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Children's Literature

Books in BU's Juvenile Collection

Historical Fiction

90 miles to Havana / Enrique Flores-Galbis. 2010.  Fic F6344n.  When unrest hits the streets of Havana, Cuba, Julian’s parents must make the heartbreaking decision to send him and his two brothers away to Miami via the Pedro Pan operation. But when the boys get to Miami, they are thrust into a world where bullies seem to run rampant and it’s not always clear how best to protect themselves.

Alligator bayou / Donna Jo Napoli.  2009.  Fic N216a.    Fourteen-year-old Calogero Scalise and his Sicilian uncles and cousin live in small-town Louisiana in 1898, when Jim Crow laws rule and anti-immigration sentiment is strong, so despite his attempts to be polite and to follow American customs, disaster dogs his family at every turn.

The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, Traitor to the Nation. 1 The Pox Party / Taken from Accounts by His Own Hand and other Sundry Sources; collected by M.T. Anderson of Boston.  2006. Fic A5478a.   Various diaries, letters, and other manuscripts chronicle the experiences of Octavian, a young African American, from birth to age sixteen, as he is brought up as part of a science experiment in the years leading up to and during the Revolutionary War.

The Book Thief / Markus Zusak. 2006.  Fic Z96b.  Trying to make sense of the horrors of World War II, Death relates the story of Liesel--a young German girl whose book-stealing and story-telling talents help sustain her family and the Jewish man they are hiding, as well as their neighbors.

The boy in the striped pajamas: a fable / by John Boyne.  2006.  Fic B7928b.  Bored and lonely after his family moves from Berlin to a place called "Out-With" in 1942, Bruno, the son of a Nazi officer, befriends a boy in striped pajamas who lives behind a wire fence.

The boy who dared / Susan Campbell Bartoletti.  2008.  Fic B2917b.   In October, 1942, seventeen-year-old Helmuth Hübener, imprisoned for distributing anti-Nazi leaflets, recalls his past life and how he came to dedicate himself to bring the truth about Hitler and the war to the German people.

A Break with Charity: a Story about the Salem Witch Trials / Ann Rinaldi.  1992.  Fic R5777b.  While waiting for a church meeting in 1706, Susanna English, daughter of a wealthy Salem merchant, recalls the malice, fear, and accusations of witchcraft that tore her village apart in 1692.

Breaker: [a boy's story of the 1902 Pennsylvania Coal Miners' Strike]. / N.A. Perez. 1988.   Fic P438b.  After his father's death, fourteen-year-old Pat is forced to go to work in the coal mines that dominate his Pennsylvania town and becomes involved in the big mine workers' strike of 1902.

Briar Rose / Jane Yolen.  1992. Fic Y545brReinterpretation of the story of Sleeping Beauty with the Holocaust and the death camp of Chelmno as the setting.

Bud, Not Buddy / Christopher Paul Curtis.  1999. Newbery Award Winner.  Fic C9783b.   Ten-year-old Bud, a motherless boy living in Flint, Michigan, during the Great Depression, escapes a bad foster home and sets out in search of the man he believes to be his father--the renowned bandleader, H.E. Calloway of Grand Rapids.

Call Me Francis Tucket / Gary Paulsen.  1995.    Fic P332c.  Having separated from the one-armed trapper who taught him how to survive in the wilderness of the Old West, fifteen-year-old Francis gets lost and continues to have adventures involving dangerous men and a friendly mule.  Sequel to: Mr. Tucket.

Chains / Laurie Halse Anderson.  2008.  Fic A5474ch.  After being sold to a cruel couple in New York City, a slave named Isabel spies for the rebels during the Revolutionary War.

Chase / Jessie Haas.  2007.   Fic H1125c.  In the coal mining region of mid-nineteenth century eastern Pennsylvania, Phin witnesses a murder and runs for his life, pursued by a mysterious man and a horse with the instincts of a bloodhound.

/ Franny Billingsley.  2011.  Fic B5986c. 
In the early twentieth century in Swampsea, seventeen-year-old Briony, who can see the spirits that haunt the marshes around their town, feels responsible for her twin sister’s horrible injury until a young man enters their lives and exposes secrets that even Briony does not know about.

A Coal Miner's Bride: the Diary of Anetka Kaminska / by Susan Campbell Bartoletti. 2000.   Fic B2917c.  A diary account of thirteen-year-old Anetka's life in Poland in 1896, immigration to America, marriage to a coal miner, widowhood, and happiness in finally finding her true love.

