Tag Archives | historical fiction


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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Rounding Up Some Good YA Reads

As Hayley noted earlier this week, the much-heralded final volume of Veronica Roth’s Divergent trilogy was a disappointment.  Much-heralded final volumes often disappoint, but what’s worse, they draw attention away from less-heralded novels that deserve notice.  These three titles range wide in content and theme, but all are worthy additions to the literary, mystery, and […]

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History in Graphic Format

As we conclude our History Month here at RedeemedReader, I hope you’ve enjoyed learning about historical fiction, church history, picture book biographies, general history, and more! One type of book we haven’t touched on is the graphic novel. A graphic novel will appear to be “just” a comic book to some, but the artists in […]

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Early America: Friendship and War

Friends of Liberty, by Beatrice Gormley.  Eermans, 2013, 184 pages.  Age/interest level: 8-14. Sally Gifford, as the daughter of an honest craftsman in 18th-century Boston, doesn’t have such a bad life, but it suffers by comparison with that of her new friend Kitty Lawson.  Except for one key fact the girls share: both have lost […]

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Sugar and P.S. Be Eleven: Middle Grade Historical Fiction

It’s another dual review by Janie and Betsy today! We’re teaming up to bring you reviews of two middle grade historical fiction novels during our History Month this October. Set almost 100 years apart, Sugar takes place during Reconstruction in the 1870s, and P.S. Be Eleven takes place in the 1960s. We’ll go through them chronologically; first […]

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