Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Historical Fiction Month Wrap-Up

During the month of November, I hope that you have gained a new appreciation for historical fiction.  It's a genre of fiction that is flexible, dynamic, and dare I say it, popular. 

Neil Gaiman once described graphic novels not as a format, but as a genre, a container for whatever you want to put into it.  Historical fiction is the same: you can add another genre like fantasy, ideas like feminism, or techniques like flashbacks in order to create the novel.  For readers, this is a blessing and a curse.  In the hands of a good author, historical fiction can be transformed into a thrilling page-turner.  But done badly, historical fiction is bland and boring. 

This month, many great works of historical fiction have been featured on librarian by day.  Whether you've become a new fan of the genre or have remembered why you love historical fiction, I thank you for reading this month. 

Monday, November 29, 2010

Guest Post: How An Author Researches

Enjoy today's guest post from author Kimberly Griffiths Little, about what draws her to historical fiction and how she researches and writes her books.  --Melissa

Historical Fiction Is A-Changing!

Many folks hear the genre, “historical fiction” and smother a yawn. They want fantasy, dragons, action, danger, excitement, incantations, magical wands and lightning bolt scars on their main character, but STOP. WAIT.

The saying, “Kids don’t really like historical fiction” is a long-held mantra, and it’s true that many editors don’t buy much historical fiction. Publishers are leery of being able to sell only a few thousand copies of “historical fiction”.

And yet.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Review: Forge

Laurie Halse Anderson
2010; Atheneum (Simon & Schuster); ISBN 978-1-4169-6144-4 (hardcover)

Historical Period/Events: American Revolution

Summary:  Curzon spent a year in a colonial militia, promised his freedom by his master, James Bellingham.  When Bellingham doesn't emancipate Curzon, he escapes, scratching along with fellow escaped slave Isabel.  But then Isabel leaves to find her sister, leaving Curzon determined to go on without her.  He soon finds himself enlisted again, trying to survive the desolate winter of 1777-1778 at Valley Forge.  It's there that Curzon will cross paths with two people, only one of whom he ever wanted to see again.

A follow-up to Chains, the National Book Awards finalist, Forge beautifully continues the story.  Curzon's growth is clearly portrayed, taking him from a boy who is only concerned with his own safety to a man who protects those he cares fore.  Readers also get to observe Colonial racial attitudes, as a free black man can be treated with respect by some.    A lengthy author's note from Laurie Halse Anderson details the facts and fictions in her story.  Those who enjoyed Chains are bound to snatch up Forge, as well as fans of Johnny Tremain and April Morning.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Thanksgiving and Native Americans

The First Thanksgiving at Plymouth by Jennie A. Brownscombe (Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)

This image represents how Thanksgiving began.  At least, that's the legend.  The Pilgrims, in celebration of their survival through their first long winter in the New World, held a ceremony of thanksgiving like the harvest festivals they had participated in back in Europe.  Joined by the local Indians who had helped them during that winter, the Pilgrims gave thanks to God for bringing them through. 

Since that first Thanksgiving in 1621, much of what this painting represents has been called into question.  Were relations between the Pilgrims and the Native Americans so friendly?  Was this even the first Thanksgiving?  And does this matter when Thanksgiving in the United States is now seen as being about food and football, not to mention the kickoff to the Christmas shopping season. 

November is often a time to discuss Indians, due to their role in the first Thanksgiving.  While acknowledging that books about Native Americans have come a long way, author Cynthia Leitich Smith notes:
However, stereotyped depictions persist. Contemporary settings are in short supply (and almost exclusively targeted at picture book readers). Certain well-known Nations like the Navajo (Diné) and Cherokee are highlighted while others don't appear to exist. Groups like Urban Indians are almost ignored. Few biographies focus on Native people known for their service to their own communities.
 How can you find high-quality portrayals of Native Americans, to share with teens in your schools and libraries?  Look to resources like the following
--Debbie Reese's American Indians in Children's Literature
--Resources from Cynthia Leitich Smith on Native American themes
--The National Museum of the American Indian, particularly in the Education section

Have a very happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Review: Crossing the Tracks

Crossing the Tracks
Barbara Stuber
2010; McElderry Books (Simon & Schuster); ISBN 978-1-4169-9703-0 (hardcover)

Historical Period/Events: 1920s America

Summary: When her mother dies when she is six, Iris is left with her emotionally distant father.  Now sixteen, Iris wonders if she'll ever find someplace that she belongs.  Her isolation feels even more extreme when her father hires her out as a companion to the mother of a country doctor.  Iris is surprised to be warmly welcomed by Dr. and Mrs. Nesbitt and treated like part of the family.  She slowly gains confidence in herself, even trying to help the local mean girl.  But when her father dies, Iris will have to see if she's gotten strong enough to make her own home.

