Who do you think you are?

Boyne, John. The Boy at the Top of the Mountain. Toronto: Doubleday Canada, 2015.
When Pierrot is four years old, his father – a German soldier in the Great War – disappears. When Pierrot is seven years old, his French mother dies in a Parisian hospital. He is sent to live with his Aunt Beatrix, a housekeeper for Adolf Hitler. It is 1935 and life is changing in Europe.
What happens when people flatter us and make us feel important? What happens when lies start to sound like truth? What happens when we realize we’ve betrayed the people who love us?
Spanning the course of World War II and its aftermath, this 215-page novel by a breathtakingly powerful writer is highly recommended for mature readers 11-years-old and up. [France; Germany; Historical fiction; Hitler, Adolf; Orphans; Self-awareness]  

More stories of World War 2 HERE.

More stories of controlling societies HERE

Pearl’s Dream

Parry, Rosanne. Written in Stone. New York: Random House, 2013.
A grandmother recalls her youth in the 1920s. Her tribe, the Makah on the Olympic Peninsula in Washington State, struggles to survive after Pearl’s father dies and outsiders threaten her people’s way of life. This engrossing 175-page story – told from the first person point of view – is accompanied by a map, a glossary, an extensive author’s note explaining historical details, and a list of resources. The relatively large font makes the book inviting for competent readers as young as 10 years old. The quality of the writing and depth of historical information make this a compelling novel for readers of any age. Highly recommended!

More stories of indigenous people HERE.

More historical fiction stories HERE.

Adventure and courage

Kelly, Jacqueline. The Curious World of Calpurnia Tate. New York: Henry Holt and Company, 2015.
Twelve-year-old Callie continues her investigations into the natural world in this sequel to the Newbery Honor Book The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate. When a veterinarian comes to town, Callie expands her knowledge of animal care but secretly, as only her grandfather encourages her dreams and hopes for the future.  Observant readers will notice that each chapter begins with a quotation from The Voyage of the Beagle by Charles Darwin, the English naturalist whose own father disapproved of his unconventional life but whose maternal grandfather encouraged him. This 312-page novel is highly recommended for readers 10 years old and up.  

Find more historical novels HERE  

Find biographies of Charles Darwin HERE 

A Wild Pet

Kelly, Jacqueline. Skunked! New York: Henry Holt and Company, 2016.
Eleven-year-old Travis adopts two baby skunks in this historical novel for young readers. Set in a small Texan town in 1901, this easy-to-read story focuses on the younger brother of Callie, the main character in two previous novels for older readers: The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate and The Curious World of Calpurnia Tate. While this new novel still features Callie as narrator, the action centres on Travis and his escapades with two wild creatures. A great story for readers 7 to 11 years old. [Country life; historical fiction; naturalists; pets; skunks; Texas]

Find more novels for young readers HERE.

Find more stories from all over the U.S.A. HERE.

Find more historical novels HERE.

 

 

Let me learn!

Hopkinson, Deborah. Steamboat School: Inspired by a True Story. Los Angeles: Disney•Hyperion, 2016. 

A law against educating African Americans was established in Missouri in 1847. But a minister – John Meachum – found a way around this restriction by creating a school in the middle of the Mississippi River. Ron Hubbard, the first African American animator at Disney Studios, provides vivid illustrations for this moving story useful as a read-aloud for readers 9 years old and up. An afterward provides additional information including recommended websites and books. [African Americans; Historical fiction; Missouri;  Racism; Schools]

More stories about people of African heritage HERE

More historical fiction stories HERE

I Wonder…

Hopkinson, Deborah. The Humblebee Hunter. New York: Disney Hyperion Books, 2010.
Charles Darwin’s children help him study bumblebees in this fictional account of the life of the famous scientist who changed our understanding of science. Biographical information is provided at the end of the story. A picture book recommended for readers 8 to 14 years old. 

Meyer, Carolyn. The True Adventures of Charley Darwin.Boston: Graphia, c2009. 
Charles Darwin was born to a well-to-do family in 19th century England. But he didn’t have a childhood filled with happiness. He knew what he enjoyed – spending time outdoors – but how could he turn that into a career?  Based on the diaries and correspondence of the great naturalist, this novel will appeal to readers who enjoy true stories of adventure. Great for readers eleven years old to adult. [Darwin, Charles; Adventure and adventurers; Voyages and travels; Evolution (Biology); Historical fiction; Naturalists]

More historical fiction HERE 

Five biographies of Darwin HERE

Coal Mining

Coal mining is starting again on Cape Breton Island in Nova Scotia.
The first underground coal mine opened on Cape Breton in 1720, almost 300 years ago. Now, after a 15-year break, it has started again.

Two Canadian picture books depict life long ago in the coal mines:

Carter, Anne Laurel. Out of the Deeps. Victoria, B.C.: Orca Book Publishers, 2008.
Young Savino’s school life is over. It is time for him to join his father down in the mines. On his first day, as he helps load the coal box pulled by Nelson and walks alone with the pit pony through the tunnels, his lantern goes out and he is left in pitch darkness. But Nelson knows the way and leads them safely to the surface. This suspenseful story, dramatically illustrated by Nicolas Debon, is based on the life of Savino Calibrese who was sent down into the Cape Breton mines when he was 12 years old. An afterward explains how the pit ponies spent their lives underground until machinery was introduced in the 1950s. This emotionally powerful and informative picture book is recommended for readers – and listeners – 8 years old and up. [Cape Breton Island (N.S.); Coal mines and mining; Fathers and sons; Historical fiction; Horses; Nova Scotia – History]

Wallace, Ian. Boy of the Deeps. Toronto: Douglas & McIntyre, [19–]; Groundwood Books reprint edition,  2005.
James is declared old enough to start working with his father. Down, down, a thousand feet down in a steel cage, they go to join the men in the dangerous depths of the Cape Breton mines. And there James experiences – for the first time – the risks faced by men who work under the ground. An emotionally moving picture book for readers 8 years old and up. [Cape Breton Island (N.S.); Coal mines and mining; Fathers and sons; HIstorical fiction; Nova Scotia – History]

Cape Breton’s Miners Museum