A good work of historical fiction can simultaneously capture a child’s attention, entertain, and leave them more knowledgeable of a particular time period than when they began.
Three recent historical titles have captured our attention and we hope one or two may find their way to your home, too.
Paper Wishes by Lois Sepahban
Recommended for Grades 3-6
From School Library Journal: In March 1942, 10-year-old Manami Tanaka’s whole world changes. Her family is forced to leave their home on Bainbridge Island along with all the other Japanese Americans in their community. Though arrangements have been made for a neighbor to care for their dog, Yujiin, Manami can’t bear to leave him behind and tries to bring him along, hidden under her coat. When Yujiin is discovered, Manami is made to abandon him in transit to California. Full of guilt, uncertainty, and fear, Manami stops speaking. Her family makes what life they can in the “prison-village,” but Manami cannot find her voice again. Her kind teacher gives her paper and pencils, and Manami draws what she sees and what she remembers of home. But mostly, she draws Yujiin, whom she continues to hear on the wind. She begins sending these drawings into the air, hoping that Yujiin will find one and return to her. All the while, the camp continues to grow as more and more Japanese Americans are forcibly relocated to Manzanar.
Lizzie and the Lost Baby by Cheryl Blackford
Recommended for Grades 3-6
From Publishers Weekly: When WWII begins, 10-year-old Lizzie and seven-year-old Peter are sent to the Yorkshire countryside to live with strangers as part of England’s evacuation program. Lizzie ’s story alternates with that of Elijah, whose clan of Travelers camps near the village. While exploring their new surroundings, Lizzie and Peter discover a baby in a field. Blackford’s debut is an atmospheric, emotion-filled journey for worried Elijah (who unwillingly left his baby sister under a tree) and sympathetic Lizzie , who wrestles with her conflicted feelings when the family she and Peter are staying with decides to keep the baby —even after they know where she really belongs.
A Night Divided by Jennifer A. Nielsen
Recommended for Grades 4-7
From Booklist: Four years after the Berlin Wall went up, in 1961, 12-year-old Gerta Lowe is eager for freedom and to reunite her family. Separated from her father on Germany’s west side, Gerta, her brother Fritz, and her mother live in East Germany under Communist rule and near-relentless scrutiny. One day, she sees her father on a platform overlooking the wall, and she realizes he’s trying to send her a message: dig a tunnel! With the help of Fritz, the two siblings plan carefully, overcome dangerous obstacles, and then face the toughest task of all: convincing their mother to escape with them.