The 1920s were a complex period to grow up, even if you didn't live in a big city.  Social and technological advances made life a bit easier, although it doesn't make coming of age any simpler.  Iris gains freedom through inventions like the telephone and the car, but she still feels unsure when it comes to her father and her future.  Far from jazz and bright lights, one girl learns how to be strong and independent.  Pair Crossing the Tracks with a book like Ten Cents a Dance to give an urban take on the same struggle. 

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Review: Countdown

Deborah Wiles
2010; Scholastic; ISBN 978-0-545-10605-4 (hardcover)

 Historical Period/Events: 1960s America; Cuban Missile Crisis; Cold War

Summary: Franny feels invisible: her little brother Drew is perfect and her older sister Jo Ellen is a college girl with a secret.  Her best friend Margie treats Franny badly and she doesn't know why.  Worst of all, her uncle Otts has gone crazy it seems.  In the midst of this drama, Franny's life is changed, like every other American's, by the announcement that missiles have been located in Cuba.  Gripped by the Cuban missile crisis, Franny tries to make sense of a world turned upside-down.  Can one eleven-year-old find strength and hope in such a world?

A coming-of-age novel based on Deborah Wiles's life, Countdown is an emotional look at the Cuban missile crisis.  The tension and uncertainty of the period is part of the narrative, giving readers a look at this piece of Cold War history.  The story is interspersed with a scrapbook-like collection of photos, newspaper articles and quotes, giving a documentary feel to this novel.  But Franny's relationships with her family are at the heart of this novel, and we see Franny's family as flawed and sympathetic characters.  More a children's novel than a YA book, Countdown can still be enjoyed by middle schoolers interested in the Cold War.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Review: Dangerous Neighbors

Dangerous Neighbors
Beth Kephart
2010; Egmont; ISBN 978-1-60684-080-1 (hardcover)

Historical Period/Events: 19th-Century Philadelphia; American Centennial Exhibition

Summary:  All her life, Katherine has taken care of her twin sisters, Anna.  But when Anna dies by falling through the ice on the Schuykill River, Katherine feels like she has failed--and she doesn't want to go on living.  For months, she's in a daze, even as Philadelphia prepares for and presents the Centennial Fair of 1876.  Katherine wants to join Anna in death, yet something keeps holding her back.  How can Katherine go on without her sister? 

1876 Philadelphia comes alive in this dreamy, introspective novel.  The bustle of a city playing host to thousands of tourists is contrasted wtih Katehrine's narrow focus on her grief.  As she starts to go beyond her own heartbreak, Katherine's eyes take in the beauty of existence, letting her suicididal impulses drift away.  This character-driven novel transports the reader not just to nineteenth-century Philadelphia, but into the head of a grieving young woman as she gains the strength to stand alone.  Dangerous Neighbors will appeal to readers of novels like Laurie Halse Anderson's Chains.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Guest Post: My Sister The Moon and the Ivory Carver Trilogy

Today's guest post comes from Julie, who can be found at http://himissjulie.com or on Twitter at @himissjulie.  Enjoy!  Melissa

My Sister The Moon and the Ivory Carver Trilogy

Mother Earth Father Sky, My Sister The Moon, and Brother Wind, by Sue Harrison http://sueharrison.com/the-ivory-carver-trilogy

When I was around thirteen or fourteen I was at a loss about what to read. I’d read all of the assigned reading for school (finishing weeks early, of course) and I wasn’t in the mood to re-read any of my mom’s Stephen King books or any of my dad’s issues of Analog. I’d just finished all of Jean Auel’s Earth’s Children* books and was hungry for more, but, sadly, Jean Auel’s glacier’s pace of writing and publishing was determined to thwart me. So imagine my delight when one day at the bookstore I saw a cover that trumpeted “Sue Harrison outdoes Jean Auel!”

I plucked the book from the shelf and turned it over to see if it would satisfy my deep craving for prehistoric facts, survival, and romance:

"An abused and unwanted daughter of the the First Men tribe, young Kiin know the harsh realities of life in a frozen land at the top of the world. In an age of ice nine millennia past, her destiny is tied to the brave sons of the orphaned Chagak and her chieftain mate Kayugh--one to whom Kiin is promised, the other for whom Kiin yearns."

