Kids Book Reviews by Genre: Historical

Out of the Dust book jacket
Hesse, Karen
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Out of the Dust by Karen Hesse is a historical fiction novel set in Oklahoma's Dust Bowl and during the Great Depression. It follows Billie Jo, a young girl as she struggles through the Great Depression and the Dust Bowl. During the book, Billie must endure heart-wrenching experiences that no one should have to go through. The author does a bewildering job of illustrating the struggles of the Dust Bowl and gives you a new perspective on this historical event. The Dust Bowl is no longer a page in a history textbook but a story that will break your heart. I would wholeheartedly recommend this book with 5 out of 5 stars.

Reviewer's Name: Lucia
I Survived the Sinking of the Titanic, 1912
Tarshis, Lauren
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

George has always been on the lookout for adventure. And so when he and his sister Phoebe start to travel home on the Titanic, he goes to explore every inch of the massive ship. But when the Titanic unbelievably starts to sink, and Phoebe is nowhere to be found, George must save her. George knows he won't give up, but will he be able to help his sister without ending up dead himself?

This book is a short read, but it is very interesting to see George's thoughts and feelings as the ship sinks. I like the way he doesn't panic, at least not a lot. I would recommend reading it when you are waiting for something, because it keeps you interested throughout the entire book, and it is only about 100 pages.

Reviewer's Name: Kelsey
I Survived the Joplin Tornado, 2011
Tarshis, Lauren
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

Dexter has always wanted to go storm chasing. So when Dr. Gage, a meteorologist comes to Joplin, Dex has a chance to do just that. The storm seems harmless enough, at first. But when they realize the clouds are hiding a tornado, the storm chases them instead. Dex is trapped in the car. Can he survive, just like his brother Jeremy, a Navy SEAL?

This book is ok. It had lots of detail, and I especially liked the tour of the meteorology van, because I enjoy science. I also liked the way Mrs. Tarshis described all of Dex's feelings about his brother and the tornado. It seemed like Dexter was real, at some points in the book. It also got to the action pretty quick, and it is interesting the whole way through. I would read this book if you are bored, like most of the books in the I Survived series. It could have been longer, though.

Reviewer's Name: Kelsey
Lucky Broken Girl
Behar, Ruth
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Lucky Broken Girl is about a Girl named Ruthie and her family, who moved to America from Cuba. Ruthie's English is starting to improve and she is making friends at her new school. But that all changes when she gets into a car accident, and breaks both of her legs. She has to spend a year in a cast and she has to relearn how to walk once it is off. I really liked this book because it was emotional. I laughed and cried while reading this book. I liked how the characters were written, I thought they had a lot of personality. I also really liked the plot. Overall I thought this book was very enjoyable to read.

Reviewer's Name: Lotus
Rose in Bloom
Alcott, Louisa May
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Louisa Alcott’s book, Rose in Bloom, is a highly engaging and unique story for all readers. It follows Rose, a young woman who has returned from Europe and finds her cousins and friends all grown up. Throughout the course of the novel, Rose struggles between self-discovery and societal pressures towards marriage. As she learns more about herself and life, Rose finds that she can take control of her future and be her own person. Rose is a very philanthropic and independent character and the plot will pull you in; it’s a must read for everyone! You should totally give it a shot-I’m sure you’ll love it!

Reviewer's Name: Gemma
Robinson Crusoe
Defoe, Daniel
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Robinson Crusoe is an incredibly fun novel to read. It is a fictional autobiography about the character Robinson Crusoe and his adventures while shipwrecked on an island. While the book does use some confusing language at times, the creative results it produces are greatly entertaining. The book starts slow, however, the pacing of the book almost depicts the exact development of Crusoe through his stagnant start and then a life of adventure later on. Around a third into the book, Robinson Crusoe simply states that he would focus on only the important parts of his adventure due to his lack of ink. It is at this point where the book starts to shine, and Robinson's island survival starts to mix supernaturalism and realism. The novel does not have any super deep themes and rather opts to just tell a straightforward story, unlike many modern island survival novels that attempt to be thought-provoking. Overall, the novel was a fantastic read. I would recommend this book to any person that enjoys adventure and survival.

Reviewer's Name: Steven
Anne of Green Gables
Montgomery, L. M.
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

I've read this book many times, and it's always been one of my favorites. It tells the story of Anne Shirley (Anne spelt with an e, mind you) -- a spirited orphan who, by mistake, is sent to live with the old pair of siblings, Matthew and Marilla Cuthbert, on Green Gables farm in the small Canadian town of Avonlea. Anne is smart, friendly, talkative, and most of all, highly imaginative. She proves to be a handful for the Cuthberts, but overall, the friendships she develops, the scrapes she gets into, and just Anne herself are so lovely and heartwarming. I found her relatable on a profound level. While it may not be as thrilling as a fantasy, Anne of Green Gables is a classic that I would recommend to just about anyone.