Copper sun / Sharon M. Draper.  2006.  Fic D766c.  Two fifteen-year-old girls--one a slave and the other an indentured servant--escape their Carolina plantation and try to make their way to Fort Moses, Florida, a Spanish colony that gives sanctuary to slaves.

Crispin: the Cross of Lead / Avi.  2002.  Newbery Award Winner.  Fic A957cr.   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.

Countdown / Deborah Wiles.  2010.  Fic W6763c.  Franny Chapman just wants some peace. But that’s hard to get when her best friend is feuding with her, her sister has disappeared, and her uncle is fighting an old war in his head. Her saintly younger brother is no help, and the cute boy across the street only complicates things. Worst of all, everyone is walking around just waiting for a bomb to fall. It’s 1962, and it seems the whole country is living in fear.

Daniel Half Human: and the Good Nazi / by David Chotjewitz.  Fic C5517d, 2004.   In 1933, best friends Daniel and Armin admire Hitler, but as anti-Semitism buoys Hitler to power, Daniel learns he is half Jewish, threatening the friendship even as life in their beloved Hamburg, Germany, is becoming nightmarish. Also details Daniel and Armin's reunion in 1945 in interspersed chapters.

Dead end in Norvelt / Jack Gantos.  2011.  Fic G2113d. Newbery Award Winner.  In the historic town of Norvelt, Pennsylvania, twelve-year-old Jack Gantos spends the summer of 1962 grounded for various offenses until he is assigned to help an elderly neighbor with a most unusual chore involving the newly dead, molten wax, twisted promises, Girl Scout cookies, underage driving, lessons from history, typewriting, and countless bloody noses.

The Devil's Arithmetic / by Jane Yolen.  1988.  Fic Y545d.  Hannah resents the traditions of her Jewish heritage until time travel places her in the middle of a small Jewish village in Nazi-occupied Poland.

Elijah of Buxton / Christopher Paul Curtis.  2007.  Fic C9783e.  In 1859, eleven-year-old Elijah Freeman, the first free-born child in Buxton, Canada, which is a haven for slaves fleeing the American south, uses his wits and skills to try to bring to justice the lying preacher who has stolen money that was to be used to buy a family’s freedom.

Elizabeth I, Red Rose of the House of Tudor / by Kathryn Lasky.  2002.  Fic L3459e.  In a series of diary entries, Princess Elizabeth, the eleven-year-old daughter of King Henry VIII, celebrates holidays and birthdays, relives her mother's execution, revels in her studies, and agonizes over her father's health.

Esperanza rising / Pam Muñoz Ryan.  2000.  Fic R989e.  Esperanza and her mother are forced to leave their life of wealth and privilege in Mexico to go work in the labor camps of Southern California, where they must adapt to the harsh circumstances facing Mexican farm workers on the eve of the Great Depression.

Factory girl / Barbara Greenwood.  2007.  Fic G8163f.  Twelve-year-old Emily must hold down her job working twelve-hour days in a garment factory in order to keep from starving. A story that includes historical interludes about the working conditions in factories at the turn of the century.

Fallen angels / Walter Dean Myers.  2008.  Fic M9969fal.  Seventeen-year-old Richie Perry, just out of his Harlem high school, enlists in the Army in the summer of 1967 and spends a devastating year on active duty in Vietnam.

The Fighting Ground / by Avi.  1984. Scott O'Dell Historical Fiction Award.  Fic A957f.  Thirteen-year-old Jonathan goes off to fight in the Revolutionary War and discovers the real war is being fought within himself.

Flygirl / Sherri L. Smith.  2008. Fic S659f  During World War II, a light-skinned African American girl "passes" for white in order to join the Women Airforce Service Pilots.

Forty acres and maybe a mule / Harriette Gillem Robinet.  1998. Fic R656f .   Born with a withered leg and hand, Pascal, who is about twelve years old, joins other former slaves in a search for a farm and the freedom which it promises.

Girl with a pearl earring / Tracy Chevalier.  2001.  Fic C5275g, 2001.   Girl with a Pearl Earring tells the story of sixteen-year-old Griet, whose life is transformed by her brief encounter with genius Johannes Vermeer as she becomes the inspiration for one of his most celebrated paintings.

The Glory Field / Walter Dean Myers.  1994.  Fic M9969g.   Follows a family’s two hundred forty-one year history, from the capture of an African boy in the 1750s through the lives of his descendants, as their dreams and circumstances lead them away from and back to the small plot of land in South Carolina that they call the Glory Field.