It was love at first blurb, and as I dove into the story, it reminded me in many ways of several of my favorite books, including Island of the Blue Dolphins, Julie of the Wolves, and, of course, the Clan of the Cave Bear books that it was being compared to.

In retrospect I realize that Harrison’s novels are much more well-written than Auel’s. She made quite an effort to have the tone and style of her writing match what, from her research, indicated the spoken cadence of the Aleut people. She wove details about day to day life into the narrative seamlessly, and made each character’s voice distinct and engaging.

The main character of the second two books in the trilogy is Kiin, a young girl who is abused and unwanted by her father. Refused a name--and thereby a soul--until she finally reached menarche, Kiin spent the first part of her life enduring beatings and dreaming of being wife to Samiq, one of the chieftain’s two sons. She knows that she is promised to one of Kayugh’s sons, and hopes it will be Samiq, for he is the one who is always kind to her and tends her wounds after her father has beaten her. The other son, Amgigh, sometimes taunts her along with her younger brother, Quakan, who has been taught that all of his failings are the fault of his greedy older sister, who should have died, and instead took his birthright from him.

When Kiin begins to menstruate, proving she has a soul, she must be named, but her father continues to insult her and his tribe’s chief by giving her a name that means “Who?” Kiin, however, doesn’t care, and is simply glad to have a name and soul, which brings her that much closer to becoming wife to Samiq.

Like in many young girls’ lives, menstruation is the beginning of many sweeping changes in Kiin’s life. With her name and new status and the potential for a new family, Kiin begins to assert herself in small ways. She carves a piece of ivory into a shell so she can keep it from her father, who fancies himself a carver but in reality only mutilates the materials he carves. This small but powerful secret adds to Kiin’s growing self-confidence, and in the other books her carving--and singing--are the talents that keep her alive during harrowing times.

The books alternate the point of view character quite a bit, so boys could be talked into reading these titles as well. Samiq is a character that I can see many boys identifying with and admiring, and we get several chapters from his perspective, so keep that in mind when hand-selling the books.

My Sister the Moon and Brother Wind are the volumes that explore and resolve the love triangle (quadrangle at times) in Kiin’s life, and take her from an uncertain, unwanted girl to a brave and competent young woman. The journey is full of rich details regarding the food, clothing, and traditions of the various peoples, and there is a great balance of action, romance, and lyrical writing that will keep most teens engaged. There is a touch of supernatural to the stories as well, including two otherworldly sisters who speak in prophecies and several spirit animals and objects who speak to various characters at different times.

The first book of the trilogy, Mother Earth Father Sky, focuses on Chagak, and ends with the birth of Kiin. Chagak is a teen during much of that book, so it also has some teen appeal, but I don’t think nearly as much as My Sister The Moon; however, teens that read Kiin’s story will probably want to read that book as well.

These books might possibly be a tricky sell to teens, but I think readers who enjoy survival books, romances, books with strong female characters, stories about abuse (including sexual abuse and incest), and historical fiction could be talked into giving these a try.

*I could--and might--write a whole ‘nother post on these books. Man, they were mind-blowing to re-read as an adult!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Review: The Healer's Apprentice

The Healer's Apprentice
Melanie Dickerson
2010; Zondervan; ISBN 978-0-310-72143-7 (paperback)

Historical Period/Events: Germany in the Middle Ages

Summary:  Rose knows that she is lucky to have the position of healer's apprentice.  The local healer, Frau Geruscha, has taught Rose to read and write along with showing her much encouragement.  But Rose grows faint at the sight of blood.  More troubling, though, are her feelings for Lord Hamlin, the son of the local duke.  Lord Hamlin is attractive, strong and responsible.  He is also betrothed to the daughter of a duke, a young woman who has been kept in hiding for years to protect her from an evil conjurer.  Amidst broken hearts, secrets, and demons, Rose must rely on her faith to sustain her.

