Posts tagged ‘Historical fiction’

Emily’s Fortune by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor (Delacorte Books for Young Readers, 2010)

The quiet and shy, eight year old Emily Wiggins becomes an orphan, after her mother is accidentally killed in a carriage crash with her employer, the very wealthy Miss Nash.  Her evil Uncle Victor is next of kin, and wants custody.  The unscrupulous Catchem Child-Catching Services is looking for her too.  Her lovely Aunt Hilda sends word for Emily to come and live with her on her farm in Redbud.  She is only related by marriage, but wants to share what little she has with her niece.  Her neighbors and guideposts, Mrs. Ready, Mrs. Aim and Mrs. Fire pack Emily up with her turtle, Rufus, and send them off to Redbud.  A several day journey by train and stagecoach ensues and is filled with obstacles.  Fortunately, she befriends Jackson, another orphan with the street-smarts and the confidence Emily lacks, who is also on the run from Catchem.  Half way through her trip Emily learns she is the one who will inherit Miss Nash’s fortune.  Most chapters end in cliffhangers and tension rises rapidly to the conclusion. This 1850’s, west coast adventure takes many wild twists and turns.  Will Emily and Jackson reach Redbud before Uncle Victor?  Can Emily develop the courage she needs in the face of danger?  How will the kind-hearted, Aunt Hilda convince the authorities that she should have custody of Emily instead of Uncle Victor?  Line art illustrations enhance the suspenseful text.

A great page-turner.  Ages 9-12

J R* — Anne Beier  (Hendrick Hudson Free Library)

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July 6, 2010 at 4:06 pm Leave a comment

TROPICAL SECRETS: HOLOCAUST REFUGEES IN CUBA by Margarita Engle

tropicalDaniel and his family live through Kristallnacht, the night in 1938 when Nazis rampaged through Berlin and smashed Jewish store windows. That night, Daniel sees his grandfather murdered by the Nazis. Only one ticket to escape is available. Only Daniel will board the ship to take him out of Germany while his musician parents remain behind. The ship first tries to land in Canada, then the United States, but it is refused entry. Finally, Daniel arrives in Cuba where he starts a new life not knowing anyone and not speaking the language. Engle alternates the voices of Daniel, David, an old Jewish refugee who is the first to help Daniel, Paloma, a Cuban girl who loves birds and people, and finally, Paloma’s father, a man who has made himself rich by demanding money from refugees. Told in free verse, each person talks about his inner struggles in this sunny land and his hopes for a better future. This is a fictionalized account of events that happened between 1938 and 1942 in Cuba. Despite Goebbel’s best efforts, from 1938 – 1939, Cuba granted asylum to 65,000 escaping Jews. The plight of the fleeing Jews is the main feature of this book, and there is little mention of the horrors of the camps. The characters are well-drawn and Cuban culture is prominently displayed.

May 13, 2009 at 2:47 pm Leave a comment


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