Discussion Forums - Historical Fiction

Topic: July Mini-Challenge- Release Your Inner Child

Club rule - Please, if you cannot be courteous and respectful, do not post in this forum.
Page:   Unlock Forum posting with Annual Membership.
Subject: July Mini-Challenge- Release Your Inner Child
Date Posted: 7/5/2009 3:24 PM ET
Member Since: 6/26/2008
Posts: 456
Back To Top

July Mini-Challenge: Release Your Inner Child!

As a teacher, I know (hope) that my students are working on their summer reading now before it gets too late in the summer!  At my middle school, the summer reading list is limited to Language Arts classes only, but for this challenge, I figured I'd bring my subject of History into the mix.  Your mini-challenge for July is to read a children's/young adult historical fiction (bonus entry if it's about the American Revolution in honor of July 4th).  I know that July can be a busy month with vacations, family get-togethers, etc., so I figured this is a challenge that's short enough for everyone to complete in a day if need be and something general enough that can be found in the public library if you don't have any of these around the house.  Just make sure you post your reaction to the book, note anything historical that you learned from this story, and what age group do you think would enjoy this the most & why! :-)  Entries are due by Friday, July 31st.  Winner(s) will be selected the next day.

The prizes:
There will be TWO winners (four choices are available).  A credit can definitely be substited for any of the books or if I happen to have something on my bookshelf that you would prefer, I'd certainly do that as well! :-)

1)  The Widow's War by Sally Gunning- Time period: Colonial America in New England (bought from Barnes & Noble, has a remainder mark & an ugly "Bargain Priced" sticker on the cover that I'm afraid to attempt to remove; perfectly postable!)

2) The Houseguest by Agnes Rossi- Time Period: 1930s Ireland and New Jersey (I accidentally received two of these due to a sender not marking the first one as mailed.  My bookshelf currently has the only one in the system, so if that one gets ordered before the end of the challenge, it's OK. because I have a second one)

3) Innocent Traitor: A Novel of Lady Jane Grey by Alison Weir- Time Period: Tudor England (I first received an unpostable copy that I planned to keep to read since the damage was limited to the back of the book, forgot to take it off my wishlist when it was put on there by the system after marking it RWAP, it was ordered & shipped the next day before I remembered to deleted it.  I'm keeping the unpostable to read, but I'm offering up the postable version as a prize).

4) 1 credit

How the winner will be picked:
Winners will be chosen at random using random.org.  Each player will be entered once (twice if you read a book about the American Revolution).

Have fun! :-)



Last Edited on: 8/3/09 10:10 AM ET - Total times edited: 8
Date Posted: 7/5/2009 9:55 PM ET
Member Since: 5/27/2005
Posts: 2,390
Back To Top

Can our choice be a reread from when we were young?

Kelly

Great idea for a mini-challenge, by the way! Thanks, Brenna!

 

Date Posted: 7/5/2009 10:42 PM ET
Member Since: 6/26/2008
Posts: 456
Back To Top

I don't see why not, I mean I know I've re-read a few books from my younger days & I've gotten so much more out of them because I'm older now & caught a few things that I didn't get back then.

Date Posted: 7/7/2009 1:17 AM ET
Member Since: 6/5/2007
Posts: 2,507
Back To Top

Great idea!

Date Posted: 7/7/2009 8:38 PM ET
Member Since: 10/29/2005
Posts: 3,823
Back To Top

Oh, this is a fabulous idea! I already have a perfect book!

Date Posted: 7/11/2009 10:08 AM ET
Member Since: 7/21/2008
Posts: 437
Back To Top

Thanks, Brenna - good idea!  This will be a nice, easy read after I finish An Instance of the Fingerpost.  I requested Cast Two Shadows by Ann Rinaldi from the library for this one.  Looks like a good read!

Date Posted: 7/11/2009 1:29 PM ET
Member Since: 10/29/2005
Posts: 3,823
Back To Top

I chose the book Forged in the Fire by Ann Turnbull. There may be minor spoilers in my review.

Set in London, in the year 1655, Will, a young man who was cast from his father's home for becoming a Quaker, moves to London where he begins a promising career as a clerk. He's waiting to marry the girl he loves, Susanna, when he gets into trouble that may delay his chance to marry. The authorities habitually harrass Quakers at this time and several are arrested during a meeting, then sent to a transport ship. While seeing his fellow Quakers off, Will has a run-in with a guard and is himself imprisoned during a particularly bad period of time because there is plague in London. The plague is raging through London and Susanna becomes increasingly worried about Will, so she sets off for London to find him and finally be married. In the midst of all this, the Great Fire of London occurs. I won't tell anymore after that because I don't want to spoil the plot for anyone who may read this.

I enjoyed the bits about the plague because I have a fascination with it, but I particularly enjoyed the great description of the Great London Fire. It was very well done and exciting to read. I also enjoyed the glimpse into the life of a Quaker at this time. The author did a great job at showing the persecution and the daily habits of the Quakers. There were some bits that I thought could have been a bit more fleshed out, but I have to remember this is a book for a younger audience and in that regard, I think it was very well done.