Good-bye, Billy Radish / by Gloria Skurzynski.  1992.  Fic S6293g.   In 1917, as the United States enters World War I, ten-year-old Hank sees change all around him in his western Pennsylvania steel mill town and feels his older Ukrainian friend Billy drifting apart from him.

The Great Death / John Smelcer.  2009.  Fic S638g.  As their Alaskan village’s only survivors of sickness brought by white men one winter early in the twentieth century, sisters Millie, aged thirteen, and Maura, ten, make their way south in hopes of finding someone alive.

I am Regina / Sally M. Keehn.  1991.  Fic K258i   In 1755, as the French and Indian War begins, ten-year-old Regina is kidnapped by Indians in western Pennsylvania, and she must struggle to hold onto memories of her earlier life as she grows up under the name of Tskinnak and starts to become Indian herself.

I am Rembrandt’s Daughter / Lynn Cullen.  2007.  Fic C9675i. In Amsterdam in the mid-1600s, Cornelia’s life as the illegitimate child of renowned painter Rembrandt is marked by plague, poverty, and despair at ever earning her father’s love, until she sees hope for a better future in the eyes of a weathy suitor.

In the time of the butterflies / Julia Alvarez.  1994.  Fic A473i.   In this dangerous time in Hispanic Caribbean history, the Butterflies were extraordinary women. Minerva, once the object of the dictator's desire, had dared to publicly slap his face. Devout Patria found her calling to the uprising through the church. Alluring - and vain - Maria Teresa joined in pursuit of romance. Only Dede, the practical one, the most diligent in her duty to family and tradition, survived to see that their names were remembered.

The invention of Hugo Cabret: a novel in words and pictures / by Brian Selznick.  2007.   Fic S4696i.  Caldecott Medal, 2008.  When twelve-year-old Hugo, an orphan living and repairing clocks within the walls of a Paris train station in 1931, meets a mysterious toyseller and his goddaughter, his undercover life and his biggest secret are jeopardized.

Johnny Tremain, a novel for old & young / Esther Forbes.  1971.  Newbery Award Winner.  Fic F6922j.   Johnny Tremain, apprentice silversmith, takes on the cause of freedom as a message carrier for the Sons of Liberty in pre-Revolution Boston.

Keeping Corner / Kashmira Sheth.  2007.   Fic S5545k   In India in the 1940’s, thirteen-year-old Leela’s happy, spoiled childhood ends when her husband since age nine, whom she barely knows, dies, leaving her a widow whose only hope of happiness could come from Mahatma Ghandi’s social and political reforms.

The Kite Rider: A Novel / by Geraldine McCaughrean.  2002.  Fic M123k.   In thirteenth-century China, after trying to save his widowed mother from a horrendous second marriage, twelve-year-old Haoyou has life-changing adventures when he takes to the sky as a circus kite rider and ends up meeting the great Mongol ruler Kublai Khan.

The Land / Mildred D. Taylor.  2001.  Coretta Scott King; Scott O’Dell Historical Fiction Award.  Fic T2243L.  After the Civil War Paul, the son of a white father and a black mother, finds himself caught between the two worlds of colored folks and white folks as he pursues his dream of owning land of his own.  Sequel: Roll of thunder, hear my cry.

Let the Circle be Unbroken / Mildred D. Taylor. 1981. Coretta Scott King Award.  Fic T2443Le.  Four black children growing up in rural Mississippi during the Depression experience racial antagonisms and hard times, but learn from their parents the pride and self-respect they need to survive.  Sequel to: Roll of thunder, hear my cry.

Letters from Rifka / Karen Hesse.  1992Fic H587ß.  In letters to her cousin, a young Jewish girl chronicles her family's flight from Russia in 1919 and her own experiences when she must be left in Belgium for a while when the others emigrate to America.

Lyddie / Katherine Paterson.  1991.  Fic P2965ß.  Impoverished Vermont farm girl Lyddie Worthen is determined to gain her independence by becoming a factory worker in Lowell, Massachusetts, in the 1840s.

Mare’s war / Tanita S. Davis.  2009.  Fic D2646m.   Teens Octavia and Tali learn about strength, independence, and courage when they are forced to take a car trip with their grandmother, who tells about growing up Black in 1940s Alabama and serving in Europe during World War II as a member of the Women’s Army Corps.

The Midwife's Apprentice / by Karen Cushman. 1995.  Newbery Award Winner.  Fic C9863mi.  In medieval England, a nameless, homeless girl is taken in by a sharp-tempered midwife, and in spite of obstacles and hardship, eventually gains the three things she most wants: a full belly, a contented heart, and a place in this world.