An unusual blending of two genres--historical fiction with Christian fiction--succeeds thanks to an interesting storyline.  The historical details are well-drawn, capturing life in a German village in the 1300s at a time when faith was a large part of everyday life.  Rose and Lord Hamlin are the heroes of the story not simply for their faith but for their strong, moral natures.  Interesting questions about ethics and choices are sprinkled among the sweeping romance.  With an appealing cover and a hook-filled storyline, The Healer's Apprentice will attract readers who don't normally read either historical or Christian fiction.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Excerpt: Historical Fiction Mash-ups

In the fall issue of YALS, I have an article talking about historical fiction mash-ups: examples of historical fiction blended with another genre.  If you're a YALSA member, you automatically receive this journal.  For those non-YALSA folks, though, here's an excerpt from my article for your enjoyment!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Review: Annexed

Sharon Dogar
2010; Houghton Mifflin; ISBN 978-0-547-50195-6 (hardcover)

Historical Period/Events: 1940s Europe, Holocaust

Summary: In The Diary of a Young Girl, Anne Frank described the years spent in hiding due to her Jewish faith.  Yet what was it like for the teenage boy in hiding?  Peter van Pels struggles with the loss of privacy and opportunity.  He misses his girlfriend Liese, misses fresh air, misses freedom.  Cooped up in the small rooms, distracted by the fights between different members of the Secret Annex, Peter doesn't realize that the end is coming.  And when the inhabitants are discovered and taken away, Peter will realize how captivity can also be freedom. 

Annexed gives readers a different perspective on one of the classic works about the Holocaust.  Peter's story is told in two parts: his life in the concentration camp, struggling to survive, and the time in the Secret Annex. The daily boredom of hiding is contrasted with the deadly grind of imprisonment with heartbreaking effect.  Not just a retelling of The Diary of a Young Girl, Sharon Dogar's novel expands Anne Frank's world in an intriguing way.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Review: The Twin's Daughter

The Twin's Daughter
Lauren Baratz-Logsted
2010; Bloomsbury; ISBN 978-1-599990-513-6 (hardcover)

Historical Period/Events: Victorian England

Summary:  The first of many strange days for Lucy occurs when she answers her front door and sees her mother's face on another woman.  While Lucy's mother Aliese lived in comfort and luxury, Lucy's aunt Helen lived in the workhouse, unknown to Aliese.  Brought into the household, Helen learns to adapt, becoming a lady like Aliese.  Lucy is happy to see her mother and her aunt reunited.  But when tragedy befalls these identical twin sisters, leaving one alive and the other dead, Lucy is left with a wealth of questions.  First and foremost is whether a child really knows her mother.

Like a Gothic twist on The Parent Trap, this mystery keeps the reader guessing.  The identity of the woman left behind seems obvious to both Lucy and the reader, but there is a stunning turn of events as the novel reaches its conclusion.  Lucy is a stubborn yet thoughtful young woman, lucky enough to have the support of her friend turned love interest, Kit.  Lauren Baratz-Logsted crafts a memorable mystery, giving a historical setting to a thriller.  The Twin's Daughter is likely to be enjoyed by those who liked the contemporary mystery Dead Girls Don't Write Letters.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Guest Post: Getting Teens Interested in Historical Fiction

Today's guest post comes from Jessica, who you can find on Twitter as @jessyabookobssd, or at her blog, I Read to Relax.  Enjoy!  --Melissa

Getting Teens Interested in Historical Fiction
As a Teen Librarian it is always a challenge to introduce new books to reluctant readers.  One genre that I always love to recommend is historical fiction.  Many teens, though, seem to want nothing to do with the ominous H.F…until they pick up that one special book, that is! But, how to get them there?  That is the real challenge.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

The War to End All Wars

In Flanders Fields
By John McCrae
In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie,
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

I first heard this poem in, of all places, What Have We Learned, Charlie Brown?  As the Peanuts gang drove around Normandy, they visited sites important to World Wars I and II.  Their trip culminates in Linus reciting the first two verses of this poem while near the battlefields of Ypres.  See it for yourself (skip ahead to the five minute mark). 

On November 11, 1919, at 11:11 am, the armistice agreement that ceased hostilities in World War I went into effect.  World War I was a devastating conflict, inflicting casualties far beyond anything seen previously.  Millions went to war, and millions never returned.  Understanding World War I is critical to understanding World War II, yet many Americans know very little about this conflict.  Today is Veterans' Day: take a moment to remember those who serve, and those who have fallen.  And take a moment to remember World War I, the war to end all wars.

For more information, try one of these books.

