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Amy S > Historical Fiction and Biography (Choose 2)

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Amy Stevens | 26 comments Does this mean 2 of each or 1 of each?

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Amy Stevens | 26 comments Bud, Not Buddy by Christopher Paul Curtis is a wonderful book that not only ties to Historical Fiction, but also fills the need for culturally relevant literature.

The novel is written by African-American author Christopher Paul Curtis, who is also the author of The Watsons Go to Birmingham 1963.

Curtis penned Bud, to fit into the Great Depression. Images of shantytowns made from cardboard boxes or Hoovervilles as they were called clearly reflect our nation struggling at the time. Other parts include characters standing in line for the soup kitchen, children being orphaned by families, and men "riding the rails" to look for work.

I also love this novel because it depicts a 10 year old African American boy who is orphaned when his sickly mother dies. Bud doesn't know who is father is and the only clue he has is a flyer with Herman E. Calloway's name listed. Bud thinks this is his father and sets out to find him, running away from his foster home. The students in my classes find this novel funny, but on a more serious note, they are able to genuinely relate to Bud and his experiences.

There is also a huge influence of Jazz throughout the book, also allowing me to familiarize my students with a great genre of music. I give this book a 2 thumbs up!

A second Historical Fiction novel is Crossing the Wire by Will Hobbs. This is the story of a young boy, he's 15, who's lives in Mexico. Victor, the main character, is faced with a decision of the failing farm causing his family to starve.

Victor ultimately decides to "cross the wire" at the border between Mexico and the United States so he can look for work and then send money he's earned back to his family.

The novel is frightening when thinking about a young boy trying to provide for his family and basically facing the uncertainties of trying to survive in the desert and trust criminals.

A thought provoking book causing us to examine the issues of illegal immigrants and border issues our nation has faced since September 11. This is a piece of history, but as a reader, I was able to see the other perspective we often forget.

While I think this novel is great, it is not one I would read with my fourth graders. I think students need to be more mature to handle some of the imagery and scenes written by Hobbs depicting Victor's struggles. Seventh and eighth graders would be a good match for this topic, possibly mature (and I mean mature!) sixth graders. The novel does have beatings that illegals face when trying to cross the border, and some descriptive death from those who just couldn't make it in the desert once they came to the U.S. Overly sensitive students would not be able to handle this book.

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