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Summer Reading: Historical Fiction
Great suggestions of books you can read over the summer.
The Boy in the Striped Pajamas by John BoyneBerlin 1942 When Bruno returns home from school one day, he discovers that his belongings are being packed in crates. His father has received a promotion and the family must move from their home to a new house far far away, where there is no one to play with and nothing to do. A tall fence running alongside stretches as far as the eye can see and cuts him off from the strange people he can see in the distance. But Bruno longs to be an explorer and decides that there must be more to this desolate new place than meets the eye. While exploring his new environment, he meets another boy whose life and circumstances are very different to his own, and their meeting results in a friendship that has devastating consequences.
Publication Date: 2008-10-28
The Button War by AviRenowned, award-winning author Avi pens a stark, unflinching tale of ordinary boys living in wartime as tensions -- and desperations -- mount among them. Twelve-year-old Patryk knows little of the world beyond his tiny Polish village; the Russians have occupied the land for as long as anyone can remember, but otherwise life is unremarkable. Patryk and his friends entertain themselves by coming up with dares -- some more harmful than others -- until the Germans drop a bomb on the schoolhouse and the Great War comes crashing in. As control of the village falls from one nation to another, Jurek, the ringleader of these friends, devises the best dare yet: whichever boy steals the finest military button will be king. But as sneaking buttons from uniforms hanging to dry progresses to looting the bodies of dead soldiers -- and as Jurek's obsession with being king escalates -- Patryk begins to wonder whether their "button war" is still just a game. When devastation reaches their doorstep, the lines between the button war and the real war blur, especially for the increasingly callous Jurek. Master of historical fiction Avi delivers a fierce account of the boys of one war-torn village who are determined to prove themselves with a simple dare that spins disastrously out of control.
Call Number: FIC AVI
Publication Date: 2018-06-12
Code Word Courage by Kirby LarsonBillie has lived with her great-aunt ever since her mom passed away and her dad left. Billie's big brother, Leo, is about to leave, too, for the warfront. But first, she gets one more weekend with him at the ranch. Billie's surprised when Leo brings home a fellow Marine from boot camp, Denny. She has so much to ask Leo -- about losing her best friend and trying to find their father -- but Denny, who is Navajo, or Diné, comes with something special: a gorgeous, but injured, stray dog. As Billie cares for the dog, whom they name Bear, she and Bear grow deeply attached to each other. Soon enough, it's time for Leo and Denny, a Navajo Code Talker, to ship out. Billie does her part for the war effort, but she worries whether Leo and Denny will make it home, whether she'll find a new friend, and if her father will ever come back. Can Bear help Billie -- and Denny -- find what's most important? A powerful tale about unsung heroism on the WWII battlefield and the home front.
Call Number: FIC LAR
Publication Date: 2018-04-24
An Elephant in the Garden by Michael MorpurgoLizzie and Karl's mother is a zoo keeper; the family has become attached to an orphaned elephant named Marlene, who will be destroyed as a precautionary measure so she and the other animals don't run wild should the zoo be hit by bombs. The family persuades the zoo director to let Marlene stay in their garden instead. When the city is bombed, the family flees with thousands of others, but how can they walk the same route when they have an elephant in tow, and keep themselves safe? Along the way, they meet Peter, a Canadian navigator who risks his own capture to save the family. As Michael Morpurgo writes in an author's note, An Elephant in the Garden is inspired by historical truths, and by his admiration for elephants, "the noblest and wisest and most sensitive of all creatures." Here is a story that brings together an unlikely group of survivors whose faith in kindness and love proves the best weapon of all.
Publication Date: 2011-10-25
Making Bombs for Hitler by Marsha Forchuk SkrypuchThe companion book to the award-winning Stolen Child - now in a hardcover edition! Lida thought she was safe. Yes, her neighbors wearing the yellow star were all taken away, but Lida and her family are not Jewish. They will be fine, won't they? But Lida cannot escape the horrors of World War II. She loses her parents, and is ripped away from her beloved sister, Larissa. The Nazis take Lida to a brutal work camp, where she and other Ukrainian children are forced into backbreaking labor. Starving and terrified, Lida bonds with her fellow prisoners, but none of them know if they'll live to see tomorrow. When Lida and her friends are assigned to make bombs for the German army, Lida cannot stand the thought of helping the enemy. Then she has an idea. What if she sabotaged the bombs . . . and the Nazis? Can she do so without getting caught? And if she's freed, will she ever find her sister again? This pulse-pounding novel of survival, courage, and hope shows us a lesser-known piece of history - and is sure to keep readers captivated until the last page.
