Michelle Isenhoff

middle grade historical fiction

The Secret School, by Avi, 2001, Book Review

Avi is one of my favorite children’s authors. This isn’t one of his more celebrated works, but it’s still a cute read, well-written, and it illustrates the difficult life of farmers in Colorado in the 1920’s. Most especially, it highlights the one room schoolhouse. Ida Bidson is in eighth grade. Next year she’s looking forward […]

Out of the Dust, by Karen Hesse, 1997, Book Review

I’ve been slowly picking away at the list of Newbery winners. The medal is a sign of skill and quality, the best book of the year, and usually I enjoy them. But not always. I didn’t care for Out of the Dust simply because it doesn’t follow a traditional story format; it’s a collection of […]

A Single Shard, by Linda Sue Park, 2001, Book Review

I had the vague feeling that I read this book before. I remembered bits and pieces, and some settings I recalled quite strongly. The characters were sort of like those familiar faces you run into now and then and know you should place them but they elude you till you stop and ask. I guess […]

The Impossible Journey, by Gloria Whelan, 2003

“Comrade Sergei Kirov was killed on the first day of December. That same night my parents disappeared.” It is 1934 and Kirov was the man competing with Joseph Stalin for control of Russia’s Communist Party. Stalin wanted no competition. So Kirov was conveniently assassinated, and in the name of justice hundreds, perhaps thousands of arrests […]

The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas, by John Boyne, 2006, Book Review

This is a startling look at the holocaust through the eyes of a nine-year-old German boy. Bruno is the son of a Nazi Commandant. As a result of a promotion, Bruno and his whole family leave their lovely home in Berlin and follow Father to his new assignment—head of Auschwitz concentration camp. Bruno can see […]

Beneath the Slashings Blog Tour

To celebrate the August 2012 release of my middle grade novel, Beneath the Slashings, I put together a pretty awesome blog tour. Now that it’s over, I reshuffled this post a bit. I’ve condensed all the links into a single, cohesive list below, just in case you missed any. If you’re unfamiliar with the book or the Divided Decade […]

Number the Stars, by Lois Lowry, 1989

Annemarie lives in Copenhagen, Denmark. It is 1943. Her best friend, Ellen Rosen, is Jewish. This is a beautifully told story appropriate for fourth graders. It is sweet in it’s own way, and pulse-poundingly adventurous, though not in a way I’d ever want to experience for myself. It is a deadly serious look at how […]

The Mighty Miss Malone, by Christopher Paul Curtis, 2012, Book Review

I loved this one! The Mighty Miss Malone has everything in it that I appreciate about children’s literature: style, humor, beauty, depth—even history! I have absolutely no complaints about the story. It does have some incorrect grammar and spellings, but that’s because it’s written from the firsthand perspective of twelve-year-old Deza Malone. I don’t like such […]

Keeper of the Grail (The Youngest Templar series), by Michael P. Spradlin, 2008, Book Review

In Keeper of the Grail, Michigan native (yay!) Michael P. Spradlin offers the first installment of what promises to be a fabulous trilogy. I love epic stories, and the Middle Ages is one of my favorite periods of history. Throw in a little mystery, a hint of Robin Hood, a knight and a Crusade and […]

Sea Cutter (Chronicles of Nathaniel Childe, Book One), by Timothy Davis, 2011, Book Review

  “He’s not dead!” “Please Nathaniel. It’s been two years. He’s not coming back,” my mother begged. “How can you give up on him?” I yelled. Nat’s heart tells him his father survived the shipwreck. But where is he? Why has he left Nat and his mother to a pauper’s existence in New Bedford? Then […]

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