It is quite rare to see a disease like cystic fibrosis depicted in an historical fiction novel, let alone historical fiction that takes place during the middle ages! In Breath (Atheneum, November 2003), creative storyteller Donna Jo Napoli retells the story of the Pied Piper of Hamelin with a twelve-year-old boy that has cystic fibrosis

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The Mona Lisa Vanishes by Nicholas Day (Random House, September 2023) is a nonfiction middle grade story about the famous Mona Lisa. With alternating chapters telling the stories of the painting’s creation and its 1911 theft, The Mona Lisa Vanishes manages to capture the attention of a young reader with a friendly and humorous tone,

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I love the unique style of Tomie dePaola, and I was so sad to hear that this iconic children’s illustrator passed away this year. I read Patrick: Patron Saint of Ireland by Tomie dePaola (Holiday House, 1992) two years when my daughter and I were learning Medieval history. In this biographic picture book, dePaola writes

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Trapped Behind Nazi Lines by Eric Brown is a middle grade nonfiction book about a company of medics and nurses that, while flying to Italy during World War II, got lost in the clouds and ended up crash landing in Nazi-occupied Albania. The story tells how upon crash landing their airplane, they were able to

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I am not an expert in battle history or even early modern world history. That said, I’ve always been fascinated by Waterloo due to its appearance in many familiar novels that I’ve enjoyed such as Les Miserables and Vanity Fair. Waterloo seems to have been a defining moment in European history, and Waterloo by Alan Forrest does

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Letters from Rifka by Karen Hesse (1991) is a coming-of-age story, this time dealing with a 12-year-old Russian immigrant traveling alone. But Rifka is not an ordinary traveler. She expects to do “everything” once she reaches America, but first, she has to get there. When sickness keeps her behind, she learns to survive on her

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My grandfather was born in Hreljin in 1923, when it was Yugoslavia and in what is now Croatia. When I heard about Yugoslavian Ivo Andric’s 1945 novel The Bridge on the Drina, I had hoped for a glimpse of what life was like in my ancestor’s homeland during a tumultuous time. Although my grandfather’s home

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Heart of Darkness (1902) by Joseph Conrad is considered by many to be one of the best novels written in the English language, a fact made all the more remarkable to me by the fact that Joseph Conrad wrote in not his first or second language but his third language, a language he learned after

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