New Historical Fiction

Mister Death's Blue-Eyed Girls by Mary Downing Hahn

Reading Level: Ages 12 and up

Combining murder mystery, historical fiction, and a coming-of-age story, this chilling book is base on real life events in the author's past.  The time is 1956 and Nora anticipates spending a the summer  before her senior year with her group of friends.  But two of her friends are shot to death on their way to the last day of school.  Everyone but Nora is sure that the murderer is a jealous ex-boyfriend. Told from a number of perspectives, the story examines the effect this horrible event had on so many lives.

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Another story of a shooting is

Give a Boy a Gun by Todd Strasser

Magritte's Marvelous Hat by D.B. Johnson

Reading Level: Ages 3 - 11

Magritte sees a hat in a shop window and, even though it refuses to stay on his head, he can't resist buying it. Then the adventures begin in this surreal picture book introduction to the surrealist painter's art.

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Jefferson's Sons by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley

Grades 5-9
Third U.S. President Thomas Jefferson lived at the plantation Monticello and kept slaves to work in his fields, farm and home. One of his slaves was a woman named Sally Hemings, mother to four of Jefferson's children - Beverly, Harriet, Maddy, and Eston.  Though slaves, the children and their mother were given special treatment by Jefferson because of his discreet relationship to them - but nevertheless, slaves they remained. 

Master Jefferson promises freedom to all four of his slave children upon their twenty-first birthdays, but Beverly, the eldest, cannot imagine leaving his mother, sister, brothers - but especially his father. Light-skinned and longing for a father figure, Beverly struggles with the secrecy of Jefferson's nonpublic identity as his father, especially when Jefferson presents him and his brothers with a kit violin and lessons. He and his siblings imagine a life where his mother, siblings and father could live openly together as a real family; a life that did not involve waiting on Master Jefferson's real children, especially the snippy Miss Martha.

Based on true events at Monticello during the early 1800s, Jefferson's Sons is a slave tale of a different order, exploring slavery and racial issues from the fresh perspective of Jefferson's slave children. The novel is a welcome look into one aspect of post-revolutionary slave life in Virginia that explores the bonds of family and friendship.

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