Historical

The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate

Calpurnia TateI admit to being a streaky reader - I think this time last year I was on a World War I fiction kick. And this winter I read three books in a row about the Johnstown Flood including both fiction and non-fiction titles - Three Rivers Rising, In Sunlight In a Beautiful Garden, and The Johnstown Flood. The latter is by David McCullough, a famous historian and two time Pulitzer Prize recipient who is from Pittsburgh near the area where the flood occurred.

Recently though it seems I am reading a lot of coming of age novels featuring girls as the main character. E. Lockhart has written some wonderful contemporary coming of age novels, but for something historical I also have recently fallen for The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate by Jacqueline Kelly.
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Forge - Historical Thriller

If you thought this winter in Bloomington was a fierce one, you may feel it was downright balmy after reading about the winter the Revolutionary War soldiers experienced at Valley Forge in 1777-1778.

In Forge, Laurie Halse Anderson continues the compelling story she started in her award-winning novel Chains which describes the involvement of African American slaves in the Revolutionary War. Chains was told from the perspective of Isabel, a slave who spies for the rebels during the start of the war. She meets Curzon, a slave whose owner required him to enlist as a soldier and fight in the war in his place, with the promise that Curzon would become free when the enlistment time expired.
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The Mostly True Adventures of Homer P. Figg

Homer P. Figg and his older brother Harold are orphans, and their sad lives are made even more wretched by their mean guardian, Uncle Squinton. "Squint" forces Harold to be conscripted into the Union Army even though he is underage, and Homer is compelled to try to rescue his brother before he is killed in the savagery of the Civil War. Thus begin The Mostly True Adventures of Homer P. Figg. (Mostly true, because to Homer, telling the truth "don't come easy.") It's unusual to have a humorous book that takes place in a time of war, and though plenty of sad things happen, the author (Rodman Philbrick, who also wrote the famed YA novel Freak the Mighty) succeeds in keeping a lighter tone which kids and parents will appreciate. I hope you'll enjoy the folksy humor and fascinating characters as much as I did! (This book is a 2010 Newbery Honor book and is recommended for grades 5-8.)

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