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Teen Corner Book Reviews

Historical Fiction

History is more than just a bunch of dates. Novels based soundly in the past can help us to better understand where we came from, where we are, and where we’re heading. Oh, and they make for some pretty fun reading too!


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Page 10 of 11


Nightjohn

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Paulsen, Gary(1993)
Nightjohn
Young Adult

Sarny lives on the Waller plantation. One day a slave named Nightjohn comes to the plantation with Mr. Waller. In exchange for a lip of tobacco, Nightjohn begins teaching Sarny how to write letters. After a while, it is revealed that he was free at one time, but returned to the South to teach slaves to read and write. But slaves caught reading and writing are punished severely. So when Mr. Waller catches Sarny writing, he looks for someone to blame. The punishment he inflicts has a permanent result. This book is filled with meaningful dialogue and characters. Written from Sarny's point of view, it powerfully portrays injustice, wonderment of the written language, and a spirit of hope.

Reviewed by Jeanenne R., Steele Creek Branch

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Reader's comments about this book

It was a great book!
-Sam, New York

Gary Paulsen has written a wonderful story about the brutal history of slavery. I have enjoyed the novel very much.
-koula, Queensland

It was so action packed.
-Des, KY

I had to read this book in 5th grade an i didn't understand it as well, but now I read it in the 9th and I am well informed about what happen back then. This was a wonderful book.
-Shaishai, Mobile, Alabama

This book was really good, and I enjoyed it a lot.
-Lila, Milwaukee, WI

I had really enjoyed this book because it told of how this slave girl met a new slave night John and escaped seeing how she will live a better life as a free person not as a slave.
-Brandon, Brooklyn, NY

This book is a great read, with characters you will love and hate. I got a sense of what it was really like back then. I actually felt like I was a slave. Great job, Gary Paulsen.
-Danielle, London, Kentucky

A wonderful book.
-Narhonda, Texas

This is a wonderful story of courage and the power of knowledge. This book shows that no matter what you lose or gain in life, true knowledge can never be taken away.
-Evelynette, Detroit, MI

I had to read this book in 7th grade. I absolutely loved it. It’s an amazing story and very heart touching. One of my favorites!
-Amy, CA

I love this book!
-Breanna, Mooresville, IN

I read this book this year in 7th grade! It was amazing! I absolutely loved it! I felt like I was in that time period with Sarney!
-Meagan, Brandenburg, Kentucky

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The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle

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Avi(1990)
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The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle
Young Adult

In 1832, thirteen-year-old Charlotte Doyle is bound for Rhode Island from England in the Seahawk. After attending a school for proper young ladies, she is thrust alongside a mutinous crew led by a mad captain. She experiences a hurricane and three deaths on board which change the course of her life forever. Will she remain trapped in the `stultifying role of dutiful daughter` or will she choose her own destiny? Avi casts a sharp look at society and provides a suspenseful, adventurous sea tale.

Reviewed by Loretta T., North County Regional

Reader's comments about this book

This book is sooooo good!!! You have to read it!!! I love the way Charlotte speaks her mind.
-Laura, North Carolina

The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle was a great book and I really enjoyed it. I thought it was fantastic because it showed how a young girl can come over so many obstacles when she really wants to achieve her goal. That is exactly what Charlotte Doyle did. I love all of Avi's books!
-Samantha, Train Your Brain Summer Reading

This book was written from a very interesting standpoint. Though I do not usually enjoy books that are set on a ship, I enjoyed The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle because the terms were made clear to you . You became familiar with the surroundings as Charlotte did, and you learned to love the characters. Also, this was an excellent introduction to colonial times.
-Britt, Houston, Texas

This book was sooo great!! When my teacher told us we had to read it, I didn't want to because I don't like to read a lot. As soon as I started reading the book I couldn't put it down. I read all the book and I got an A on my Charlotte Doyle test. I would recomend it to anyone.
-Erica, Atlanta, Georgia

This was a book I read at age 12, then read again later. I loved it, and it made me understand that sometimes, you must choose your own way in life - no one else can choose it for you. I really felt for Charlotte, and I felt so much joy at the end. You will love it too, boys or girls.
-Lauren, Charlotte, NC

Charlotte is a very spunky character that in scary situtations is very brave. This book is an excellent adventure story.
-Emma, Charlotte, NC

I read this book with my 3rd grade class, and it was great. I told my mom to read it and she loved it. I would recomend this book a 1,000 times. IT WAS SO GOOD!!!
-Monica, Nutley, NJ

This was a very inspiring book. It was pretty good even though I am not really into historical fiction-ish stuff that much. Really good, though. I really admire Charlotte.
-Kaitlin, Charlotte, NC

I think that this book is a great book for girls of all ages. It taught me that you need to make your own future based on the things that really matter to you. And obviously, you can tell how much sailing meant to Charlotte even though she had only been doing it for two months! When you find your passion you are able to tell right away that it is what you want to do for the rest of your life!
-Erika, Somers, CT

This is one of my favorite books- Avi is a wonderful writer.
-Kara, Lambert, MO

I love this book! I especially enjoyed the ending. It felt so real and the way it was written made me feel like I was in the story. An absolute must read.
-Elizabeth, Charlotte, N.C.

