Into the Past
Karen Cushman’s The Midwife’s Apprentice draws readers into the past with the story of an unwanted girl making her own way in the perilous Middle Ages.
March: Book One is the beautifully constructed graphic novel biography of Civil Rights activist and Congressman John Lewis. Relying only on black and white imagery, it is quiet in its form and presentation. Lewis' struggle of growing up in the Deep South, fighting to go to college, and helping to organize lunch counter sit-ins speaks volumes and needs no distraction.
Lucia is furious with her father. As paterfamilias, head of his Roman household, gladiator-trainer Lucius has chosen her rich husband for her. Lucia fumes to herself that aged, grumpy Vitulus would do very well as a grandfather--but not as her bridegroom! Their loathsome, formal dinner together is cut short by the sounds of a cracking whip and the rumblings of the Earth. Somewhere nearby a slave is being punished, Mount Vesuvius is gathering strength to explode. Vicky Alvear Shecter’s romantic novel, Curses and Smoke, is set in Pompeii's dangerous last days when anything, even forbidden love, might be possible.
Jack is plunked down on a rocky Maine beach straight from the wheat fields of Kansas. His father, a Navy captain, thinks that the nautical prep school is a good match to square away his son who seems to be adrift after his mother’s unexpected death. But Jack finds out in Clare Vanderpool’s Navigating Early that it’s going to take a lot more than a tightly-made bed or learning how to row to get him back on course.
Margi Preus’ Shadow on the Mountain is a gripping adventure story of teenagers risking death to defy the Nazis who have invaded their country. It is also almost entirely true.
Gemma Doyle is furious with her mother. They may have the same untamed red hair and deep green eyes, but in Libba Bray’s historical novel A Great and Terrible Beauty they are completely at odds with each other. It’s Gemma’s 16th birthday, and try as she may, she is making no headway whatsoever with getting what she really wants for a present—a ticket back to Merrie Olde England where she can make her debut in society and meet some nice, eligible young men. But her mother won’t budge. Gemma’s to stay with her parents in India. And then something terrible happens. She gets her wish… at a horrifying cost.
Molly’s father was determined to get rid of her. Her mother, believed mad and kept locked away, had no say in the matter. After all, Diane Stanley’s The Silver Bowl is set in medieval times, and if a father wanted to drag his street urchin of a child to the castle and hire her off as a scullery maid, there was no one to say him nay. Never mind that she’s seven years old.
They very nearly had to pry Liza out of the expensive London hotel. Surrounded by mementoes of her loving but tragically deceased family, the pretty, young girl had gone from a promising future to ruin. There was no money to even pay the hotel bill, and she had to sweet-talk the harrumphing manager into giving her cash for a hansom cab to follow up her only hope for sustaining herself—a job as a lady’s maid to Princess Victoria. But she could not know that very soon she and the princess would become Prisoners in the Palace.
Many novels with animal protagonists go to great lengths to anthropomorphize them, giving them names, extensive language, and culture that strongly resemble those of humans. Paleontologist Robert Bakker goes the opposite route with his novel Raptor Red. He creates a primeval world viewed through the eyes of dinosaurs and other creatures of the Early Cretaceous epoch.
How They Croaked begins with a clear warning: "If you don't have the guts for gore, DO NOT READ THIS BOOK." They are not kidding.
American icon Billy Joel once sang, "Only the good die young," but before modern medicine, almost everyone died young. The only difference was whether it was quick or slow and gruesome. Infections, malaria, gout, and tuberculosis were pretty common ways to go. King Tut, Christopher Columbus, Pocahontas, and Edgar Allan Poe were victims of such illnesses.