Staff Picks 4 Kids Category: Historical Fiction

Wolf Hollow by Lauren Wolk

Cover image for Wolf Hollow : a novelAnnabelle has lived on her family’s farm in rural Pennsylvania her whole life. She lives in a nice house that has been in the family for a long time and she helps around their farm when needed. She is also friendly with her neighbors including Toby, a World War I veteran who lives in a shack and is always around to help when needed. He doesn’t speak much, but the whole small town knows that he is a nice guy. Then Betty Glengarry comes to live with her grandparents due to the current war, which we know as World War II. Betty is not nice. In fact, she is a bully and her main target is Annabelle. Betty’s grandparents and the town people all think Betty is a nice girl, so Annabelle thinks she has no one to talk to. One day, Annabelle attempts to be strong and stand up for herself and Betty does stop bullying her. However, Betty changes her target to Toby and soon the town is wondering if Toby is as nice as they thought.

Book reviewed by Laura B., Youth Technology Librarian

A Night Divided by Jennifer A. Nielsen

Cover image for A night dividedImagine that someone builds a wall in the middle of the night separating your town into different sides. You have to stay on the side you are on and never get to visit the other side. That is exactly what happened when the Berlin Wall was built to separate the West from the East. Gerta, her brother Fritz, and her mom are on the east side while her father and her brother Dominic are on the west side. The people on the east side are watched very closely, and the people on the west side have better living conditions. Gerta is inspired to get her family to the west side, but can she do it without being discovered by the guards? Read this story to find out!

Book reviewed by Anne W., Youth Services Assistant

A Voyage in the Clouds: The (Mostly) True Story of the First International Flight by Balloon in 1785 by Matthew Olshan

Cover image for A voyage in the clouds : the (mostly) true story of the first international flight by balloon in 1785This picture book for older readers is based on the day in 1785 when Dr. John Jeffries (an Englishman) and Jean-Pierre Blanchard (a Frenchman) set out to cross the English Channel in a hot air balloon. The two men did not always agree with each other, and the ride did not go entirely smoothly. In the middle of the flight, for example, the balloon began to fall! This book is hilarious and would make a fantastic classroom read aloud. I was laughing out loud before it even got to the part where they started urinating overboard to lighten their load!

Book reviewed by Erin E., Youth Services Programming Coordinator

Nine, Ten: A September 11 Story by Nora Raleigh Baskin

Cover image for Nine, ten : a September 11 storyIt is September 9, 2001. A day like any other day. Children in school, parents working, families settling down to their dinners – nothing out of the ordinary in any way. Our story begins here, introducing us to four children and their families, one each in Chicago, Illinois; Shanksville, Pennsylvania; Brooklyn, New York; and Columbus, Ohio. All of them will soon feel the impact of the events of September 11, 2001, each in their own special way. The tragedy of 9.11 is gently brought home through the stories of these ordinary children. The history of the day becomes more personal as we see it unfold through their eyes. If you like historical fiction, and would like to understand 9.11 in a new way, this is the book for you.

Book reviewed by Loreen S., Youth Services Assistant

Echo by Pam Muñoz Ryan

Cover image for Echo : a novelThink of a piece of music.  In this song, there are three harmonies that come together to make the melody.  Each of these three children’s stories is one of those harmonies.

Friedrich lives in Nazi Germany.  All he wants is to be left alone to play music, but first he needs to rescue his father who has been arrested.  He must smuggle some money into the work camp to buy his father’s freedom.  On his way there, he is captured by Nazis.  Will he make it?

Mike and Frankie are brothers who live in an orphanage in Pennsylvannia during the Great Depression.  They think their luck has improved when they are adopted by a former concert pianist and taken to live in her mansion.  However, it turns out that Mrs. Sturbridge is only adopting them in order to get her inheritance.  When they try to run away, Mike falls as he is climbing out the bedroom window.   Will he make it?

Ivy’s parents manage a farm in South California.  The farm is owned by the Yamamotos, a Japanese family imprisoned in an internment camp.  Their neighbor Mr. Ward thinks the Yamamotos were spies.  He spray paints hateful words on the house and tears up the garden.  He even insists on being shown the contents of the Yamamoto’s house.  Instead of spy equipment, it turns out that the family is hiding musical instruments.  None of this matters, however, when Ivy’s family receives a telegram about her brother, a soldier in World War II.  Will her brother be okay?

All the children face challenges, but pulled by an invisible thread, their stories come together in an unexpected way.

Book reviewed by Mary S., Youth Services Department Head