Man, I really didn't enjoy reading, but this book was enjoying even for me!
-Christian, Matthews, NC

This book is soooo cool I love it! Our 7th grade teacher made us choose a book and I'm lucky I chose this one:).
-Matt, NY

This is an awesome book! Our 5th grade teacher read to us about a chapter or two each day and it was so exciting! I would recommend it to anyone.
-Amanda, California

I was 12 the first time I read this book, and from the beginning, I was hooked. Now, four years later, I have lost count of how many times I have re-read this amazing story. Whenever I`m sick or bored, `The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle` is the first book I reach for on my shelf. It`s a wonderfully crafted book.
-Rae, Matthews, NC

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Time Capsule: short stories about teenagers throughout the Twentieth Century

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Gallo, Donald ed.(1999)
Time Capsule: short stories about teenagers throughout the Twentieth Century
Young Adult

We are now residents of the Twenty-First Century, but it never hurts to look back on the century before. Gallo`s anthology is a fascinating collection of stories, each of which is set in a different decade of the Twentieth Century. Especially interesting are `The Electric Summer` by Richard Peck, based on his aunt`s experiences at the St. Louis World`s Fair in 1904, and `Fourth and Too Long` by Chris Crutcher, about a young man who is kicked off his high school football team in the 1960`s because his hair is too long. All together these stories offer a compelling look at the century we have just left behind.

Reviewed by Snow W., South County Regional

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The King's Shadow

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Alder, Elizabeth(1995)
The King's Shadow
Young Adult

All Evyn has ever wanted is to be a storyteller, but that is ripped away fro him when he and his father are attacked. His father is killed and Evyn's tongue is cut off. Determined not to become a slave, Evyn teaches himself to read and write and is appointed the personal companion of the King of England. There Evyn's gifts are used as he records the events that lead up to the Norman invasion of 1066. This swashbuckling adventure story tells of one of the most important moments in England's history, the Battle of Hastings.

Reviewed by Snow W., South County Regional

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Reader's comments about this book

The King's Shadow is a really great book. You'll never guess what will happen next.
-Amy, LA, CA

I absolutely loved this book! Powerfully written, tragic and moving. Please read it!
-Jori, Midlothian, VA

This book was great and always kept me on the edge of my seat.
-Nicole, Westake, CA

I really loved this book! It was so interesting and provided a window for me into the past. I learned a lot about ancient English culture and found out after I had read part of the book that all the facts are true! I absolutely loved every second of reading it.
-Carolyn, VA

The King's Shadow is a wonderful hisorical book. It kept me up all night flipping the pages. Alder writes this book in a very powerful way. It's a great book. I hope you read it sometime.
-Con, Atlanta, GA

This book… well I can honestly say that this book was well written. I never had to guess what the author meant by a certain thing, and I was never lost. The ploy however, is boring if you prefer happier books and awesome if you are into the whole drama, tragedy after tragedy hero type thing. This book was full of action, but some of the parts in the story were a bit fuzzy. Overall, it was a great book. If you don't like history, war, or gore, than don't read it!
-Alexis, Discovery Bay, California

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Catherine, Called Birdy

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Cushman, Karen(1994)
Catherine, Called Birdy
Young Adult

I recently read a historical fiction book called Catherine, Called Birdy. It was an interesting book in the form of a diary that Catherine writes. The book is about a girl that's trapped in her life and she doesn't know what to do. It takes place in the 1500's and her mother is trying to teach Catherine to be a lady, while her father is trying to marry her off to strange and greedy men. All Catherine wants to do is be free and be her own person. This book is a funny, exciting, and suspenseful book. It is a must read!!!

Reviewed by Kelly G., South Charlotte Middle School

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Reader's comments about this book

This book is brilliant. It captures the reader and will not let you put it down! A splendid read for those who have a strong stubborness (like myself!) and an independent spirit.
-Abby, Charlotte, NC

A very inspiring humorous tale. I thought it was interesting how Catherine always spoke her mind. I really admired that about her.
-Kaitlin, Charlotte, NC

I really liked this book. It is one of the best books I have ever read.
-Zoey, Fresno, CA

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Summer of My German Soldier

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Greene, Bette(1973)
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Summer of My German Soldier
Young Adult

The United States is at war with Germany and Jenkinsville, Arkansas, is the site of a German POW camp. When Patty, an abused eleven-year-old Jewish girl, meets Anton, she sees him not as a Nazi prisoner, but as a frightened man who yearns for the days before Hitler and the war. When Anton escapes, Patty offers him asylum and food, risking her own freedom to protect him. The events of that summer will stay with young Patty for the rest of her life. Anton left her with memories of what it is to be loved and valued, but Patty must pay the consequences for her actions.

