Historical Novels for Children: The Twenty-First Century

These novels explore events from a more modern time, from the year 2000 to today. They are important for understanding the perspectives of people who live far different lives from our own, even if they're in our own communities.

These novels explore events from a more modern time, from the year 2000 to today. They are important for understanding the perspectives of people who live far different lives from our own, even if they're in our own communities.

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Most Beautiful: A 9/11 Novel

Author: Burrows, Jennifer S.

Subjects: American History; 9/11; Growing Up

Age: 10, 11, 12

Grade: 5, 6, 7

ISBN: 978-0-89824-376-5

Order code: 3765

Price: $14.99
Website price: $10.00

Most Beautiful: A 9/11 Novel Cover

It is the summer of 2001. Ali Miller’s given name is Alikah, which means “most beautiful.” She hates her name because she feels that she is not beautiful at all. When she and her family move away from New York City, not only does Ali have to leave behind her best friend, but she also has to adjust to an unfamiliar life in the country—and no one seems to care.

The novel is told in the recognizable voice of an eleven-year-old, full of negative thoughts about moving to the country away from her friends, fearful about starting at a new school, beset with feelings of insecurity about her looks, and continually irritated by her younger siblings.

Ali starts school on September 5 and thinks that her teacher is tough, but she likes her. She has to start a journal at home and decides to write fake journal entries to try to catch her mom reading her journal. The first one doesn’t work, but Ali is sure that the second one will make her mother freak out.

On September 11, Ali’s mom shows up at school. Ali thinks that she must be in trouble because of her fake journal entry, but she soon finds out that two planes crashed into the Twin Towers in New York City, and she, like most people upon hearing the news, is devastated. Her father would have been working there if they had not moved away. After September 11, it is not only Ali who changes; her parents pay her more attention and focus on what really matters. Ali decides to stop feeling sorry for herself and to reinvent herself into someone who has changed on the inside, where true beauty resides.

The book captures in a sensitive, gentle, nonthreatening way the essence of the feelings that Americans shared after 9/11.

Jennifer S. Burrows is a former teacher with a bachelor’s degree from Liberty University, Lynchburg, Virginia, and a master’s degree in education from State University of New York in Brockport. Although she has written several books for children, this was her first middle-grade novel. Burrows was born and raised in western New York, and she now lives in the Rochester area. She is a member of the September 11th Education Trust, an organization that is striving to bring curriculum concerning September 11th into classrooms in New York state.

She says: “I developed the idea for this book as I watched the details of 9/11 unfold on TV. My own children were too young to understand what was happening at the time, and I felt that it was important to share the details with children in a way that wouldn’t be terrifying, gruesome, or political. This book is my way of doing that. I also wanted to capture the inner beauty I saw in people following these events. Inner beauty is a topic that I feel strongly about and would like to instill in children.”

Review:
"Most Beautiful is wonderful book, with a coming of age tone that draws readers to its sense of beauty within the struggle. Jennifer Burrows weaves hope throughout the story, helping her readers to see that indeed life can come from ashes." – Lacy Finn Borgo, author

It is the summer of 2001. Ali Miller’s given name is Alikah, which means “most beautiful.” She hates her name because she feels that she is not beautiful at all. When she and her family move away from New York City, not only does Ali have to leave behind her best friend, but she also has to adjust to an unfamiliar life in the country—and no one seems to care.

The novel is told in the recognizable voice of an eleven-year-old, full of negative thoughts about moving to the country away from her friends, fearful about starting at a new school, beset with feelings of insecurity about her looks, and continually irritated by her younger siblings.

Ali starts school on September 5 and thinks that her teacher is tough, but she likes her. She has to start a journal at home and decides to write fake journal entries to try to catch her mom reading her journal. The first one doesn’t work, but Ali is sure that the second one will make her mother freak out.

