Enjoy this month’s Mojo picks—middle-grade historical fiction.
Chains (The Seeds of American Trilogy) by Laurie Halse Anderson: As the Revolutionary War begins, thirteen-year-old Isabel wages her own fight…for freedom. Promised freedom upon the death of their owner, she and her sister, Ruth, in a cruel twist of fate become the property of a malicious New York City couple, the Locktons, who have no sympathy for the American Revolution and even less for Ruth and Isabel.
When Isabel meets Curzon, a slave with ties to the Patriots, he encourages her to spy on her owners, who know details of British plans for invasion. She is reluctant at first, but when the unthinkable happens to Ruth, Isabel realizes her loyalty is available to the bidder who can provide her with freedom.
The War that Saved My Life by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley : Ada is a cripple with a deformed foot. Her mother is ashamed of her and refuses to let Ada ever leave their London apartment. The war has just begun and London parents are sending their children to live in the country. Ada and her little brother Jaime sneak onto the train with the other kids without their mother’s knowledge. Ada hopes her cruel mother never finds them. Susan Smith, a single woman on a farm, is forced to accept the two children as part of the war effort. Ada and Jaime have never had it so good, with three meals a day, and a clean bed. As the war gets closer and the bombing starts, Ada, Jaime and Susan develop a relationship that becomes a lifeline for them all. A Newbery Honor book for 2017, this is a character-driven historic fiction with a strong girl main character that you won’t forget. In my opinion, this is a “Must-Read”. -KZ
The Night Diary by Veera Hiranandani: It’s 1947, and India, newly independent of British rule, has been separated into two countries: Pakistan and India. The divide has created much tension between Hindus and Muslims, and hundreds of thousands are killed crossing borders.
Half-Muslim, half-Hindu twelve-year-old Nisha doesn’t know where she belongs, or what her country is anymore. When Papa decides it’s too dangerous to stay in what is now Pakistan, Nisha and her family become refugees and embark first by train but later on foot to reach her new home. The journey is long, difficult, and dangerous, and after losing her mother as a baby, Nisha can’t imagine losing her homeland, too. But even if her country has been ripped apart, Nisha still believes in the possibility of putting herself back together.
Told through Nisha’s letters to her mother, The Night Diary is a heartfelt story of one girl’s search for home, for her own identity…and for a hopeful future. -KS
Eleanor, Alice, and the Roosevelt Ghosts by Dianne K. Salerni: Eleanor, Alice, and the Roosevelt Ghosts is set in an alternate history where ghosts are real and common. The year is 1898, and young Eleanor and Alice Roosevelt, cousins who don’t normally get along, are forced to work together while investigating a troubling apparition in the home of their beloved aunt. To remove the mystery, they join forces with a supporting cast of Roosevelt cousins, including Franklin, with cameo appearances by Nellie Bly and Nikola Tesla. -DDA
We Dream of Space by Erin Entrada Kelly. Cash, Fitch, and Bird Nelson Thomas are three siblings in seventh grade together in Park, Delaware. In 1986, as the country waits expectantly for the launch of the space shuttle Challenger, they each struggle with their own personal anxieties. Cash, who loves basketball but has a newly broken wrist, is in danger of failing seventh grade for the second time. Fitch spends every afternoon playing Major Havoc at the arcade on Main and wrestles with an explosive temper that he doesn’t understand. And Bird, his twelve-year-old twin, dreams of being NASA’s first female shuttle commander but feels like she’s disappearing.
The Nelson Thomas children exist in their own orbits, circling a tense and unpredictable household, with little in common except an enthusiastic science teacher named Ms. Salonga. As the launch of the Challenger approaches, Ms. Salonga gives her students a project—they are separated into spacecraft crews and must create and complete a mission. When the fated day finally arrives, it changes all of their lives and brings them together in unexpected ways. -SE