Publication Date: 2017-02-28
Prisoner B-3087 by Alan Gratz; Ruth Gruener; Jack GruenerA gripping novel based on the astonishing true story of a boy who survived ten concentration camps. Based on the true story by Ruth and Jack Gruener. 10 concentration camps. 10 different places where you are starved, tortured, and worked mercilessly. It's something no one could imagine surviving. But it is what Yanek Gruener has to face. As a Jewish boy in 1930s Poland, Yanek is at the mercy of the Nazis who have taken over. Everything he has, and everyone he loves, have been snatched brutally from him. And then Yanek himself is taken prisoner - his arm tattooed with the words PRISONER B-3087. He is forced from one nightmarish concentration camp to another, as World War II rages all around him. He encounters evil he could have never imagined, but also sees surprising glimpses of hope amid the horror. He just barely escapes death, only to confront it again seconds later. Can Yanek make it through the terror without losing his hope, his will - and, most of all, his sense of who he really is inside?
Publication Date: 2013-03-01
The War That Saved My Life by Kimberly Brubaker BradleyA Newbery Honor Book Winner of the Schneider Family Book Award (Middle School) Wall Street Journal Best Children's Books of 2015 New York Public Library's 100 Books for Reading and Sharing An exceptionally moving story of triumph against all odds set during World War 2, from the acclaimed author of Jefferson's Sons and for fans of Number the Stars. Nine-year-old Ada has never left her one-room apartment. Her mother is too humiliated by Ada's twisted foot to let her outside. So when her little brother Jamie is shipped out of London to escape the war, Ada doesn't waste a minute--she sneaks out to join him. So begins a new adventure of Ada, and for Susan Smith, the woman who is forced to take the two kids in. As Ada teaches herself to ride a pony, learns to read, and watches for German spies, she begins to trust Susan--and Susan begins to love Ada and Jamie. But in the end, will their bond be enough to hold them together through wartime? Or will Ada and her brother fall back into the cruel hands of their mother? This masterful work of historical fiction is equal parts adventure and a moving tale of family and identity--a classic in the making.
Publication Date: 2015-01-08
Beyond the Bright Sea by Lauren Wolk- Winner of the 2018 Scott O'Dell Award for Historical Fiction - From the bestselling author of Newbery Honor-winner Wolf Hollow, Beyond the Bright Sea is an acclaimed best book of the year. An NPR Best Book of the Year * A Parents' Magazine Best Book of the Year * A Booklist Editors' Choice selection * A BookPage Best Book of the Year * A Horn Book Fanfare Selection * A Kirkus Best Book of the Year * A School Library Journal Best Book of the Year * A Charlotte Observer Best Book of the Year * A Southern Living Best Book of the Year * A New York Public Library Best Book of the Year "The sight of a campfire on a distant island...proves the catalyst for a series of discoveries and events--some poignant, some frightening--that Ms. Wolk unfolds with uncommon grace." -The Wall Street Journal ★ "Crow is a determined and dynamic heroine." --Publishers Weekly ★ "Beautiful, evocative." --Kirkus The moving story of an orphan, determined to know her own history, who discovers the true meaning of family. Twelve-year-old Crow has lived her entire life on a tiny, isolated piece of the starkly beautiful Elizabeth Islands in Massachusetts. Abandoned and set adrift in a small boat when she was just hours old, Crow's only companions are Osh, the man who rescued and raised her, and Miss Maggie, their fierce and affectionate neighbor across the sandbar. Crow has always been curious about the world around her, but it isn't until the night a mysterious fire appears across the water that the unspoken question of her own history forms in her heart. Soon, an unstoppable chain of events is triggered, leading Crow down a path of discovery and danger. Vivid and heart-wrenching, Lauren Wolk's Beyond the Bright Sea is a gorgeously crafted and tensely paced tale that explores questions of identity, belonging, and the true meaning of family.
