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scrounge: /skrounj/ informal verb: to actively seek [books] from any available source

Category results for 'historical-fiction'.

The Green Glass Sea is a very interesting idea for a book -- it tells the story of a gradual friendship between two girls who live in Los Alamos -- a place that didn't exist on paper during World War II, because it's where scientists worked on the atomic bomb. Both Suze and Dewey have parents who are working on the "gadget," and both girls are misfits to one degree or another. When they have to live together, they begin to learn to appreciate each other's strengths. 

Aside from the friendship, this story is filled with details of the period. While some scenes were, I thought, I bit overly detailed and slow, items and places are still very thoroughly described. This novel also contains positive characterizations of a woman scientist and a girl who is an engineering nerd. At the very least, this has piqued my interest for Los Alamos and what it must have been like to live there as a kid. While the story doesn't go into detail about the ethical issues surrounding the atomic bomb, that is at least alluded to by the end.

Scrounged From: PaperbackSwap.com

Format: Paperback
Author: Ellen Klages
Pages: 324
Content Advisory: A few "minor" swear words, a couple scenes of bullying, and a parental death is described (not graphic)

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As Time Went By is a deceptively simple story in three parts about: a ship that breaks down and is eventually abandoned, a prosperous family that loses their wealth and has to go live with the other poor people, and a group of poor people who fix up a ship to use it for their new home.

The story is low on details, and seems sad at first, but I liked the ending. I like how the story forms a loop -- following the ship from its prosperous days, through abandonment, and then to its upcycled use as a dwelling. I suppose this story might be about class. It also asks (in a way subtle enough that children might miss it): what makes a person important?

Maybe it won't be everyone's cup of tea, but I really liked it, and the smoky illustrations were lovely as well.

Scrounged From: Our local library

Format: Hardcover
Author/Illustrator: Jose Sanabria
Pages: 48
Content Advisory: None

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Esperanza Rising is a story inspired by the author's ancestors who came to the United States from Mexico around the time of the Dust Bowl. Esperanza (which means "hope" in Spanish) enjoys a privileged life in a rich family until her father is killed and she and her mother flee to America. 

I like the way Esperanza changes as a character during the course of the story. She has a hard time adjusting to a new life of labor where she doesn't even know how to use a broom, given her former lifestyle. But she also sees how the class differences that used to divide her from her servant friends are disappearing as they travel and work together.

The themes of wealth, power, strength, and weakness are explored throughout the story, as well as the importance of family and friendship. I couldn't help but notice the timeliness of this book considering how immigration is in the news these days. Overall it was a very readable story and I enjoyed it -- I could definitely see using it for a history unit.

Scrounged From: PaperbackSwap.com

Format: Paperback
Author: Pam Munoz Ryan
Pages: 304
Content Advisory: Death of a loved one takes place, though it is not explicitly described. 

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Castle Diary: The Journal of Tobias Burgess is an informative and whimsical look at what it might have been like to live in a castle in the Middle Ages, according to the fictional diary of Tobias Burgess, an eleven-year-old boy who becomes a page at his uncle's castle. 

Toby writes his entries over the course of a year (in a Medieval-sounding voice, even!), detailing the different things he is learning and experiencing -- from school to church, hunts to jousts, and basic day-to-day events such as meals, comradeship, and punishments, this is a fun way to learn about Medieval times, especially as they played out within the walls of a castle.

Scrounged From: AbeBooks.com

Format: Paperback
Author: Richard Platt
Illustrator: Chris Riddell
Pages: 128
Content Advisory: References to the dungeon/prisoners, cleaning "garderobes," and similar unsavory aspects of Medieval life.

More Reviews at Amazon

I enjoyed Stella by Starlight -- the story of a black girl named Stella who is living in the depression-era South. Stella doesn't have a lot of power over the events that take place around her -- the segregation, the hurdles her friends and family members are forced to go through just to attempt to cast a ballot, the KKK meetings across the lake, and the arson of the house of her friends. But she learns to find her voice and rely on her family and on the close-knit community she lives in.

Stella wants to write and be a writer, which does not seem entirely uncommon in books about adolescent children written by people who are also writers. What I appreciated was that her struggles and learning seem to be portrayed realistically for the most part. When Stella's teacher announces a writing contest, I expected that Stella, being the protagonist, was probably going to win. But she doesn't. And despite that, she keeps writing. I like seeing that in books aimed at middle grade readers especially -- it's not always about winning -- sometimes it's just about being willing to make mistakes and keep on trying, and the "winning," if it comes at all, may be many years down the road still. But Stella still fights and wins a few victories on the way.

To be honest, there were a few times when it seemed to me that Stella's "voice" sounded too much like an adult trying to speak through a child. Mainly in some of the metaphors and more abstract views she comes up with that seem like they'd be beyond her actual experience.

Still, a good read for the characterizations and writing style, as well as informative about this time period.

Scrounged From: Our local library

Format: Hardcover
Author: Sharon Draper
Pages: 320
Content Advisory: As mentioned in the review, KKK activities are mentioned, as well as a scene of arson, scenes of racial discrimination/demeaning treatment, and a few characters are injured or in peril at different times.

More Reviews at Amazon

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