On September 11, Ali’s mom shows up at school. Ali thinks that she must be in trouble because of her fake journal entry, but she soon finds out that two planes crashed into the Twin Towers in New York City, and she, like most people upon hearing the news, is devastated. Her father would have been working there if they had not moved away. After September 11, it is not only Ali who changes; her parents pay her more attention and focus on what really matters. Ali decides to stop feeling sorry for herself and to reinvent herself into someone who has changed on the inside, where true beauty resides.

The book captures in a sensitive, gentle, nonthreatening way the essence of the feelings that Americans shared after 9/11.

Jennifer S. Burrows is a former teacher with a bachelor’s degree from Liberty University, Lynchburg, Virginia, and a master’s degree in education from State University of New York in Brockport. Although she has written several books for children, this was her first middle-grade novel. Burrows was born and raised in western New York, and she now lives in the Rochester area. She is a member of the September 11th Education Trust, an organization that is striving to bring curriculum concerning September 11th into classrooms in New York state.

She says: “I developed the idea for this book as I watched the details of 9/11 unfold on TV. My own children were too young to understand what was happening at the time, and I felt that it was important to share the details with children in a way that wouldn’t be terrifying, gruesome, or political. This book is my way of doing that. I also wanted to capture the inner beauty I saw in people following these events. Inner beauty is a topic that I feel strongly about and would like to instill in children.”

Review:
"Most Beautiful is wonderful book, with a coming of age tone that draws readers to its sense of beauty within the struggle. Jennifer Burrows weaves hope throughout the story, helping her readers to see that indeed life can come from ashes." – Lacy Finn Borgo, author

Most Beautiful: A 9/11 Novel Cover

Most Beautiful Sample Pages:

The Hot Hurry of Mercurial Fleeting

Author: Loe, Steve

Subjects: Family Relationships; Anger Management; Social Relationships; Growing Up

Age: 11, 12, 13, 14, 15

Grade: 6, 7, 8, 9, 10

ISBN: 978-0-88092-433-7

Order code: 4337

Price: $14.99
Website price: $10.00

Also an iBook from iTunes

Class sets: 10 or more: $7.00 each.
Order code: 4337S

The Hot Hurry of Mercurial Fleeting Cover

Mercurial Fleeting and her mother are on the run again—once more trying to escape a painful part of their past. Of course, another move means a new school, which does not help Mercurial’s anger issues. She can lose control in ways no one forgets. But this latest move lands her in a tiny apartment within a self-storage complex and in a school where the kids seem unusually welcoming. Mercurial meets some cool new friends and builds relationships with a strange set of special clients at the self-storage complex.

However, Mercurial tries too hard to create a permanent place for herself in the world and oversteps the line at her new school. She’s attacked on the soccer field, ends up on crutches, and faces threats of worse to come. Soon these threats extend to the special clients at the self-storage complex, and Mercurial must make a life-changing decision either to skip town or to stay.

Coping with it all has Mercurial frequently in trouble. Her anger issues are monumental, and her lies have a habit of catching up with her. But to the surprise of everyone, she finds stability and friendships among a wonderful array of characters who need her help.

Author Steve Loe says that one of his aims in writing the novel was “to show that no matter how ugly life can get, keep hoping—if you persist, things will get better. And families come in all shapes and sizes and are the ultimate teams that support individual progress.”  He is also the author of The Glimpsing Book.

Mercurial Fleeting and her mother are on the run again—once more trying to escape a painful part of their past. Of course, another move means a new school, which does not help Mercurial’s anger issues. She can lose control in ways no one forgets. But this latest move lands her in a tiny apartment within a self-storage complex and in a school where the kids seem unusually welcoming. Mercurial meets some cool new friends and builds relationships with a strange set of special clients at the self-storage complex.

However, Mercurial tries too hard to create a permanent place for herself in the world and oversteps the line at her new school. She’s attacked on the soccer field, ends up on crutches, and faces threats of worse to come. Soon these threats extend to the special clients at the self-storage complex, and Mercurial must make a life-changing decision either to skip town or to stay.

Coping with it all has Mercurial frequently in trouble. Her anger issues are monumental, and her lies have a habit of catching up with her. But to the surprise of everyone, she finds stability and friendships among a wonderful array of characters who need her help.