Publication Date: 2017-05-02
Echo by Pam Muñoz RyanMusic, magic, and a real-life miracle meld in this genre-defying masterpiece from storytelling maestro Pam Muñoz Ryan. Lost and alone in a forbidden forest, Otto meets three mysterious sisters and suddenly finds himself entwined in a puzzling quest involving a prophecy, a promise, and a harmonica. Decades later, Friedrich in Germany, Mike in Pennsylvania, and Ivy in California each, in turn, become interwoven when the very same harmonica lands in their lives. All the children face daunting challenges: rescuing a father, protecting a brother, holding a family together. And ultimately, pulled by the invisible thread of destiny, their suspenseful solo stories converge in an orchestral crescendo. Richly imagined and masterfully crafted, ECHO pushes the boundaries of genre and form, and shows us what is possible in how we tell stories. The result is an impassioned, uplifting, and virtuosic tour de force that will resound in your heart long after the last note has been struck.
Publication Date: 2015-02-24
Escape from Aleppo by N. H. SenzaiAn Indie Next List Pick "Filled with kindness and hope, but also with the harsh realities of the horrors of war, this heartbreaking book is a necessary reminder of what many people live through every day." --Booklist (starred review) Nadia's family is forced to flee their home in Aleppo, Syria, when the Arab Spring sparks a civil war in this timely coming-of-age novel from award-winning author N.H. Senzai. Silver and gold balloons. A birthday cake covered in pink roses. A new dress. Nadia stands at the center of attention in her parents' elegant dining room. This is the best day of my life, she thinks. Everyone is about to sing "Happy Birthday," when her uncle calls from the living room, "Baba, brothers, you need to see this." Reluctantly, she follows her family into the other room. On TV, a reporter stands near an overturned vegetable cart on a dusty street. Beside it is a mound of smoldering ashes. The reporter explains that a vegetable vendor in the city of Tunis burned himself alive, protesting corrupt government officials who have been harassing his business. Nadia frowns. It is December 17, 2010: Nadia's twelfth birthday and the beginning of the Arab Spring. Soon anti-government protests erupt across the Middle East and, one by one, countries are thrown into turmoil. As civil war flares in Syria and bombs fall across Nadia's home city of Aleppo, her family decides to flee to safety. Inspired by current events, this novel sheds light on the complicated situation in Syria that has led to an international refugee crisis, and tells the story of one girl's journey to safety.
Publication Date: 2018-01-02
Lifeboat 12 by Susan Hood"This page-turning true-life adventure is filled with rich and riveting details and a timeless understanding of the things that matter most."--Dashka Slater, author of The 57 Bus "Brilliantly told in verse, readers will love Ken Sparks." --Patricia Reilly Giff, two-time Newbery Honor winner "Lyrical, terrifying, and even at times funny. A richly detailed account of a little-known event in World War II." --Kirkus Reviews "Middle grade Titanic fans, here's your next read." --BCCB "An edge-of-your seat survival tale." --School Library Journal (starred review) A Junior Library Guild Selection A 2019 Golden Kite Middle Grade Fiction Award Winner In the tradition of The War That Saved My Life and Stella By Starlight, this poignant novel in verse based on true events tells the story of a boy's harrowing experience on a lifeboat after surviving a torpedo attack during World War II. With Nazis bombing London every night, it's time for thirteen-year-old Ken to escape. He suspects his stepmother is glad to see him go, but his dad says he's one of the lucky ones--one of ninety boys and girls to ship out aboard the SS City of Benares to safety in Canada. Life aboard the luxury ship is grand--nine-course meals, new friends, and a life far from the bombs, rations, and his stepmum's glare. And after five days at sea, the ship's officers announce that they're out of danger. They're wrong. Late that night, an explosion hurls Ken from his bunk. They've been hit. Torpedoed! The Benares is sinking fast. Terrified, Ken scrambles aboard Lifeboat 12 with five other boys. Will they get away? Will they survive? Award-winning author Susan Hood brings this little-known World War II story to life in a riveting novel of courage, hope, and compassion. Based on true events and real people, Lifeboat 12 is about believing in one another, knowing that only by banding together will we have any chance to survive.
Call Number: FIC HOO
Publication Date: 2018-09-04
Mark of the Thief by Jennifer A. NielsenWhen Nic, a slave in the mines outside of Rome, is forced to enter a sealed cavern containing the lost treasures of Julius Caesar, he finds much more than gold and gemstones: He discovers an ancient bulla, an amulet that belonged to the great Caesar and is filled with a magic once reserved for the Gods -- magic some Romans would kill for. Now, with the deadly power of the bulla pulsing through his veins, Nic is determined to become free. But instead, he finds himself at the center of a ruthless conspiracy to overthrow the emperor and spark the Praetor War, a battle to destroy Rome from within. Traitors and spies lurk at every turn, each more desperate than the next to use Nic's newfound powers for their own dark purposes. In a quest to stop the rebellion, save Rome, and secure his own freedom, Nic must harness the magic within himself and defeat the empire's most powerful and savage leaders.
