History & Historical Fiction
It’s 1938. After the Night of Broken Glass, Oskar’s parents feel they must send him to America, so he can be safe. Traveling all alone, Oskar arrives in New York City on the seventh day of Hanukkah, which also happens to be Christmas Eve. He must walk a long way across the city to reach his Aunt Esther, hoping to reach her house before she lights the menorah at sunset.
Aunt Esther does not know he is coming, so he must navigate the cold streets by himself, over 100 blocks on the big street called Broadway. It is rather daunting for a small boy, but Oskar is comforted by his father’s last words to him: “Oskar, even in bad times, people can be good. You have to look for the blessings.”
In 1914, Constance Kopp and her sisters were in a horse-drawn cart that was hit by an automobile driven by the son of a wealthy factory owner. When he refuses to pay damages, Constance decides to … make him pay. His efforts to get Constance to stand down include harassment, intimidation, and very real threats of violence. But nothing he does will make Constance give up her quest for what she is rightfully owed.
Making bread from flour, yeast, water/milk and whatever else goes into your recipe is one of the most satisfying things a person of any age can learn, and there are so many good lessons for homeschooling, too. There’s measuring, of course, but there are a lot of little things that baking reinforces. Patience: it takes time for a loaf of bread to rise. An eye for detail: how do you know when the bread is mixed enough? When it's done? Sharing: whether you’re sharing an Amish or sourdough starter or a complete loaf of bread, sharing can be the best part of baking.
Even with all those good lessons, author Elizabeth Harbison and illustrator John Harbison go it one better by including a cheerful history of bread making in their book, Loaves of Fun: A History of Bread with Activities and Recipes from Around the World. You’ll learn how people across the world and across time have made their bread. They might use different kinds of flour. They might not even use yeast. But it’s all bread, made to be enjoyed—and shared.
With its simple, glowing pictures by Jill McElmurry reminiscent of folk art, Pat Zietlow Miller’s Sharing the Bread is a rhyming, picture-book distillation of the many good things about a shared Thanksgiving. All the family—aunt, uncle, mother, father, sister, brothers, grandmother, grandfather—help make the feast, and all the family enjoys sharing it.
When Batman was first written, one name was attached to his creation: Bob Kane. Bob's name appeared in every Batman comic, without any other creator noted. However, this is not true. Bill Finger, a Depression-era, New York resident, had a lot to do with it, too. In fact, according to Marc Tyler Nobleman's breakthrough biography Bill the Boy Wonder: The Secret Co-Creator of Batman, Bill was responsible for the majority of the Batman persona we see today.
It's a bird . . . it's a plane . . . it's Siegel and Shuster!
During World War II, victory gardens were important to Americans around the country. The steel and tin industry was working hard on supplying the army with weapons, so there were not enough raw materials to make these and tin cans for vegetables. Trains were being used to carry soldiers instead of civilian food supplies. And, to make matters worse, Japan controlled most of the rubber factories overseas, which meant there was no rubber for new tires on trucks that carried food across the country.
In the 1860s, many people went west after the Civil War, looking for a fresh start and prosperity. Eleven-year-old Jane Deming really wants a new start, too. So, she is excited when a visionary—or is he a con man?—signs up her and her very young widowed stepmother to go on a voyage around South America to Seattle. There, young ladies and Civil War widows with families can marry the many bachelors who have gone on ahead, or in some other way contribute to the new city.
Beautiful, balmy Washington Territory, as described in Mr. Mercer’s “Reflections” pamphlet, is looking for people “with broad minds and sturdy constitutions,” and it sounds like paradise to Jane. A smart and determined girl, she had to give up her schooling to look after her baby brother Jer, while her widowed stepmother worked in a mill. A land full of possibilities sounded perfect to her.
Where has the summer gone? I feel like it has flown by, and I was starting to get a little down about that, but rather than think, “Oh, my gosh, it’s almost August!”, I decided to take a glass-half-full approach and tell myself, “There are still six weeks until Labor Day!” Plenty of time to enjoy all that summer has to offer. Six weeks of summer means plenty of time to still sign up for Summer Reading at the library, earn fun prizes, and become eligible for raffle drawings for other terrific prizes, including tablets, book bundles, and movie passes.
Caroline Herschel had a very hard life early on. Born into a family of royal musicians in what is now Germany, two childhood illnesses left her face pockmarked and her body stunted. Her mother treated her very much as a servant while worrying that no man would ever want to marry her. In the 1700s, this was a real concern, for it was hard for women to make enough money to survive on their own. Caroline's life was pretty miserable as she was expected to do exhausting housework, including knitting stockings for everyone, over and over again.
Fortunately, Caroline’s older brother William wanted to help her. He had moved to England where he was working as a choral conductor and piano teacher. William had the idea that Caroline could learn to sing and be paid for it, and that is exactly what she did. But that is not where her story ends.