Author Steve Loe says that one of his aims in writing the novel was “to show that no matter how ugly life can get, keep hoping—if you persist, things will get better. And families come in all shapes and sizes and are the ultimate teams that support individual progress.”  He is also the author of The Glimpsing Book.

The Hot Hurry of Mercurial Fleeting Cover

The Hot Hurry of Mecurial Fleeting sample pages:

The Glimpsing Book

Author: Loe, Steve

Subjects: Fantasy; Imagination

Age: 11, 12, 13, 14, 15

Grade: 6, 7, 8, 9, 10

ISBN: 978-0-88092-594-5

Order code: 5945

Price: $14.99
Website price: $10.00

Class sets: 10 or more: $7.00 each.
Order code: 5945S

The Glimpsing Book Cover

"This is a terrifically entertaining read from start to finish and highly recommended for school and community library fantasy fiction collections." – Midwest Book Review

"...imagination, fantasy, and uniquely interwoven plots keep the reader turning pages..." – KNEA Reading Circle

The Glimpsing Book celebrates reading, imagination, and the human potential for good. Read it if you’re a kid; read it to your kids if you’re an adult, and believe in the impossible maybe.” – Lois Ruby, children’s and young adult author

"The book is so structured that readers will find the journey throughout the various plots so compelling they simply will not put the book down." – Dr. John H. Bushman, author, educator, and director of The Writing Conference, Inc.

Steve Loe’s first novel highlights the power of imagination in young people. A strange new librarian and a cryptic book collide in the lives of two pre-teens as they embark on a journey far beyond the back of the library. TP Burton and Henrietta Harper discover that reading, like life, is not a spectator sport, and the power of a great story has the magic to make the seemingly impossible possible.

On the other hand, Sebastian Wey believes only in logical explanations. When he uncovers several historical photographs that hold clues to the mysterious book, his reasonable world smashes directly into Henrietta, a reclusive twelve-year-old mourning the premature death of her mother. Henrietta deals with her loss by hiding in the back of the library, where the pain of reality melts away as she loses herself in the fascinating realm of fantasy novels.

With the power of a megaton magnet, the baffling text draws the two strangers together, challenging Sebastian’s logical mind as they begin to understand that the mystical manuscript changes each time it is read. Eventually they grasp that the book’s living storyline offers each reader glimpses into his or her future.

Author Steve Loe says of his intentions for The Glimpsing Book:It is my hope that because of the differences among the three main characters—a lonely girl who loves to read, a strong-willed graffiti artist, and an analytical boy who can solve any puzzle—anyone with a love of magic and mystery will enjoy reading The Glimpsing Book.  He is also the author of The Hot Hurry of Mecurial Fleeting.

"This is a terrifically entertaining read from start to finish and highly recommended for school and community library fantasy fiction collections." – Midwest Book Review

"...imagination, fantasy, and uniquely interwoven plots keep the reader turning pages..." – KNEA Reading Circle

The Glimpsing Book celebrates reading, imagination, and the human potential for good. Read it if you’re a kid; read it to your kids if you’re an adult, and believe in the impossible maybe.” – Lois Ruby, children’s and young adult author

"The book is so structured that readers will find the journey throughout the various plots so compelling they simply will not put the book down." – Dr. John H. Bushman, author, educator, and director of The Writing Conference, Inc.

Steve Loe’s first novel highlights the power of imagination in young people. A strange new librarian and a cryptic book collide in the lives of two pre-teens as they embark on a journey far beyond the back of the library. TP Burton and Henrietta Harper discover that reading, like life, is not a spectator sport, and the power of a great story has the magic to make the seemingly impossible possible.

On the other hand, Sebastian Wey believes only in logical explanations. When he uncovers several historical photographs that hold clues to the mysterious book, his reasonable world smashes directly into Henrietta, a reclusive twelve-year-old mourning the premature death of her mother. Henrietta deals with her loss by hiding in the back of the library, where the pain of reality melts away as she loses herself in the fascinating realm of fantasy novels.

