during the pre-Elizabethan years, with the Inquisition raging in Spain, an alchemist and a scientist and a headstrong girl bonded to a magical creature travel to the edge of the world to find quintessence, a substance that can unlock the powers of the universe. Review: Quintessence was great fun, a novel that felt as deeply “researched” as any historical novel, and with a fully realized magical world that kept unfolding until the very last pages. Catherine, the girl…

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Code Name Verity by Elizabeth E. Wein

Synopsis: When her plane goes down in Nazi occupied France, a teenage Scottish spy known only as Verity has just one chance to write her confession before her captors send her off to a concentration camp. Review: Code Name Verity was the best read I have had all year. No contest. (Well, maybe The Devil in Silver.) I seriously just want everyone to feel how I feel when I think about “FLY THE PLANE MADDIE.” I am about to cry and I might just have…

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Squanto, Friend of the Pilgrims by Clyde Robert Bulla

Synopsis: The story of Squanto, the Native American who helped the pilgrims and journeyed to England. Review: I read Squanto, Friend of the Pilgrims, aloud to my almost 5-year-old, and I have to say I’m a little obsessed. First of all, I was prepared to stop if it veered into anything offensive, like a noble savage stereotype, and that never happened. All I felt like I needed to explain was that we don’t say “Indian” anymore, we say “Native American.” Bulla does give Squanto a…

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The Casting by Joyce Shor Johnson

Synopsis: In 4th Century Ireland, Robyn yearns to become a bronze caster, but family pressures and outside forces threaten to keep her from achieving her dream. Review: The Casting was a well-written story with a strong female protagonist that will definitely appeal to middle grade readers. My inner 12-year-old kind of fell in love with her. I wished that the secondary characters had had just a little more depth to them, but I don’t think it’s anything that the target audience for this book would…

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