Reviewer's Name: Elanor
Book Cover
Alcott, Louisa May
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Louisa May Alcott's well-known classic Little Women tells the story of four sisters in the time of the Civil War: Meg, who longs for a life without poverty; Jo, a tomboy and writer; Beth, quiet and kind; and Amy, who has elegant taste in art and life. These four girls, with the help of their mother, learn lessons that help them carry their burdens with thankful hearts and lean on each other throughout the trials they face. The novel spans ten years, and follows the lives of the March family and their friends. It highlights the small joys of childhood, adventures at home and abroad, growing up, loss, and falling in love.

Alcott's writing is insightful, touching, and humorous; she draws the reader in emotionally and offers her wisdom generously. Little Women is an important narrative of ordinary life which both amuses and grieves, and should be read by all teens. Not only does it put life into perspective; it also relates to teenagers today despite being written nearly two-hundred years ago. Any audience will be able to connect with at least one of the March sisters--especially young women. Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy become as dear to readers as family throughout their journey to adulthood. If you enjoy heartwarming stories and historical fiction, this book is for you!

Reviewer's Name: Alexa H.
Chains
Anderson, Laurie Halse
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Isabel is a thirteen-year old slave who is trying to gain her and her
sister's freedom. After their master died, Isabel and Ruth were supposed to
be freed, but were sold to a Loyalist couple who brings them to New York.
After an incident where Isabel is branded, Ruth if sold to a family in a
different state. Determined to find her, Isabel takes the advice of her
friend and servant boy, Curzon. Isabel becomes a spy on her master and other
Loyalists and reports back to the Patriots. Later, when Curzon is arrested,
she breaks him out of jail and the two run away to look for her sister.

Even though the novel is fictional, the events are based on the American
Revolutionary War, and it's pretty accurate. As someone who likes history and
adventure, this book was a good balance of both. Despite her circumstances,
Isabel remains a positive character and does everything to protect her sister
and those she loves. Obviously, there's some sensitive topics since they're
slaves, but I do think this book gives good information about the
Revolutionary War and how African Americans were ironically very helpful to
the Patriot cause.

Reviewer's Name: Nneoma
Forge
Anderson, Laurie Halse
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

The sequel to Chains, this story follows Curzon's life as a soldier for the
Patriots during the American Revolutionary War. After Isabel abandoned him to
look for her sister, Curzon finds himself on the outskirts of Valley Forge.
After saving a soldier from a British troop, Curzon enlists in the Colonial
Army for the next year. The book describes Curzon's life at Valley Forge: the
strenuous labor, harsh winter climate, lack of food and resources, and the
racism Curzon experiences from other soldiers. Not long in his stay, his
former master visits the camp and forces Curzon back into servitude. For the
rest of the novel, Curzon plots his escape and reunites with Isabel.

I wasn't expecting the second book to be told through a different point of
view, but Curzon's story is just as touching as Isabel's. I also think that
the book is a good perspective of the life of a soldier at Valley Forge. The
events were relatively accurate, and throughout, I felt tense and anxious to
know about what would happen next. I thoroughly enjoyed Curzon and Isabel's
reunion, and I'm thrilled that there's a third book to the series.

Reviewer's Name: Nneoma
Ashes
Anderson, Laurie Halse
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

The final book in the Seeds of America trilogy, Isabel is finally reunited
with Ruth. However, when she meets Ruth, who has epilepsy and a degree of
intellectual disability, she rejects Isabel to stay with her adopted family.
Eventually, after convincing Ruth to accompany Isabel, Curzon, and a third
slave, Aberdeen, the four teens go out to search for freedom. They travel
north until making it to Williamsburg where the girls work in a laundry, and
we find out that Curzon joined the Patriot army and Aberdeen became a spy for
the British. Separated briefly, Isabel and Ruth reunite with Curzon at a
Continental Army camp.

After all of Isabel, Ruth, and Curzon's suffering, the ending was a big
breath of relief. Everything seemed to fall in place finally. This book,
besides providing good information about the Revolutionary War and colonial
society, showed how just like White Americans, African Americans wanted to
forge their own identities and fight for what they believed it; whether that
was freedom, family, or love. Even though the main characters are fictional,
I felt like I was reading someone's real experiences and story from the past.
I also liked the list of all the historical events that took place over the
course of the trilogy that the author provided at the end.

Reviewer's Name: Nneoma
Compass South
Larson, Hope
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Compass South is the thrilling story of Alexander (Alex) and Cleopatra (Cleo) Dodge, twins in 1850s America. With their single father missing, and no money left to live, the twins abandon their gang-ridden home in Manhattan. Cleo and Alex set out to impersonate missing boys who are heirs to a rich uncle in California. Along the way, they meet suspicious characters, new friends, and obstacles of every kind. This graphic novel is a thrilling adventure with lush artwork, a solid story, and lovable characters. Each chapter slowly unravels the journey of the Dodge twins and was good enough for me to read in a single sitting. Highly recommended to lovers of graphic novels, adventure/mystery, and Mark Twain-type stories.

