History & Historical Fiction

04/02/2012 - 12:14pm

Settlers started moving west as soon as the land by the eastern rivers was claimed.  Wanting the right to expand into more territory was one of the factors in the American Revolution, including anger at the Proclamation of 1763 that restricted further settlement. Indeed, many veterans of the Revolution received land grants in the west for their service.  In the late 1700s to the early 1800s, the West could mean Ohio, Kentucky, Tennessee, and parts of Pennsylvania. As those places filled up, too, and immigrants kept on coming, they eventually spread across the plains and into the heartland.

02/23/2012 - 7:13am
Breaking Stalin’s Nose by Eugene Yelchin

“When hunger gnaws inside my belly, I tell myself that a future Pioneer has to repress cravings for such unimportant matters as food. Communism is just over the horizon; soon there will be plenty of food for everyone…I wonder what it’s like in the capitalist countries. I wouldn’t be surprised if children there had never even tasted a carrot.”

More than anything, 10-year-old Sasha Zaichik wants to be a member of the Young Soviet Pioneers in Breaking Stalin’s Nose, by Eugene Yelchin. Sasha can hardly wait for tomorrow’s Pioneer rally, when all of his dreams will be realized. However, as the big day gets close, things go terribly wrong for Sasha. First, his stalwart father is taken away by the State Security in the middle of the night. As Sasha’s mother had died under mysterious circumstances some time before, this leaves Sasha frighteningly alone. He is no longer welcome in the komunalka that he shares with 48 other citizens, so he is put out into deserted and icy streets in the middle of the night.

12/22/2011 - 3:30am
Wonderstruck by Brian Selznick

The wolves will not stop chasing Ben through his dreams. They are wild and persistent, leaving paw prints in the snow next to Gunflint Lake, Minnesota: The boy's home.

Jump back fifty years. Rose lives just outside of New York City, where the bright lights and tall towers tempt her to visit--much against her parents’ wishes. Though separated by time, Ben and Rose are both looking for a place where they can belong. Thus begins Wonderstruck.

04/14/2013 - 9:09pm

One hundred and fifty years ago, life was turned upside-down for residents in our communities.  Stafford County was occupied by Union troops. Fredericksburg changed hands many times between Union and Confederate and was the scene of one of the bloodiest battles of the Civil War. Spotsylvania County had the battles of Spotsylvania Courthouse, the Wilderness, and Chancellorsville. Thousands of men encamped and fought here. Many died here. Our state—even just our own area--has some of the most fought-over ground in the country.

11/08/2011 - 3:16pm

Where Are the Great Plains?

The Great Plains are the part of North America east of the Rocky Mountains and west of the Mississippi River. The American states that are part of this region are Colorado, Kansas, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Texas, and Wyoming. The land there is flat and includes prairie, steppe and grassland.

Who Are the Plains Indians?

There were many differently-named tribes who lived on the Great Plains when the Europeans came, but they mostly shared a common culture because of living in similar environments. The buffalo (bison) was a major source of food along with other game and cultivated crops. They also gathered wild fruits and vegetables. Nomadic (roaming) tribes lived in large teepees, often painted with religious symbols. Tribes that did not roam often lived in earthen or grass lodges and would grow crops.

10/06/2011 - 3:30am
When Clay Sings by Byrd Baylor, illustrated by Tom Bahti

They say
That every piece
Of clay
Is a piece of
Someone’s
Life.

In faraway times, the artisans of the Southwest peoples smoothed the clay they collected. They painted it with their symbols and heated it to make it strong. When these tribes left their homes, pieces of their past remained behind. When the shards are gathered together, the pictures they make seem to summon the spirits of the people who created them so long ago. When Clay Sings, by Byrd Baylor and illustrated by Tom Bahti, is a melding of archaeology and word craft that brings a unique and subtle sense of the past to today’s students.

09/29/2011 - 3:31am
Gone-Away Lake by Elizabeth Enright

“How glorious!”

Beginning-to-be-eleven-year-old Portia and her little brother Foster are excited to be visiting their relatives in the countryside for the summer in Elizabeth Enright’s Gone-Away Lake. Besides seeing their favorite aunt and uncle, there is Katy the boxer dog who has just had a litter of puppies “with flat faces like pansies, and ears that felt like pieces of silk, and claws like the tips of knitting needles”—but best of all for Portia is having time to hang out with her cousin Julian, he of the hundred-thousand freckles. Closer than a friend and nicer than a brother is how she thinks of him. Julian is interesting and interested in everything that goes on around him.

09/08/2011 - 3:31am
Weaver's Daughter by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley

Weaver’s Daughter, by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley, is a great story for mothers and daughters to share together!

Every fall Lizzy gets sick…very sick and no one knows why.  Each year it gets worse and worse.  It’s 1791, and doctors are expensive and hard to come by, and her family does not know what to do.  Lizzy just knows that she won’t be able to get better when it happens again this year.  What did families do back then when their children were sick?  They didn’t know about asthma and allergies.

08/18/2011 - 3:31am
Black Gold by Marguerite Henry

“A haunt in the wind”

That’s how Al Hoots described the small, thin filly named U-See-It who happily crunched his peppermints in the saddling shed before her big race. Al picked up such talk from his wife, Rosa, of the Osage tribe. In the newly-minted state of Oklahoma, the spring weather of 1909 saw most everybody who lived near the Chisholm Trail come out to watch the match race between little U-See-It and a big-striding mare from Missouri named Belle Thompson.  Soon enough Al Hoots had traded 80 acres of land for the little filly, and she began winning races for him. That’s just the beginning of the story Black Gold, by Marguerite Henry.

07/21/2011 - 3:31am
Here Comes the Garbage Barge!

On a blazing summer's day, there's nothing quite like the aroma of piping hot...garbage. It's gross, slimy, and we each make about four pounds of it per day. The one thing that everyone can agree on is that no one wants to deal with garbage, and that notion is exactly what Here Comes the Garbage Barge!  is all about.

In 1987, over 3,000 tons of Long Island, New York's garbage was loaded onto a barge and pulled by the tugboat Break of Dawn.  The plan was to unload the cargo in North Carolina, where poor farmers had been paid to bury the waste. But when the barge and its captain arrived, they met a police boat which refused to let them dock there under any circumstances. So began a wild goose chase up and down the coast to find a place to store the disgusting floating dump.

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