World Travels

Read your way around the world!

Lunch with Lenin

Ellis, Deborah. Lunch with Lenin and Other Stories. Markham, ON: Fitzhenry & Whiteside, 2008.
“Just say no to drugs,” is a common saying. But how do drugs affect families in Afghanistan and street children in Russia? These short stories offer various perspectives on the war on drugs. 



Gervelie's Journey

Robinson, Anthony and Annemarie Young. Gervelie’s Journey: a Refugee Journey. London: Frances Lincoln Children’s, 2009, c2008.

This true story, written in the form of a diary, tells the story of a girl who had to flee from her home in 1997 when fighting broke out in her home city of Brazzaville, Republic of Congo. Illustrated with paintings and photos, this touching story follows Gervelie as her family travels to Ghana and the Ivory Coast before finally moving to England. Highly recommended for readers 10-years-old and up. [Refugees]


We're Sailing Down the Nile

Krebs, Laurie. We’re Sailing Down the Nile. Cambridge, MA: Barefoot Books, 2007.

“As the riverboat sails down the Nile River, remnants of Egypt‘s long history and aspects of its present culture are revealed on its banks.” – CIP. A picture book for readers of all ages. [Egypt; Nile River; Stories in rhyme]


Garbage King

Laird, Elizabeth. The Garbage King. Macmillan Children’s Books, 2003.
Two teenaged runaways meet on the streets of Addis Ababa, the capital city of Ethiopia.  Dani has run away from his wealthy father. Mamo, an orphan, has run away from the man who kidnapped him and sold him into slavery.  Together, they find a way to survive with the help of other boys living in poverty. [Ethiopia; Runaways; Survival; Courage; Child abuse; Slavery; Homelessness; Friendship; Brothers and sisters]

Cry of the Giraffe

Oron, Judie. Cry of the Giraffe. Toronto: Annick Press, 2010.
Thirteen-year-old Wuditu and her family, Ethiopian Jews, set out for the Sudan, hoping to eventually reach safety in Israel.  Instead, Wuditu ends up in a refugee camp and life as a slave.  Will she ever be reuinited with her family?  Based on a true story, this novel is for mature readers. [Ethiopia; Sudan; Jews; Refugees; Slavery; Historical fiction]


One Hen

Milway, Katie Smith. One Hen: How One Small Loan Made a Big Difference. Tonawanda, NY: Kids Can Press, 2008.

“Kojo, a poor boy in Ghana, finds a way out of poverty and helps others do the same after he is given a small loan and buys a hen.” – CIP. An informative picture book for readers 10-years-old and up. [Chicken; Ghana; Microfinance]


For You Are a Kenyan Child

Cunnane, Kelly. For You Are a Kenyan Child. New York: Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2006.

“…a little Kenyan boy who gets distracted by all there is to see and do and forgets what his mama asked him to do.” – CIP. A beautiful picture book for all ages. [Kalenjin (African people); Kenya; Village life]

Muktar and the Camels

Graber, Janet. Muktar and the Camels. New York: Henry Holt and Co., 2009.

“Muktar, an eleven-year-old refugee living in a Kenyan orphanage, dreams of tending camels again, as he did with his nomadic family in Somalia, and has a chance to prove himself when a traveling librarian with an injured camel arrives at his school.” – CIP. A beautiful picture book for readers 8-years-old and up. The short sentences and flowing language make it a good read-aloud story. [Books and reading; Camels; Kenya; Orphans; Refugees; Somalis]

Our Secret, Siri Aang

Kessler, Cristina. Our Secret, Siri Aang. New York: Puffin Books, 2007, c2004.

“Namelok, a Masai girl, tries to persuade her traditionalist father to delay her initiation and marriage because they will restrict her freedom and keep her from the black rhino mother and baby she is protecting from poachers.” – CIP. A young adult novel recommended for mature readers due to the subject matter. [Culture conflict; Maasai (African people); Poaching; Rhinoceroses; Sex role]

Promise the Night

MacColl, Michaela. Promise the Night. Chronicle Books, 2011.
Young Beryl, abandoned by her mother and living with her father on a farm in Kenya, is determined to be independent. She is determined not to become a dignified young lady despite all the attempts made by the new housekeeper her father brings into their home and by the headmistress of the boarding school she is forced to attend. Based on the stories and diaries of Beryl Markham, the first person to fly solo across the Atlantic from east to west, this novel set in the early 20th century will appeal to readers 10-14 years old. [Africa; Markham, Beryl; Friendship; Loneliness; Determination (Personality trait); air pilots; Historical fiction]

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Naidoo, Beverly. Burn My Heart. Amistad, 2009, c2007.
Matthew and Mugo have been friends for years even though Matthew is the son of a wealthy landowner and Mugo is a household servant. But everything changes when the Mau Mau uprising begins in 1950s Kenya. Everyone becomes afraid and violence is around every corner. Based on historical events, this novel will appeal to adventurous readers who like books about real life. [Kenya; Historical fiction; Friendship; Racism; Fathers and sons]

Alexandria of Africa

Walters, Eric. Alexandria of Africa. Toronto: Doubleday Canada, 2008.

After getting in trouble with the law, a judge sends Alexandria to Kenya to work for an international charity. Away from home and without the luxuries to which she is accustomed, she begins to change her view of life. An easy-to-read young adult novel for readers 12-years-old and up.  [Juvenile delinquency; International agencies; Kenya; Teenagers]


Ellis, Deborah. The Heaven Shop. Toronto: Fitzhenry & Whiteside, 2004.
After their father dies of AIDS, Binti and her siblings are sent to neglectful relatives all over Malawi until they are rescued by their grandmother. Recommended for readers 12-years-old and up. [AIDS (Disease); Grandparents; Orphans]



Whelan, Gloria. Yatandou. Chelsea, MI: Sleeping Bear Press, 2007.

“Eight-year-old Yatandou helps the women of her Mali village raise enough money to buy a machine that will replace their pounding sticks.” – CIP. A picture book for readers 8-years-old and up. [Child labor; Mali]


Cunnane, Kelly & Hoda Hadadi. Deep in the Sahara. New York: Schwartz & Wade Books, 2013. 

Set in West Africa, this picture book tells the story of a young girl who wants to wear the veiled dress – a malafa – like her mother and older sister. It is recommended as a read-aloud for listeners up to 9 years old. It could also be useful for older students as an introduction to units on religion, customs, and world geography. Includes a glossary and additional information about Mauritania and Islam. 


Secrets in the Fire

Mankell, Henning. Secrets in the Fire. Richmond Hill: Annick Press, 2003.
This novel is based on the true story of an young girl living in war-torn Mozambique who has to flee with her family through a jungle planted with landmines.

Mankell, Henning. Shadow of the Leopard. Toronto: Annick, 2007.
At the age of nine, Sofia lost her legs in a landmine explosion. She still lives in a village in Mozambique and is now expecting her third child. Her beloved Armando works in the city and comes home on Saturdays. Life is hard, but things become much worse when, one weekend, Armando does not return. (back cover) This sequel to Secrets in the Fire is for mature readers only due to subject matter.


