Down on their luck like most during the 1930’s, Turtle and her mom dream of hitting it rich. But for now, Turtle must move down to Florida’s Key West...moreDown on their luck like most during the 1930’s, Turtle and her mom dream of hitting it rich. But for now, Turtle must move down to Florida’s Key West to live with her aunt. There she discovers some rotten cousins, life without shoes, and the pursuit of buried treasure.
With the exception of those who devour it, historical fiction can be a tough sell for many readers. For me, this book rises above many “typical” books set in the past. Turtle is a smart, feisty young lady, who can enjoy the company of her rowdy boy cousins while still finding them mostly idiotic. Interesting details about the time period are delivered through her rather jaded eyes.
“…then they’re all talking at the same time, about shovels and boats, and I can’t help but think that this is exactly like something a Hollywood screenwriter would tap out at his typewriter. And I just bet some dumb director would cast Shirley Temple to play me.”
Tweens with similar strong opinions about celebrities and entertainment will identify with Turtle despite their different times. (less)
Tomasa and her family make the frightening, dangerous journey from their oppressed Guatemalan village through Mexico and on to the United States, rely...moreTomasa and her family make the frightening, dangerous journey from their oppressed Guatemalan village through Mexico and on to the United States, relying only on the kindness of strangers, hope, and each other.
This story had so much heart. Tweens are fast developing a sense of empathy, of purpose, of global awareness. This text is a perfect gem to feed this development. I suspect those who read the back matter describing the real life situation in the 1980s will be outraged that the U.S. did so little to protect these refugees. Another recently published title for tweens looking for more stories of struggle, survival, and hope is A Long Walk to Water: Based on a True Story.(less)
Hope wouldn't mind it a bit if her magician and phiolosopher of a father got cut from the vaudeville circuit. She'd like to try having a real life, ev...moreHope wouldn't mind it a bit if her magician and phiolosopher of a father got cut from the vaudeville circuit. She'd like to try having a real life, even if it means losing their measly income. But Hope's a practical girl, seasoned by a life of smoke and mirrors, and when mass hysteria breaks out in fear of the approaching Haley's Comet, she takes advantage of her Coins, as she calls them. She starts peddling anti-comet pills - just dressed up mints - to people and starts saving up for her and her father's future.
Hope is a charming character, definitely someone middle readers can connect to: she's plucky, resourceful, independent, and not completely unaffected by the attractive Buster Keaton, a real-life character curious readers can research. Interesting details are included about life in early 1900s vaudeville, making this a good choice not only for historical fiction fans, but also anyone who loves showbiz.(less)
The year is 1776. Isabel Finch and her younger sister Ruth were promised by their mistress that they would only be slaves to her as long as she lived....moreThe year is 1776. Isabel Finch and her younger sister Ruth were promised by their mistress that they would only be slaves to her as long as she lived. But freedom is denied them even after the old woman’s death. A relative sells them for his own gain, and Isabel and Ruth are taken against their will to the frighteningly unknown New York City. Isabel discovers that her new ruthless masters are Tories who support King George, while other colonists striving for independence would be willing to offer her help for information she might overhear in their house. War seems closer and closer each day in New York, and Isabel’s own battle for freedom continues alongside the political struggle. She slowly realizes that neither the British nor the American rebels intend to abolish slavery. If she is going to be liberated, she cannot depend on anyone but herself.
There are many historical fiction books about slaves after the American Revolution, but Chains gives the reader a fascinating look into what life might have been like for a young slave at the birth of the nation. It’s cruelly ironic that so many white Americans pursued liberty and freedom from British rule while owning African and African American people as slaves. Isabel, confused about who to trust and deeply loyal to her young, fragile sister, resists getting involved in the revolution, though other slaves fight on both sides for their freedom. Isabel is a strong character who illuminates how, in war and politics, things are not as simple or clear-cut as “good” versus “bad.” This is an amazing story, and I can’t wait to read the second novel, Forge, in this trilogy.(less)
I have been meaning to read this for years. Every time a librarian or avid reader of teen fiction recommended this with stars in their eyes, my fear g...moreI have been meaning to read this for years. Every time a librarian or avid reader of teen fiction recommended this with stars in their eyes, my fear grew a little more that this book could never live up to its hype.
This book might have more surprising, more delightful had I not known its unique details, such as Death as the narrator. But even knowing much about its characters and historical context, I still found this book breathtaking. (less)
A slow start to this eventually interesting and even a little bit suspenseful tale. Fascinating details like the Nazi-occupied French puppet governmen...moreA slow start to this eventually interesting and even a little bit suspenseful tale. Fascinating details like the Nazi-occupied French puppet government, postcards with pre-printed messages, and German's love of black radishes are new information to this reader. (less)
Wow! So glad the Boston Globe-Horn Book honor bestowed on this novel made me give it another try. The story is disorienting, intentionally so - it beg...moreWow! So glad the Boston Globe-Horn Book honor bestowed on this novel made me give it another try. The story is disorienting, intentionally so - it begins as a Scottish woman's WWII POW diary, part documentation of her Gestapo imprisonment and interrogation, part confession, part loving remembrance of her best friend, Maddy, the female pilot who dropped the narrator in Nazi-occupied France for an espionage mission. What makes this diary so puzzling for the reader is not only the shifting perspectives, the changing of names she uses for herself, and the cryptic abbreviations and underlining within the text, but also the sense that characters are holding some truth back, if not lying outright. The reading experience becomes the solving of a puzzle as you wade through all these bits and pieces. But this isn't solely for the analytic side of the brain. Elizabeth Wein packs in walloping heart, too, in her portrayal of a friendship forged by the fiery emotions of war. Keep reading, through the disorienting darkness of the story, and you will surely find light in the brilliant love and resilience of these two incredible characters.(less)