Michelle Isenhoff


Middle grade historical fiction designed for classroom use.

Series librarian-nominated for the 2012 Great Michigan Read.
Recipient of two Reader’s Choice 5-Star Seals of Approval.

Three heroines, three locations, three perspectives of the American Civil War.

Grades 5-8

As a teacher, I wrote the Divided Decade series with the classroom in mind. This collection spans the American Civil War and travels from city, to farm, to wilderness, showing the conflict from several angles. Likened to the rich literary style of Ann Rinaldi but with its own twist of adventure, each book wraps American history in an exciting, kid-pleasing package. The three stories are loosely related, so they can be read in sequence or used as stand-alones.

Here’s a quick overview to acquaint you with the series. For Lexile scores and vendor links, visit the series landing page.

Detroit, 1858

Runaways hidden in the barn, slave-catchers lodged in the hotel, and Emily caught in the middle.

After a tantrum, Emily Preston’s parents ship her from her plantation home to an inn-keeping uncle in Detroit. There she meets Malachi, son of freed slaves, who challenges many ideas she grew up believing. But when Emily stumbles upon two runaways hidden in her uncle’s barn, she finds that old ways die hard. And Mr. Burrows, the charming Southern slave catcher, is only yards away, lodged in the hotel.

Wayland, Michigan, 1862

Will war provide an opportunity for Hannah to finally escape the family farm?

Hannah craves excitement, but all local adventures dried up long ago, after her parents unpacked their wagon on the Michigan frontier. When war breaks out and her father and brother leave to fight the Confederacy, Hannah is left at home chafing under the boredom of never-ending chores–until the farm is threatened. The one place she longs to leave becomes the one place she’ll do anything to save

Michigan Wilderness, 1865

Following her father to a lumber camp was NOT how Grace imagined the end of the war.

Grace Nickerson’s life has been shattered by four years of war. She’s desperate to return to a sense of normalcy, but soon after her father returns, he sells the farm and drags the family to a lumber camp in Michigan’s northern wilderness. Living among the rough loggers is frightening enough, then a series of accidents prove intentional. Who is sabotaging the camp, and why? Will the winter in the woods bring the healing Grace’s family needs? Or will it drive a wedge between Grace and her father?

Classroom Resources

Here’s a little help for teachers to get the most mileage out of the novels. My Classroom Resources booklets have been designed around the Michigan Department of Education Grade Level Content Expectations for grades 5–8. Each contains a list of high-level study questions, organized by chapter, to aid in the mastery of these skills. Paperbacks are printed with handy 8.5 x 11 reproducible pages, and reproduction rights are granted to purchaser for use within the classroom.

The Candle Star

Blood of Pioneers

Beneath the Slashings

Each Classroom Resources booklet is available in paperback on Amazon for 9.99, but as teachers and homeschoolers, you may receive complimentary PDFs delivered directly to your inbox. I’ll also send along three free lesson plans for use with The Candle Star. These include a pre-reading anticipatory set, an exploration of two Henry Longfellow poems, and a map study that uses a primary resource to trace Emily’s route in The Candle Star. A thirty dollar value—free! Thank you for using the Divided Decade collection in your classroom!

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