Posted in Animal Fiction, Fantasy, Fiction, Fiction, Historical Fiction, Intermediate, Middle Grade

At the Heels of History, where the goodest pups make history, too – and a giveaway!

Filigree’s Midnight Ride (At the Heels of History #1), by Pam Berkman & Dorothy Hearst/Illustrated by Claire Powell, (Aug. 2019. Simon & Schuster), $17.99, ISBN: 978-1534433335

Ages 8-11

The story of Paul Revere and his daughter’s Pomeranian, Filigree, kick off the first in the At the Heels of History series, where kids get to read about major moments in history as seen through the eyes of the dogs that were there.

Filigree wasn’t always Paul Revere’s dog, but his Loyalist human was shipped back to England and he was adopted by Paul Revere for his daughter, Frances. Poor Filigree is looked down on by the other colonists’ dogs: Sam Adams’s Newfoundland, Jove, bullies him, and even the Revere family cat, Anvil, has complete disdain for the little dog. But Frances loves him, and wants him to protect her father when he leaves home for a secret mission that could put him in danger with the British troops. Is Filigree just going to be in the way, or will he play a major part in a pivotal moment in American history?

This is such a cute book and an enjoyable new historical fiction/What If series! Kids will get a kick out of reading the “real story” behind historical moments like Paul Revere’s famed midnight ride and the American Gold Rush (coming in the next book), witnessed by the loyal canines who stood by their humans as history happened. There are black and white drawings throughout, making this extra fun and giving readers visual context of the time periods and the characters. Filigree’s Midnight Ride’s subplot involves the rough (ruff?) relationship between Jove, Sam Adams’s giant Newfoundland, and little Filigree, so the artwork demonstrating the vast difference in size just adds to the amusing read. Back matter points out some important information about the famed Midnight Ride, which didn’t really happen the way that Schoolhouse Rock taught me that it did (but I’m still going to sing along to the song). There’s a word about marginalized voices, particularly the enslaved, and their support of the patriots against the British.

There’s a website for the series where you can find free, downloadable curriculum guides, fun facts, and downloadable mazes, puzzles, and more for everyone to enjoy.

A cute add to your intermediate/middle grade fiction sections, and a nice additional way to generate interest in history units. At the Heels of History has a second book in the series, Bo-Bo’s Cave of Gold, coming in April 2020.

Hear ye! Hear ye! Enter this Rafflecopter giveaway for a chance to win your own copy of Filigree’s Midnight Ride! (U.S. addresses only, please!)

Posted in Fiction, Historical Fiction, History, Middle Grade, Tween Reads

Read some US History in verse with Siege

Siege: How General Washington Kicked the British Out of Boston and Launched a Revolution, by Roxanne Orgill, (March 2018, Candlewick Press), $17.99, ISBN: 9780763688516

Recommended for readers 10-13

The summer of 1775 was rough. The British occupied Boston, and kept a stranglehold on the city, cutting the residents off from food and medical supplies, which really didn’t help the smallpox situation, either. George Washington was chosen to lead the American armed forces, and expected to work miracles with almost no money and troops with no training. Author Roxanne Orgill uses verse to tell the story of how General George Washington turned the tables on the British. Beginning in the Summer of 1775 and going through to Spring 1776, she gives voice not only to Washington, but his generals, soldiers, and aides; his servant-slave, William Lee; and his wife, Martha. We also get to read The News from Boston, newspaper-like reports on the state of the city; and Orders, daily instructions from Washington to his officers. Source notes, a glossary, and a bibliography complete the book.

If you’ve got Hamilton fans in your readership, this is an easy booktalk. The fast-paced verse moves the book along and takes readers into the minds of historic figures that we don’t normally hear much from. Siege is a good additional read for tweens interested in US history, especially those kids interested in the American Revolution.

Posted in Adventure, History, Teen, Young Adult/New Adult

The League of American Traitors gives us a glimpse at darker American history

The League of American Traitors, by Matthew Landis, (Aug. 2017, Sky Pony Press), $16.99, ISBN: 978-1510707351

Recommended for readers 13+

Seventeen year-old Jasper is an orphan, losing both parents in under a year. His father was never much of a father to him, so when a lawyer approaches Jasper at his father’s gravesite, he ignores his offer of help: there’s no money involved, and that’s what he needs, now that he’s on his own. But when he’s attacked by unknown assailants, he learns that he’s the sole surviving descendant of Benedict Arnold: possibly the most infamous traitor in American History. Like an American Revolution-era Percy Jackson, Jasper discovers that descendants of history’s traitors belong to a group called The League of American Traitors, and that the True Sons of Liberty – a militant Sons and Daughters of the American Revolution – holds a heck of a grudge. Every time a traitor’s ancestor turns 18, they’re challenged to a duel by one of the Libertines, as the League calls them. The League kids go to a special school that teaches them the survival skills they’ll need in a duel, but Jasper’s case is special. His father was researching his ancestor, and he was onto something. Something that the Libertines will do anything to keep secret. Cyrus, his father’s lawyer and member of the League, urges Jasper to continue his father’s research; it will give all of the League families a new lease on life. Jasper has new friends that stand ready to help, but the Libertines have spies everywhere.

The League of American Traitors is a fun thrill ride through American history. A little bit Percy Jackson, mixed with some National Treasure and a dash of Hamilton, teens will enjoy this look at America, where our heroes’ hands may be a little dirtier than we imagined. The author knows how to keep a book moving, and once introductions are made, supporting characters come with their own rich backstories. This one’s a fun add to fiction collections, especially for fans of realistic intrigue and adventure with a twist.

Posted in History, Middle Grade, Non-fiction, Tween Reads, Uncategorized

Women Heroes of the American Revolution introduces us to the unsung heroines of history

women heroes of the american revolutionWomen Heroes of the American Revolution: 20 Stories of Espionage, Sabotage, Defiance, and Rescue, by Susan Casey (Mar. 2015, Chicago Review Press), $19.95, ISBN: 9781613745830

Recommended for ages 10-14

You’ve heard about Dolly Madison saving Washington’s portrait as the White House burned during the War of 1812. You’ve probably even heard of Molly Pitcher, who took up arms against the British after her husband fell in battle. But did you know about Sybil Ludington, the daughter of a revolutionary colonel, who rode twice as far as Paul Revere in order to warn her father and his troops of an impending attack? Or Deborah Sampson, who donned a man’s uniform and went to war, only to be denied a pension until George Washington himself intervened? Did any of us learn Phyllis Wheatley, kidnapped and sold into slavery at the age of 7, who supported America’s independence and wrote poetry celebrating George Washington?

You can find stories about these women and 11 more in Susan Casey’s Women Heroes of the American Revolution. The book is divided into five parts:Resistors, Supporters and Rescuers; Spies; Saboteurs; Soldiers and Defenders of the Homefront, and Legendary Ladies. Each section highlights 3-5 women who contributed, each in her own way, to the American Revolution. There are images and sources aplenty available for further research, along with a bibliography and further notes available for readers who want to learn more. A glossary helps readers with some terms they may be unfamiliar with.

This is a great go-to reference when beginning a project. I’ve had students come in and ask for books on the American Revolution, where they want to write on a more specific historical figure, but aren’t exactly sure where to begin. Getting some focus on lesser-discussed historical women would be a great way to generate interest for those students who may want something, or someone, “new”.

Women Heroes of the American Revolution is a great addition to Chicago Review Press’ “Women Heroes” series.

Susan Casey’s author page has great resources for librarians, particularly about her Women Invent! and Kids Invent! books.