Milkweed: a novel / Jerry Spinelli.  2003.  Fic S7567mi.  A street child, known to himself only as Stopthief, finds community when he is taken in by a band of orphans in Warsaw ghetto which helps him weather the horrors of the Nazi regime.

Miss Spitfire: reaching Helen Keller / Sarah Miller.  2007.  Fic M6496m.   At age twenty-one, partially-blind, lonely but spirited Annie Sullivan travels from Massachusetts to Alabama to try and teach six-year-old Helen Keller, deaf and blind since age two, self-discipline and communication skills. Includes historical notes and timeline.

Moon of two dark horses / Sally M. Keehn.  1994.  Fic K258m.  At the beginning of the Revolutionary War, hoping to keep bloodshed away from their valley, a twelve-year-old Delaware Indian boy and his white friend search sacred land for the bones of a legendary beast in Pennsylvania.

Moon over Manifest / Clare Vanderpool.  2010.  Fic V239m.  2011 Newbery Award Winner.  Twelve-year-old Abilene Tucker is the daughter of a drifter who, in the summer of 1936, sends her to stay with an old friend in Manifest, Kansas, where he grew up, and where she hopes to find out some things about his past.

Mr. Tucket / Gary Paulsen. 1994. Fic P332m.   In 1848, while on a wagon train headed for Oregon, fourteen-year-old Francis Tucket is kidnapped by Pawnee Indians and then falls in with a one-armed trapper who teaches him how to live in the wild.

My brother Sam is dead /James Lincoln Collier and Christopher Collier. 1974.    Fic C6997m.   Recounts the tragedy that strikes the Meeker family during the Revolution when one son joins the rebel forces while the rest of the family tries to stay neutral in a Tory town.

Newsgirl / Liza Ketchum.  2009.   Fic K432n.  In the spring of 1851 San Francisco is booming. 12-year-old Amelia Forrester has just arrived with her family and they are eager to make a new life in Phoenix City. But the mostly male town is not that hospitable to females and Amelia decides she will earn more money as a boy. Cutting her hair and donning a cap, she joins a gang of newsboys, selling Eastern newspapers for a fortune.

Nightjohn / Gary Paulsen.  1995.  Fic P332n.  Twelve-year-old Sarny’s brutal life as a slave becomes even more dangerous when a newly arrived slave offers to teach her how to read.

Number the stars / Lois Lowry. 1989.  Newbery Award Winner.  Fic 9212n.  In 1943, during the German occupation of Denmark, ten-year-old Annemarie learns how to be brave and courageous when she helps shelter her Jewish friend from the Nazis.

Out of the Dust / Karen Hesse.  1997.  Newbery Award Winner.  Fic H587o.  In a series of poems, fifteen-year-old Billie Jo relates the hardships of living on her family's wheat farm in Oklahoma during the dust bowl years of the Depression

The porcupine year / Louise Erdrich.  2008.  Fic E667p.   In 1852, forced by the United States government to leave their beloved Island of the Golden Breasted Woodpecker, fourteen-year-old Omokayas and her Ojibwe family travel in search of a new home.

Queen's own fool: a novel of Mary Queen of Scots / Jane Yolen.  2000.  Fic Y545q.  When twelve-year-old Nicola leaves Troupe Brufort and serves as the fool for Mary, Queen of Scots, she experiences the political and religious upheavals in both France and Scotland.

Red Moon at Sharpsburg: A Novel / by Rosemary Wells.  2007.  Fic W4559r.  As the Civil War breaks out, India, a young Southern girl, summons her sharp intelligence and the courage she didn’t know she had to survive the war that threatens to destroy her family, her Virginia home, and the only life she has ever known.

Revolution is not a dinner party: a novel / Ying Chang Compestine.  2007. Fic C73742r.
Starting in 1972 when she is nine years old, Ling, the daughter of two doctors, struggles to make sense of the communists’ Cultural Revolution, which empties stores of food, homes of appliances deemed "bourgeois," and people of laughter.

Revolver / Marcus Sedgwick.  2010.  Fic S448r .  Finland, 1910: Fifteen-year-old Sig is shocked to see a hole in the frozen lake outside his family’s cabin and to find his father’s corpse nearby. Why did Einar steer his dog sled across the lake instead of taking the safer land route? Sig’s sister and stepmother go for help, leaving Sig alone with Einar’s body in the cabin. Soon after, an armed stranger barges in, demanding a share of Einar’s stolen gold from when the two men knew each other during the Alaska Gold Rush.