The Other Side of Truth

Naidoo, Beverley. The Other Side of Truth. London: Puffin Books, 2000.
“Smuggled out of Nigeria after their mother’s murder, Sade and her younger brother are abandoned in London when their uncle fails to meet them at the airport; they are fearful of their new surroundings and of what may have happened to their journalist father back in Nigeria.” – CIP. “The Other Side of Truth by Beverley Naidoo is a story about the way that people in Nigeria are treated differently than we are and how the main characters’ father works for a newspaper. Bit by bit, he starts losing all his social status. The main characters, Sade and Femi, have to be smuggled into London, England, where they find out by they’re not wanted by their uncle who is supposed to be taking care of them and so they’re sent to an adoption agency. They’re sent to three or four homes before finding out where they really belong. It’s a really good book with lots of suspense.” – Karissa in grade 7. Highly recommended for readers in grade 6 and up.


Grk: Operation Tortoise

Doder, Joshua Grk: Operation Tortoise. New York: Delacorte Press, 2007.

“While vacationing in the Seychelles, Tim discovers a well-guarded private island where he learns of a devious plot that threatens the endangered local giant tortoise.” – WAFMS.  Part of an easy-to-read series that travels around the world addressing modern day issues. Recommended for 9 to 13 year old readers. [Adventure stories; Dogs; Endangered species; Turtles]

South Africa


Javaherbin, Mina. Goal! Somerville, Mass.: Candlewick Press, 2010. 

A group of soccer playing buddies fend off bullies who try to spoil their game of soccer in this picture book set in a South African township. [Bullying; South Africa; Soccer; Friendship]

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Kent, Trilby. Stones for My Father. Toronto: Tundra Books, 2011.
Twelve-year-old “Corlie Roux, an Africaner from the Transvaal, copes with many changes after her father dies, war breaks out with the British, and she and the mother who clearly prefers her brothers escape to the bush only to be sent to a concentration camp.” – CIP  Set during the Boer War at the turn of the 19th century, this vivid historical novel – with some swearing – is highly recommended for avid readers in grades 6 and up. The story is much better than the unappealing cover design. [Brothers and sisters; Concentration camps; Historical fiction; Mothers and daughters; South Africa; South African War; Survival]

Journey to Jo'burg

Naidoo, Beverley. Journey to Jo’burg. New York : HarperTrophy, 1988, c1986.

“Separated from their mother by the difficult conditions for blacks in South Africa, Naledi and her younger brother travel over 300 kilometers to find her in Johannesburg.” – CIP. A short powerful novel for readers 11-years-old and up. It could be compared to the longer American novel Homecoming by Cynthia Voigt. [South Africa; Voyages and journeys]

Chanda's Secrets

Stratton, Allan.  Chanda’s Secrets. Buffalo, NY : Distributed in the U.S.A. by Firefly Books (U.S.), 2004. 

“Chanda Kabelo, a sixteen-year-old in a small South African town, faces down shame and stigma in her efforts to help friends and family members who are dying of AIDS.” – CIP. A powerful novel for mature readers 12-years-old and up. [AIDS (Disease); South Africa; Teenagers]


Tutu, Desmond and Douglas Carlton Abrams. Desmond and the Very Mean World: a Story of Forgiveness. Somerville, Mass.: Candlewick Press, 2013.

“While riding his new bicycle Desmond is hurt by the mean word yelled at him by a group of boys, but he soon learns that hurting back will not make him feel any better.” – CIP. A picture book for readers of all ages. [Forgiveness; Prejudices; Racism; South Africa]


Benny and Omar

Colfer, Eoin. Benny and Omar. New York : Miramax Books/Hyperion Paperbacks for Children, 2007, c1998.

“Benny hates his new life in Tunisia; none of the kids play his favorite sport, and he feels like he just doesn’t fit in, until he is befriended by Omar, a wild boy living on his talent for buying, selling, and fixing things.” – CIP. A fast-moving novel recommended for readers 11 to 14 years old. [Friendship; Moving, Household; Tunisia]


Diamond Boy

Williams, Michael. Diamond Boy. New York: Little, Brown and Co., 2014.

“When Patson’s family moved to the Marange region of Zimbabwe he begins working in the mines, searching for blood diamonds, until government soldiers arrive and Patson is forced to journey to South Africa in search of his missing sister and a better life.” – CIP.  For competent readers 12-years-old and up. [Brothers and sisters; Child labor; Diamonds; Mines and mining; Runaways; Shona (African people); Zimbabwe]

Now is the Time for Running

Williams, Michael. Now Is the Time for Running. New York : Little, Brown, 2013, c2009.

“When soldiers attack a small village in Zimbabwe, Deo goes on the run with Innocent, his older, mentally disabled brother, carrying little but a leather soccer ball filled with money, and after facing prejudice, poverty, and tragedy, it is in soccer that Deo finds renewed hope.” – CIP. Recommended for more mature readers.  [Brothers; Homelessness; People with mental disabilities; Refugees; Soccer; Zimbabwe]




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Khan, Rukhsana. Wanting Mor. Toronto: Groundwood Books/House of Anansi Press, 2009.J

“Jameela feels relatively secure, sustained by her Muslim faith and the love of her mother, Mor. But when Mor dies, Jameela’s father impulsively decides to start a new life in Kabul where Jameela ultimately becomes an orphan after being abandoned in a busy marketplace by her father and stepmother. With only the memory of her mother to sustain her, Jameela finds the strength to face those who abandoned her when fate brings them together again.” – NVPL. [Afghanistan; Courage; Homelessness; Orphans; Sex role]

Stampler, Ann Redisch. The Wooden Sword: A Jewish Folktale from Afghanistan. Chicago: Albert Whitman & Company, 2012.
A wise Muslim shah in Kabul disguises himself in order to test a poor Jewish shoemaker’s faith in the goodness of God. Brightly illustrated by Carol Liddiment and recommended for ages 7 to 14. [Afghanistan; Faith; Folklore; Jews; Kings; Muslims]  


Never Fall Down

McCormick, Patricia. Never Fall Down. New York : Balzer + Bray, 2012.
Arn is forced to serve as a child soldier in this vivid novel, based on a real story, by an accomplished author. It will be appreciated by mature readers in grades eight and up. [War; Survival; Cambodia; Soldiers; Genocide; Young adult fiction; Kidnapping]


Bell, William. Forbidden City. Doubleday Canada, 1990.
“…a story about a sixteen-year-old boy named Alexander, enthusiastic and out-going, with a fascination for war-related strategies and important generals. One of his favourite hobbies is making soldiers out of clay. When his father goes to China, he is excited to go along but that’s when a dilemma happens. He is caught in a student protest and has to choose whether to help the students – and risk being hurt, wounded, or killed by the government armies – or  to run and  flee from the soldiers. He gets caught and sent back to America where he writes Forbidden City to cope with his pain.” – Caleb in grade eight. 

