‘Write to Me: Letters from Japanese American Children to the Librarian They Left Behind’

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A beautifully written, touching picture book about a shameful period of American history is “Write to Me: Letters from Japanese American Children to the Librarian They Left Behind” by Cynthia Grady and illustrated by Amiko Hirao.

The book includes pictures from that time of children wearing identification tags and families with their belongings (they were only allowed to bring what they could carry). At the heart of the story is Clara Breed, a children’s librarian in San Diego County where many Japanese American families lived. She formed relationships with her patrons, and when they told her that they were going to be imprisoned because they were of Japanese descent, she gave them postcards so they could keep in contact with her.

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‘The Night Dairy’ by Veera Hiranandani: An Historical Fiction Middle Grade Novel About the Partition of India

the night diary

In “The Night Diary” by Veera Hiranandani, readers will get a chance to learn about a piece of history that is not often included in children’s books — the partition of India. In fact, this adult reader learned much about that historic event.

While many adults know that upon gaining independence from Great Britain, India was divided into India and Pakistan, one a Hindu country and the other Muslim, adults like me know little about the actual event and how smoothly (or not) the transition and partition went. It did not go well.

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‘Hamilton and Peggy! A Revolutionary Friendship’ by L. M. Elliot

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L. M. Elliot’s latest brilliant piece of historical fiction for young adults, “Hamilton and Peggy! A Revolutionary Friendship,” is a fascinating study of the life and loves of Peggy Schuyler. She was the daughter of a famous Revolutionary War general and counter-intelligence agent, the sister of two equally important women of the era, and the romantic partner of two significant revolutionary and post-revolutionary men.

The Peggy Schuyler of “Hamilton and Peggy” was a woman both very much of her time and very much ahead of her time. She was brilliant, independent, witty, strong — and a victim of the limitations that shackled the women of America in 1776. Elliot provides us enlightening glimpses of Peggy’s courage and strength — a dangerous trip through a deadly storm with enemies all around her; the defense of her home during an attack by British forces; the stubborn, constant support of the cause of the Revolution despite the ubiquitous threats of treasonous and cruel betrayals — like those of Benedict Arnold.

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‘Soldier Dog’ by Sam Angus Is a Middle Grade Historical Fiction Novel About a Boy and the Dogs Who Saved Him

soldier dog

“Soldier Dog” by Sam Angus is the kind of story that lulls the reader along, reading about racing dogs and a boy who loves them and struggles with his bitter father while they live in rural England during the first World War. The boy, Stanley Ryder, joins the army even though he’s only fourteen because of something unforgivable that his father does.

He ends up in the school for War Dogs. He’s ordered to train an angry, aggressive Great Dane named Bones. Stanley accomplishes wonders with Bones, and because of the critical need for messenger dogs, they both are sent to France, and they both see combat.

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‘What the Night Sings’ by Vesper Stamper: A Touching Book about Rebuilding Life After Losing Everything and Everyone

whatthe nightsings

In this touching Holocaust story, “What the Night Sings,” by Vesper Stamper, a young Holocaust survivor must reconcile her life after she is liberated from a concentration camp.

The reader meets Gerta at Bergen-Belsen just before the camp is liberated. Rivkah, an acquaintance of Gerta’s parents from their hometown of Köln, is dying in Gerta’s arms. Just as the liberation soldiers enter, Rivkah dies. Thus is the reader introduced to the fact of death and its importance in Gerta’s life.

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‘The Atomic City Girls’ by Janet Beard Is an In-Depth Look at Oak Ridge, TN — Its Part in the Atomic Bomb and the Lives of Workers

atomic city

“The Atomic City Girls” by Janet Beard is fiction. But the author grew up near Oak Ridge in Eastern Tennessee and as a child learned about the facility and its part in creating the atom bomb. With this novel, she manages to share the lives of those who worked there from respected scientist to lowly laborer.

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7 Fabulous Choices in Children’s Picture Books for Black History Month

With the increase in diversity in children’s books, there is a plethora of wonderful books for children of all ages that are perfect picks for February and the celebration of Black History.

“Dream Big Dreams: Photographs from Barack Obama’s Inspiring and Historic dreambigdreamsPresidency” by Pete Souza, the former chief official White House photographer, is a beautiful book filled with touching and insightful images of a president who could be solemn when the occasion called for it, caring when compassion was needed, loving with his family, and fun when children were involved. The images show a man who wasn’t afraid to be real with people and to show them that he cared. The photographs show a man who radiates confidence and charm. It’s a really lovely book. (Little, Brown and Company Books for Young Readers)

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‘Suspect Red’ by L. M. Elliott — Fear and Loathing in ‘53 D.C.

suspectred

L.M. Elliott’s riveting Young Adult historical novel “Suspect Red” takes us on a rough ride through one thicket-filled thorny year in the life of early-adolescent Richard Bradley. He is a thirteen-year-old Washington D.C. resident circa 1953-54. And he is faced with the dilemmas and demons that would haunt any teen-ager whose father, whom he idolizes, is an FBI agent suffering from severe PTSD (making him, in those days, a “psycho”), and who, worse yet, works directly under J. Edgar Hoover during those dangerous and desperate months of June, 1953 to June, 1954: The Cold War rages. Continue reading

‘Lemons’ by Melissa Savage: Wonderful and Thoughtful Middle Grade Fiction

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“Lemons” by Melissa Savage covers some tough topics in a lovely story. The main character, Lemonade Liberty Witt, named because her mother wanted her to be able to make lemonade from tough situations, has just had a really tough situation. Her mother died.

Lem, as she is called, and her mother lived in San Francisco and enjoyed life to the fullest. Her father was never a part of the picture, and she didn’t really have other family. At least, that’s what she thought until her mother died and she went to live with her grandfather, who had been estranged from her mother, in small-town Willow Creek.

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