Crossing Stones by Helen Frost
Hattie Big Sky by Kirby Larson
Rilla of Ingleside by L.M. Montgomery
Private Peaceful by Michael Morpurgo
The Foreshadowing by Marcus Sedgwick
Kipling's Choice by Geert Spillebeen
Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld

Unraveling Freedom: The Battle for Democracy on the Home Front During World War I by Ann Bausum 

The War to End All Wars: World War I by Russell Freedman (read my review)
Truce by Jim Murphy

Images taken from Wikimedia Commons

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Review: Picture the Dead

Picture the Dead
Adele Griffin and Lisa Brown
2010; Sourcebooks; ISBN 978-1-4022-3712-6 (hardcover)

Historical Period/Events:  Nineteenth-Century America; the Civil War

Summary: Death seems to surround Jennie.  The Civil War has taken her father, her twin brother, and her cousin/fiance.  Jennie knows she should move on and deal with the problems she faces: no money of her own, a lack of status in her small Massachusetts town, and the cruel treatment of her aunt.  Yet Jennie can't help thinking of her lost love Will.  It seems like he is trying to reach out to her from beyond the grave with some kind of message.  But just what is that message?  Jennie will have to find new reserves of courage when Will's warnings reveal the truth to her.

Evoking a very different time, Picture the Dead captures Civil War-era Massachusetts.  It was a time when people believed spirits could be seen in photographs, that ghosts brushed against our lives.  In moody, atmospheric prose, Adele Griffin showcases a ghostly story of lost love.  The scrapbook format, created by Lisa Brown's illustrations, enhances the story and provides clues to the mystery Jennie is untangling.  Pair Picture the Dead with Dianne Salerni's We Hear the Dead for an eye-opening look at the Spiritualist movement.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Review: Warriors in the Crossfire

Warriors in the Crossfire
Nancy Bo Flood
2010; Boyds Mill Press; ISBN 978-1-59078-661-1 (hardcover)

Historical Period/Events:  1940s Saipan; World War II

Summary:  As a native on the island of Saipan, Joseph is disdained by the occupying Japanese.  He dreams of going to a university like his cousin, the half-Japanese Kento who wants to be an engineer.  But Joseph would return to the island and open a school.  But such dreams must wait, for the Japanese Empire is fighting the Americans, and the native population is caught in the middle.  When the Americans attack the Japanese, Joseph and his family hide in a cave.  But with the Japanese facing defeat, they enforce a horrible policy, in an even that Joseph will witness.

Exploring a horrific event, this novel is also a look at the native population of the small Pacific island of Saipan.  The tension that existed between the natives and the Japanese is vividly portrayed.  There is also the beliefs of Joseph's people: their dances, their code of conduct, and more.  With simple words precisely selected like a haiku, Warriors in the Crossfire is a novel that honors the people of Saipan.  Use this novel in World War II displays or booktalks, as a complement to titles on the Holocaust.

Monday, November 08, 2010

YA Literature Symposium 2010

(Apologies for the blank post that went out earlier!)

The 2010 Young Adult Literature Symposium was held this past weekend in Albuquerque, New Mexico.  It was a great event, allowing librarians to concentrate on literature--the reason many of us are librarians, I suspect. 

The theme was Diversity, Literature and Teens: Beyond Good Intentions.  Programs that I attended included Connecting Religious Teens with Literature and The New Gay Teen: Moving Beyond the "Issue" Novel.  It was great seeing authors at the Authors' Happy Hour, and listening to Lauren Myracle and Ellen Hopkins at the closing session.  Best of all was having time to talk books with my fellow librarians. 

I was busy at the Symposium because I was a presenter too!  Doomed to Repeat It: Diversity in YA Historical Fiction gave me a chance to talk about some diversity themes in YA literature and share books with the audience.  Also part of the program were authors Christina Gonzalez and Ruta Sepetys, who were both fantastic.  If you're interested, further resources and the presentation slides are available at http://bit.ly/doomedtorepeat

If you want to read about what happened at the Symposium, check out the YALSA Blog's YA Lit Symposium tag, or access tweets sent during programs at #yalsalit10

The next Symposium will be held November 2-4, 2012 in St. Louis.  Will you be there?

Friday, November 05, 2010

Guest Post: Uprising by Margaret Peterson Haddix

Today's guest post comes from Dana W. Fisher, who discusses Uprising by Margaret Peterson Haddix and provides some curriculum connections.  Enjoy!  --Melissa

Margaret Peterson Haddix
Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers (2007)
ISBN: 978-1-4169-1171-5

Published in 2007, this little gem of a book was almost immediately overshadowed by the publication of the first book in Haddix’s new series.  I think it deserves your consideration and a second look.

