Monthly Archives: July 2013

Resources for Writers

Want more readers to find you? Below is a list of directories where you can post your name and contact information.
Author School Visits by State: Children’s book author Kim Norman has created a state-by-state listing of authors who do school visits. A searchable directory of New England-based writers, artists, and performers available for school visits and other events.
Advice for Writers
Preditors and Editors: This website has a comprehensive directory of publishers, agents and more, with helpful notes as to who’s legit and who isn’t.
Writer Beware!: There are a lot of sharks out there in the literary ocean–the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America provides information on how to tell whether an agent or publisher is legit–and how to recognize the ones who aren’t.
Professional Organizations
The Authors’ Guild: Authors banding together to protect their rights. The Authors’ Guild also provides reasonably priced web hosting, legal services, and health insurance.
National Writers Union:  Solidarity for writers – Union reps will help you review your contract, file grievances if neeeded, get health insurance if you’re self-employed, and more. Also features a Job Hotline, Agent Database, and numerous informative publications on contracts.
PEN America : Advocates for literary and intellectual freedom and human rights, sponsors public literacy programs, writing awards, and assistance for writers in need.
Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators: SCBWI is a network for authors and illustrators, and is the largest children’s writing organization in the world. SCBWI sponsors conferences, grants, and awards, and many local chapters provide forums for members to workshop their works in progress.
Words, Words, Words Dave Wilton, author of Word Myths: Debunking Linguistic Urban Legends gives you the lowdown and debunks the myths about the origins of familiar words and phrases.

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Resources for Teachers

Directories of authors and artists who do school visits:
Author School Visits by State: Children’s book author Kim Norman has created a state-by-state listing of authors who do school visits.
History websites and online lesson plans:
Connecticut Historical Resource Guide: Links to many Connecticut history sites, including a list of Connecticut history for kids sites.
Connecticut History Online: Primary sources, lesson plans, classroom activities, games and puzzles, including “125 Years of Childhood: Comparing and Contrasting the Lives of Children in Connecticut.” Absolutely wonderful images–great for initiating discussion.
Digital Blackboard: A collection of Web-based American history assignments.
The Library of Congress: The ultimate American history site! The Library of Congress has lesson plans, online collections of photographs and documents, and much, much more.
National Archives: Lesson plans in American history using primary documents from the National Archives collections.
National Humanites Center Toolbox Library: A collection of lesson plans incorporating primary resources in US History and Literature.
Old Sturbridge Village: Lesson plans on a variety of topics pertaining to early-19th-century American history, from education to the abolition movement to Native Americans, tailored to elementary, middle, or high-school students from one of the country’s premier living history museums. Co-ordinate your lesson plan with a field trip to Old Sturbridge Village!
Pocumtuck Valley Memorial Association: This tiny museum in Deerfield, Massachusetts hosts an amazing collection of interactive websites on American history, most of which include teachers’ guides and lesson plans. Particularly rich in Native American materials and Colonial history.
Teach US Lesson plans, primary sources, and more on US History from the American Revolution to the Westward Expanson. Lots of information about both major events and everyday living, with primary documents and period images.
Teaching with Historic Places: The National Park Service has created a fabulous state-by-state collection of lesson plans using historic sites to teach history. Have a historic site in your hometown you’d like to use for a class project? This site also has step-by-step guides for developing lesson plans around historic places. A great way to help organize field trips!

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Resources for Students and Researchers

Fun with words: Does POSH really stand for Port Outward, Starboard Home? Is “Mind your Ps and Qs” about pints or printing? Dave Wilton, author of Word Myths: Debunking Linguistic Urban Legends, gives you the lowdown and debunks the myths about the origins of familiar words and phrases.
History web sites:
Digital Commonwealth: Historic images from more than 100 Massachusetts cultural institutions, including libraries, museums, colleges, and historical societies. Includes photographs, memorabilia, historic documents, and more.
History Matters: A collection of American history materials for students and teachers, including primary documents and images, interviews, and links to other history sites.
The Library of Congress: Not just books! Music, photographs, documents, webcasts, and more on just about everything you’d ever want to know about American history.
Nineteen Teen: A fun blog by authors Regina Scott and Marissa Doyle about what life might be like if you were an elegant teenager in Victorian England.
Nineteenth-century America: Links to hundreds of web pages with information about American history, maintained by “Teacher Oz,” a teacher in Texas.
Pocumtuck Valley Memorial Association: This tiny museum in Deerfield, Massachusetts hosts an amazing collection of interactive online exhibits on American history. Particularly rich in Native American materials and Colonial history.
Victoriana: A website of all things Victorian, including articles and fashion plates from Harper’s Bazaar
Archives and Special Collections:
While you’ll find a lot of historic images and documents on the Internet, historical societies, museums, and libraries usually can only put a small part of their collections online. Here are some terrific historical collections that you might want to visit in person:
American Antiquarian Society: Located in Worcester, MA, the AAS has extensive collections of American publications and manuscript materials through 1876. Online catalog available.