With the power of a megaton magnet, the baffling text draws the two strangers together, challenging Sebastian’s logical mind as they begin to understand that the mystical manuscript changes each time it is read. Eventually they grasp that the book’s living storyline offers each reader glimpses into his or her future.

Author Steve Loe says of his intentions for The Glimpsing Book:It is my hope that because of the differences among the three main characters—a lonely girl who loves to read, a strong-willed graffiti artist, and an analytical boy who can solve any puzzle—anyone with a love of magic and mystery will enjoy reading The Glimpsing Book.  He is also the author of The Hot Hurry of Mecurial Fleeting.

The Glimpsing Book Cover

The Glimpsing Book sample pages:

Old Bones

Author: Helmuth, Willard

Subjects: Grandparents; Growing Up/Boys

Age: 10, 11, 12, 13, 14

Grade: 5, 6, 7, 8, 9

ISBN: 78-0-88092-495-5

Order code: 4955

Price: $14.99
Website price: $10.00

Old Bones Cover

Old Bones is Jeremy Arkwell’s new step-grandfather, and he's an embarrassment to say the least! Coping with him is more than Jeremy bargained for. But it turns out that Old Bones is something of a mechanic, and he's able to turn a pile of junk into a homemade ATV. Besides that, he's not beyond an adventure or two when he and Jeremy can get out of the sight of responsible adults. Plus, there's an intriguing mystery about the old man. Living in the country might not turn out so badly after all.

Author Willard Helmuth, M.D., is a pediatrician and the medical director of the Union County (North Carolina) Health Department, where he is in charge of the programs for immunizations and infectious diseases. He also has a high-risk pediatric clinic there for economically deprived children. He writes: "All of my previous books were about children with disabilities, and although they were works of fiction, they were based on children that I took care of in my practice of pediatrics and neonatology. I took a different approach with Old Bones. My father-in-law lived with us for a few years before his death. He had significant neurological problems, so his care was not easy. However, there were also times of great joy, and it gave me insight into what he was going through. He maintained a sense of humor and called himself Old Bones—hence the title of the book. It was also interesting to see how children interacted with him, and that gave me the inspiration for the book."

Dr. Helmuth is also the author of Climbing up to the Tree House, published by Royal Fireworks Press.

According to one reader:

"I really enjoyed Old Bones because it was refreshing to have a main character who wasn't at all perfect, having struggles to overcome his own feelings. It was filled with sayings that really pull you into laughing along with the characters." – Morgan, age 11

Old Bones is Jeremy Arkwell’s new step-grandfather, and he's an embarrassment to say the least! Coping with him is more than Jeremy bargained for. But it turns out that Old Bones is something of a mechanic, and he's able to turn a pile of junk into a homemade ATV. Besides that, he's not beyond an adventure or two when he and Jeremy can get out of the sight of responsible adults. Plus, there's an intriguing mystery about the old man. Living in the country might not turn out so badly after all.

Author Willard Helmuth, M.D., is a pediatrician and the medical director of the Union County (North Carolina) Health Department, where he is in charge of the programs for immunizations and infectious diseases. He also has a high-risk pediatric clinic there for economically deprived children. He writes: "All of my previous books were about children with disabilities, and although they were works of fiction, they were based on children that I took care of in my practice of pediatrics and neonatology. I took a different approach with Old Bones. My father-in-law lived with us for a few years before his death. He had significant neurological problems, so his care was not easy. However, there were also times of great joy, and it gave me insight into what he was going through. He maintained a sense of humor and called himself Old Bones—hence the title of the book. It was also interesting to see how children interacted with him, and that gave me the inspiration for the book."

Dr. Helmuth is also the author of Climbing up to the Tree House, published by Royal Fireworks Press.