Reviewed by Louisa M., Morrison Regional

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Reader's comments about this book

I love this book very much. It's one of my favorites.
-Pearlney, San Francisco, CA

I read the book Summer of My German Soldier and I must say this book is fantastic. I could read it over and over again.
-Vanessa, Cincinnati, Ohio

I had to read this book for summer reading and it was ok in the beginning but in the end it's a great book.
-Jordan, Pacirica, CA

I had to read this book for a project in Middle School. When I first heard about the project, I thought it was going to be very boring. Surprisingly, I got hooked on the book quickly. I soon found myself absorbed in the book's details and Patty's life. For anyone who likes Historical Fiction, this is definately a book for you!
-Janet, McLean, Virginia

I love Summer of My German Soldier. A Jewish girl hiding and helping a Nazi. Some people would say it is the ultimate irony. But Patty looks past Anton's uniform and see's a scared young man. Anton starts to see past the fact Patty is a Jew and see a lonely girl. Together they are inspiring.
-Elizabeth, Charlotte, N.C.

I absolutely loved this book and highly recommend it to all teens.
-Brittany, Scottsburg, IN

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My Louisiana Sky

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Holt, Kimberly Willis(1998)
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My Louisiana Sky
Young Adult

How does a poor, twelve-year-old girl in Saitter, Louisiana, learn to cope with a simple mother, a "slow" father, and derisive school mates? As Tiger Ann Parker struggles to grow up, circumstances help her decide whether to stay or to escape to the city and live with her sophisticated Aunt Doreen. First her grandmother dies, then Hurricane Audrey sweeps through their rural town creating havoc, while exposing everyone's true character. This powerfully written story illustrates the value of heart-felt love, hard work, and self-sacrifice which strengthen and bind together family and friends.

Reviewed by Loretta T., North County Regional

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Reader's comments about this book

This is a beautiful story of love, devotion and dreaming beyond your limits. Well written and down-to-earth.
-Abby, Charlotte, NC

This book really made you think about the lives other people might be living. Excellently told, it makes you feel like you've known Tiger Ann Parker and her friends and family for years.
-Jennifer, Concord, NC

Fantastic! I absolutely loved it!
-Bethani, Huntersville, NC

Great book. Love it. She coped with problems well
-Bailey, Alabamma

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Strongbow: The Story of Richard and Aoife

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Llywelyn, Morgan(1992)
Strongbow: The Story of Richard and Aoife
Young Adult

A biographical novel about Richard de Clare, a great Norman knight, and his wild Irish wife, Princess Aoife, in twelfth century Ireland. When Aoife`s father, King Dermot MacMurrough, loses his kingdom to a rival enemy he goes to England to ask for help from King Henry II. Henry allows Richard to raise an army to assist Dermot. From that point forward English and Irish histories are intertwined. Richard and Aoife fight side by side to reclaim Ireland for her father and the Normans become part of the ethnic mix of the Irish. An authentic historical setting and exchange between cultures.

Reviewed by Christie B., Independence Regional

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The Cay

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Taylor, Theodore(1987)
The Cay
Young Adult

Young Phillip is faced with tons of problems-his dad must leave for the army and he and his mom are moving to the US to get away from the war. But the little steamer they take is torpedoed by German U-boats. Phillip is rescued by a native black man and he comes to live at his new home, the Cay. There he becomes blind and Timothy dies. How will Phillip survive? Will he live or die? This action-packed thriller is sure to keep you reading to the end.

Reviewed by Isaiah, Weddington Middle School

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Reader's comments about this book

This is a very intriguing book. It showed a friendship unlike any other.
-Erin, NC

This is a marvelous book! I am a teacher and have used it as a read-aloud for many years (grades 4 - 6). It walks the reader through the slow recognition of what prejudice is - and a boy`s change and growth into a more loving, more accepting person. Wonderful for all readers!
-Leigh, Denver, Colorado

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The Ghost in the Tokaido Inn

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Hoobler, Dorothy and Thomas Hoobler(1999)
The Ghost in the Tokaido Inn
Young Adult

Seiki dreams of becoming a samurai, but as a Japanese merchant's son in 1735 he must accept his position in life. One night his life changes when a ghost-like figure comes into his inn room carrying a red, glowing object. The next morning it is discovered that a ruby was stolen from Lord Hakuseki's room and Seiki is the only witness. The investigator, Judge Ooka, employs Seiki and they search for the thief. Seiki discovers who the thief is, but Ooka realizes there is something strange going on and decides to postpone an arrest until all secrets are brought to light. This intriguing story is filled with interesting customs and unforgettable characters.

Reviewed by Jeanenne R., Steele Creek Branch

Reader's comments about this book

This book is about a merchant's son, Se-kei, who dreams of becoming a samurai. Someone steals something from a samurai and Se-kei is the only witness. The rest of the story tells about his adventures solving the whodunit. This book is good for anyone who likes reading about martial arts, mystery, adventure, or a teenage boy finding his dreams.
-Jessica, Charlotte, NC

A great historical mystery set in Japan. Intriguing and interesting.
-Jori, Midlothian, VA

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