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Reading Lists for Adults

 Book Group Favorites
My book group has been meeting and reading for 12 years now–more than 100 books to date! There are 12 of us, and we usually rate our books on a scale of 1 to 10. Because our tastes are so different, scores vary wildly from reader to reader. The same book might get a 9 from one reader and a 3 from another. These books all rated an average of 7 or higher, which means that more of us liked them than didn’t.

Special Guests & Special Writers
This first group of books is particularly special to us, not only because they’re by fabulous writers, but also because their authors honored us with a guest appearance at our meeting. Thanks, Judy, Suzanne, Anna, Karen, Marla, and Michael! Come back any time!
The Secret Thief by Judith Jaeger
Make a Wish But Not for Money by Suzanne Strempek Shea
Shelf life by Suzanne Strempek Shea
Sundays in America by Suzanne Strempek Shea
This is Paradise by Suzanne Strempek Shea
My Outcast Heart by Anna C. Bowling
Soul Catcher by Michael C. White
Beautiful Assassin by Michael C. White
The Garden of Martyrs by Michael C. White
Don’t I Know You? by Karen Shepard
Betsy Ross and the Making of America by Marla Miller


The following books appealed to nearly everyone in my book group, earning an average score of 7 or higher out of a possible 10:
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling
An Inconvenient Truth by Al Gore
The Given Day by Dennis Lehane
The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold
Outlander by Diana Gabaldon
Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver
Cold Mountain by Charles Frazier
The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J.K. Rowling
All Creatures Great and Small by James Herriot
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
The Widow’s War by Sally Gunning
The Help by Kathryn Stockett
A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini
Tom’s Midnight Garden by Philippa Pearce
Agatha Raisin and the Quiche of Death by M.C. Beaton
The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
The Power of One by Bryce Courtenay
The Red Tent by Anita Diamant
One for the Money by Janet Evanovich
Blackberry Wine by Joanne Harris
The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See
Sea Glass by Anita Shreve
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows
Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants by Ann Brashares
The Glass Castle by Jeanette Walls
Barefoot Contessa Family Style Cookbook by Ina Garten
The Search for Delicious by Natalie Babbitt
Mountains Beyond Mountains by Tracy Kidder
Ahab’s Wife by Sena Jeter Naslund
The Lacuna by Barbara Kingsolver
The Map of Love by Ahdaf Souief
Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson
Out of My Mind by Sharon Draper
1776 by David McCullough
Naked in Death by J. D. Robb
Gibbon’s Rise and Fall by Sherri Tepper
The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh
Still Life by Louise Penny
Just One Damn Thing After Another by Jodi Taylor
First Frost by Sarah Addison Allen
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
My Sister’s Keeper by Jodi Picoult
Suspect by Robert Crais
Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain
Let Me Go by Helga Schneider
A Week in Winter by Maeve Binchy
Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs
The Day the Falls Stood Still by Cathy Marie Buchanan
Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen
Truth by Jacqueline Sheehan
Everywhere that Mary Went by Lisa Scottoline
Always Outnumbered Always Outgunned by Walter Moseley
Snow Falling on Cedars by David Guterson
Brick Lane by Monica Ali
Thirteen Moons by Charles Frazier
Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand
Peter and the Starcatchers by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson
Rule of Four by Ian Caldwell
Killing Time by Caleb Carr
Fast Women by Jennifer Crusie
Smoke Jumper by Nicholas Evans
The Crimson Petal and the White by Michael Faber
Wicked by Gregory Maguire
West with the Night by Beryl Markham
Revere in Those Days by Roland Merullo
The Mummy by Anne Rice
I Feel Bad about My Neck by Nora Ephron
Calling Invisible Women by Jeanne Ray
At the Water’s Edge by Sara Gruen
Other Books You Might Enjoy
Mr. and Mrs. Prince by Gretchen Holbrook Gerzina
Flower Hunters by Mary and John Gribbin
The Sea Captain’s Wife by Martha Hodes
The Captain’s Widow of Sandwich by Megan Taylor Shockley
Contemporary fiction
The Last Hollywood Romance by Beverly Bloomberg
Benediction by Kent Haruf
Practical Magic by Alice Hoffman
Mystic River by Dennis Lehane
Testing the Heart by Melva Michaelian and Lorene Morin
The Returned by Jason Mott
Mother America by Nuala Ni Chonchuir
Girl Held in Home by Elizabeth Searle
Around Again by Suzanne Strempek Shea
Becoming Finola by Suzanne Strempek Shea
Hoopi Shoopi Donna by Suzanne Strempek Shea
Lily of the Valley by Suzanne Strempek Shea
Selling the Lite of Heaven by Suzanne Strempek Shea
Historical fiction
Never Too Late by Anna C. Bowling
Orphans of the Storm by Anna C. Bowling
Queen of the Ocean by Anna C. Bowling
Caleb’s Crossing by Geraldine Brooks
People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks
Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon
Live by Night by Dennis Lehane
Transatlantic by Colum McCann
Miss Emily by Nuala O’Connor
A Walk on the Wide Side: Pride and Plumpness byMelvaMichaelianandLorene Morin
Stephanie Plum series by Janet Evanovich
The Hanging Judge by Michael Ponsor
Chas Wheatley mysteries by Phyllis Richman
Angela’s Ashes by Frank McCourt
At Home by Bill Bryson
A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson
Rusty and Bob Clark’s Stories Carved in Stone series
Guns, Germs, and Steel by Jared Diamond
She Captains by Joan Druett
The Peabody Sisters: Three Women Who Ignited American Romanticism by Megan Marshall
Captain Ahab Had a Wife: New England Women and the Whale Fishery, 1729-1870 by Lisa Norling
Our Own Snug Fireside: Images of the New England Home, 1760-1860 by Jane Nylander
How to Be a Victorian: A Dawn-to-Dusk Guide to Victorian Life by Ruth Goodman

