Tag Archives | historical fiction

Centerburg Tales by Robert McCloskey

Centerburg Tales by Robert McCloskey. Viking, 1979, 191 pages. Reading Level: Middle Grades, 8-10 Maturity Level: 2 (ages 4-8) and up Centerburg Tales is set in the same, small Midwestern town as Homer Price and uses many of the same characters. While Homer Price, though fiction, has a down-home, realistic feel of a boy’s experience, […]

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Homer Price by Robert McCloskey

Homer Price by Robert McCloskey. Viking, 1943. 149 pages. Reading Level: Middle Grades, 8-10 Maturity Level: 2 (ages 4-8) and up McCloskey has transformed his picture book hero, Lentil, into a slightly more grown-up Homer Price. Homer lives outside the town of Centerberg and experiences small town America in all its glory. Folks know each […]

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Lentil by Robert McCloskey

Lentil by Robert McCloskey. First published by Viking, 1940. Reading Level: Picture Books, 4-8 Maturity Level: 2 (ages 4-8) Lentil, McCloskey’s first picture book, is now 74 years old. Readers will recognize McCloskey’s familiar style from his more well-known picture books (such as Blueberries for Sal or Make Way for Ducklings). Lentil is a young boy from the […]

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Zane and the Hurricane

Zane and the Hurricane: a Story of Katrina, by Rodman Philbrick. Scholastic, 2014, 181 pages. Reading Level: Middle Grades, ages 11-12 Maturity Level: 4 Zane does not want to spend a couple of weeks in New Orleans—Smellyville, he dubs it—but his mom has just discovered an almost-relative of his late father there and insists he […]

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Curiosity

Curiosity, by Gary Blackwood. Dutton, 2014, 310 pages. Reading Level: Middle Grades, Ages 11-12, Young Adult, ages 12-14 Maturity Level: 5 (Ages 12-14) Philadelphia, 1836: Rufus Goodspeed has led a sheltered life as the only child of his sheltered father, a Methodist minister. Partially crippled from birth (which birth also took his mother), Rufus feels […]

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Seven Stories Up

Seven Stories Up, by Laurel Snyder. Random House, 2014, 229 pages. Reading Level: Middle Grades, Ages 8-10 Maturity Level: 3 (ages 8-10) Annie and her mom arrive in Baltimore on a sad mission: to say farewell to Annie’s grandmother, who is on her deathbed in the former luxury hotel built by her great-grandfather. Grandmother is […]

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Spy Catchers of Maple Hill

Spy Catchers of Maple Hill by Megan Frazer Blakemore. Bloomsbury, 2014. Age/interest level: 9-12. I thoroughly enjoyed Blakemore’s The Water Castle which came out in 2013. So, when I had the chance to scoop up Blakemore’s next one as a pre-publication copy at ALA this January (2014), I jumped at it. Spy Catchers is geared to a slightly younger […]

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The Shakespeare Stealer–and an Interview with Author Gary Blackwood

The Shakespeare Stealer (1998), Shakespeare’s Scribe (2000), and Shakespeare’s Spy (2003), by Gary Blackwood.  Penguin Group; Puffin Books.  Age/interest level: 12-16. True story: in 1998 I was shopping around a manuscript about a 14-year-old boy in 16th-century London who through a series of happy misfortunes becomes an actor in William Shakespeare’s theater company.  Before starting […]

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The Playmaker by (our very own) J. B. Cheaney

When I first read this book, I did not know Janie personally. I knew of her from WORLD Magazine, but it took a flyer at my local library for me to discover her middle grades fiction. I managed to finagle a face-to-face meet-up with Janie when she came to town for a Shakespeare Festival (and, like all […]

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On the Court and in the Woods: Books for Teen Boys

Will in Scarlet, by Matthew Cody.  Knopf, 20134, 272 pages.  Age/interest level: 12-up. We’re introduced to William Shackley as a callow, nervous 14-year-old on his first real wolf hunt.  He has expectations to live up to: heir apparent to the family estate while his father is away crusading with Richard the Lionheart, he’s spent most […]

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Tough Times: Two Middle-Grade Historical Novels for Boys

River Rats, by Leslie J. Wyatt.  Royal Fireworks Press, 2013, 212 pages.  Age/interest level: 10-14. Kenny Barton would be the first to admit he doesn’t have it too bad.  A Missouri farm boy’s life in 1940 doesn’t lack for hard work and long days, but when the work is done adventure calls: fields and woods […]

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