Publication Date: 2015-02-24
Milkweed by Jerry SpinelliA stunning novel of the Holocaust from Newbery Medalist, Jerry Spinelli He's a boy called Jew. Gypsy. Stopthief. Filthy son of Abraham. He's a boy who lives in the streets of Warsaw. He's a boy who steals food for himself, and the other orphans. He's a boy who believes in bread, and mothers, and angels. He's a boy who wants to be a Nazi, with tall, shiny jackboots of his own-until the day that suddenly makes him change his mind. And when the trains come to empty the Jews from the ghetto of the damned, he's a boy who realizes it's safest of all to be nobody. Newbery Medalist Jerry Spinelli takes us to one of the most devastating settings imaginable-Nazi-occupied Warsaw during World War II-and tells a tale of heartbreak, hope, and survival through the bright eyes of a young Holocaust orphan. From the Hardcover edition.
Call Number: FIC SPI
Publication Date: 2010-03-23
Refugee by Alan GratzJOSEF is a Jewish boy living in 1930s Nazi Germany. With the threat of concentration camps looming, he and his family board a ship bound for the other side of the world . . . ISABEL is a Cuban girl in 1994. With riots and unrest plaguing her country, she and her family set out on a raft, hoping to find safety in America . . . MAHMOUD is a Syrian boy in 2015. With his homeland torn apart by violence and destruction, he and his family begin a long trek toward Europe . . . All three kids go on harrowing journeys in search of refuge. All will face unimaginable dangers -- from drownings to bombings to betrayals. But there is always the hope of tomorrow. And although Josef, Isabel, and Mahmoud are separated by continents and decades, shocking connections will tie their stories together in the end. This action-packed novel tackles topics both timely and timeless: courage, survival, and the quest for home.
Publication Date: 2017-07-25
The Blackthorn Key by Kevin SandsFollowing a series of murders, an apothecary's apprentice must solve puzzles and decipher codes in pursuit of a secret that could destroy the world in this suspenseful debut novel. "Tell no one what I've given you." Until he got that cryptic warning, Christopher Rowe was happy, learning how to solve complex codes and puzzles and creating powerful medicines, potions, and weapons as an apprentice to Master Benedict Blackthorn--with maybe an explosion or two along the way. But when a mysterious cult begins to prey on London's apothecaries, the trail of murders grows closer and closer to Blackthorn's shop. With time running out, Christopher must use every skill he's learned to discover the key to a terrible secret with the power to tear the world apart. In his stunning debut novel, Kevin Sands brings readers on a heart-stopping adventure rich with suspense, mystery, and unforgettable characters.
Publication Date: 2015-09-01
I Survived the Battle of Gettysburg 1863 by Lauren TarshisDoes this boy have what it takes to stand up for what he believes in? The I Survived series is a runaway success with even the most reluctant readers. With its nonstop action and kids'-eye view of history's most terrifying events, the books draw readers in and don't let them go until the last page! In 1863, the Civil War is raging throughout the country. Eleven-year-old Henry has been on the sidelines so far - but the events of a hot July week in Pennsylvania are about change his life forever. Does he have what it takes to survive the Battle of Gettysburg?
Publication Date: 2013-02-01
Making Bombs for Hitler by Marsha Forchuk SkrypuchLida thought she was safe. Her neighbors wearing the yellow star were all taken away, but Lida is not Jewish. She will be fine, won't she? But she cannot escape the horrors of World War II. Lida's parents are ripped away from her and she is separated from her beloved sister, Larissa. The Nazis take Lida to a brutal work camp, where she and other Ukrainian children are forced into backbreaking labor. Starving and terrified, Lida bonds with her fellow prisoners, but none of them know if they'll live to see tomorrow. When Lida and her friends are assigned to make bombs for the German army, Lida cannot stand the thought of helping the enemy. Then she has an idea. What if she sabotaged the bombs... and the Nazis? Can she do so without getting caught? And if she's freed, will she ever find her sister again? This pulse-pounding novel of survival, courage, and hope shows us a lesser-known piece of history -- and is sure to keep readers captivated until the last page.
