Tag Archives: historical fiction

The Matchbox Diary

By Paul Fleischman

Illustrated by Bagram Ibatoulline

Published by Candlewick Press, 2013

A little girl is visiting her great-grandfather and he tells her to choose something from his room and he will tell her about it.  She chooses a cigar box filled with little matchboxes.  In each box is a small object, and tells a story about her great-grandfather as a young boy, illiterate, but wanting to remember his life in Italy, his journey to America, and the hard road his family took to get to where they are now.  

A great history book to accompany discussion about immigration into the United States and the realities of the difficult lives that immigrants experienced.

Awards: A Junior Library Guild Selection, Amazon Best Book

Accessed: Augusta County Library

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Song of the Swallows

By Leo Politi

Published by Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 1948

A young boy named Juan and his old friend Julian watch the swallows as they make their homes in the mission where Julian works.  Julian motivates Juan to make his own little garden in order to attract the cheerful families of migratory birds.  The birds fly south for the winter, but when they return, Juan is overjoyed to find that a pair of swallows has taken up residence at his new garden.  

The story takes place in a southern California mission village, harkening to the initial colonization of the Americas by missionaries. Great for American history courses and young children.

Awards: The Caldecott Medal

Accessed: Augusta County Library

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The Steadfast Tin Soldier

By Hans Christian Anderson

Illustrated by Fred Marcellino

Published by Harper Collins 1992

A little boy, probably at the turn of the Century, receives a box of tin soldiers for Christmas.  One of those soldiers only had one leg.  This tin soldier falls in love with a paper ballerina, who looked like she also always stood on one foot.  The tin soldier is neglected and uncared for, and as a result, goes on a harrowing journey out the window, through the sewer, into a fish, and into the kitchen.  The tin soldier is then thrown into the fire, and simultaneously, a draft blows the paper ballerina into the fire with him.  Together at last, the soldier melts and the ballerina burns, until all there is left is a heart-shaped lump of tin and a jewel from the dancer’s sash.

This book is a good seasonal book for Christmas as well as applicable for elementary aged kids.  Older kids in world history could also use the book to establish the manner of dress and behavior from a society outside their own.

Awards: Books for Youth Editor’s Choice

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