I didn't realize until I was almost halfway through with the book that it is actually a sequel to an earlier book; "No Shame, No Fear". The author was very good at bringing a reader who hasn't read the first book up to date and I never felt like I was missing out on parts of the story.

I'd give this one 4 out of 5 stars.

 

Date Posted: 7/15/2009 7:05 PM ET
Member Since: 5/27/2005
Posts: 2,390
Back To Top

Brenna, I'm delighted that you chose this theme.  I've intended for a long time to re-read The Witch of Blackbird Pond and this mini-challenge inspired me to get it done.  What a great book!  No wonder it received a Newbery Medal!

I started it yesterday afternoon, finished it this afternoon.  I know I read it years and years ago, but had forgotten nearly everything about it.  Such an enjoyable reading experience.

Thanks for hosting this, thinking up the theme, and thereby contributing to my very enjoyable afternoon.

Linda

ETA - this book is considered YA; should appeal to upper elementary and every age group past that.



Last Edited on: 7/16/09 11:54 AM ET - Total times edited: 2
Date Posted: 7/15/2009 9:15 PM ET
Member Since: 10/29/2005
Posts: 3,823
Back To Top

Oh, I just realized that I was supposed to include certain info in my review. Oops! I totally missed that part. Sorry! Maybe I'll go back and add it later.

Date Posted: 7/16/2009 3:28 PM ET
Member Since: 4/23/2009
Posts: 128
Back To Top

I just wanted to post that I have an ARC of a WL'ed YA historical fiction book, if anyone here is interested.

Guardian by Julius Lester

Free with an order from my shelf or 1 credit.

:) Twyla

Date Posted: 7/22/2009 8:29 PM ET
Member Since: 6/26/2008
Posts: 456
Back To Top

I have to start my book still, yikes!  I think I've narrowed it down to two choices, so we'll see which one it ends up being.  That's the one I'll take away with me this weekend since it'll be a quick read.  I hope that everyone else it having some luck with their selections! :-)

Date Posted: 7/28/2009 10:12 AM ET
Member Since: 6/26/2008
Posts: 456
Back To Top

Don't forget to post your entry by Friday, July 31st! :-)

Date Posted: 7/28/2009 10:56 AM ET
Member Since: 8/20/2006
Posts: 1,930
Back To Top

I'm reading The Fifth of March by Ann Rinaldi - it is excellent. I'm a huge fan of YA historical fiction and read 10-12 a year as a Battle of the Books coach. I'll add my review as soon as I finish the book  which should be tonight or tomorrow :-)

Date Posted: 7/28/2009 11:21 AM ET
Member Since: 7/21/2008
Posts: 437
Back To Top

I read Cast Two Shadows by Ann Rinaldi.  It was excellent!  It was told from the perspective of a teenage girl living on a Southern plantation during the American Revolution.  She comes of age during the story as the horrors that she witnesses because of the war force her to quickly grow up.  I did not realize how similar in many perspectives the American Revolution was to the Civil War in that neighbors were so divided based on which side they were aligned (British or Rebels).  This is a great book for Young Adult women, as they would so be able to relate to the girl narrating the story.

Date Posted: 7/28/2009 11:30 AM ET
Member Since: 8/20/2006
Posts: 1,930
Back To Top

Ha ha Michelle - Cast Two Shadows and The Winter of Red Snow (Dear America Series) were the other two books I checked out of the library for this challenge. Glad to hear you liked it as much as I am liking my book by Rinaldi.

Date Posted: 7/28/2009 11:34 PM ET
Member Since: 8/20/2006
Posts: 1,930
Back To Top

I finished The Fifth of March, A Story of the Boston Massacre by Ann Rinaldi. My first book by Rinaldi and won't be my last. My reaction to the book was that is was a compelling story with a main character that was easy to identify with. Rachel Marsh, the primary character, is an indentured servant to John and Abigail Adams and her job is to take care of their children. Rachel was a real person who was an indentured servant to the Adams family. I've read too many books about John and Abigail Adams for much of the information in the book to be new to me but I did learn some interesting tidbits about John Hancock and Paul Revere. John Hancock was much more than the man who penned the largest signature on the Declaration of Independence. He was a rich, altruistic young merchant determined not to let British Customs men on his ship and to risk his fortune fighting the Townsend Acts. Paul Revere sold sketches that were printed in the Boston newspaper. The Author's Note was a pleasure to read because Rinaldi cited the historical facts to distinguish history from the parts she fabricated for the story. She also included a list of books and maps she used for her research. Age group that would enjoy this book most: girls age 12-15 because they will feel and identify with Rachel's confusion, love and pain the most.