Call Number: PB FIC SKR
Publication Date: 2017-02-28
My Real Name Is Hanna by Tara Lynn Masih1941, Hitler's army crosses into Soviet-ruled Ukraine in a secret mission titled "Operation Barbarossa. A young Jewish girl, Hanna Slivka is fourteen when German soldiers arrive in her small village of Kwasova. Until their arrival, Hanna has split her time between playing with her younger siblings, sharing drawings with the sweet shy Leon Stadnick, and assisting her neighbor, Mrs. Petrovich, with her annual dyeing and selling of psyanky, decorative eggs. But now, she, Leon and their families are forced into hiding, first in the woods outside of their town and then into caverns beneath it. They battle sickness and starvation, and the local peasants who join the Nazis in hunting Jews through the ravaged countryside, but at no time are they more tested than when Hanna's father - briefly above ground to scavenge for food - goes missing, and suddenly, it's on Hanna to find him, and to find a way to keep her mother, brother and sister alive. This novel is inspired by the truestory of Esther Stermer and her family, who survived underground for 511 days. Less than 5% of the Jewish population in Ukraine survived these Holocaust "Actions."
Call Number: PB FIC MAS
Publication Date: 2018-09-18
A Night Divided by Jennifer A. NielsenFrom New York Times bestselling author Jennifer A. Nielsen comes a stunning thriller about a girl who must escape to freedom after the Berlin Wall divides her family between east and west. With the rise of the Berlin Wall, twelve-year-old Gerta finds her family divided overnight. She, her mother, and her brother Fritz live on the eastern side, controlled by the Soviets. Her father and middle brother, who had gone west in search of work, cannot return home. Gerta knows it is dangerous to watch the wall, to think forbidden thoughts of freedom, yet she can't help herself. She sees the East German soldiers with their guns trained on their own citizens; she, her family, her neighbors and friends are prisoners in their own city. But one day, while on her way to school, Gerta spots her father on a viewing platform on the western side, pantomiming a peculiar dance. Then, when she receives a mysterious drawing, Gerta puts two and two together and concludes that her father wants Gerta and Fritz to tunnel beneath the wall, out of East Berlin. However, if they are caught, the consequences will be deadly. No one can be trusted. Will Gerta and her family find their way to freedom?
Publication Date: 2015-08-25
The Player King by Avi"Swiftly moving and utterly engrossing." --Shelf Awareness Parents' Choice Recommended From Newbery Award-winning author Avi comes the gripping and amazingly true tale of a boy plucked from the gutter to become the King of England. England, 1486. King Henry VII has recently snatched the English Crown and now sits on the throne, while young Prince Edward, who has a truer claim, has apparently disappeared. Meanwhile, a penniless kitchen boy named Lambert Simnel is slaving away at a tavern in Oxford--until a mysterious friar, Brother Simonds, buys Lambert from the tavern keeper and whisks him away in the dead of night. But this is nothing compared to the secret that the friar reveals: You, Lambert, are actually Prince Edward, the true King of England! With the aid of the deceitful Earl of Lincoln, Brother Simonds sets out to teach the boy how to become the rightful English king. Lambert has everything to gain and nothing to lose, or so he thinks. Yet in this dangerous battle for the throne, Lambert is not prepared for what's to come--or for what it really means to play at being a king.
Publication Date: 2017-10-17
Stella by Starlight by Sharon M. Draper; Sarah Jane Coleman (Cover Design by)When the Ku Klux Klan's unwelcome reappearance rattles Stella's segregated southern town, bravery battles prejudice in this Depression-era tour de force from Sharon Draper, the New York Times bestselling author of Out of My Mind. Stella lives in the segregated South--in Bumblebee, North Carolina, to be exact about it. Some stores she can go into. Some stores she can't. Some folks are right pleasant. Others are a lot less so. To Stella, it sort of evens out, and heck, the Klan hasn't bothered them for years. But one late night, later than she should ever be up, much less wandering around outside, Stella and her little brother see something they're never supposed to see, something that is the first flicker of change to come, unwelcome change by any stretch of the imagination. As Stella's community--her world--is upended, she decides to fight fire with fire. And she learns that ashes don't necessarily signify an end.