Subscribe to The Horn Book

Review of Wolf Hollow

wolk_wolf hollow

Wolf Hollow by Lauren Wolk Intermediate, Middle School    Dutton    294 pp. 4/16    978-1-101-99482-5    $16.99    g Two story lines wind around each other in this novel set in rural Pennsylvania in the 1940s. The narrator, twelve-year-old Annabelle, is one of the objects of vicious attacks by new girl Betty, who has inexplicably but relentlessly taken against […]

The past made personal

engle_lion island

Here are four historical novels about kids living through difficult times in the past, all recommended for intermediate readers. Marc Tyler Nobleman’s epistolary novel Brave like My Brother explores ten-year-old Charlie’s home-front uncertainty and the challenges of war for his older brother Joe. Joe’s letters describe life as a soldier stationed in Europe without sounding […]

Twentieth-century friends

neri_tru & nelle

Here are four works of historical fiction with vivid characters whose relationship with friends and family will draw middle-grade readers into their stories. In G. Neri’s Tru & Nelle, Truman, an eccentric Little Lord Fauntleroy aspirant, and Nelle, a feisty girl with a boyish haircut, strike up an unlikely and unshakable friendship in Depression-era Monroeville, […]

The past made present | Class #3, 2016

class3books2016_500x444

Next Tuesday (February 9), Lauren’s class will be discussing several books. The theme for the day is “The past made present” so they will look at both historical fiction and nonfiction — including one book that’s a hybrid of the two. Everyone will be reading One Crazy Summer; they will choose to read either No […]

Two historical fiction books | Class #3, 2016

One Crazy Summer

     One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams-Garcia Supplemental readings: Rita Williams-Garcia’s profile in July/August 2007 Horn Book Magazine No Crystal Stair: A Documentary Novel of the Life and Work of Lewis Michaux, Harlem Bookseller by Vaunda Micheaux Nelson; illustrated by R. Gregory Christie Historical fiction is a balancing act of storytelling and character development with […]

Identifying with history

nelson_american ace

In poetry or prose, these works of historical fiction for middle graders delve into the search for identity during hard times, offering paths to self-fulfillment through connecting with family or the arts. In American Ace, a novel in verse, Marilyn Nelson tells the story of Connor Bianchini, who discovers that his biological grandfather was a […]

The 2016 Scott O’Dell Award for Historical Fiction

hiredgirl_210x300

The 2016 Scott O’Dell Award for Historical Fiction goes to The Hired Girl, by Laura Amy Schlitz, published by Candlewick Press. When Joan’s father burns her beloved books as an undeserved punishment for shirking her housework, the put-upon fourteen-year-old makes a reckless gambit for freedom, running away to Baltimore in search of paid work. There […]

Which book will hurt which reader how?

hiredgirl_210x300

There are some lively debates going on at Heavy Medal and Fuse #8 about Laura Amy Schlitz’s The Hired Girl, a presumed favorite for 2016 Newbery consideration. The Horn Book starred it; I like it too (and here’s a brief interview I did with Schlitz in the September Magazine). What’s interesting about this debate is […]

Review of The Hired Girl

hiredgirl_210x300

 The Hired Girl by Laura Amy Schlitz Middle School   Candlewick   392 pp. 9/15   978-0-7636-7818-0   $17.99 e-book ed. 978-0-7636-7943-9   $17.99 In 1911, spirited fourteen-year-old Joan, the only girl in a family of three boys plus a verbally abusive father (her weak-of-constitution mother has died), musters her courage and leaves her rural Pennsylvania home for Baltimore, the […]

Review of The Curious World of Calpurnia Tate

kelly_curious world of calpurnia tate

The Curious World of Calpurnia Tate by Jacqueline Kelly Intermediate, Middle School     Holt     309 pp. 7/15     978-0-8050-9744-3     $16.99     g Kelly returns to turn-of-the-last-century small-town central Texas to continue the story of nascent scientist Callie Vee. Kelly quickly fills readers in on essential background (only girl in the family, with six brothers; […]