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Find more Top 10 Historical Fiction for Youth
Fictionalized biography is a strong element in several of our top 10 historical fiction titles this year, all of which do a great job of humanizing the issues of their time. The books were selected from titles reviewed during the last 12 months.
Bone by Bone by Bone. By Tony Johnston. Roaring Brook/Deborah Brodie, $16.95 (1-59643-113-X). Gr. 6–9.
David, who is white, and Malcolm, who is black, are blood brothers, but David’s father may be a member of the Klan. Johnston remembers her own father’s raw, racist language in her haunting story of family secrets and terrorism, set in a small Tennessee town during the 1950s.
The Boy Who Dared. By Susan Campbell Bartoletti. Scholastic, $16.99 (0-439-68013-1). Gr. 6–12.
One teen’s heroism is dramatized in this gripping fictionalized biography of Helmuth Hubener, a German teen executed for his secret anti-Nazi resistance. As he sits in prison, he remembers how he first began to question his patriotism.
Elijah of Buxton. By Christopher Paul Curtis. Scholastic, $16.99 (0-439-02345-9). Gr. 6–8.
Curtis’ breakthrough novel introduces an innocent child, born in a community of freed slaves in Canada, who confronts the horror of slavery when he crosses the border to the American South in 1849.
Jimmy’s Stars. By Mary Ann Rodman. Farrar, $16.95 (0-374-33703-9). Gr. 4–7.
World War II on the home front is made achingly personal through the eyes of 11-year-old Ellie, growing up in working-class Pittsburgh, whose beloved brother is shipped off to war.
Keeping Corner. By Kashmira Sheth. Hyperion, $15.99 (0-7868-3859-0). Gr. 7–12.
Widowed at age 12, Leela observes the tradition of “keeping corner,” staying inside for a year, until India’s fight for independence inspires her to question tradition and dream of becoming educated. The cultural specifics and the human rights issues are riveting.
Miss Spitfire: Reaching Helen Keller. By Sarah Miller. Atheneum, $16.99 (1-4169-2542-2). Gr. 8–11.
Told from the viewpoint of Keller’s young teacher, Annie Sullivan, this powerful fictionalized biography draws on Sullivan’s letters about the monumental challenges she faced in teaching Helen to use words.
Red Moon at Sharpsburg. By Rosemary Wells. Viking, $16.99 (0-670-03638-7). Gr. 6–9.
Living in the South during the Civil War, India, 12, gives up college ambitions to shoulder the burdens of women in wartime. With unflinching scenes of battlefield slaughter, this book is a call for peace and decency.
Rising Star of Rusty Nail. By Lesley M. M. Blume. Knopf, $15.99 (0-375-83524-7). Gr. 4–6.
The Red Scare is background for a touching story about Franny, 10, who wants piano lessons from newcomer Olga Malenkov. But what if Olga is a “commie”?
Useful Fools. By C. A. Schmidt. Dutton, $18.99 (0-525-47814-0). Gr. 9–12.
Intense issues of politics and injustice in Peru’s 1980s guerrilla war are made personal through a haunting Romeo and Juliet story about a desperate teen driven to join murderous rebels.
The Wednesday Wars. By Gary D. Schmidt. Clarion, $16 (0-618-72483-4). Gr. 6–9.
A coming-of-age novel set in suburban Long Island during the late1960s seamlessly knits together the cultural uproar with the internal uproar of early adolescence.
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