No Crystal Stair

No Crystal Stair by Vaunda Micheaux Nelson

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 Documents, photos, fictionalized and true accounts of historical figures and events are woven together in this portrait of Nelson’s larger-than-life great uncle Lewis Michaux. What to you make of the […]

Historical fiction — why didn’t I use it more?

One Crazy Summer

A librarian friend of mine* recently asked me why historical fiction doesn’t make its way into social studies and language arts classrooms more often. The thought keeps rattling around in my brain. First, I should say that I don’t know for sure that there aren’t tons of classrooms where historical fiction is a great pillar […]

The 2014 Scott O’Dell Award for Historical Fiction

Bo at Ballard Creek

The 2014 Scott O’Dell Award for Historical Fiction goes to Kirkpatrick Hill for Bo at Ballard  Creek, illustrated by LeUyen Pham; published by Henry Holt Books for Young Readers, a division of the Macmillan Children’s Book Group. Like Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House in the Big Woods, Bo at Ballard Creek takes its young heroine […]

Smugglers, secrets, and the Sasanach

cave of secrets

Combine the words “historical,” “fiction,” and “smugglers” in the same sentence, and most people immediately think of buccaneers and tropical seas. But as Morgan Llywelyn shows in Cave of Secrets (O’Brien Press/Dufour Editions, June 2013), smuggling was also a way of life for ordinary people living under British rule in seventeenth-century Ireland. Set in the […]

The 2013 Scott O’Dell Award for Historical Fiction


The 2013 Scott O’Dell Award for Historical Fiction goes to Louise Erdrich for Chickadee, published by Harper, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers. The annual award, created by Scott O’Dell and Zena Sutherland in 1982 and now administered by Elizabeth Hall, carries with it a prize of $5000, and goes to the author of a distinguished […]


Henry Cole’s Unspoken: A Story from the Underground Railroad (see the Review of the Week, by Betty Carter) presented us with some very complicated questions. It’s a terrific and intriguing book, a wordless, pencil-illustrated tale of a young girl feeding and protecting a person hiding behind the cornstalks in her family’s barn; soldiers and a […]

Review of Code Name Verity

Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein

Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein High School    Hyperion    337 pp. 5/12    978-1-4231-5219-4    $16.99    g e-book ed.  978-1-4231-5325-2    $16.99 Wein’s exceptional — downright sizzling — abilities as a writer of historical adventure fiction are spectacularly evident in this taut, captivating story of two young women, spy and pilot, during World War II. Wein gives us […]

Two things to do tonight

One: Ruta Sepetys will be speaking and signing her novel Between Shades of Gray tonight at Porter Square Books in Cambridge at 7:00PM. Two: I am being interviewed by Emma Walton Hamilton tonight at 7:00PM EDT at the Children’s Book Hub. It’s a membership site, but you can listen for free by following this link. […]

In which I reveal a taste for trash


I mean, beyond all the Judith Krantz I’ve been quoting from memory over on Twitter. Wendy at Six Boxes of Books interviews me about the Scott O’Dell Award.

>With churned butter

>Am reading @HalfPintIngalls‘ (aka Wendy McClure’s) really engrossing The Wilder Life: My Adventures in the Lost World of Little House on the Prairie, and I find myself unseasonably wishing for Laura’s gingerbread.