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Reading Lists for Young Adult Readers

Historical Fiction
Pre-historic times
A Bone from a Dry Sea by Peter Dickinson: In two parallel stories, an intelligent female member of a prehistoric tribe becomes instrumental in advancing the lot of her people, and the daughter of a paleontologist is visiting him on a dig in Africa when important fossil remains are discovered.
The Middle Ages
The Midwife’s Apprentice by Karen Cushman: A nameless, homeless girl becomes the apprentice to a village midwife. (1996 Newbery Award Winner)
Catherine, Called Birdy by Karen Cushman: The thirteen-year-old daughter of an English country knight keeps a journal in which she records the events of her life, particularly her longing for adventures beyond the usual role of women and her efforts to avoid being married off. (A Newbery Honor Book, 1995)
14th Century
Matilda Bone by Karen Cushman: The orphaned Matilda is sent to Blood and Bone Alley to be assistant to Red Peg the Bonesetter.The Ramsay Scallop by Frances Temple: At the turn of the fourteenth century in England, fourteen-year-old Elenor finds her betrothal to an ambitious lord’s son launching her on a memorable pilgrimage to far-off Spain.

17th Century
Witch Child by Celia Rees: In 1659, fourteen-year-old Mary Newbury keeps a journal of her voyage from England to the New World and her experiences living as a witch in a community of Puritans near Salem, Massachusetts.Sorceress by Celia Rees: Eighteen-year-old Agnes, a Mohawk Indian who is descended from a line of shamanic healers, uses her own newly-discovered powers to uncover the story of her ancestor, a seventeenth-century New England English healer who fled charges of witchcraft to make her life with the local Indians.


The Snake Fence by Janet Oleshewsky: In pre-Revolutionary Pennsylvania young Noble Butler, a farm boy, encounters ideas about the rights of settlers and of Indians that challenge his Quaker values

Fever, 1793 by Laurie Halse Anderson: In Philadelphia, sixteen-year-old Matilda Cook, separated from her sick mother, learns about perseverance and self-reliance when she is forced to cope with the horrors of a yellow fever epidemic.


