Tag Archives: historical fiction

“Everything is art. Everything is politics.” (quote from Ai Weiwei)

This past weekend, my dad and I had a chance to attend Ai Weiwei at Meijer Gardens:
Natural State. Some of the first pieces you see when you walk into the building are large, hollow, white structures in the shapes of gods or supernatural creatures that are hanging from the ceiling.

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This is the description that goes with this collection of artworks:

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I knew Ai Weiwei was an activist, but I did not know the story about his father. It made me think of this book:

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Red Kite, Blue Kite by Ji-li Jiang, illustrated by Greg Ruth

In the story, a boy’s father is sent to a labor camp during the Cultural Revolution in China. They make a plan to each fly a kite for the other to see at a certain time every day since they don’t have any other way to communicate. In an author’s note at the back of the book, Ji-li Jiang explains that the picture book was inspired by the personal history of a family friend. In the end, he says, “My friend’s father survived the Cultural Revolution, and my friend grew up and became a poet.”

Red Kite, Blue Kite is one of the books included in our current display for Asian Pacific American Heritage Month. It includes children’s books that have received the South Asia Book Award or the Asian/Pacific American Award for Literature. Come take a look!

Alex made something amazing!

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Alex made a model of the Titanic that won 2nd place at the science fair at Woodview Elementary School! He brought it in to display at the library. Come take a look! While you’re here, you can check out some of our books about the Titanic to learn more.

Big Birthday on the Prairie

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Author Laura Ingalls Wilder was born 150 years ago on February 7, 1867.  You can read a couple of reflections at the New York Times and Shelf Awareness.  Stay tuned for a special program about Laura Ingalls Wilder this summer!

New African American Historical Fiction

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Freedom Over Me: Eleven Slaves, Their Lives and Dreams Brought to Life by Ashley Bryan
From the author’s note: “…I chose the Fairchilds Appraisement of the Estate document from July 5, 1828 to tell this story.  Eleven slaves are listed for sale with the cows, hogs, cotton; only the names and prices of the slaves are noted (no age is indicated). I was inspired by this spare information to bring these slaves to life and have them tell their stories.”
The stickers on the cover indicate that it is a Coretta Scott King Author Honor Book, a Coretta Scott King Illustrator Honor Book, and a Newbery Honor book in the 2017 Youth Media Awards.

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The Hero Two Doors Down: Based on the True Story of Friendship between a Boy and a Baseball Legend by Sharon Robinson (Jackie Robinson’s daughter)
Eight-year-old Steve Satlow is thrilled when Jackie Robinson moves into his Jewish neighborhood in Brooklyn in 1948, although many of his neighbors are not, and when Steve actually meets his hero he is even more excited–and worried that a misunderstanding over a Christmas tree could damage his new friendship.

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Mary Bowser and the Civil War Spy Ring by Enigma Alberti, illustrated by Tony Cliff
During the Civil War, African American Mary Bowser becomes a maid in the Richmond mansion of Confederate States of America president Jefferson Davis as part of a plan to pass along secrets to help the Union. Includes a replica of a Confederate decoder, plus other spycraft materials, in a sealed envelope to help the reader discover clues found in the text and illustrations.

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My Name is James Madison Hemings by Jonah Winter; illustrated by Terry Widner
Here’s a powerful historical picture book about the child of founding father Thomas Jefferson and the enslaved Sally Hemings.
In an evocative first-person account accompanied by exquisite artwork, Winter and Widener tell the story of James Madison Hemings’s childhood at Monticello, and, in doing so, illuminate the many contradictions in Jefferson’s life and legacy. Though Jefferson lived in a mansion, Hemings and his siblings lived in a one-room shack. While Jefferson doted on his white grandchildren, he never showed affection to his enslaved children. Though he kept the Hemings boys from hard field labor—instead sending them to work in the carpentry shop—Jefferson nevertheless listed the children in his “Farm Book” along with the sheep, hogs, and other property. Here is a profound and moving account of one family’s history, which is also America’s history.
An author’s note includes more information about Hemings, Jefferson, and the author’s research.

