The great achievement…

Almond, David. Harry Miller’s Run. Somerville, Mass.: Candlewick, 2017, c2008.
Eleven-year-old Liam wants to get outside and start training for the big race coming up. But his mother wants him to help an elderly neighbour move into a nursing home. What starts out as a frustrating day turns into an amazing adventure as Liam listens to Harry tell about the great race he ran from Newcastle to South Shields when he was a young lad himself.
This joyous novella – by a multiple award winning author – reads like a true story. I kept checking the flyleaf to find out more about the background. There was nothing.  But this heart-warming story by a masterful writer will live in readers’ memories as if it really happened to someone we ourselves must have met somewhere. Whimsical illustrations by Salvatore Rubbino – creator of picture books about London and Paris – add to the charm of this unpaged book highly recommended for readers 9 years old and up.  

A serious David Almond novel about refugees

A humorous David Almond novel about a runaway

Stories of summer

P.S. Always check out the books published by Candlewick. They’re reliably beautiful. 

Seeing goodness…

A multiple award-winner and New York Times bestseller!

Bradley, Kimberly Brubaker. The War I Finally Won. New York: Dial Books for Young Readers 2017.
Do you need courage to have hope? Can you know something but not believe it? How do you learn to overcome fear? The story of Ada and Jamie, evacuated from London in The War That Saved My Life, continues in this 385-page novel recommended for readers 12 years old and up.
The story begins with surgery to repair Ada’s clubfoot. But surgery can’t repair the sense of rejection she still feels from years of abuse. And surgery can’t teach her how to trust anyone except herself. It is steadfast love from her new guardian and her own determination to learn that transforms Ada from a fearful 11-year-old to a confident 14-year-old ready to embrace the goodness of life.

More stories set in World War 2

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Stories about foster children

P.S. Part of the brilliance of this novel is its quiet complexity. While told from the limited point of view of Ada, the reader sees that we all have limited points of view. And sometimes our lack of knowledge limits our ability to see clearly. Lady Thorton is stand-offish due to limitations imposed by her childhood. People in the village mistrust Ruth – a Jewish refugee – due to ignorance of events in Germany. Susan assumes she will be rejected by a friend’s family, and Maggie thinks her mother doesn’t care about her. Over and over again, we see that life may have been terrible in the past but it can still be good in the future. And we are all lovable.

 

Finding a friend…

“I think there’s just one kind of folks. Folks.” 
– Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird
 …
Neri, Greg. Tru and Nelle. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2016.
An unlikely friendship builds between a seven-year-old boy who likes to dress in fancy clothes and a six-year-old girl who dresses like a tomboy. But they both enjoy reading. They also like mysteries and set off together to discover who has stolen candy and a brooch from a local drugstore.  Set in Alabama in the summer of 1930, this 268-page novel is based on the real-life friendship between Truman Capote and Nelle Harper Lee. Readers don’t need that information, though, to enjoy the story. The writing flows like music and the large font and widely spaced lines make it easy to read. Several short stories – inspired by the real Truman’s fondness for short stories – and an historical note with black-and-white photographs round off the book. Highly recommended for readers 8 years old and up.
 …
 
 “You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view….Until you climb inside of his skin and walk around in it.”  – Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird

Escaping…

Cole, Tom Clohosy. Wall. Somerville, Mass.: Templar Books, 2014.
In 1961, families found themselves suddenly separated by the Berlin Wall. East Berlin was under Communist rule and people were not permitted to cross the wall and join their relatives in the West.  In this evocatively illustrated picture book, a young boy is determined to find a way for his family to be reunited. Told from the first person point of view and based on true stories, Wall is recommended for readers 8 years old and up. (Artists interested in seeing how to depict night-time scenes may appreciate analyzing the illustrations which were created digitally but provide ideas for working with pastels.)

More picture books for artists

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What do you see?

“Prejudice is a great time saver. You can form opinions without having to get the facts.” – E.B. White, author of Charlotte’s Web

Wung-Sung, Jesper. The Last Execution. New York: Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2016. Translated by Lindy Falk van Rooyen.
Chapter by chapter, the final hours count down to the last execution in Danish history. Chapter by chapter, eleven bystanders reveal their thoughts about the 15-year-old boy accused of arson and murder.  And in each chapter, we also hear the voice of that forlorn and forsaken boy. Based on a true story from 1853, this heart-wrenching novel of poverty and prejudice is highly recommended for thoughtful readers 14 years old and up. 

More stories of historical fiction

More stories of poverty

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Follow me…

Dowell, Frances O’Roark. Trouble the Water. New York: Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2016.

An old yellow dog brings Cassie and Wendell – a black girl and a white boy – together in racially segregated Kentucky in 1953. Buddy leads them to a ramshackle cabin in the woods where two invisible boys are waiting to cross the nearby river. Partly historical fiction, partly a ghost story, this memorable novel by a thought-provoking writer is highly recommended for readers 10 to 15 years old.

More stories of African Americans

More historical novels

More dog stories

More stories set all over the U.S.A.

P.S. Do you know the story of how Jesus healed the sick man by the pool of Bethesda? The man who never got to the pool in time to be healed after an angel ‘troubled the water’? You might like to read about it in John 5 after you read Dowell’s story. Then you might like to think about the Pharisees in the Bible and the townspeople in the story. And think about that pool at the end of the novel. Might you be called to be an angel?

Surviving the winter…

Kerr, Philip. The Winter Horses. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2014.
Kalinka, a Jewish orphan girl, hides from Nazi soldiers during the winter of 1941. On the wind-blown plains of the Ukraine, she meets an elderly man and two wild horses who help her flee from danger. This fascinating story of the rare Przewalski horses will intrigue readers who enjoy historical fiction. While the novel is somewhat awkwardly written – as if the author is explaining the story rather than letting it come to life – it nevertheless provides a unique perspective on World War 2 and so is recommended for readers 11 to 16 years of age.

More stories of World War 2

More winter stories