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May 15, 2018 BOOKLIST
Find more Top 10 Historical Fiction for Youth
Capable females, an undead gangster, and shipwrecked teens are but a few of the characters populating this year’s top historical-fiction titles. All were reviewed in Booklist between April 15, 2015, and April 1, 2016.
Burn Baby Burn. By Meg Medina. 2016. Candlewick, $17.99 (9780763674670). Gr. 9–12.
This atmospheric novel sets Cuban American Nora’s teenage struggles with family and independence against the backdrop of New York’s infamous summer of 1977, marked by blackouts, arson, and the Son of Sam killings.
The Death and Life of Zebulon Finch, v.1: At the Edge of Empire. By Daniel Kraus. 2015. Simon & Schuster, $18.99 (9781481411394). Gr. 9–12.
After 17-year-old gangster Zebulon Finch is shot and killed, he mysteriously comes back to life. Spanning from the turn of the century to 1941, this skillful blend of historical fiction, dark humor, and horror tackles life’s biggest questions.
The Detective’s Assistant. By Kate Hannigan. 2015. Little, Brown, $17 (9780316403511). Gr. 4–7.
Pinkerton detective Kate Warne is joined by her 11-year-old niece, Nell, in this exciting and expertly crafted mystery. Disguises, chicanery, and intrigue mix with American history to effortlessly draw in readers.
Full Cicada Moon. By Marilyn Hilton. 2015. Dial, $17.99 (9780525428756). Gr. 4–7.
Mimi Yoshiko Oliver dreams of fitting in and of becoming an astronaut. Set in 1969, this novel in verse captures Mimi’s journey as a half-black, half-Japanese girl during a transitional time in U.S. history.
The Hired Girl. By Laura Amy Schlitz. 2015. Candlewick, $17.99 (9780763678180). Gr. 7–10.
In 1911, 14-year-old Joan is taken into the household of a wealthy Jewish family as a hired girl. Written as a diary, Joan’s confessions and revelations make for a rich and memorable story.
The Lie Tree. By Frances Hardinge. May 2016. Abrams/Amulet, $17.95 (9781419718953). Gr. 7–12.
When 14-year-old Faith’s father meets a tragic end, she investigates his death while caring for a dangerous plant specimen. The result is a layered mystery that examines science, religion, and gender roles in 1868.
Lillian’s Right to Vote: A Celebration of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. By Jonah Winter. Illus. by Shane W. Evans. 2015. Random/Schwartz & Wade, $16.99 (9780385390286). Gr. 1–4.
This vibrantly illustrated picture book follows the footsteps of an elderly African American woman on her way to the ballot box while recalling her family’s journey to obtain the right to vote.
Night on Fire. By Ronald Kidd. 2015. Albert Whitman, $16.99 (9780807570241). Gr. 5–8.
Thirteen-year-old Billie strikes up an unlikely friendship with her black housekeeper’s daughter, and the two ride the bus to Montgomery in a parallel journey with the Freedom Riders.
Salt to the Sea. By Ruta Sepetys. 2016. Philomel, $18.99 (9780399160301). Gr. 9–12.
Four young people give voice to history’s worst maritime disaster, the sinking of the Wilhelm Gustloff during WWII. With exquisite prose, Sepetys shapes a haunting narrative that won’t soon be forgotten.
The Seventh Most Important Thing. By Shelley Pearsall. 2015. Knopf, $16.99 (9780553497281). Gr. 5–8.
Arthur T. Owens is sentenced to 120 hours of community service with local trash-picker and folk-artist James Hampton only to discover there’s a lot more to Hampton than meets the eye.
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