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Find more Top 10 Historical Fiction for Youth
Rather than our usual practice of drawing from the past 12 months of reviews, this Top 10 list highlights the best historical fiction youth titles published between January and April 2009. Why? Because we’ve seen such a wealth of excellent titles this year that we couldn’t decide which ones to leave off. For more outstanding recent historical fiction for youth, see the 2008 Editors’ Choice list.
All the Broken Pieces. By Ann Burg. Scholastic, $16.99 (9780545080927). Gr. 6–10.
In spare, moving free verse, 12-year-old Matt Pin, airlifted from Vietnam at the end of the war, remembers what he left behind as he adjusts to his new life with a loving American family.
The Brooklyn Nine. By Alan Gratz. Dial, $16.99 (9780803732247). Gr. 5–8.
Brooklyn and baseball shape the nine chapters in this polished novel, which follows a New York family through successive generations, beginning in the nineteenth century.
Burn My Heart. By Beverley Naidoo. HarperCollins/Amistad, $15.99 (9780061432972). Gr. 7–12.
Set in 1950s Kenya during the Mau Mau rebellion, Naidoo’s haunting novel personalizes the political history through a friendship between two boys—one white, the other black.
Carolina Harmony. By Marilyn Taylor McDowell. Delacorte, $16.99 (9780385735902). Gr. 4–7.
During the summer of 1964, 10-year-old foster child Carolina begins a new life at Harmony Farm in the Blue Ridge Mountains. Rich, colloquial language and sensitively drawn characters create a memorable debut novel.
Flygirl. By Sherri L. Smith. Putnam, $16.99 (9780399247095). Gr. 7–10.
In 1941, Ida Mae Jones, 18, is determined to join the WASP (Women Airforce Service Pilots) and fight for her country, even if she has to hide her race. Smith explores little-known history, as well as gender and racial discrimination, in this stirring title.
I Want to Be Free. By Joseph Slate. Illus. by E. B. Lewis. Putnam, $16.99 (9780399243424). Gr. 2–4.
A powerful first-person narrative tells the story of an escaped slave in nineteenth-century America who rescues a child and finds freedom. The spare words and Lewis’ unforgettable watercolors emphasize the picture book’s universal themes of cruelty, courage, and kindness.
Pippo the Fool. By Tracey E. Fern. Illus. by Pau Estrada. Charlesbridge, $15.95 (9781570916557). Gr. 1–3.
Filled with the exciting details and drama of Renaissance-era construction, this absorbing fictional tale introduces Filippo Brunelleschi, who designed the dome that tops the Cathedral of Florence.
Puppet. By Eva Wiseman. Tundra, $17.95 (9780887768286). Gr. 7–12.
Based on the records of an 1883 Hungarian murder trial, this searing novel dramatizes virulent anti-Semitism from the viewpoint of a Christian child.
The Rock and the River. By Kekla Magoon. Aladdin, $15.99 (9781416975823). Gr. 6–10.
After his father, a civil rights leader, is stabbed, 14-year-old Sam follows his older brother and joins the Black Panthers. Set in Chicago, this taut, eloquent title remains true to the young teen’s viewpoint.
Soldier’s Secret: The Story of Deborah Sampson. By Sheila Solomon Klass. Holt/Christy Ottaviano, $17.95 (9780805082005). Gr. 6–9.
A young woman disguises herself as a man in order to join the Continental army in this accomplished Revolutionary War–era novel that was inspired by a true story.
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