La Petite Four by Regina Scott: Lady Emily Southwell and her three dearest friends plan to take London by storm until they run afoul of a dashing young lord who may have more up his sleeve than a nicely muscled arm.

Uncommon Faith by Trudy Krisher: In 1837-38, residents of Millbrook, Massachusetts, speak in their different voices of major issues of their day, including women’s rights, slavery, religious differences, and one fiery girl named Faith.

Free Land by Rose Wilder Lane: In the 1880s, when adventure lay in the conquest of the prairies, David Beaton and his bride came to Dakota to claim three hundred acres of grassland. Rose Wilder Lane tells of their struggle to survive with such force that Free Land has become a classic frontier novel.

Let the Hurricane Roar by Rose Wilder Lane: After getting married and settling at Wild Plum Creek, Charles’s and Molly’s lives are turned upside down when disaster strikes and David must go east to find work for the winter.

The South African Quirt by Walter D. Edmonds: A bittersweet autobiographical novel, this moving story of 12-year-old Natty Dunston’s ascent into manhood begins in 1915, when he spends the summer with his sadistic father on the family farm in upstate New York after his ailing mother returns to the city.

World War I
Sisters of the Quantock Hills series by Ruth Elwin Harris: The stories of three sisters living through World War I in England.

Hattie Big Sky by Kirby Larson: After inheriting her uncle’s homesteading claim in Montana, sixteen-year-old orphan Hattie Brooks travels from Iowa in 1917 to make a home for herself and encounters some unexpected problems related to the war being fought in Europe.

Messenger by Virginia Frances Schwartz: Based on the lives of the author’s mother and grandmother, tells the story of a widowed Croatian immigrant trying to keep her family together in the mining towns of Ontario in the 1920s and 1930s.

Jim the boy by Tony Earley : Jim the Boy captures the pleasures and fears of youth at a time when America itself was young and struggling to come into its own.

World War II
Escaping into the Night by D. Dina Friedman: Thirteen-year-old Halina Rudowski narrowly escapes the Polish ghetto and flees to the forest, where she is taken in by an encampment of Jews trying to survive World War II.

The Loud Silence of Francine Green by Karen Cushman: It is 1949. Russia has just tested its first atomic weapon. Communists are in power in Russia and China and, some say, in Hollywood. And quiet, shy Francine turns thirteen.

Rattlebone by Maxine Clair: Set in the fictional town of Rattlebone, Kansas, in the 1950s, these eleven interrelated stories reveal the emotional, financial, and social conflicts that govern the lives of the African Americans who live there.

Baby Blue by Michelle Kwasney: Still grieving and guilt-ridden over her father’s drowning, twelve-year-old Blue is dealt another blow when her older sister, Star, runs away to escape their stepfather’s violence against their mother.

The Lucky Place by Zu Vincent: In the 1970s, a girl comes of age struggling with the loss of two father figures in her life.

Contemporary Fiction
Alive and Well in Prague, New York by Daphne Benedis-Grab: Manhattanites Matisse Osgood and her artist parents move to upstate New York when her father’s Parkinson’s disease worsens, and Matisse must face high school in a small, provincial town as she tries to avoid thinking about her father’s future.

Shift by Jennifer Bradbury: Best friends go on a cross-country bike trip, but only one returns.

The Sister of the Traveling Pants series by Ann Brashares: Four girls and a magical pair of jeans.

Read My Lips by Teri Brown: Serena is a a deaf skater chick who uses her amazing lip-reading ability to infiltrate the popular crowd, take down a secret sorority and tame the school rebel.

Jump the Cracks by Stacy DeKeyser: On the way to visit her father in New York City, fifteen-year-old Victoria finds an apparently abused child in the train’s bathroom and soon finds herself branded a kidnapper and on the run while trying to fulfill her promise to protect the boy at all costs

Braless in Wonderland by Debbie Reed Fischer: Allee Rosen falls down the rabbit hole and lands in the fab lane when she gets snapped up by modeling agents and whisked away to glamorous South Beach. Will the model life go to her head?

1,000 Reasons Never to Kiss a Boy by Martha Freeman: After her first boyfriend cheats on her, sixteen-year-old Jane vows to never kiss another boy.

The Possibilities of Sainthood by Donna Freitas: To Antonia Lucia Labella, saints are like Catholic royalty and she wants her day as princess (and maybe a kiss from that cute boy down the street, too)–if only the Pope would just respond to her letters!