According to one reader:

"I really enjoyed Old Bones because it was refreshing to have a main character who wasn't at all perfect, having struggles to overcome his own feelings. It was filled with sayings that really pull you into laughing along with the characters." – Morgan, age 11

Old Bones Cover

Old Bones sample pages:

The Horse Lady

Author: Culverwell, C. Ellen

Subjects: Horses; Growing Up

Age: 11, 12, 13, 14

Grade: 5, 6, 7, 8

ISBN: 978-0880927239

Order code: 7239

Price: $14.99
Website price: $10.00

Class sets: 10 or more: $7.00 each.
Order code: 7239S

The Horse Lady Cover

Maggie Forrester, who has gone to Vermont to live with her grandfather after her parents' death, has to adjust to a new life. It's not long before she begins hearing rumors that a neighbor, known as The Horse Lady, is weird. Naturally she cannot resist finding out for herself. But when Maggie finally meets The Horse Lady, she encounters a kind woman who looks after horses taken from people who abused or neglected them. Maggie soon finds herself welcomed into a richly rewarding world of caring for the horses—a world that is unexpectedly threatened.

This is a vivid and moving novel about horses; it is also an enlightening story about the complexity and value of human relationships and about a girl growing up with different generations. 

C. Ellen Culverwell lives on a farm not unlike The Horse Lady's farm. Her daughter Hayley lives on an adjoining farm, and together, much like the Claire and Maggie characters of the novel, they have rescued and rehabilitated horses. In her youth, Ellen was a competition rider but now is content to train her daughter in hunter/jumpers. Like the character of Maggie, her daughter Hayley lost her father when she was young, and mother and daughter used the horses to bond and to fill a void in their lives. 

Reviews:

"C. Ellen Culverwell's The Horse Lady is a touching story about loss and the power of 'family' to transcend tragedy through love. Horse aficionados of all ages will appreciate Culverwell's ability to model horse care, handling, and what true horsemanship entails through the characters in her story. The Horse Lady is full of life lessons and rich thematic content that makes it ideal for the educational setting as well. As both a horse breeder and teacher, Culverwell crafts a story that is rich in detail, with surprises at every bend which will keep the reader turning the pages until the very end." – Erika Stormer, reading teacher and Morgan horse breeder

"Countless times I have seen the aftermath of what death, divorce, and custody hearings can do to both children and adults. I appreciate the way those situations are handled in Ms. Culverwell’s novels. The characters deal with them in a direct and positive manner. If there is one message I take from her work it is that family are the people who love you, not necessarily the ones you are related to." – Deborah A. Montesanti, former deputy sheriff serving also in community outreach programs

Maggie Forrester, who has gone to Vermont to live with her grandfather after her parents' death, has to adjust to a new life. It's not long before she begins hearing rumors that a neighbor, known as The Horse Lady, is weird. Naturally she cannot resist finding out for herself. But when Maggie finally meets The Horse Lady, she encounters a kind woman who looks after horses taken from people who abused or neglected them. Maggie soon finds herself welcomed into a richly rewarding world of caring for the horses—a world that is unexpectedly threatened.

This is a vivid and moving novel about horses; it is also an enlightening story about the complexity and value of human relationships and about a girl growing up with different generations. 

C. Ellen Culverwell lives on a farm not unlike The Horse Lady's farm. Her daughter Hayley lives on an adjoining farm, and together, much like the Claire and Maggie characters of the novel, they have rescued and rehabilitated horses. In her youth, Ellen was a competition rider but now is content to train her daughter in hunter/jumpers. Like the character of Maggie, her daughter Hayley lost her father when she was young, and mother and daughter used the horses to bond and to fill a void in their lives. 

