half a man

posted by:  Kim     comments:  

by Michael Morpurgo, illustrated by Gemma O’Callaghan
Candlewick Press, $16.99
Historical fiction, war, physical and mental scars, family, ages 12+

Poetic, beautiful, moving, moments shared between a boy and his grandfather, gorgeous illustrations, I love this book.

Summary description from Amazon:

From a young age, Michael was both fascinated by and afraid of his grandfather. Grandpa’s ship was torpedoed during the Second World War, leaving him with terrible burns. Every time he came to stay, Michael was warned by his mother that he must not stare, he must not make too much noise, he must not ask Grandpa any questions about his past. As he grows older, Michael stays with his grandfather during the summer holidays and learns the story behind Grandpa’s injuries, finally getting to know the real man behind the solemn figure from his childhood. Michael can see beyond the burns, and this gives him the power to begin healing scars that have divided his family for so long.

Little, Brown BFYR
Genre: YA Alternate History, Hitler

Wolf by Wolf,by Ryan Grodin. I literally devoured this alternate historical fiction in one sitting and was left waiting for its equally excellent sequel, Blood for Blood​.

Never Anyone But You


By Rubert Thomson

Other Press, $25.95

Historical fiction, World War 1, Love Affair

Ages 13+

ISBN-13: 978-1590519134

Summary description from Amazon: 

 In the years preceding World War I, two young women meet, by chance, in a provincial town in France. Suzanne Malherbe, a shy seventeen-year-old with a talent for drawing, is completely entranced by the brilliant but troubled Lucie Schwob, who comes from a family of wealthy Jewish intellectuals. They embark on a clandestine love affair, terrified they will be discovered, but then, in an astonishing twist of fate, the mother of one marries the father of the other. As “sisters” they are finally free of suspicion, and, hungry for a more stimulating milieu, they move to Paris at a moment when art, literature, and politics blend in an explosive cocktail.

Having reinvented themselves as Claude Cahun and Marcel Moore, they move in the most glamorous social circles, meeting everyone from Hemingway and Dalí to André Breton, and produce provocative photographs that still seem avant-garde today. In the 1930s, with the rise of anti-Semitism and threat of fascism, they leave Paris for Jersey, and it is on this idyllic island that they confront their destiny, creating a campaign of propaganda against Hitler’s occupying forces that will put their lives in jeopardy.

Brilliantly imagined, profoundly thought-provoking, and ultimately heartbreaking, Never Anyone But Youinfuses life into a forgotten history as only great literature can.


On October 11, 2017, The War I Finally Won debuted at #3 on the New York Times bestsellers list. This does not surprise me, because Kimberly Brubaker Bradley's sequel to the multi-award winning The War that Saved my Life, does not disappoint, but rather, carries on the story, showing how Ada has recovered after the surgery that fixed her club foot. She is not what her mother said:  crippled in mind and body, deranged, a disappointment. Yet Ada must continue to fight to find out who she is, and her sufferings were not over--though nothing Ada could ever have seen or expected. 

The War That Saved My Life

The War I Finally Won
By Kimberly Brubaker Bradley
Dial BFYR  (Oct. 11, 2017)

Genre: middle grade historical fiction

​coming of age, family life, adoption, WWII, Europe, literature, adult interest, special needs

Copper Magic

By Julia Mary Gibson

Starscape, $17.99

Middle grade, historical fiction with magical realism, photography, family life, lies and consequences, Ages 10-14

The year is 1906, and life is bleak for 12-year-old Violet, with her mother and baby brother missing and her father losing their family farm. Circumstances improve after Violet unearths a magical talisman, a copper hand that grant wishes. But is it magic or coincidence? Either way, Violet must take responsibility for her choices, in this beautifully written story with a wonderful twist. 

Anastasia: the last grand duchess

posted by:  Kim     comments:  

by Carolyn Meyer

Scholastic, $6.99

Middle grade, World War I, historical fiction, Russia

​My daughter Leah read this and another book in the series at age 11. She picked them out of my books herself, and read Anastasia in an hour, then she went and got the second book and finished both in one day. I think that says everything. 

Summary description from Amazon:

Thirteen-year-old Anastasia is the youngest daughter of Czar Nicholas II, ruler of Russia. Anastasia is used to a life of luxury; her major concerns are how to get out of her detested schoolwork to play in the snow, go ice-skating, or have picnics. She wears diamonds and rubies, and every morning her mother tells her which matching outfit she and her three sisters shall wear that day. It's a fairy tale life -- until everything changes with the outbreak of war between Russia and Germany. As Russia enters WWI, hunger and poverty grows among the peasants, and soon they are not pleased with their ruler. While the czar is trying win a war and save their country, the country is turning on the royal family. When her father and the rest of the family are imprisoned by the Bolsheviks, suddenly Anastasia understands what this war is costing the people. In the pages of her diary, Anastasia chronicles the wealth and luxury of her royal days, as well as the fall from power, and her uncertain fate.

The war that saved my life

posted by:  Kim     comments:  

by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley
Dial, $16.00

YA, World War II, historical fiction

Reviewed by my good friend and colleague, Kathy Taber, with Kids Ink Children’s Bookstore in Indianapolis.

“War usually tears families apart and causes heartache, but for Ada, World War II saved her life. Born with a club foot, Ada suffered abuse and ridicule. When she and he bother were sent to the countryside to wait out the war, Ada had to learn to deal with her new life, including how to receive uncondiioal love. Ada’s stoy is a moving and poignant tale of acceptace and how change can be rewarding.
-Kathy Taber

P.S. Previously posted...

P.S.S. Kim Bradley was in my writer’s group in Indy! Go Kim!

Historical Fiction