The Opposite of Invisible by Liz Gallagher: A Seattle teenager wrestles with the difference between a crush and love, and love and best friendship.

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time by Mark Haddon: Despite his overwhelming fear of interacting with people, Christopher, a mathematically-gifted, autistic, fifteen-year-old boy, decides to investigate the murder of a neighbor’s dog and uncovers secret information about his mother.

The Secret Thief by Judith Jaeger: Connie Grey’s life has always been a balancing act between perfection and secret rebellion. Being the obedient and devoted daughter to her overbearing mother, a straight-A student and champion distance runner has taken its toll on her by way of a chronic ulcer and kleptomania. Newly graduated from college, Connie longs for a future she can claim as her own, one that holds a sense of normalcy and love.

Tips on Having a Gay (ex) Boyfriend by Carrie Jones: Belle, a high school junior, expects to marry her long-term boyfriend one day until he tells her and their entire small Maine town that he is gay, and both face prejudice and violence even as they enter new relationships and try to remain friends. (A Class of 2k7 book!)

What I Meant… by Marie Lamba: Having to share her home with her demanding and devious aunt from India makes it all the more difficult for fifteen-year-old Sang to deal with such things as her parents thinking she is too young to date, getting less than perfect grades, and being shut out by her long-time best friend.

Over My Head by Marie Lamba: Sang Jumnal jumps into the summer before her senior year with big plans. But she didn’t plan on facing her fear of swimming through a series of humiliating kiddy lessons. Or falling hard for college-aged lifeguard Cameron Cerulli, who is either the guy of her dreams, or a player out to stomp on her heart. Or fighting with her dad, who bans her from seeing Cameron. Or discovering a huge secret her parents have been keeping about disappearing money and a rare disease.

I Heart You, You Heart Me by Lisa Schroeder: A novel in verse about love and grief in which a fifteen-year-old girl’s boyfriend, who is dead but not gone, is keeping her from moving on.

Undone by Brooke Taylor: A troubled teen fulfills the five enigmatic last wishes of her daring best friend only to discover the dark secrets of a shared past that she never knew.

Fantasy, Paranormal, and Speculative Fiction

Lost in Thought by Cara Bertrand: Lainey Young can touch an object or a person and have a vision of how a person has died…or will die. When she enrolls at Northbrook Academy, she discovers she’s one of the Sententia–people with extrasensory abilities. Will her talent prove a blessing or a curse?

A Curse Dark as Gold by Elizabeth Bunce: In this retelling of “Rumpelstiltskin,” the miller’s daughter of the fairytale comes to life as a young woman determined to save her family and her mill–whatever the cost.

Sleepless by Terri Clark: Teen psychic, Trinity Michaels, is being stalked in her sleep by a killer; if she dies in her dreams she’ll die for real.

The Hunger Games series by Suzanne Collins: In a future North America, where the rulers of Panem maintain control through an annual televised survival competition pitting young people from each of the twelve districts against one another, sixteen-year-old Katniss’s skills are put to the test when she voluntarily takes her younger sister’s place.

Bewitching Season and Betraying Season by Marissa Doyle: A pair of twin witches and their adventures in Victorian-era England.

Captain Hook: The Adventures of a Notorious Youth by J.V. Hart: Describes the youthful adventures of J. M. Barrie’s classic character, Captain Hook, from his days at Eton to his voyages on the high sea.

Drawn by Marie Lamba:  Michelle De Freccio moves to England seeking a normal life, but someone starts appearing in her sketches. Then he grabs her at the castle, his pale green eyes full of longing.  She’s immediately drawn to him, but is Christopher Newman real? She’s either losing it, or channeling a hot ghost from the 1400′s.

Every Day by David Levithan:  Every morning A wakes in a different person’s body, in a different person’s life, learning over the years to never get too attached, until A wakes up in the body of Justin and falls in love with Justin’s girlfriend, Rhiannon.

The Giver by Lois Lowry: Given his lifetime assignment at the Ceremony of Twelve, Jonas becomes the receiver of memories shared by only one other in his community and discovers the terrible truth about the society in which he lives.

Gathering Blue by Lois Lowry: Lame and suddenly orphaned, Kira is mysteriously removed from her squalid village to live in the palatial Council Edifice, where she is expected to use her gifts as a weaver to do the bidding of the all-powerful Guardians.