Date Posted: 7/31/2009 1:36 PM ET
Member Since: 6/26/2008
Posts: 456
Back To Top

Yay, I finally found time to write up my review!  Once I finish it here, I think I'll copy it to the review page for the book since there aren't any for this one and that makes me sad because it was quite good! :-)

The book that I read for this challenge was War Comes to Willy Freeman by James Lincoln Collier and Christopher Collier.  It is about a 13 year old girl, Willy, and her life goes through dramatic changes towards the end of the American Revolution.  She is from a family of former slaves in Connecticut that had gained freedom because her father offered to fight in the war.  Since slaves were not allowed to enlist, his military owner set him (and his family) free so that he could fight.  One day, Willy accompanies her father to the fort and ends up getting caught up in the fighting.  She witnesses her father getting killed and when she escapes and gets home, she finds out that her mother was taken by the British to NYC.  Since she had very short hair, had been wearing "milking breeches" and her father's hat, Willy easily was able to pass for a boy which allowed her certain freedoms of movement that she wouldn't have as an African-American young woman.  She faces many difficulties making her way to NYC in order to rescue her mother, but she also makes a few friends (a powerful tavern owner and his young employee Horace) that help her along the way.  The story follows Willy until she's nearly 16 years old, so one really gets the sense of how Willy's experiences shape her adult life.

I really enjoyed this story.  It was told from a rather unique perspective.  Often, we tend to forget that slavery wasn't limited to the South early in America's history and that the Northern states also had their share of slavery at the inception of our country.  Willy is moving around in New York and Connecticut and is constantly afraid of being brought back into slavery because she didn't have the freedom papers her father received when he was set free.  This especially becomes a problem when she looks to her aunt, uncle, and cousin for help and their master tries to find ways to claim Willy as his slave.  Although this book takes place during the American Revolution, there are only a few direct references to things that are happening during the war since Willy herself really isn't directly involved.  However, there is a lot of focus on why Willy identifies herself as an American despite the fact that she also feels she has a right to want to distance herself from the same people who want to make her a slave again.  There is a Historical Note section at the end that discusses what parts of the story are true, and although Willy's story is fictional, many of the other characters from the story are based directly on people who lived and died during the American Revolution.

I feel that this book would be most appropriate for very late elementary school (5th grade) up through middle school and even high school.  Although the reading level is on the easy side (5th grade or so), the content can be very mature at times (Willy's fear of being violated by soldiers when they try to feel through her clothing to determine her gender, violence, and the use of the n-word repeatedly, which is also noted in the Historical Note section as being accurate to the time period, thus included in speech patterns).  The maturity of the child would really depend on if I felt they could handle reading it.  Again, it's easy to read in terms of reading level, but it is very mature in terms of content and language.  This is one of three books in the "Arabus Family Saga" and one of those book Jump Ship to Freedom is a frequently challenged/ banned book due to language.  All in all, I found it to be a very eye opening read, one that I feel would be of a great benefit for most kids as long as they can handle a few relatively mature topics.



Last Edited on: 7/31/09 1:41 PM ET - Total times edited: 3
Date Posted: 7/31/2009 2:08 PM ET
Member Since: 6/26/2008
Posts: 456
Back To Top

Don't forget, today is the deadline for this challenge.  I'd like to pick a winner tomorrow!  I added another prize that I came about by "accident" (the story is above with the prize list).  Good luck! :-)  I've really enjoyed seeing what everyone read! :-)

Date Posted: 7/31/2009 6:33 PM ET
Member Since: 7/21/2008
Posts: 437
Back To Top

Sheila - looks like you also had a good one by Rinaldi.  I'll have to check that one out!  This was my first book by this author, and I really enjoyed it.

Date Posted: 8/1/2009 11:27 PM ET
Member Since: 6/26/2008
Posts: 456
Back To Top

After entering them into random.org, the winners are...

1) Michelle V.

2) Sheila M.

Congratulations!  I'm going to PM Michelle to pick first, and Sheila I'll PM you after Michelle makes her choice! :-)  Thanks everyone for playing! :-)

Date Posted: 8/3/2009 8:27 AM ET
Member Since: 7/21/2008
Posts: 437
Back To Top

Thanks, Brenna!  I'm excited....I never win anything!!  =)  I PM'd you my choice ("The Houseguest").

Date Posted: 8/3/2009 9:13 AM ET
Member Since: 8/20/2006
Posts: 1,930
Back To Top

Congrats Michelle!

Thanks for the contest Brenna! I found a new author to enjoy as a result of my participation in this challenge. I have to admit that everyone's books looked interesting. I would like The Widow's War.

Thanks again.

Date Posted: 8/3/2009 12:39 PM ET
Member Since: 10/29/2005
Posts: 3,823
Back To Top

Congratulations Michelle and Sheila! "The Widow's War" is a great book, you'll emjoy it.

Thanks for hosting the challenge, Brenna! It was great fun. :-)

Date Posted: 8/5/2009 3:27 PM ET
Member Since: 6/26/2008
Posts: 456
Back To Top

I'm glad everyone had fun with this, I certainly enjoyed hosting my first challenge/ game ever! :-)

Date Posted: 8/9/2009 9:46 PM ET
Member Since: 8/20/2006
Posts: 1,930
Back To Top

I received my book. Thanks Brenna!

Page: