Staff Picks 4 Kids Category: Historical Fiction

Chasing Secrets by Gennifer Choldenko

Cover image for Chasing secretsIn Chasing Secrets by Gennifer Choldenko, Lizzie’s father is a doctor and one of her favorite things to do is visit patients with him, even though that’s not something girls really do in 1900. She discovers a hidden dark side of the city of San Francisco where she lives, including rumors that the plague is there. Then the family’s Chinese cook goes missing just when Chinatown is quarantined, and Lizzie is determined to find him—he is part of her family after all. Ignoring the rules of race and class, Lizzie must put the pieces together in a heart-stopping race to save the people she loves. This book brought to life a time and place in America’s history that children may not know much about.

Book reviewed by Erin E., Youth Services Programming Coordinator

The War That Saved My Life by Kimberley Brubaker Bradley

Cover image for The war that saved my lifeThe War That Saved My Life by Kimberley Brubaker Bradley is the profoundly moving story of how one girl’s life is forever altered by events surrounding World War II. Ada has never left the tiny apartment she shares with her mother and younger brother Jamie; her mother won’t let her because she is ashamed of Ada for being born with a clubfoot. Lacking any support, Ada has never even really learned to walk. But when word spreads that London may soon be bombed, families begin shipping children out of the city, and Ada does not want to be left behind. She secretly teaches herself to walk and sneaks out with Jamie to board a train to the countryside. In the care of Susan Smith, Ada’s world expands beyond what she ever imagined. She teaches herself to ride a pony, watches for German spies, and even learns to read. At the same time, she is struggling with learning how to trust Susan and to believe in herself. The War That Saved My Life is an inspiring story of triumph against all odds. Ada’s journey will stay with you long after you turn the last page.

Book reviewed by Erin E., Youth Services Programming Coordinator

Shooting at the Stars: The Christmas Truce of 1914 by John Hendrix

Cover image for Shooting at the stars : the Christmas truce of 1914During the First World War, enemy soldiers were often camped out in trenches, with only a hundred feet of “No Man’s Land” between them. A virtual miracle occurred one Christmas Eve, when soldiers on both sides came out of their trenches singing “Silent Night” and shaking each other’s hands. The strangers ceased fighting while they exchanged personal items and even struck up a game of football with an old biscuit tin. History comes to life in this amazing story, told through vivid illustrations and a letter from a young soldier to his mother back home. Shooting at the Stars and other Picture Books for Older Readers are not only useful for the classroom, but they are just plain fun and fascinating to read.

Book reviewed by Erin E., Youth Services Programming Coordinator

ECHO by Pam Munoz Ryan

Cover image for Echo : a novelA midwife prophecy sets the stage for a quest that spans over four historical settings. Each of the stories introduces the reader to new characters facing challenges and a mysterious harmonica that allows us to share in their love for the beauty of music.  After all the stories have ended, they will continue to ECHO in your mind and heart.

Book reviewed by Marsha D., Youth Services Assistant

Bud, Not Buddy by Christopher Paul Curtis

Cover image for Bud, not BuddyThings have not been going well for ten-year-old Bud.  First, Todd, his foster brother, sticks a pencil up his nose while he’s sleeping.  Then when he defends himself, Todd beats him up and Bud is the one who is punished by being locked overnight in the shed.  There he sees a huge vampire bat, which he attacks with a rake.  Only it turns out the bat is really a hornet’s nest with about 6000 hornets heading straight for him.

Book reviewed by Mary S., Youth Services Department Head