Ties that Bind

Namioka, Lensey. Ties that Bind, Ties that Break. London: Puffin, 2003.

“Ailin’s life takes a different turn when she defies the traditions of upper class Chinese society by refusing to have her feet bound.” – WAFMS. A fascinating fast-moving story that follows a young girl from the age of four to adulthood during the mid-20th century. Highly recommended for readers 12-years-old and up. [China; Sex roles; Immigration and emigration]

Sparrow Girl

Pennypacker, Sara. Sparrow Girl. New York: Disney/Hyperion Books, 2009.

“When China’s leader declares war on sparrows in 1958, everyone makes loud noise in hopes of chasing the hungry birds from their land except for Ming-Li, a young girl whose compassion and foresight prevent a disaster.” – CIP. A picture book recommended for readers 8-years-old and up. [Birds; China; Country life; Farms and farming; Historical fiction; Individuality]


Click HERE for a list of great stories.



Kling, Heidi R. Sea. New York: G. P. Putnam, 2010.
Fifteen-year-old Sienna accompanies her father on a trip to Indonesia to work with relief workers helping victims of a tsunami.  She has no idea that the people she meets will change her life forever. Teen readers who enjoyed Alexandria of Africa by Eric Walters are likely to find this novel, with added romance, even more enjoyable. In both novels, the main characters are typical self-absorbed teenagers who unwillingly leave California to discover the wider world.  [Tsunamis; Natural disasters; Orphans; Grief; Love; Humanitarianism]


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Myers, Walter Dean. Sunrise over Fallujah. New York : Scholastic Press, 2008.
“Robin Perry, from Harlem, is sent to Iraq in 2003 as a member of the Civilian Affairs Battalion, and his time there profoundly changes him.” – CIP. A young adult novel for mature readers 13-years-old and up. [African Americans; Iraq; War stories]

Silent Music

Rumford, James. Silent Music: A Story of Baghdad. New York: Roaring Brook Press, 2008.
In this picture book for adolescents, bombs and missiles fall on Baghdad while a boy uses the art of calligraphy to emotionally distance himself from the fighting.

Life lessons, I learned, can come from pretty much anywhere, whether it is my mom telling me to think ahead of what the weather will be like and to dress appropriately, or just me realizing I just did a stupid thing and telling myself, “Well, I’ll never do that again.”  And many times I find those life lessons in books. Silent Music by James Rumford (Roaring Book Press, 2008) is one of the books from which I learned a good life lesson. At first, when I picked up this picture book, I didn’t know what to expect. All I knew was that I needed to sign out two picture books so this was the one I grabbed off the shelf. Well, I guess this was the right one to pick because in the few pages this book had, there was so much meaning that a whole novel could be written on it.  Some of the things that I learned are that inspiration can lead to great things, and that in a time of depression, desolation and war, not losing yourself is one of the most important things that you can do. This story is set in Baghdad and is the tale of Ali, a young boy, who loves to play soccer and dance, but most of all loves practicing calligraphy. He is inspired by the great calligrapher Yakut and so, totally trapped in a country where war and poverty are all around, he turns to what he loves to bring peace to his heart and to his mind. This was truly an inspiring story. (Luisa in grade eight)


Broken Bridge

Banks, Lynne Reid. Broken Bridge. London: Hamish Hamilton, 1995.
Two fourteen-year-olds, recently arrived in Israel walk unsuspectingly thorough the streets of Jerusalem. Two men jump out of a doorway and pounce on them. A few agonizing seconds later, one of the teenagers lies dead from the stab of a terrorist’s knife. Recommended for readers 12-years-old and up. [Israel; Teenagers; Terrorism]

Real Time

Kass, Pnina Moed. Real Time. New York: Clarion Books, 2004.
“Sixteen-year-old Thomas Wanninger persuades his mother to let him leave Germany to volunteer at a kibbutz in Isarel, where he experiences a violent political attack and finds answers about his own past” – CIP  Recommended for readers in grade 8 and up. [Israel; Holocaust; Arab-Israeli conflict; Voyages and travels; Terrorism]

A Bottle in the Gaza Sea

Zenatti, Valerie. A Bottle in the Gaza Sea. Bloomsbury Publishing, 2008.
Tal, a teenager in Tel Aviv, throws a bottle in the sea after witnessing a bombing. Soon, she receives an email message from a Palestinian young man and slowly, a friendship develops between them. A young adult novel for readers 12-years-old and up. 


Click HERE for stories set in Japan.


Half a World Away

Kadohata, Cynthia. Half a World Away. New York: Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2014. 

“Twelve-year-old Jaden, an emotionally damaged adopted boy fascinated by electricity, feels a connection to a small, weak toddler with special needs in Kazakhstan, where Jaden’s family is trying to adopt a ‘normal’ baby.” – CIP. While not of outstanding literary quality, this novel for 11 to 14 year olds is recommended for its depiction of a little-known country and the intricacies of the process of international adoption process. [Adoption; Emotional problems; Love; Kazakhstan]


My Freedom Trip

Park, Frances. My Freedom Trip: a Child’s Escape from North Korea. Honesdale, PEN: Boyds Mill Press, Inc., 1998.
A young child is secretly helped to escape across the border into South Korea in this powerful  picture book based on real events. (Korean War; North Korea; Night; Courage; Historical fiction; Voyages and travels)

The Firekeeper's Son

Park, Linda Sue. The Firekeeper’s Son. New York: Clarion Books, 2004.

“In nineteenth-century Korea, after Sang-hee’s father injures his ankle, Sang-hee attempts to take over the task of lighting the evening fire which signals to the palace that all is well. Includes historical notes.” – CIP. A picture book recommended for readers 7-years-old and up. [Fire; Historical fiction; Korea]

When My Name was Keoko

Park, Linda Sue. When My Name was Keoko. New York: Clarion Books, 2002.
“With national pride and occasional fear, a brother and sister face the increasingly oppressive occupation of Korea by Japan during World War II, which threatens to suppress Korean culture entirely.” – CIP. Recommended for competent readers 11 to 15 years old.  [Korea, WW 2; Courage; Brothers and sisters]


Bamboo People

Perkins, Mitali. Bamboo People. Watertown, Mass.: Charlesbridge, 2010.
Chiko has been forced to join the Burmese army.Tu Reh has run away from a refugee camp to join his father fighting with the Karen people against the Burmese government. The two boys unexpectedly meet in the jungle.  What will happen? This young adult novel of compassion and hope set in Myanmar is recommended for readers 12-years-old and up, especially ones who appreciated  War Brothers by Sharon McKay and Shattered by Eric Walters.  [Fathers and sons; Burma; Survival; Soldiers; Refugees; War stories; Courage] 



McCormick, Patricia. Sold. Hyperion, 2006.
Thirteen-year-old Lakshmi lives in poverty with her mother and stepfather on a Nepalese mountainside.  She hopes a better life awaits her when she is sent to work in the city. But instead, she discovers she has been sold into prostitution. A National Book Award finalist, this disturbingly realistic novel is for mature readers only. [Human trafficking; India; Nepal; Prostitution; Slavery]


Click HERE for an annotated list of recommended stories.

