There are some things which are hard and painful to understand. Slavery. Skyscrapers exploding. War. Tsunamis. Even famous people's ordinary lives.
But in a true story, there may also be courage, hope, love, and determination. When Jeanette Winter tells her readers of historic events and people, she makes sure the stories carry not only the frightening pieces but the parts that leaven the misery as well.
Her books take readers to Michigan's deep woods, the dusty streets of India, Chinese fishing boats, and on an Alaskan dog sled trail. And those are only the stories set in today's world.
She has also written books set in revolutionary Russia, on the 1880s American frontier, 1918 British East Africa, and along the Underground Railroad. All of these journeys she writes for us begin with another story--a true one--of a little girl who was very sick.
“And then suddenly the wolf was there. With a crashing of twigs and small branches it sprang into the open, then, seeing the hunters all about it, checked almost in mid spring, swinging its head from side to side, with laid-back ears and wrinkled muzzle: a great, brindled dog wolf, menace in every raised hackle.”
(From Warrior Scarlet)
Rosemary Sutcliff’s splendid stories take place in Britain’s distant past. Shining Roman spears. Cloth woven red for warrior valor. A broken bit of barley cake on a hearth whose ashes grow cold. The last signal fire against the darkness of a massing enemy.
Just when you thought it was safe to get back in the social scene, the bad news hits. That shot in your arm wasn't such a shot in the arm. In recent years, the doctors who designed the vaccine had to make a decision as to which strain to fight, Panama flu or Fujian flu. From their data, it looked like Panama would continue to grow strong and the beginnings of the Fujian strain would peter out.
After bouncing all night in cold, cramped steel boats, then waiting all day in broiling heat, the men of the Allied Expeditionary Force got the word: shortly after sundown, they would finally be getting off their floating, seasick prisons.
All they had to do then was run straight into machine gun fire, smash the Nazi army, and liberate Europe.
This year marks the two hundredth anniversary of the birth of Charles Darwin and the hundred and fiftieth anniversary of his ground-breaking book, “On the Origin of Species.” Kathryn Lasky’s new illustrated biography, “One Beetle Too Many,” makes an appealing introduction for nine- to twelve-year-olds to the man and his “idea that scared the world.”
The Tudor Family
Elizabeth's father was King Henry VIII of England--a big, red-haired man who liked to joust and feast. He also liked the ladies. For many years, he was mostly content with his marriage to Catherine of Aragon, a Spanish princess. They had a daughter, Mary, but no other children lived to maturity. Henry very much wanted a strong son to carry on his name and keep the kingdom safe.
If you saw a man walking by your house barefoot, wearing old clothes and with a tin pot on his head, you'd likely wonder where on earth he came from. But if you lived in Indiana or Ohio in the early part of the 1800s, you just might recognize your wandering neighbor, Johnny Appleseed.
In 1821, Mexico finally won its independence from Spain after a long war. It was a lot like the American Revolution against Britain; heroic generals led an army of poor, brave farmers against the Spanish army and by sheer guts wore the Spanish down. The constitution written in 1824 even called the new nation the United States of Mexico. It was larger than the United States, covering all of modern Mexico plus the western third of the modern United States.
Francis Brooke, later of St. Julien in Spotsylvania County, was only sixteen when he became an officer in General Harrison's artillery regiment. This short memoir of his military service and his days afterward as an eminent jurist is peppered with the names of famous Virginians, many of whom were his friends and family members.