Reviews:

"C. Ellen Culverwell's The Horse Lady is a touching story about loss and the power of 'family' to transcend tragedy through love. Horse aficionados of all ages will appreciate Culverwell's ability to model horse care, handling, and what true horsemanship entails through the characters in her story. The Horse Lady is full of life lessons and rich thematic content that makes it ideal for the educational setting as well. As both a horse breeder and teacher, Culverwell crafts a story that is rich in detail, with surprises at every bend which will keep the reader turning the pages until the very end." – Erika Stormer, reading teacher and Morgan horse breeder

"Countless times I have seen the aftermath of what death, divorce, and custody hearings can do to both children and adults. I appreciate the way those situations are handled in Ms. Culverwell’s novels. The characters deal with them in a direct and positive manner. If there is one message I take from her work it is that family are the people who love you, not necessarily the ones you are related to." – Deborah A. Montesanti, former deputy sheriff serving also in community outreach programs

The Horse Lady Cover

The Horse Lady Sample Pages:

Blind Horse Bluff

Author: Culverwell, C. Ellen

Subjects: Horses; Disabilities; Growing Up

Age: 12, 13, 14, 15

Grade: 6, 7, 8, 9

ISBN: 978-0-88092-483-2

Order code: 4832

Price: $14.99
Website price: $10.00

Blind Horse Bluff Cover

“Horses are just like people,” says Claire Westfield, otherwise known as The Horse Lady. Young Maggie Forrester, an orphan who lives with her grandfather, and Claire, whom she helps in her work with abused horses, spend their summer at St. Michael’s, a facility for the blind and handicapped. Here they have to deal with damaged teens as well as horses.

They have students who have a variety of disabilities and who cope in a variety of ways. Most of them appreciate the activity and confidence that riding gives them. The exception is Jeremy, who is blind, privileged, emotionally deprived, resistant, and uncooperative. Claire has the idea that a blind horse could help him, especially if Jeremy is not aware that the horse is blind.

Everyone, including Claire and Maggie, has much to learn in this sequel to Ellen Culverwell’s first novel, The Horse Lady.

C. Ellen Culverwell and her daughter, Hayley, who designs the covers for the books, live on adjoining farms in northern New York. In her youth, Ellen was a competition rider but now is content to train her daughter in hunter/jumpers. Like the character of Maggie, her daughter Hayley lost her father when she was young. Mother and daughter used the rehabilitation of horses to bond and to fill a void in their lives.

Reviews:

"Blind Horse Bluff is a thoughtful, uplifting story, highly recommended for young adults." – Midwest Book Review

"Countless times I have seen the aftermath of what death, divorce, and custody hearings can do to both children and adults. I appreciate the way those situations are handled in Ms. Culverwell’s novels. The characters deal with them in a direct and positive manner. If there is one message I take from her work it is that family are the people who love you, not necessarily the ones you are related to." – Deborah A. Montesanti, former deputy sheriff serving also in community outreach programs

“Horses are just like people,” says Claire Westfield, otherwise known as The Horse Lady. Young Maggie Forrester, an orphan who lives with her grandfather, and Claire, whom she helps in her work with abused horses, spend their summer at St. Michael’s, a facility for the blind and handicapped. Here they have to deal with damaged teens as well as horses.

They have students who have a variety of disabilities and who cope in a variety of ways. Most of them appreciate the activity and confidence that riding gives them. The exception is Jeremy, who is blind, privileged, emotionally deprived, resistant, and uncooperative. Claire has the idea that a blind horse could help him, especially if Jeremy is not aware that the horse is blind.

Everyone, including Claire and Maggie, has much to learn in this sequel to Ellen Culverwell’s first novel, The Horse Lady.

C. Ellen Culverwell and her daughter, Hayley, who designs the covers for the books, live on adjoining farms in northern New York. In her youth, Ellen was a competition rider but now is content to train her daughter in hunter/jumpers. Like the character of Maggie, her daughter Hayley lost her father when she was young. Mother and daughter used the rehabilitation of horses to bond and to fill a void in their lives.

