Posted in MG Novels, So Many Good Books, YA Novels


American Revolutionary War from a different viewpoint…

chains.jpg13-year-old Isabel was promised her freedom on the death of her owner, but the old lady’s heir sells her and her sister Ruth to an awful New York couple who are selfish. Set during the American revolution, Isabel gets hooked up in the fight for the country’s freedom to gain her own freedom. Isabel has such mixed feelings about her involvement with the revolutionaries – she gets betrayed by them and the British.
Chains (Simon and Schuster, 2008) by Laurie Halse Anderson is really good–of course. The sequel, Forge, has recently come out and is on my to be read list. I heard Laurie talk about the research she does for her books when she visited Kansas City* in October. One fact for Chains that she used was about women of the time wanting bushy eyebrows and used mouse fur!
fever.jpgLast week I also finished another of Laurie’s historical thrillers (as she calls her historicals) set not that much later. Fever 1793 (Simon and Schuster, 2000) is about the yellow fever epidemic in Philadelphia. We often don’t appreciate how fortunate we are. This fascinating story reminds us.
Laurie’s site has extra information about both time periods, teacher resources, material aimed directly at students, and more.

*See my friend Lisha’s report with video.
Posted in Award Winners, MG Novels, So Many Good Books

Got voice? – Penny from Heaven & Elijah of Buxton

penny_sm.gifPenny from Heaven (Random House, 2006) by Jennifer L. Holm definitely has good voice. It’s 1953 and Penny can’t go swimming because of the fear of polio. She lives with her mom and Pop-pop and Me-me, but spends a lot of time with her dad’s side of the family. Nonny still doesn’t speak good English and Uncle Dominic lives in his car, but the food is great at her grandmother Falucci’s house. Readers will learn along with Penny how her father died and why the two families don’t have much to do with each other.
This book is a 2007 Newbery honor book. Author Jennifer L. Holm also won a Newbery honor for her first novel, Our Only May Amelia. Read about her other books here.
elijah.jpgIf you’ve ever read any Christopher Paul Curtis, you’ll expect his historical novel Elijah of Buxton (Scholastic Press, 2007) to have good voice. You won’t be disappointed. From the humor of hoop snakes to serious business of freed slaves saving money to buy their family member’s freedom, this story flows.
Fra-gile Elijah is 11 and the first free born child of freed slaves in the community. Everyone remembers how as a baby he throwed up on Frederick Douglas, but by the end of the story Elijah accomplishes something else that he thinks they’ll be remembering instead.
Memorable story!
Christopher is a great speaker, too. If you ever get a chance to hear him, go! Here’s his website.