Papua New Guinea

Jungle of Bones

Mikaelsen, Ben. Jungle of Bones. New York: Scholastic Press, 2014.

After joyriding in a stolen car, Dylan ends up in Papua New Guinea because his mother sends him to spend the summer with his uncle, an ex-Marine, who is on an expedition to find his grandfather’s bomber which was shot down in World War 2. Resentful, Dylan disregards warnings and gets lost in the jungle. Will he survive? Will he give up his perpetually defiant attitude? This quickly-paced novel will appeal to 11 to 15 year old readers. [Adventure and adventurers; Juvenile delinquents; Survival; Uncles; World War 2] 



Walters, Eric. Wave. Doubleday Canada, 2009.
When the 2004 tsunami strikes Thailand, Sam struggles to survive while his sister, Beth, at home in New York City wonders if she will ever see her brother and parents again. Told from alternating points of view, this historically based novel is by a popular and prolific Canadian author.


Inside Out

Lai, Thankha. Inside Out and Back Again. HarperCollins, 2011.
A ten-year-old girl tells of the journey she, her three brothers and her mother make from Vietnam to their new home in Alabama in 1975 after the fall of Saigon. A novel based on a true story for readers 11-years-old and up. 



Star of Kazan

Ibbotson, Eva. Star of Kazan. London: Macmillan Children’s Books, 2004.
Annika, a servant in a Viennese household, discovers the truth about her mother and finds herself on an adventure filled with suspense, danger and possibilities. (Mothers and daughters; Horses; Foster children; Frienship)

Czech Republic 

The Wall

Sis, Peter. The Wall. New York: Frances Foster Books, 2007.
“Annotated illustrations, journals, maps, and dreamscapes take readers on an extraordinary journey of how the artist-author’s life was shaped while growing up in Czechoslovakia during the Cold War, as well as the influence of western culture through the influx of banned books, music, and news, in a powerful graphic memoir.” – FVPL


Raven Summer

Almond, David. Raven Summer. New York : Delacorte Press, 2009, c2008.
Fourteen-year-old Liam discovers an abandoned baby in northern England which leads him to discovering two foster children who have experienced the horrors of kidnapping, terrorism and war. Recommended for competent readers 12-years-old and up.


Avi. Crispin: the Cross of Lead. New York: Hyperion Paperbacks for Children, 2002.
“Falsely accused of theft and murder, an orphaned peasant boy in fourteenth-century England flees his village and meets a larger-than-life juggler who holds a dangerous secret.” – CIP. [Faith; Historical fiction; Middle Ages; Orphans; Priests; Runaways]

The War That Saved My Life

Bradley, Kimberly Brubaker. The War That Saved My Life. New York : Dial Books for Young Readers, 2015.

“A young disabled girl and her brother are evacuated from London to the English countryside during World War II, where they find life to be much sweeter away from their abusive mother.” – CIP. Highly recommended for readers 11 years old and up. [Abuse; Brother and sisters; Foster children; People with Disabilities; Runaways]

The London Eye Mystery

Dowd, Siobhan. The London Eye Mystery. A Yearling Book, 2007.
Ted and Kat try to find Salim who has gone missing in London, England. Will they find him or has he disappeared forever?  Ted’s unusual way of seeing the world might be their only hope for success in the search to save their cousin. Recommended for readers 10 to 13 years old. [Asperger’s syndrome; Cousins; London (England); Missing children; Mystery fiction; Siblings]

One Dog and His Boy

Ibbotson, Eva. One Dog and His Boy. New York: Scholastic, 2011.
When lonely, ten-year-old Hal learns that his wealthy but neglectful parents only rented Fleck, the dog he always wanted, he and new friend Pippa take Fleck and four other dogs from the rental agency on a trek from London to Scotland, where Hal’s grandparents live. – CIP [Dogs; Family life; Independence; Parent and child; Runaways; Voyages and travels]

Medina Hill

Kent, Trilby. Medina Hill. Toronto : Tundra Books, 2009.
Eleven-year-old Dominic and his younger sister Marlo are sent from London to Cornwall to stay with their Uncle Roo and Aunt Sylv for the summer. Set in 1935, this detailed novel is filled with historical references which will appeal to readers ten-years-old and up who enjoy learning about the past by reading stories. [Family life; Friendship; Lawrence of Arabia; Mutism; Romanies; Summer; Vacations]

Jewel of the Thames

Misri, Angela. Jewel of the Thames. [Canada]: Fierce Ink Press, 2014.

“Set against the background of 1930s England, Jewel of the Thames introduces Portia Adams, a budding detective with an interesting – and somewhat mysterious – heritage.” – CIP. The first in a trilogy, this entertaining novel will appeal to readers 12 to 16 years of age who enjoy Sherlock Holmes stories. [Canadian fiction; Criminals; London (Eng.); Orphans; Sherlock Holmes (Fictional character); Young adult fiction]

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Reiss, Kathryn. Blackthorn Winter. Orlando: Harcourt, 2006.
Fifteen-year-old Juliana thinks that her mother has taken her and her siblings on holiday when they leave California and travel to a small town in southwest England. But she soon discovers her parents have separated and her mother plans to stay in the small artists’ colony. Life becomes even more complicated when she gets involved with a new boyfriend who tries to help her solve a murder. A action-packed novel sure to be enjoyed by readers in grades seven to ten. [Murder; Artists; Family life; Mystery and detective stories; Young adult fiction]

Forged in the Fire

Turnbull, Ann. Forged in the Fire. Cambridge, MA: Candlewick Press 2007.
In this sequel to No Shame, No Fear, Susanna and William move to London where they face new challenges. [Historical fiction; Plague; Love; Marriage; Middle Ages; Renaissance; Quakers; Faith; Young adult fiction]

No Shame, No Fear

Turnbull, Ann. No Shame, No Fear. Cambridge, MA Candlewick Press 2003.
Fifteen-year-old Susanna, a poor Quaker, and seventeen-year-old William, a wealthy Anglican, meet and fall in love, much to the dismay of their parents. [Historical fiction; Love; Marriage; Middle Ages; Renaissance; Quakers; Faith; Young adult fiction]


The Cat Who Walked Across France

Banks, Kate. The Cat Who Walked Across France. New York: Frances Foster Books, 2004.

“After his owner dies, a cat wanders across the countryside of France, unable to forget the home he had in the stone house by the edge of the sea.” – CIP. A quiet picture book for readers 7-years-old and up. [Cats; France; Home]

Dodsworth in Paris

Egan, Tim. Dodsworth in Paris. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2008. 

“When Dodsworth and the duck vacation in Paris, they have a grand time despite running out of money and accidentally riding their bicycles in the Tour de France.” – CIP. A cheerful and informative picture book for readers 7-years-old and up. [Ducks; Paris (France); Voyages and travels]

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Ellis, Deborah. No Safe Place. Berkeley, CA: Groundwood Books/House of Anansi Press, 2010. 

