The Charmed Children of Rookskill Castle
By Janet Fox
Viking Books, 2016.
Genre: Fantasy and Historical Fiction Pages: 388 Grades: 5/6 and Up
My two favorite genres are historical fiction and fantasy. That’s why I loved this book it takes place during World War II in London. Bombs are beginning to fall and the people of London are sending their kids away to safer places. Katherine, called Kat, her brother Robbie and younger sister Amelie are sent away to an Academy that was set up in Rookskill Castle in Scotland. Their father said it would be a great place for them all during the war.
As they are packing her Aunt gives Cat a chatelaine—which are charms that are strung and are worn around the waist. Each, Cat was told had some magical power. As her aunt tries to explain its powers, Cat dismisses her as a little crazy.
Upon arriving at the old castle they are met by Lady Lenore who is very odd. She lays out the rules and tells the children their lessons will begin the next day. That’s when the book takes a creepy turn. The children are locked in their rooms and when they sneak out they find there are rooms, halls and secret passages everywhere. There are real people who appear like ghosts and there are the weird and crazy noises that come from within the walls.
This story is filled with dark magic, spies and puzzles. The final chapters will keep readers on their edge of their seats for sure!
I only wish the author would have given more history about the war—like what a blitz was, what countries were in the war, how spies were used and how disruptive the war was to families all over the world.
The Bicycle Spy
By Yona Zeldis McDonough
New York: Scholastic, 2016
Historical Fiction 193 pages Grades 5 and Up
This is a great, quick and easy middle grade read! This story takes place during WW II in a small French town called Aucoin, where Marcel and his parents lived and ran a bakery. Marcel loved school and the Tour de France, a famous bike race held every year in Paris. In fact, he would often ride his bike through town dreaming about one day being in that great race. This year, 1943, the race was canceled again due to the war. Although German soldiers occupied much of France Marcel’s little town was more neutral, in fact, some people were part of the French Resistance Movement. But you had to be careful because your friends or neighbors could be Nazi sympathizers. Marcel attended school, rode his bike and often made deliveries for his parent’s bakery. What he didn’t know was that some of his friends and family were in great danger and he might be the only one who could help them! This is a great book for younger middle school students as it will give them a perspective of on World War II that they might not be familiar with. A book of courage and friendship.
Yona Zeldis McDonough Website
By Lauren Wolk
New York: Dutton Children’s Book, 2016.
Pages 291 Grades: 5 and Up Genre: Historical Fiction
This was a fabulous story about eleven-year-old Annabelle whose family are farmers and live out in the country during World War II. Annabelle gets up does her chores, goes to school and comes home and finishes her chores—a rather quiet existence until Betty Glengarry moves in with her grandparents. Betty is like your worst nightmare—a mean, mean bully! The local vagabond, Toby, steps into save Annabelle from Betty and befriends Annabelle. Toby is what we call today homeless veteran of WW I who suffers from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Annabelle’s mom says that he is odd and to keep her distance—even though she herself often sends food to him. A friendship grows between Toby and Annabelle and Betty begins to become more violent and blames the terrible things that are happening on Toby. It is hard for the people of Wolf Hollow to understand what is happening and Annabelle is having difficulty expressing herself and so begins a web of deceit—she begins to lie. Come along on this action packed historical novel as Annabelle tries to find courage to speak up for what is right!
By Kate DiCamillo
Somerville: Candlewick Press, 2016.
Grades 4 and Up 262 Pages
You will not soon forget the three girls in this delightful story of friendship, family troubles and a quest to win the Little Miss Central Florida Tire Competition! Raymie, Louisiana and Beverly meet at their first baton twirling class—where the instructor Miss Ida Nee calls off class because the girls were too dramatic—Ida Nee reminds me of Sue Sylvester in Glee! Raymie tells the story of how her father runs off with a dental hygienist without even saying goodbye to her. She knows in her heart if she would win the competition, become famous her father would surely come back. Louisiana needs to win so that she does not get sent to a foster home and Beverly—she just wants to sabotage the competition. You will laugh and cry as their friendship grows and they slowly begin to have faith in one another and find strength when they begin to share their struggles.
A great story not to be missed!