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Review: Revolution

Jennifer Donnelly
2010; Delacorte Press; ISBN 978-0-385-73763-0 (hardcover)

Historical Period/Events: French Revolution; Music in the 18th Century

Summary: Two years after the death of her little brother Truman--a death she feels responsible for--Andi Alpers is in freefall.  She's on various substances (some legal, some not) in order to get through the day, she takes care of her mother who has gone crazy in the aftermath of Truman's death, and she's about to get kicked out of her exclusive Brooklyn private school.  The only good thing in her life is music: playing her guitar and having music lessons with her teacher.  To try and get her back on track, her absent father forces her to accompany him to Paris, where Andi is expected to complete the outline for her senior thesis on the eighteenth-century composer Malherbeau.  In Paris, Andi gets drawn into the historical world of the French Revolution, thanks to several reasons--but most of all to the diary she finds, of a girl named Alexandrine who becomes devoted to Louis-Charles, the last French dauphin and the son of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette.  These threads--Alex, Louis-Charles, Malherbeau, Truman, and Andi--will get drawn together in unusual ways, leading Andi to learn that while the cruel, horrible world may go on, she does not. 

This weighty novel, focused foremost on the grieving process, shows us an intriguing modern-day teenager.  While Alexandrine remains a character on the page, Andi lives and breathes, drawing the reader into her story.  Andi's struggle to deal with Truman's death is the thematic foundation of Revolution, and it is a slow, hesitant journey for Andi from hell to paradise.  The world-weary Andi slowly sees that just because the world is cruel and unfair, she cannot give in to the cruelty.  With leisurely pacing, Jennifer Donnelly lets Andi's story unfold, peppering the story with well-rounded characters and secondary themes of art vs. science, family dynamics, and young romance.  This novel is bound to find an audience among intelligent teens.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Review: The Red Umbrella

The Red Umbrella
Christina Diaz Gonzalez
2010; Knopf; ISBN 978-0-375-86190-1 (hardcover)

Historical Period/Events: 1960s Cuba and America; Operation Pedro Pan

Summary:  Life for Lucia is good.  She has her best friend Ivette, she's close to her parents and her little brother Frankie, and Cuba is a good place to live.  There have been troubles since the revolution, though, but Lucia doesn't really understand why her parents are so worried.  Then her family is branded as anti-revolutionaries, open to mistreatment and theft.  Fearing for their safety, Lucia's parents send Lucia and Frankie to America.  Living in Nebraska with the Baxters, a kind older couple, exposes Lucia to many new things, most of which she likes.  But she worries about whether she'll ever see her parents again.

Based on stories from Christina Diaz Gonzalez's family, The Red Umbrella looks at how families tried to protect each other after the Cuban Revolution.  Life in Cuba and Nebraska is vividly portrayed and contrasted, from the warm tropical beauty of Lucia's first home to the apple-pie Americana of her second home.  Peppered with Spanish phrases, The Red Umbrella is an eye-opening look at a new immigrant's adjustment to a new country.  This historical novel will be enjoyed by readers who have read Margarita Engle's novels in verse about Cuban history and are eager for a more modern story.

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

What is Historical Fiction?

It may seem like a silly question to ask, but defining just what is historical fiction illustrates the complexity of this genre.  On the surface, it's any novel set in the past.  But dig a little deeper, and you start seeing different questions.

Monday, November 01, 2010

Historical Fiction Month Kick-off

Welcome to Historical Fiction Month at librarian by day!  Every weekday in November, there will be discussion of young adult historical fiction.  Whether it's a book review, an essay from a guest contributor, or a post from me, readers will learn new things about historical fiction.  At least, that's the plan!

If you're attending the 2010 Young Adult Literature Symposium later this week, I hope you'll attend my presentation, "Doomed to Repeat It: Diversity in Young Adult Historical Fiction."  If you can't make it to the symposium, I'll be sharing info from the symposium next week.  In addition, if you are looking for a genre guide to YA historical fiction, perhaps you'll consider purchasing my book for your library or media center. 

I hope you enjoy the posts that appear this month at librarian by day.  I greatly appreciate the comments I've received since I started this blog, and I think that this month is the beginning of something new.  If you like the themed months idea, let me know.  And if there's any improvements you'd like to suggest, hit up the comment link.

In the meanwhile, get comfortable, enjoy the beverage of your choice, and happy reading!