Paradox by A.J.Paquette: When Ana finds herself on a desolate alien planet with no memory of her past, she must survive and discover her mission: to save the Earth from a fearsome virus.

The Perilous Gard by Elizabeth Marie Pope: In 1558 while imprisoned at Elwenwood Hall, a remote castle in northern England, teenaged Kate Sutton finds herself involved in a series of mysterious events that eventually bring her to an underground labyrinth peopled by the last practitioners of druidic magic.

The Sherwood Ring by Elizabeth Marie Pope: Newly orphaned Peggy Grahame is caught off-guard when she first arrives at her family’s ancestral estate. Her eccentric uncle Enos drives away her only new acquaintance, Pat, a handsome British scholar, then leaves Peggy to fend for herself. But she is not alone. The house is full of mysteries—and ghosts.

His Dark Materials series by Philip Pullman: Accompanied by her daemon, Lyra Belacqua sets out to prevent her best friend and other kidnapped children from becoming the subject of gruesome experiments in the Far North.

(Note: Most book descriptions are from Library of Congress catalog.)


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Wicked Cool History Stuff

Wherein I seek a purpose for blogging…  

“You must blog,” They say…that ever and all-powerful ubiquitous, anonymous They who see all and know all and say all. “A writer must blog to attract readers,” They say.

And yet, of what shall I blog, say I?

“Blog about your life,” They say. My life? Who’s interested in my life other than me? Come on now, if I were all that interesting, I wouldn’t be writing fiction, would I?

“Blog about writing,” They say. What, who, me? With two novels under my belt, I still feel as though I’m learning my craft. What pearls of wisdom do I have to offer besides, “Don’t do what I do”? And nobody, including me, wants to hear my whining about how I’m stuck on chapter 6, and can’t figure out how to get my characters out of the literary hell hole that I’ve put them in.

They begin to grow exasperated with me. “You’re just being difficult,” They say. “You know you must blog.”

I whimper pathetically. “But I don’t wanna blog. I don’t know how to blog. I have nothing to blog about.” I reach for the bag of Lindt dark chocolate truffles to console myself.

They throw Their hands up in exasperation. “Blog about something you know,” They say. “We always say, ‘Write what you know,’ don’t We?”

So They do.

“You know history, don’t you?” They say.

“Well, yes, kind of. But where to begin?”

“We always say, ‘Start at the beginning,’” They say, as, indeed, They always do.

“That’s not very helpful,” I say.

They say, “God helps those who help Themselves,” as They help Themselves to my chocolate. “What do you like about history?” They say, though with Their mouths full of truffles it sounds more like “Wha-oo-oo-li—stree?”

“I don’t know. It’s just wicked cool,” I say.

“What’s wicked cool?” They ask.

“I dunno. Just stuff. You know, stuff,” I say.

Stuff, I think…History stuff…Cool history stuff…Wicked cool history stuff.

“Eureka!” I say.

“We do not. We took a shower this morning,” They say.

Guess They don’t know everything after all.


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Reading Lists for Middle-Grade Readers

Historical Fiction
Crispin: The Cross of Lead by Avi: Falsely accused of theft and murder, an orphaned peasant boy in fourteenth-century England flees his village and meets a larger-than-life juggler who holds a dangerous secret.

The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare: After her parents and grandfather die, Kit must go to live with her aunt in the Connecticut Colony, where she must learn about the Puritan ways of her aunt and uncle.

Night Journeys by Avi: Twelve-year-old Peter, living with his Quaker guardian near the Pennsylvania-New Jersey border, joins in the search for two runaway indentured servants.

Encounter at Easton (sequel to Night Journeys) by Avi: The doomed flight of two young indentured servants from their unkind master brings together an unlikely assortment of people in a Pennsylvania town.

American Revolution
The Fighting Ground by Avi: Thirteen-year-old Jonathan goes off to fight in the Revolutionary War and discovers the real war is being fought within himself.

The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle by Avi: As the only passenger, and the only female, on a transatlantic voyage, thirteen-year-old Charlotte finds herself caught between a murderous captain and a mutinous crew.

Lyddie by Katherine Paterson: Impoverished Vermont farm girl Lyddie Worthen is determined to gain her independence by becoming a factory worker in Lowell, Massachusetts.

The Man Who Was Poe by Avi: In Providence, R.I., Edgar Allan Poe reluctantly investigates the problems of eleven-year-old Edmund, whose family has mysteriously disappeared and whose story suggests a new Poe tale with a ghastly final twist.