“Fifteen-year-old Abdul, having lost everyone he loves, journeys from Baghdad to a migrant community in Calais where he sneaks aboard a boat bound for England, not knowing it carries a cargo of heroin, and when the vessel is involved in a skirmish and the pilot killed, it is up to Abdul and three other young stowaways to complete the journey.” – CIP. A realistic novel about a modern social issue.  Recommended for mature readers 12-years-old and up. [Criminals; England; France; Iraqis; Stowaways; Teenagers] 

Giff, Patricia Reilly. Genevieve’s War. New York: Holiday House, 2017.
August of 1939. Summer is over. Time to leave France and go home to America. But thirteen-year-old Genevieve decides – at the last moment – to stay with her grandmother in the small Alsatian village rather than return to New York. Mere months later, Nazi soldiers arrive and life changes.
This story is among the best of Giff’s many novels. Who are your friends? Whom can you trust? For whom will you risk your life? All these questions are quietly and skillfully addressed in a compelling novel for readers 11 years old and up. [Courage; France; Grandmothers; Love; Orphans; Self-reliance; Underground movements; World War, 1939-1945]

On the Road Again

Gay, Marie-Louise. On the Road Again. Berkeley, CA: Groundwood Books/House of Anansi Press, 2008.

“Charlie describes his experiences living with his family in a small village in France.” – CIP. A short novel, by a Canadian writer, highly recommended for readers who like to laugh at the craziness of family life. [Adventure stories; Family life; France; Humorous stories; Villages]

The Silver Donkey

Hartnett, Sonya. The Silver Donkey. Somerville, Mass.: Candlewick Press, 2014. 

“In France during World War I, four French children learn about honesty, loyalty, and courage from an English army deserter who tells them a series of stories related to his small, silver donkey charm.” – CIP. A quiet novel for introspective readers 11 to 14 years old. [Conduct of life; France; Historical fiction; Soldiers; Storytelling; World War, 1914-1918]

The Pull of the Ocean

Mourlevat, Jean-Claude. The Pull of the Ocean. New York: Laurel-Leaf Books, 2009, c2006.

“Loosely based on Charles Perrault’s “Tom Thumb,” seven brothers in modern-day France flee their poor parents’ farm, led by the youngest who, although mute and unusually small, is exceptionally wise.” – CIP. This quietly compelling award-winning novel if highly recommended for competent readers 11-years-old and up. [Brothers; France; Poverty; Runaways; Twins]

The Watcher in the Shadows

Zafon, Carlos Ruiz. The Watcher in the Shadows. New York: Little, Brown and Co., 2013.
“When fourteen-year-old Irene Sauvelle moves with her family to Cape House on the coast of Normandy, she’s immediately taken by the beauty of the place–its expansive cliffs, coasts, and harbors. There, she meets a local boy named Ismael, and the two soon fall in love. But a dark mystery is about to unfold, involving a reclusive toymaker who lives in a gigantic mansion filled with mechanical beings and shadows of the past”– Provided by publisher. [Families; Historical fiction; Inventors; Mystery and detective stories; Robots; Shadows; Supernatural]


Going Over

Kephart, Beth. Going Over. San Francisco: Chronicle Books, 2014.
“In the early 1980s Ada and Stefan are young, would-be lovers living on opposite sides of the Berlin Wall–Ada lives with her mother and grandmother and paints graffiti on the Wall, and Stefan lives with his grandmother in the East and dreams of escaping to the West.” – CIP. Told from alternate points of view, this fast-moving novel is recommended for readers in grade 8 to 10. [Berlin; Germany; Graffiti; Historical fiction; Love stories; Young adult]

A Night Divided

Nielsen, Jennifer A. A Night Divided. New York: Scholastic Press, 2015.

When the Berlin Wall went up, Gerta, her mother, and her brother Fritz are trapped on the eastern side where they were living, while her father, and her other brother Dominic are in the West–four years later, now twelve, Gerta sees her father on a viewing platform on the western side and realizes he wants her to risk her life trying to tunnel to freedom.” – CIP. Highly recommended for readers 11 to 16-years-old. [Berlin Wall; Courage; Germany; Secrets; Tunnels]


War Games

Couloumbis, Audrey. War Games. New York: Random House Children’s Books, 2009.
This novel, based on a true story, describes life for twelve-year-old Petros when German soldiers invade his Greek village during World War 2. Quarrels with his older brother Zola fade away when a Nazi commander takes up residence in their small home and they must quickly hide all belongings that might betray their American background.  Games of marbles give way to a greater challenge: how to hide their older cousin who has escaped German custody.  Masterfully told by a Newbery Honor author, this story will engage readers eleven-years-old and up. It might especially appeal to readers of The Boy in the Striped Pajamas.  [Greece; Historical fiction; World War 2; Brothers; Farm life; Secrets; Courage; Cousins] 


Ravel, Edeet. Held. New York: Annick Press, 2011.

“Seventeen-year-old Chloe, vacationing in Greece, struggles to remain calm when she is drugged, kidnapped, and held in a warehouse pending a prisoner exchange.” – CIP.  A fascinating and compelling novel for competent young adult readers. [Greece; Hostages; Kidnapping; Stockholm syndrome]


How the Ladies Stopped the Wind

McMillan, Bruce. How the Ladies Stopped the Wind. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2007.

“The women of one village in Iceland decide to plant trees to stop the powerful winds that make it difficult even to go for a walk, but first they must find a ways to prevent sheep from eating all of their saplings, while encouraging chickens to fertilize them.” – CIP. A humorous picture book. [Chickens; Iceland; Trees; Wind]

The Problem with Chickens

McMillan, Bruce. The Problem with Chickens. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2005.

“When women in an Icelandic village buy chickens to lay eggs for them to use, the chickens follow them, adopting human ways and forgetting their barnyard roots, until the ladies hatch a clever plan.” – CIP. A humorous picture book. [Chickens; Humorous stories; Iceland]


Click HERE for stories set in Ireland.


Dodsworth in Rome

Egan, Tim. Dodsworth in Rome. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Books for Children, 2011.

“Dodsworth and his duck companion have a lovely time in Rome, even though the duck tries to improve the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel and takes all the coins from the Trevi Fountain.” – CIP. An entertaining and informative picture book for readers 7-years-old and up. [Ducks; Italy; Voyages and travels]

Olivia Goes to Venice

Falconer, Ian. Olivia Goes to Venice. New York: Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2010.

“On a family vacation in Venice, Olivia indulges in gelato, rides in a gondola, and finds the perfect souvenir.” – CIP. An amusing picture book for readers 7-years-old and up. [Italy, Pigs; Vacations]


Funke, Cornelia. Inkheart. New York: Chicken House/Scholastic, 2007, 2003.