Reviews:

"Blind Horse Bluff is a thoughtful, uplifting story, highly recommended for young adults." – Midwest Book Review

"Countless times I have seen the aftermath of what death, divorce, and custody hearings can do to both children and adults. I appreciate the way those situations are handled in Ms. Culverwell’s novels. The characters deal with them in a direct and positive manner. If there is one message I take from her work it is that family are the people who love you, not necessarily the ones you are related to." – Deborah A. Montesanti, former deputy sheriff serving also in community outreach programs

Blind Horse Bluff Cover

Blind Horse Bluff Sample Pages:

Climbing up to the Tree House

Author: Helmuth, Willard

Subjects: Guidance; Abuse

Age: 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16

Grade: 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10

ISBN: 978-0-89824-566-0

Order code: 5660

Price: $14.99
Website price: $10.00

Climbing up to the Tree House Cover

An important, sensitive, and uncompromising middle school novel about sexual abuse

Climbing up to the Tree House is about two girls: Lily, an American, and Antoinette from Haiti. Though their backgrounds could not be more different, both are victims of sexual abuse. How they become friends, how they are helped to talk about their experiences, and how they start to help others make for an original young adult novel that is uncomfortable but important for its honesty. 

When Lily goes to Haiti with a medical charity, she sees how poverty, deprivation, and tradition affect the lives of children. After hearing Antoinette’s story, Lily is able to confront her own secret and to tell her parents. Back in America, her parents and her church realize what must be done. Doctors, counselors, and special police ensure that Lily’s abuser is confronted and punished. Soon Antoinette is adopted and comes to live near Lily. Supporting each other, they begin to rebuild their lives. Author Dr. Willard Helmuth is uncompromising in the details of the book; through Lily’s voice, he tells the story with compassion and sensitivity.

Willard Helmuth, M.D., is a pediatrician who, with his wife Loretta, has worked in volunteer clinics in Haiti and the Dominican Republic. He is the medical director of the Tree House Children’s Advocacy Center in Monroe, North Carolina, a clinic for the evaluation of sexually or physically abused children. As a medical examiner, he takes part in the medical exams, forensic interviews, psychological evaluation, and counseling for these children. He also works closely with the district attorney and spends time in court as cases are prosecuted. In May 2014, the Tree House Children’s Advocacy Center named its medical room in his honor. He writes, "This story is based on children I have encountered. The story of Lily and Antoinette is a disturbing one, but the sad reality is that many children I have treated have been abused to a far greater extent than you will read about here. This book is dedicated to those children." 

Dr. Helmuth’s is also the author of Old Bones, published by Royal Fireworks Press.

An important, sensitive, and uncompromising middle school novel about sexual abuse

Climbing up to the Tree House is about two girls: Lily, an American, and Antoinette from Haiti. Though their backgrounds could not be more different, both are victims of sexual abuse. How they become friends, how they are helped to talk about their experiences, and how they start to help others make for an original young adult novel that is uncomfortable but important for its honesty.

When Lily goes to Haiti with a medical charity, she sees how poverty, deprivation, and tradition affect the lives of children. After hearing Antoinette’s story, Lily is able to confront her own secret and to tell her parents. Back in America, her parents and her church realize what must be done. Doctors, counselors, and special police ensure that Lily’s abuser is confronted and punished. Soon Antoinette is adopted and comes to live near Lily. Supporting each other, they begin to rebuild their lives. Author Dr. Willard Helmuth is uncompromising in the details of the book; through Lily’s voice, he tells the story with compassion and sensitivity.

Willard Helmuth, M.D., is a pediatrician who, with his wife Loretta, has worked in volunteer clinics in Haiti and the Dominican Republic. He is the medical director of the Tree House Children’s Advocacy Center in Monroe, North Carolina, a clinic for the evaluation of sexually or physically abused children. As a medical examiner, he takes part in the medical exams, forensic interviews, psychological evaluation, and counseling for these children. He also works closely with the district attorney and spends time in court as cases are prosecuted. In May 2014, the Tree House Children’s Advocacy Center named its medical room in his honor. He writes, "This story is based on children I have encountered. The story of Lily and Antoinette is a disturbing one, but the sad reality is that many children I have treated have been abused to a far greater extent than you will read about here. This book is dedicated to those children."

Dr. Helmuth’s is also the author of Old Bones, published by Royal Fireworks Press.

Climbing up to the Tree House Cover

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