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Find more Top 10 Historical Fiction for Youth
Whether set in Elizabethan England or the middle of the twentieth century, historical fiction shows today’s readers the differences and similarities of growing up in another era. This year’s top 10 list of historical fiction titles features books reviewed in the last 12 months in Booklist.
Alchemy and Meggy Swann. By Karen Cushman. Clarion, $16 (9780547231846). Gr. 4–8.
London has little appeal for village girl Meggy Swann until she begins helping her father in his alchemy work. This thoughtful depiction of Elizabethan England is also the story of Meggy’s own evolution.
Ashes. By Kathryn Lasky. Viking, $16.99 (9780670011575). Gr. 8–12.
In 1932 Berlin, blond 13-year-old Gabriella looks like the Aryan purists’ ideal, but her strongly anti-Fascist family members are derisively called “white Jews.” From Gabriella’s viewpoint, Lasky tells a gripping story about Hitler’s early rise to power.
Blessing’s Bead. By Debby Dahl Edwardson. Farrar/Melanie Kroupa, $16.99 (9780374308056). Gr. 5–8.
Blessing and her brother are sent to their grandmother’s village, where Blessing gradually untangles her family history and embraces her heritage. Two narratives—one historical, one nearly contemporary—make up this intricate novel set among the Iñupiaq Eskimos in Alaska’s far northern territories.
Crossing Stones. By Helen Frost. Farrar/Frances Foster, $16.99 (9780374316532). Gr. 7–12.
This moving novel in verse poignantly looks at World War I through the eyes of several young people. The boys are going off to war. The girls must learn to cope in different ways.
The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate. By Jacqueline Kelly. Holt, $16.95 (9780805088410). Gr. 4–7.
Growing up in Texas in 1899, Callie is expected to sew and cook. But it’s the natural world that catches her interest (and bonds her to her grandfather). Is it too much to hope that perhaps she can become a scientist?
Is It Night or Day? By Fern Schumer Chapman. Farrar, $16.99 (9780374177447). Gr. 6–10.
A spare yet powerful novel based on the stories of the author’s mother, who escaped to the U.S. from Nazi Germany at age 12.
One Crazy Summer. By Rita Williams-Garcia. Amistad, $15.99 (9780060760885). Gr. 4–7.
Set in 1968 during a pivotal moment in African American history, this vibrant book shows the subtle ways that political movements affect personal lives. Just as memorable is the universal story of children reclaiming a reluctant parent’s love.
A Season of Gifts. By Richard Peck. Dial, $16.99 (9780803730823). Gr. 5–8.
Grandma Dowdel, last seen in the Newbery winner A Year Down Yonder (2000), is back, and though 20 years have passed, time has not mellowed her. A vivid description of a small Illinois town in the 1950s and its unforgettable residents.
Signed, Abiah Rose. By Diane Browning. Illus. by the author. Tricycle, $15.99 (9781582463117). Gr. 1–3.
In nineteenth-century America, women artists were rarely given credit for their work. But in this picture book marked by winsome folk-art paintings, Abiah Rose is determined to become a painter and believes that someday she’ll sign her name to her pictures.
Take Me with You. By Carolyn Marsden. Candlewick, $14.99 (9780763637392). Gr. 4–7.
Pina and Susanna have lived at an orphanage in post–World War II Naples since they were babies, and though both hope to be adopted, each girl has something holding her back. An evocative and finely constructed story.
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