Riot / Walter Dean Myers.  2009.  Fic M9969ri.  In 1863, fifteen-year-old Claire, the daughter of an Irish mother and a black father, faces ugly truths and great danger when Irish immigrants, enraged by the Civil War and a federal draft, lash out against blacks and wealthy "swells" of New York City.

The rock and the river / Kekla Magoon.  2010.  Coretta Scott King Award.  Fic M2108r.  In 1968 Chicago, fourteen-year-old Sam Childs is caught in a conflict between his father’s nonviolent approach to seeking civil rights for African Americans and his older brother, who has joined the Black Panther Party.

Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry / Mildred D. Taylor.  1976. Newbery Medal Winner.  Fic T2443r.  A black family living in the South during the 1930’s is faced with prejudice and discrimination, which the children don't understand.  Sequel: Let the circle be unbroken.

Run, Boy, Run: a novel / by Uri Orlev; translated from the Hebrew by Hillel Halkin.  2003.   Fic O71r.  Based on the true story of a nine-year-old boy who escapes the Warsaw Ghetto and must survive throughout the war in the Nazi-occupied Polish countryside

Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes / by Eleanor Coerr; paintings by Ronald Himler. 1977.  616.994 C672s.  Hospitalized with the dreaded atom bomb disease, leukemia, a child in Hiroshima races against time to fold one thousand paper cranes to verify the legend that by doing so a sick person will become healthy.

Sarah, Plain and Tall / Patricia MacLachlan.  1985.  Scott O'Dell Historical Fiction Award.   Fic M1598s.  When their father invites a mail-order bride to come live with them in their prairie home, Caleb and Anna are captivated by their new mother and hope that she will stay.

The Sign of the Beaver / Elizabeth George Speare.  1983. Scott O'Dell Historical Fiction Award; Newbery Honor Book.  Fic S741s.  Left alone to guard the family's wilderness home in eighteenth-century Maine, a boy is hard-pressed to survive until local Indians teach him their skills.

The Slave Dancer: a novel / Paula Fox.  1973.  Newbery Award Winner.  Fic F7933s.  Kidnapped by the crew of an Africa-bound ship, a thirteen-year-old boy discovers to his horror that he is on a slaver and his job is to play music for the exercise periods of the human cargo.

Stepping on the Cracks / Mary Downing Hahn. 1991. Scott O'Dell Historical Fiction Award.   Fic H1485s  In 1944, while her brother is overseas fighting in World War II, eleven-year-old Margaret gets a new view of the school bully Gordy when she finds him hiding his own brother, an army deserter, and decides to help him.

Stick and Whittle / Sid Hite.  2000.   Fic H675s.  In 1872, while journeying from Texas to Kansas, a Civil War veteran named Melvin meets a sixteen-year-old orphan, another Melvin, and they give each other nicknames and become partners and traveling companions on an exciting adventure.

Summer of my German soldier / Bette Greene.  1973. Fic G799s.  Sheltering an escaped prisoner of war is the beginning of some shattering experiences for a twelve-year-old girl in Arkansas.

T4: a novel in verse / by Ann Clare LeZotte.  2008.  Fic L6867t.    When the Nazi party takes control of Germany, thirteen-year-old Paula, who is deaf, finds her world-as-she-knows-it turned upside down, as she is taken into hiding to protect her from the new law nicknamed T4.

Trouble don't last / Shelley Pearsall. 2002. Scott O'Dell Historical Fiction Award.  Fic P361t.  In 1859, Samuel, an eleven-year-old Kentucky slave, and Harrison, the elderly slave who  helped raise him, attempt to escape to Canada via the Underground Railroad.

The true confessions of Charlotte Doyle / Avi.  1993. Newbery Honor Book.  Fic A957t.  Thirteen-year-old Charlotte relates the sea adventures she encounters during her 1832 journey from England to America on the Seahawk.

Turtle in paradise / by Jennifer L. Holm.  2010.  Fic H7472t.   In 1935, when her mother gets a job housekeeping for a woman who does not like children, eleven-year-old Turtle is sent to stay with relatives she has never met in far away Key West, Florida.

Under the Blood-Red Sun / Graham Salisbury.  1994. Scott O'Dell Historical Fiction Award.  Fic S167u.  Tomikazu Nakaji's biggest concerns are baseball, homework, and a local bully, until life with his Japanese family in Hawaii changes drastically after the bombing of Pearl Harbor in December 1941.

The Witch of Blackbird Pond / Elizabeth George Speare.  1959. Newbery Award Winner. Fic S741w.  A young woman brought up in Barbados comes to live with her uncle in Connecticut, and finds their Puritan way of life difficult after her unconventional upbringing.

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