The Ballad of Lucy Whipple by Karen Cushman: Twelve-year-old California Morning Whipple, who renames herself Lucy, is distraught when her mother moves the family from Massachusetts to a rough California mining town.

Jip, His Story by Katherine Paterson: While living on a Vermont poor farm, Jip learns his identity and that of his mother and comes to understand how he arrived at this place.

Rodzina by Karen Cushman: A twelve-year-old Polish American girl is boarded onto an orphan train in Chicago with fears about traveling to the West and a life of unpaid slavery.

Preacher’s Boy by Katherine Paterson: Ten-year-old Robbie, son of a preacher in a small Vermont town, gets himself into all kinds of trouble when he decides to give up being Christian in order to make the most of his life before the end of the world.

Egyptology: Search for the Tomb of Osiris: Being the Journal of Miss Emily Sands by Dugald Steer and the “Ology World” team

Call Me Heller, That’s My Name by Stella Pevsner: Young Heller debates how to handle the intrusion of an aunt into her family life and activities.


Autumn Winifred Does Things Different by Kristin O’Donnell Tubb: Autumn Winifred Oliver, the feistiest girl in all of Appalachia, struggles against the formation of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park as it threatens the home that her family has farmed for generations.

Jacob Have I Loved by Katherine Paterson: Feeling deprived all her life of schooling, friends, mother, and even her name by her twin sister, Louise finally begins to find her identity.

Itch by Michelle D. Kwasney: After the death of her beloved Gramps, Delores “Itch” Colchester and her grandmother move from Florida to an Ohio trailer park, where she meets new people and, when she learns that a friend is being abused by her mother, tries her best to emulate her plain-spoken grandfather.

The Black Regiment of the American Revolution by Linda Crotta Brennan: The story of the First Rhode Island Regiment, in which African-Americans fought for their own freedom and to create a new country.

The Boston Tea Party by Linda Crotta Brennan

When Rivers Burned: The Earth Day Story by Linda Crotta Brennan: An excellent and comprehensive account of the American environmental movement in the 1960s and 1970s–great information for readers young and old!

The American Family Album series by Dorothy and Thomas Hoobler: Ten books (so far) spotlighting America’s African, Chinese, Cuban, German, Irish, Italian, Japanese, Jewish, Mexican, and Scandinavian immigrants.

The Plant Hunters: True Stories of Their Daring Adventures to the Far Corners of the Earth by Anita Silvey

The White House Is Burning by Jane Sutcliffe: During the War of 1812, British troops captured Washington, D.C. and burned the White House, Capitol Building, and other government buildings. Using contemporary eyewitness accounts, the author tells the story of this pivotal event in U.S. history from both the American and British points of view.

Contemporary Fiction
Out of My Mind by Sharon Draper: Considered by many to be mentally retarded, a brilliant, impatient fifth-grader with cerebral palsy discovers a technological device that will allow her to speak for the first time.

Playing Dad’s Song by D. Dina Friedman: While wrestling with memories of his father, who died when the Twin Towers fell on September 11, 2001, eleven-year-old Gus, born into a family of musicians, starts taking oboe lessons, begins to compose music, and joins his sister in auditioning for a school musical.

The Gollywhopper Games by Jody Feldman: In the beginning there were 25,000 contestants; in the end, just five. Does Gil Goodson have what it takes to win The Gollywhopper Games?

Bringing the Boy Home by N.A. Nelson:   Two young boys…an unforgiving jungle…one shared destiny.

Bridge to Teribithia by Katherine Paterson: The life of ten-year-old Jess in rural Virginia expands when he becomes friends with newcomer Leslie, and they create the imaginary land of Terabithia where they rule as king and queen, until a terrible tragedy occurs. Includes a reader’s guide with discussion questions.

My So-Called Family by Courtney Sheinmel: Leah Hoffman-Ross has a secret: she has a donor instead of a father, and now she’s going in search of her half-siblings . . . even if she has to hide it from everybody else.

Samantha Hansen Has Rocks in Her Head by Nancy Viau: Sam is a ten-year-old, rock-loving scientist who must learn to keep a lid on her explosive temper so she can go on a “dream-come-true” trip to the Grand Canyon.

A Horse of Her Own by Annie Wedekind: In one tumultuous and life-changing summer, fourteen-year-old Jane Ryan loses the horse she loves and is asked to help train a damaged, dangerous horse who used to be a champion.