“Twelve-year-old Meggie learns that her father Mo, a bookbinder, can “read” fictional characters to life when an evil ruler named Capricorn, freed from the novel “Inkheart” years earlier, tries to force Mo to release an immortal monster from the story.” – CIP. A wonderful novel highly recommended for imaginative and adventurous readers 11 to 14-years-old. [Authorship; Books and reading; Bookbinding; Fantasy fiction; Italy; Magic]

The Last Girls of Pompeii

Lasky, Kathryn. The Last Girls of Pompeii. New York: Viking, 2007. 

“Twelve-year-old Julia knows that her physical deformity will keep her from a normal life, but counts on the continuing friendship of her life-long slave, Mitka, until they learn that both of their futures in first-century Pompeii are about to change for the worse.” – CIP. Highly recommended novel for avid readers 11-years-old and up. [Family life; Friendship; Handicapped; Historical fiction; Italy; Slavery; Vesuvius (Italy)]

The Mozart Question

Morpurgo, Michael. The Mozart Question. Cambridge, MA: Candlewick Press, 2008, c2006.

“A young journalist goes to Venice, Italy, to interview a famous violinist, who tells the story of his parents’ incarceration by the Nazis, and explains why they can no longer listen to the music of Mozart.” – CIP. A thoughtful novel for introspective readers 12-years-old and up. [Historical fiction; Holocaust, 1939-1945; Italy; Musicians; Violins]


Day of the Pelican

Paterson, Katherine. The Day of the Pelican. Clarion Books, 2009.
Thirteen-year-old Meli’s family, ethnic Albanians, flee the fighting in 1998, travelling from one refugee camp to another until they reach America.  [Courage; Fear; Faith; Historical fiction; Homelessness; Immigrants;  Muslims; Refugees; War]
“Think of that one day where you did something wrong, the day you are pretty sure affected your whole future and those around you. Imagine your feelings: desperation, guilt, shame and a longing to go back and change that day. This is how Meli Lleshi fromThe Day of the Pelican by Katherine Paterson (Clarion Books, 2009) feels all the time after her family is forced to flee their city. She thinks that just because she drew a rude picture of her teacher, which led to her brother being beaten and jailed, the Serbians are going to attack her home and family. Even after, when they are in a refugee camp, safe and protected, her mind takes her back to that dreadful day where everything changed. Now they are in America and there is “a new beginning” as her father says, a new beginning of hope, peace and freedom. But even this does not last long. Soon after the 9/11 attack, everyone is paranoid and wicked glances are thrown in her direction and she is treated as if she is a terrorist, as if this is all her fault. Will her family ever fit in and go back to living a life of happiness?” (Ilar in grade eight)


I Am Rembrandt's Daughter

Cullen, Lynn. I am Rembrandt’s Daughter. Bloomsbury Children’s Books, 2007.
Cornelia, living in poverty as the illegitimate child of renowned painter Rembrandt in 17th century Amsterdam, finds hope when she meets a wealthy suitor. [Fathers and daughters; Historical fiction; Plague; Poverty; Rembrandt Harmenszoon Van Rijn; Renaissance]

The Hunger Journeys

De Vries, Maggie. Hunger Journeys. Toronto: HarperTrophyCanada, 2010.

Lena and her friend Sofie use false identity cards and help from two German soldiers to escape from Nazi-occupied Amsterdam.  A suspense-filled award-winning novel for mature readers, due to the sexual references. [WW 2; Netherlands; Soldiers; Friendship; Survival; Family problems; Teenagers; Young adult fiction] Click HERE to read a reader’s response to this novel.

Nine Open Arms

Lindelauf, Benny. Nine Open Arms. New York: Enchanted Lion Books, 2014.

In 1937, three daughters, four sons, a father and a grandmother move to the deserted house at the end of a long road in the Dutch countryside. But what starts as a simple story of moving to a new home turns into a historical drama and romantic ghost story. Translated from the Dutch, this novel will appeal to imaginative readers 11 to 14-years-old. [Family life; Grandmothers; Historical fiction; Moving, Household; Netherlands; Romanies; Single-parent families]


Harvey, Matthea & Giselle Potter. Cecil the Pet Glacier. New York: Schwartz & Wade Books, 2012.

Ruby, on holiday with her eccentric parents in Norway, discovers she is being followed by a small glacier determined to be her pet. A quietly humorous picture book with hidden depths. Highly recommended for readers – and listeners – 5 years old and up. Useful, as well, for teaching adolescents how to discover themes in novels. [Eccentrics and eccentricities; Glaciers; Norway; Pets; Vacations]


Anna and the Swallow Man

Savit, Gavriel. Anna and the Swallow Man. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2016.

“When her university professor father is sent by the Gestapo to a concentration camp, seven-year-old Anna travels the Polish countryside with the mysterious Swallow Man during World War II.” – CIP. So much has to be inferred in this story told from the third person point of view but only revealing the thoughts of the main character. This imaginative novel is highly recommended for competent readers 12-years-old and up.  [Poland; Runaways; Survival; WW 2]


The Wolf Wilder

Rundell, Katherine. The Wolf Wilder. New York: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2015.

“In the days before the Russian Revolution, twelve-year-old Feodora sets out to rescue her mother when the Tsar’s Imperial Army imprisons her for teaching tamed wolves to fend for themselves.” – FVRL. “A slightly different version of this work was originally published in 2015 in Great Britain by Bloomsbury Publishing Plc.” – T.p. verso. This story of courage with the echo of a powerful myth is recommended for all readers 11 years old and up. [Historical fiction; Mothers and daughters; St. Petersburg (Russia); Surivival; Wolves]

Between Shades of Gray

Sepetys, Ruta. Between Shades of Gray. New York: Speak, 2012, c2011.

“In 1941, fifteen-year-old Lina, her mother, and brother are pulled from their Lithuanian home by Soviet guards and sent to Siberia, where her father is sentenced to death in a prison camp while she fights for her life, vowing to honor her family and the thousands like hers by burying her story in a jar on Lithuanian soil. Based on the author’s family, includes a historical note.” – CIP.  For mature readers.  [Historical fiction; Labor camps; Lithuania; Russia; Siberia; Survivalism]
Tolstikova, Dasha. A Year Without Mom. Toronto: Groundwood Books/House of Anansi Press, 2015.
Twelve-year-old Dasha remains with her grandparents when her mother moves to the U.S. to attend university. She spends time with her friends, falls in love, studies for exams, and attends art classes on the weekends. This autobiographical graphic novel is humorous in its vivid depiction of the emotional life of an adolescent. Dasha might live in Russia but her turmoils are similar to those of seventh-graders in the U.S. and Canada. Recommended for readers 11 to 16 years old. [Moscow; Mothers and daughters; Schools; Tolstikova, Dasha]

Yelchin, Eugene. Arcady’s Goal. New York: Henry Holt and Co., 2014.