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Midnight Without a Moon by Linda Williams Jackson
Rose Lee Carter, a thirteen-year-old African-American girl, dreams of life beyond the Mississippi cotton fields during the summer of 1955, but when Emmett Till is murdered and his killers are unjustly acquitted, Rose is torn between seeking her destiny outside of Mississippi or staying and being a part of an important movement.

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Steamboat School: Inspired by a True Story, St. Louis, Missouri, 1847 by Deborah Hopkinson; illustrated by Ron Husband
In 1847 St. Louis, Missouri, when a new law against educating African Americans forces Reverend John to close his school, he finds an ingenious solution to the new state law by moving his school to a steamboat in the Mississippi River. Includes author’s note on Reverend John Berry Meachum, a minister, entrepreneur, and educator who fought tirelessly for the rights of African Americans.

Want to know more about Hamilton?

alexander-hamiltonAre you taking your kids to see the Hamilton exhibit?  The blog for The Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC) had a great list of suggestions of kids’ and young adult books to help encourage a love of history (and musical theater):

alsc.ala.org/blog/2016/04/hamilton-and-the-childrens-library/

Visit Children’s Services and see our display with books from this list, plus more titles that highlight interesting people from Alexander Hamilton’s time.

This exhibit was brought here by the Gilder Lehrman Institue of American History.

Remembering Joseph Medicine Crow

You may have seen the news yesterday about the death of Joseph Medicine Crow. He was described as “the Crow’s last war chief… an activist, an author, a Medal of Freedom recipient and a vital chronicler of the history of his tribe.” He fought in World War II and “heard stories of the Battle of Little Bighorn from people who were there.” He was the first Crow to earn a master’s degree (in anthropology), and became the tribal historian and anthropologist.

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Counting Coup: Becoming a Crow Chief on the Reservation and Beyond by Joseph Medicine Crow with Herman Viola

Couting Coup, one of his many books, won the 2008 American Indian Youth Literature Award.  Reviewers praised his autobiography for its “absorbing, humorous style” and as an “informative yet entertaining read” that “brings the past to life.”

Here are some other books available in our library system that he wrote or contributed to:

From the Heart of the Crow Country: The Crow Indians’ Own Stories by Joseph Medicine Crow (a book for adults)

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Brave Wolf and the Thunderbird story by Joe Medicine Crow; illustrations by Linda R. Martin

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The Earth Made New: Plains Indian Stories of Creation by Paul Goble; foreword by Joe Medicine Crow

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Custer’s Last Battle: Red Hawk’s Account of the Battle of the Little Bighorn, June 25, 1876 told & illustrated by Paul Goble; foreword by Joe Medicine Crow

Ted Williams, record-setting hitter

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No Easy Way: The Story of Ted Williams and the Last .400 Season by Fred Bowen; illustrations by Charles S. Pyle
Ted Williams hit .406 for the season in 1941–a feat not matched since. In this inspirational picture book, authentic sports writing and rich, classic illustrations bring to life the truly spectacular story of the Red Sox legend, whose hard work and perseverance make him the perfect role model for baseball enthusiasts of all ages.

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Ted & Me: A Baseball Card Adventure by Dan Gutman
When Stosh travels back in time to 1941 in hopes of preventing the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor that brought the United States into World War II, he meets Ted Williams, one of the greatest hitters in baseball history. Includes notes about Williams‘ life and career.

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There Goes Ted Williams: The Greatest Hitter Who Ever Lived by Matt Tavares
Ted Williams, the legendary Red Sox slugger, lived a life full of dedication and passion. From his days as a young kid playing ball in North Park to his unmatched .406 season in 1941 to his stints as a fighter pilot in World War II and Korea, the story of Teddy Ballgame is the story of an American hero.”–P. 2 of cover.

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The Unforgettable Season: The Story of Joe DiMaggio, Ted Williams, and the Record-Setting Summer of ’41 by Phil Bildner; illustrated by S. D. Schindler
Tells the story of baseball greatest heroes Joe DiMaggio and Ted Williams and how during the summer of 1941 they each set records that still stand.

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Faster, Higher, Smarter: Bright Ideas that Transformed Sports by Simon Shapiro
Ted Williams and the art of swing speed” is just one of the topics in a book that also covers pole vaulting, cycling, and bungy jumping.