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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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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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Our Only May Amelia

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Holm, Jennifer L.(1999)
Our Only May Amelia
Young Adult

It`s 1899 and May Amelia is growing up to be an unladylike girl in Washington state. Surrounded by seven brothers, May is constantly into trouble and most often catching a hard time from her father. It takes some hard times for the family, and some crashed dreams, in order for May to realize how important the family bond really is and that she is, in fact, their only May Amelia.

Reviewed by Amanda B., Main Library

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Reader's comments about this book

May Amelia Jackson is sick of boys. After all, she's got seven of them. Living on the bend of the Nasel River in Oregon, May Amelia is far from being the proper young lady her folks and relatives want her to be. She prefers logging, climbing trees and scaring off wailing cougars. While living in her little, countrified town, May has to deal with troublesome brothers, wicked grandmothers, stern fathers, smelly sheep and even death. All in all, a funny and enlightening read from the view of Miss May Amelia Jackson. Creatively spun and enjoyably written. A highly recommended read for all!
-Abby, Charlotte, NC

A cheerful, funny story with a few sad parts as well. An excellent book.
-Jori, Midlothian, VA

I think this is a very cool book. Even a very girly girl person could read this book, and the girl in the book isn't. There is always another adventure she's on or is going to be on. It's one of my favorites and should be yours! I would read this if I were you!
-Kaitlin, Matthews, NC

I think that this book was really good I am in 6th grade and at first I thought the book was boring, but then when I read more it became very interesting. I would share this book with anyone because I really liked it and I think that others will like it too.
-Kaity, NJ

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