Sunday, September 10, 2006

Historical Fiction for Young Readers

Laurence Yep and James Cross Giblin are two highly respected authors in the field of children's literature. This year each has written a historical novel for younger readers. The Earth Dragon Awakes is set during the San Francisco earthquake of 1906 and is told from two young narrators. The book would definitely be appropriate for third to fifth graders. The Boy Who Saved Cleveland is set in Colonial America in 1798. This book would be appropriate for second to fourth graders. Both are good examples of how important quality fiction is for every age audience.

Giblin, James Cross. 2006. The Boy Who Saved Cleveland.

James Cross Giblin is known for writing extraordinary nonfiction books for young adults. His books have a reputation for being accurate, readable, and above all enjoyable.

THE BOY WHO SAVED CLEVELAND is a departure in some ways from your typical Giblin book. It is a fiction book for young readers--I'd estimate second to fourth graders. Definitely a "chapter-book" look and style to it, clear, easy-to-read, straight forward text, short chapters. Also, the book is fiction not nonfiction.

THE BOY WHO SAVED CLEVELAND is based on a true story of a young boy who saved his small settlement in 1798 from from a malaria epidemic. As one by one his family members and neighbors get sick it is his responsibility to take the corn to the mill to grind. Each day his burdens become heavier as more neighbors add in sacks of corn to be taken to the mill. This young boy has a great responsibility, and a newfound purpose. He is proud of his accomplishments...and is taking his first steps to manhood.

Overall, while not as 'fascinating' to adult readers like his YA books's hard to have a 'fascinating' chapter is an enjoyable read that I hope many children will enjoy.

The illustrations by Michael Dooling are also impressive.

Yep, Laurence. 2006. The Earth Dragon Awakes.

THE EARTH DRAGON AWAKES features parallel narration from two young American, one Chinese-American. Two different neighborhoods, but one terrifying crisis overwhelms them all.

Ah Sing is the houseboy to the Travis family, his son, Chin, is friends with Henry Travis. They both share a common passion: secretly reading 'penny dreadfuls' adventure stories full of heroes and action-packed adventures. But little do they know that the true heroes are much closer to home.

When the earthquake strikes, the young boys see their fathers revealed as true heroes. Fighting for survival, the city brings out the best and worst of everyone. Some see an opportunity to make profit, and others devote their time to helping strangers.

It is an exciting read for young readers.

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