“When twelve-year-old Arcady is sent to a children’s home after his parents are declared enemies of the state in Soviet Russia, soccer becomes a way to secure extra rations, respect, and protection but it may also be his way out if he can believe in and love another person–and himself.” – CIP. Recommended for readers 11-years-old and up. [Communism; Foster children; Russia; Soccer]

Yelchin, Eugene. Breaking Stalin’s Nose. New York: Henry Holt, 2011.
This novel, a Newbery Honor book, tells the story of ten-year-old Sasha who adores his father who works for the secret police in Stalinist Russia. But his perspective changes when he discovers secrets about his deceased mother and his father is unexpectedly arrested, leaving Sasha homeless in the middle of winter.  While easy to read, this powerful story is best suited for brave readers aged eleven and up. [Communism; Fathers and sons; Homelessness; Russia; Secrets] 

Yelchin, Eugene. The Haunting of Falcon House.  New York: Henry Holt and Company, 2016. 

“In 1891, twelve-year-old Lev Lvov travels to Saint Petersburg, Russia, to assume his duties as Prince, but must first use his special gift to rid the House of Lions of a ghost.” – CIP. Written by Prince Lev Lvov with pictures drawn in his own hand; translated by Eugene Yelchin who writes in the preface, “when I was a schoolboy in St. Petersburg, Russia,…I came upon a bundle of paper held together with frayed twine….Some years passed….Resolved to faithfully restore Lvov’s original narration, I set to work. To carry Prince Lev’s feelings across to the reader, I became inwardly connected to the young prince…” A spell-binding story for readers 11 to 14 years old. [Aunts; Extrasensory perception; Haunted houses; Orphans; Princes]


Wild Wings

Lewis, Gill. Wild Wings. New York : Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2011. 

“Callum becomes friends with Iona, a practically feral classmate who has discovered an osprey, thought to be gone from Scotland, on Callum’s family farm, and they eventually share the secret with others, including Jeneba who encounters the same bird at her home in Gambia.” – FVRL. A happy story with a serious message. Recommended for readers, 9 to 12 years old, who enjoy straight-forward novels. [Birds; Farm life; Friendship; Gambia; Osprey; Scotland]


Don Quixote

Nichols, Barbara. Tales of Don Quixote. Plattsburgh, N.Y.: Tundra Books of Northern New York, c2004.

“An aging Don Quixote attempts to rekindle his youth by traveling the Spanish countryside searching for damsels in distress and injustices to be mended.” – CIP. This wonderful retelling of the classic by Cervantes is highly recommended for competent readers 12-years-old and up. [Don Quixote (Fictional character); Knights and knighthood; Spain]

Nichols, Barbara. Tales of Don Quixote Book II. Toronto, Ont.: Tundra Books ; Plattsburgh, N.Y.: Tundra Books of Northern New York, 2006. 

“An aging Don Quixote attempts to rekindle his youth by traveling the Spanish countryside searching for damsels in distress and injustices to be mended.” – CIP. [Don Quixote (Fictional character); Knights and Knighthood; Quests (Expeditions); Spain.


A Faraway Island

Thor, Annika. A Faraway Island. Delacorte Press, 2009.
Twelve-year-old Stephie and eight-year-old Nellie are sent away from their parents in Austria to live with strangers in Sweden in 1939 . Nellie lives with a happy loving family, but Stephie does not. Nellie has fun at school, but Stephie does not. Stephie wants her parents to come, but they do not. Based on the experiences of children sent to safety in Sweden during the war, this novel will appeal to readers 11 to 14 years old. [Sweden; WW 2; Jews; Immigration; Foster children; Loneliness; Bullies; Sisters; Historical fiction; Courage; Refugees]

The Lily Pond

Thor, Annika. The Lily Pond. New York : Delacorte Press, 2011.

“Having left Nazi-occupied Vienna a year ago, thirteen-year-old Jewish refugee Stephie Steiner adapts to life in the cultured Swedish city of Gothenburg, where she attends school, falls in love, and worries about her parents who were not allowed to emigrate.” – CIP. This sequel to A Faraway Island  is recommended for readers who enjoy a bit of romance. [Jews; Foster children; Friendship; School stories; Historical fiction; Refugees; WW2; Loneliness]



Creech, Sharon. Bloomability. New York: Scholastic, 1998.

This “is a story full of suspense. Dinnie – also known as Dominica Santolina Doone – and her family have followed their father around the United States from Kentucky to North Carolina, Tennessee, Ohio, Indiana, Wisconsin, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Oregon, Texas, California, and New Mexico. Finally, Dinnie is sent to live with her Aunt and Uncle in Switzerland who are complete strangers, and when she goes to school there, she meets some pretty crazy people. Back home, life isn’t going so well for her siblings: Dinnie’s older sister is pregnant and her brother Crick is sent to jail. When Dinnie eventually makes friends in Switzerland, her life is thrown into turmoil again when her best friends, Guthrie and Lila, are trapped by an avalanche while on the school’s annual skiing trip, and Dinnie sees it all happen. Will Guthrie and Lila be okay? Will Dinnie finally find a sense of belonging? You’ll have to read to find out.” – Jezerah in grade 7

The Unfinished Angel

Creech, Sharon. The Unfinished Angel.  New York: Joanna Cotler Books, 2009.

Life triumphs over grief in all of Creech’s novels. Mysteries abound. And this novel is no exception. In the Swiss Alps, Zola moves with her father into an old stone house and meets an angel who narrates the story: “What is my mission? I think I should have been told. I have been looking around in the stone tower of Casa Rosa, waiting to find out” (p. 2). This angel is as confused about life as anyone: “Maybe you think I should just fly up to heaven and ask some questions, but it is not that easy. I do not know where heaven is nor where the angel training center is nor where any other angels are. And yes, I have looked” (p. 19). But when Zola decides to help some homeless orphans, everyone in the village starts to find new purpose and happiness.  Humorous and lively, this hopeful and easy-to-read story is sure to be enjoyed by imaginative readers of all ages. [Angels; Orphans; Switzerland; Village life]

Banner in the Sky

Ullman, James. Banner in the Sky. New York: HarperTrophy, 1988, c1954.

“Sixteen-year-old Rudi dreams of being the first to climb the highest mountain in Switzerland.” – CIP. This award-winning classic novel of growing up is highly recommended for readers 11-years-old and up. [Alps (Switzerland); Coming of age; Mothers and sons; Mountaineering]



Boyce, Frank Cottrell. Framed. New York: HarperCollins, 2005.

“Dylan and his sisters have some ideas about how to make Snowdonia Oasis Auto Marvel into a more profitable business, but it is not until some strange men arrive in their small town of Manod, Wales with valuable paintings, and their father disappears, that they consider turning to crime.” – CIP. [Art; Automobiles; Business enterprises; Eccentrics and eccentricities; Family life; Wales]

Lost Boy

Newbery, Linda. Lost Boy. New York: David Fickling Books, 2007.

“Eleven-year-old Matt Lanchester moves to the small Welsh town of Hay-on-Wye and becomes entangled in his new friends’ attempts to punish an old local man for the accidental death of a boy who shared Matt’s initials–and soon Matt feels that the dead boy is haunting him.” – CIP. [Ghost stories; Mystery stories; Traffic accidents; Wales]



Click HERE for an annotated list of stories set in Australia.