Becoming Felix by Nancy Hope Wilson: Worried about the difficulties on his family’s Massachusetts dairy farm, twelve-year-old JJ is willing to give up on his dreams of becoming a great clarinet player and on his friendship with a new Jewish classmate who shares his love of music.

The Penguins of Doom by Greg R. Fishbone: In a series of letters to various interested parties, including teachers, the school psychologist, a police lieutenant, and others, triplet Septina Nash reveals the complicated tale of her sister Sexta’s disappearance, and how penguins and mathematics are involved.

Blue Mystery by Margot Benary-Isbert: Young Annegret tries to find out who stole a priceless blue gloxinia is stolen from her father’s greenhouse.

I So Don’t Do Mysteries (series) by Barrie Summy: Sherry, short for Sherlock, wants more mall time, less homework and a certain boy, but instead gets recruited by her mother’s ghost to prevent a rhino heist at San Diego’s Wild Animal Park.

Fantasy, Science Fiction, and Paranormal
Something Upstairs by Avi: When he moves from Los Angeles to Providence, Rhode Island, Kenny discovers that his new house is haunted by the spirit of a black slave boy who asks Kenny to return with him to the early nineteenth century and prevent his murder by slave traders.

Peter Pan by James M. Barrie: The adventures of Peter Pan, the boy who would not grow up.

Peter and the Starcatchers by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson (a prequel to Peter Pan): Soon after Peter, an orphan, sets sail from England on the ship Never Land, he befriends and assists Molly, a young Starcatcher, whose mission is to guard a trunk of magical stardust from a greedy pirate and the native inhabitants of a remote island.

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum & W.W. Denslow: After a cyclone transports her to the land of Oz, Dorothy must seek out the great Wizard in order to return to Kansas.

Small Persons with Wings by Ellen Booraem: When Mellie Turpin’s grandfather dies and leaves her family his run-down inn and bar, she learns that for generations her family members have been fairy guardians, and now that the fairies want an important ring returned, the Turpins become involved in a series of magical adventures as they try to locate the missing ring.

The Unnameables by Ellen Booraem: A boy and a goatman defy the establishment in a fantasy about belonging, the dangers of forgetting history, the usefulness of art, and the importance of wind control.

The Neverending Story by Michael Ende: Shy, awkward Bastian is amazed to discover that he has become a character in the mysterious book he is reading and that he has an important mission to fulfill.

The Emerald Tablet by P.J. Hoover: Benjamin Holt’s discovery of a new world explains his extraordinary powers, but also presents him with a challenge which changes his purpose in life forever.

The Book of Story Beginnings by Kristin Kladstrup: After moving with her parents to Iowa, twelve-year-old Lucy discovers a mysterious notebook that can bring stories to life and which has a link to the 1914 disappearance of her great uncle.

Garden Princess by Kristin Kladstrup: When Princess Adela sets eyes on Lady Hortensia’s garden, she knows something is amiss. Every single flower is in bloom, and in the middle of October! Not only that, there is a talking magpie flitting about the garden and stealing the guests’ jewels. Is it possible that Hortensia is a witch and the magpie an enchanted prince? And what of the flowers themselves? Will Adela get to the root of the mystery and nip trouble in the bud before it’s too late?

Dragon Wishes by Stacy Nyikos: Dragon Wishes follows two girls across time on their quests for the greatest gift the last of the world’s ancient dragons protects in the ominous Damei Mountains.

The Magic Thief series by Sarah Prineas: A young thief is drawn into a life of magic and adventure after picking the pocket of the powerful wizard Nevery Flinglas, who has returned from exile to attempt to reverse the troubling decline of magic in Wellmet City.

Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling: A boy becomes a wizard – need I say more?

Among the Dolls by William Sleator: Vicky is disappointed in her birthday gift of a dollhouse, but she experiences real terror when she is drawn into the house and the lives of its malicious inhabitants.

Up and Down the Scratchy Mountains by Laurel Snyder: A snarky milkmaid, clumsy prince, sniffly prairie dog, and feisty milkcow venture deep into the Bewilderness, where they learn the value of friendship, honesty, government, and lunch.

Dr. Ernest Drake’s Dragonology by Dugald Steer: Everything you need to know about dragons.

(Note: Book descriptions are from Library of Congress catalog.)

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