Reviewer's Name: Lily
Lucky Broken Girl
Behar, Ruth
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Lucky Broken Girl is about is girl named Ruthie, who recently moved from
Castro's Cuba. When her father decides to buy a car and surprise the family,
they get into a terrible accident, testing the car out. Ruthie breaks her
leg, and must live in a body cast to mend her leg and to make sure one leg is
taller than the other, since she is growing. Ruthie must spend months in the
body cast. Along the way, Ruthie makes friends and loses friends, learns how
to paint, and continues her life, as much as possible, as to not get behind.
This is also a true story. The author changed some parts of the story, but it
is based off of true events.
I really enjoyed this book. It reminded me that not everyone's life is
perfect, and everyone is going through something. Even though the setting of
the book was in Ruthie's room most of the story, I had a lot of trouble
putting the book down. There are some sad parts but there are also a lot of
happy parts. This book is definitely a ten out of ten.

Reviewer's Name: Mackenzie
Book Cover
Cholodenko, Gennifer
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Al Capone Does My Shirts was a required summer reading book for me this year. The plot of the story was how an eleven-year old boy named Moose left his San Francisco home to live on the prison island Alcatraz because his father had to relocate there for work. Moose’s sister Natalie, who sadly suffered from autism, was trying to get into a special school, but the principal would not let her join. Moose tries to get her into the school, while trying to still play baseball and do other things on his own.
On a scale of five stars, I would give it a four for the following reasons:
1. The plot was easy to follow, but at the same time you never knew what was going to happen next.
2. The character development was excellent, because you could easily relate and understand the characters' predicaments.
3. I thought the book was clever, funny, and meaningful.

For all of these reasons, I would give Al Capone Does My Shirts by Gennifer Choldenko four stars.

Reviewer's Name: Zach M.
How I Became a Spy
Hopkinson, Deborah
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

On his very first assignment as a civil defense messenger in World War II London, Bertie Bradshaw finds the diary of a spy lying in the street. He eagerly reads about the young spy’s training and how she parachuted into France to assume her new covert role. Things soon begin to sound dangerous as one by one her fellow agents are captured by the Nazis. Then the diary suddenly changes into code.

Bertie decides to trust a gutsy American girl, Eleanor, and his best friend David, who is Jewish, with the secrets in the diary. In a race against time, they must try to decode the final messages and then track down not only the spy who wrote them but also the traitor who is leaking information to the Nazis - information so vital that it will affect the success of the invasion of France and the lives of countless allied agents.

I immediately felt affinity for Bertie because he is a believable thirteen-year-old, forgetting his helmet and his training at first but then gaining courage and confidence as the story progresses. Bertie is also struggling with what seem to be panic attacks, stemming from the bombing of his house and the separation of his family, which makes his determination all the more admirable. I also enjoyed Little Roo, Bertie’s trained rescue dog, who has more to do with the success or failure of the venture than you might think.

Reviewer's Name: Cynde
Allies
Gratz, Alan
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Alan Gratz has given us a gripping tale in the book Allies. The invasion at Normandy during D-Day is seen from the viewpoint of a number of allies who's stories weave in and out of the fray during that first day of fighting. True to life characters, from soldier to resistance fighters, and and edge-of-the-seat story line will compel readers age 9 -15 to keep turning pages.

Reviewer's Name: Barbara
Book Cover
Nielsen, Jennifer
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

This is one of my favorite books. It is about a girl named Audra who tries to help her family but soon realizes how dangerous it can be. I like this book because it shows how people can be good in difficult situations. I picked this book because I like to learn about history but it also incorporated in what a day might be like during the World War II. The thing I enjoyed most about this book is how Audra doesn't know why her parents want her to drop off this book but she does it anyway because she trusts her parents. The ending has a great surprise of Audra's decision. (Reviewer grade:8)

Reviewer's Name: Theanna K.
The Lost Heir
Foley, E.G.
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

This is a series for children/teens. but I loved it. It really does combine the best of Harry Potter, Percy Jackson, and every fantasy story that you know and love into one amazing series with characters that you just can't help but love. Highly recommend.

Reviewer's Name: Aleena
Girl with Brush and Canvas
Meyer, Carolyn
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Learn about artist Georgia O'Keeffe in this fascinating novel about her life. Beginning with her early life in Sun Prairie, Wisconsin when she announced her plans to be an artist and following with family hardships where she refused to give up her dream, you'll learn about where she found her inspiration and how she persevered. Girl with Brush and Canvas, is a well-written, entertaining story about one of the most interesting artists of the 20th century.

Reviewer's Name: Carol
Orange for the Sunsets
Athaide, Tina
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Tina Athaide’s debut novel, Orange for the Sunsets, is a story of friendship, resilience, and perseverance. Written for the middle grades and set in 1972, Athaide helps readers examine who and what they call home. It’s the story of Ugandan best friends, Asha and Yesopu, who don’t see their differences until Ugandan President Idi Amin announces that Indians have 90 days to leave the country. Asha, an Indian, and Yesopu, an African, are torn apart. Journey with them as they learn that letting each other go may be the bravest thing that they can do.

Reviewer's Name: Carol