New Zealand

Shooting the Moon

Jones, V.M. Shooting the Moon. London: Andersen Press, 2008.
Pip and his father head into the wilderness of New Zealand on a hiking trip with a group that threatens to disintegrate rather than pull together to survive.




The Disappeared

Whelan, Gloria. The Disappeared. New York: Dial Books, 2008.
“Teenaged Silvia tries to save her brother, Eduardo, after he is captured by the military government in 1970s Argentina.” – CIP. What if you are trying to save your brother who has been kidnapped? What will you do if the kidnappers are part of the 1970s government in Argentina? Recommended for readers 12-years-old and up. [Argentina; Brothers and sisters; Kidnapping]


I am a Taxi

Ellis, Deborah. I Am a Taxi. Groundwood Books, 2006.
In the first novel in a series, twelve-year-old Diego tries to earn money while living with his parents in a Bolivian prison. Highly recommended for readers 11 years old and up. [Boliva; Child labor; Drug traffic; Prisons; Runaways; South America]

Sacred Leaf

Ellis, Deborah. Sacred Leaf. Groundwood Books / House of Anansi Press, 2007.
In the second novel in a series, twelve-year-old Diego escapes from slavery at an illegal cocaine operation and is taken in by a family of coca farmers in Bolivia. Highly recommended for readers 11 years old and up. [Cocaine industry; Drug traffic; Farm life; Poverty; Slavery]


Grk and the Pelotti Gang

Doder, Joshua. Grk and the Pelotti Gang. New York : Yearling, [2007].

“Tim, accompanied by Grk the dog, faces kidnapping, a plane crash in the jungles of Brazil, and other adventures as they pursue the infamous Pelotti brothers, a gang of escaped bank robbers originally captured by the recently deceased father of Tim’s friends Max and Natascha Rafiffi.” – CIP. Part of an entertaining and informative series recommended for readers 10 to 14 years old. [Adventure stories; Bank robberies; Rio de Janeiro (Brazil); Dogs; Mystery and detective stories]


The Killer's Tears

Bondoux, Anne-Laure. The Killer’s Tears. New York: Delacorte Press, 2006.

“A young boy, Paolo, and the man who murdered his parents, Angel, gradually become like father and son as they live and work together on the remote Chilean farm where Paolo was born.” – CIP. A thoughtful novel highly recommended for readers 11-years-old and up. [Chile; Fathers and sons; Hostages; Thieves]

The Dreamer

Ryan, Pam Munoz and Peter Sis. The Dreamer. New York : Scholastic Press, 2010.
This powerful novel of hope tells the story of Nobel Prize-winning poet Pablo Neruda’s childhood in Chile.  A shy quiet boy with an authoritarian father who despised his son’s love of words, Pablo protected his younger sister and dreamed of another life.  [Chile; Poets; Neruda, Pablo; Fathers and sons; Authors]


The Walls of Caragena

Durango, Julia. The Walls of Cartagena. New York : Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2008.
“Thirteen-year-old Calepino, an African slave in the seventeenth-century Caribbean city of Cartagena, works as a translator for a Jesuit priest who tends to newly-arrived slaves and, after working for a Jewish doctor in a leper colony and helping an Angolan boy and his mother escape, he realizes his true calling.” – CIP. Highly recommended for readers 11 to 16 years old. [Catholic Church; Faith; Leprosy; Slavery]


Island Thieves

Lacey, Josh. Island of  Thieves. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2011.
Tom’s parents leave him with an uncle for a week while they go on a holiday.  What they don’t know is that Uncle Harvey is about to fly off on his own adventure: tracking down buried treasure in Peru. Tom tags along for an exciting week meeting criminals, hiding out in villages and barely escaping death.  A quick read for fans of Anthony Horowitz and Rick Riordan. [Drake, John; Adventure and adventurers; Mystery and detective stories; Islands ; Uncles; Buried treasure; Theft]



Click HERE for an annotated list of stories set in Canada.


Figueredo, D.H. The Road to Santiago. New York: Lee & Low Books, 2003.

Alfredito and his parents want to join relatives for Christmas.  But how will they get from Havana to Santiago? The trains are not running because of the fighting between government forces and the rebels.  Set during the late 1950s and based on the author’s own childhood, this informative picture book with colourful evocative illustrations by Pablo Torrecilla is recommended for readers 7 to 11 years old. [Historical fiction]

Wells, Rosemary with Secundino Fernando. My Havana: Memories of a Cuban Childhood. Somerville, Mass.: Candlewick Press, 2010. 

“Relates events in the childhood of architect Secundino Fernandez, who left his beloved Havana, Cuba, with his parents, first to spend a year in Spain, and later to move to New York City.” – CIP. Full colour illustrations and black and white photographs accompany this story of the architect’s childhood, the best children’s book I’ve found that depicts the political situation in Cuba during the reign of Batista and the turmoil as Castro gained power in 1959.   Highly recommended for all readers 9 years old and up. [Architecture; Dictators; Cuba; Family life; Fernandez, Secundino; Historical fiction; Spain]


Williams, Karen Lynn. Circles of Hope. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans Books for Young Readers, 2005.
Long ago, almost all the trees in Haiti were chopped down to use for lumber and firewood. This colourful picture book tells the story of a little boy who plants a tree in honour of his new baby sister. And soon more trees are being planted within stone circles to prevent the soil from washing away down the hillsides.  While the style and size of font do not complement the beautiful illustrations by Linda Saport, this is nevertheless an informative and inspiring story for children in grades one to three. [Brothers and sisters; Haiti; Tree planting]


The Crossing

Paulsen, Gary. The Crossing. Dell, 1990, c1987.
Thirteen-year-old Manny, living in poverty on the streets of a Mexican town, meets an emotionally disturbed American soldier who helps him cross the border into the U.S.A.[Homelessness; Immigrants; Mexico; Poverty; Soldiers; Texas] 

Becoming Naomi

Ryan, Pam Munoz. Becoming Naomi Leon. New York: Scholastic, 2004.
Naomi, her younger brother and her great-grandmother, living in California, flee to Mexico to find Naomi’s father when her mother tries to reclaim her. [California; Courage; Grandmothers; Loyalty Mexico; Poverty; Runaways; Voyages and travels]


Click HERE for an annotated list of stories set in the United States.

World Travels


Baker, Jeannie. Circle. Somerville, Mass.: Candlewick Press, 2016.

Another outstanding picture book by an accomplished artist and storyteller. Recommended for readers eight-years-old and up. “Each year, bar-tailed godwits undertake the longest unbroken migration of any bird, flying from their breeding grounds in the Arctic to Australia and New Zealand and back again. They follow invisible pathways–pathways that have been followed for thousands of years–while braving hunger and treacherous conditions to reach their destination. In Circle, Jeannie Baker follows the godwit’s incredible flight, taking us over awe-inspiring scenes as the birds spread their wings above such beautiful landmarks as the Great Barrier Reef and China’s breathtaking cityscapes.” – CIP.

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