Historical Novels for Children: The Twentieth Century Before World War II

The novels in this list tell stories that begin at the turn of the twentieth century up through 1939, when the world was rocked for a second time by war.

The novels in this list tell stories that begin at the turn of the twentieth century up through 1939, when the world was rocked for a second time by war.

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Breaker at Dawn

Author: Sullivan, Paul

Subjects: American History; Immigration; Coal Mining; Child Labor

Age: 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18

Grade: 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12

ISBN: 978-0-88092-705-5

Order code: 7055

Price: $14.99
Website price: $10.00

Class sets: 10 or more: $7.00 each.
Order code: 7055S

Breaker at Dawn Cover

This is a novel about the American coal industry in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. It is told from the point of view of Paddy O'Grady, a twelve-year-old boy working in a Pennsylvania mine in the breaker, where boys under the age of fourteen sorted through rapidly-moving streams of coal, picking out rocks and shale from the anthracite that was being conveyed to waiting railcars.

Miners and their families came from all over the world, including Ireland, Scotland, Wales, Germany, Poland, Slovakia, and Italy. The mine owners encouraged ethnic rivalries to keep the workers segregated and relatively powerless, and the mining towns were divided by ethnicity. But the mining families had in common that they were all poor, and Paddy was not unusual in going to work in the breaker at the age of eight. The law said that children under twelve were not allowed to work, but the O’Grady family desperately needed the income Paddy could bring in, and documents could be manufactured as needed.

The boys who survived the twelve-hour days in the breaker could go down into the mines and earn more money when they turned fourteen, but the work was dangerous. Men lost their lives, whether suddenly in events such as cave-ins or slowly as a result of years of breathing in the toxic coal dust. As long as the coal companies could keep the workers fragmented, conditions would never change, but one man was encouraging the various factions to work together, united in purpose if not in language or heritage. Paddy was excited by the prospect of change, and yet he longed to be a miner like his father, for he couldn't imagine any other future. His father, however, could, and in the end, though banding together for the good of all was the right thing in one moment, the O'Grady family still had a hard decision to make on their own.

This is a gripping novel—not just for young people but for readers of all ages who appreciate a masterful story about a time in the not-so-distant past when circumstances were quite different but human grit and resolve were very much the same.

This is a novel about the American coal industry in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. It is told from the point of view of Paddy O'Grady, a twelve-year-old boy working in a Pennsylvania mine in the breaker, where boys under the age of fourteen sorted through rapidly-moving streams of coal, picking out rocks and shale from the anthracite that was being conveyed to waiting railcars.

Miners and their families came from all over the world, including Ireland, Scotland, Wales, Germany, Poland, Slovakia, and Italy. The mine owners encouraged ethnic rivalries to keep the workers segregated and relatively powerless, and the mining towns were divided by ethnicity. But the mining families had in common that they were all poor, and Paddy was not unusual in going to work in the breaker at the age of eight. The law said that children under twelve were not allowed to work, but the O’Grady family desperately needed the income Paddy could bring in, and documents could be manufactured as needed.

The boys who survived the twelve-hour days in the breaker could go down into the mines and earn more money when they turned fourteen, but the work was dangerous. Men lost their lives, whether suddenly in events such as cave-ins or slowly as a result of years of breathing in the toxic coal dust. As long as the coal companies could keep the workers fragmented, conditions would never change, but one man was encouraging the various factions to work together, united in purpose if not in language or heritage. Paddy was excited by the prospect of change, and yet he longed to be a miner like his father, for he couldn't imagine any other future. His father, however, could, and in the end, though banding together for the good of all was the right thing in one moment, the O'Grady family still had a hard decision to make on their own.

This is a gripping novel—not just for young people but for readers of all ages who appreciate a masterful story about a time in the not-so-distant past when circumstances were quite different but human grit and resolve were very much the same.

Breaker at Dawn Cover

Breaker at Dawn Sample Pages:

Journey to a New World

Author: Saturen, Myra

Subjects: American History; Jewish History; Immigration

Age: 10, 11, 12, 13, 14

Grade: 5, 6, 7, 8, 9

ISBN: 978-088092494-8

Order code: 4948

Price: $14.99
Website price: $10.00

Class sets: 10 or more: $7.00 each.
Order code: 4948S

Journey to a New World Cover

Myra Saturen based her novel on the notes that her grandfather, Joseph Hyman, wrote in pencil on little tablets of paper about his family’s immigration to the United States from Russia in the early 1900s.

The novel tells the story of Joseph and Ruth, and also of Nathan and Frieda. In the late nineteenth century, their parents made the difficult decision to leave Russia and come to America to Cincinnati. During the period before the outbreak of World War I, many Jews left their homes in Poland and Russia and migrated to America.

The Goodman family was part of this migration; their adventures are at once unique and compelling and at the same time very like the experiences of millions of other families. More than anything else, the family stuck together, depended upon the children working to make ends meet, and paid a huge price in so many ways for the freedom and prosperity they found in America. Together, the experiences of the Goodman family and so many like them form an essential part of the making of modern America.

Myra Saturen says that on reading her grandfather's notes after he died, she was “overwhelmed by the beauty and humor of the writing. It gave me a real picture of what my grandparent's, and even my great-grandparents', lives were like." She says she wanted to preserve the story of her family for her two children, who are now adults. "The younger generation didn't know them at all," she says. "They weren't around to hear their voices and smell the foods they cooked."

Saturen is the author of Julietta, also published by Royal Fireworks Press. Set in medieval France, it is about a young woman who overcomes prejudice against race and gender to become an herbalist physician.

Myra Saturen based her novel on the notes that her grandfather, Joseph Hyman, wrote in pencil on little tablets of paper about his family’s immigration to the United States from Russia in the early 1900s.

The novel tells the story of Joseph and Ruth, and also of Nathan and Frieda. In the late nineteenth century, their parents made the difficult decision to leave Russia and come to America to Cincinnati. During the period before the outbreak of World War I, many Jews left their homes in Poland and Russia and migrated to America.

The Goodman family was part of this migration; their adventures are at once unique and compelling and at the same time very like the experiences of millions of other families. More than anything else, the family stuck together, depended upon the children working to make ends meet, and paid a huge price in so many ways for the freedom and prosperity they found in America. Together, the experiences of the Goodman family and so many like them form an essential part of the making of modern America.

Myra Saturen says that on reading her grandfather's notes after he died, she was “overwhelmed by the beauty and humor of the writing. It gave me a real picture of what my grandparent's, and even my great-grandparents', lives were like." She says she wanted to preserve the story of her family for her two children, who are now adults. "The younger generation didn't know them at all," she says. "They weren't around to hear their voices and smell the foods they cooked."

Saturen is the author of Julietta, also published by Royal Fireworks Press. Set in medieval France, it is about a young woman who overcomes prejudice against race and gender to become an herbalist physician.

Journey to a New World Cover

Journey to a New World Sample Pages:

The Ghost Memoirs of Robert Falcon Scott

Author: Derby, Ken

Subjects: History; Exploration; Antarctic Expedition; Scott, Robert Falcon

Age: 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18

Grade: 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12

Order code: 5523

Price: $14.99
Website price: $10.00

Class sets: 10 or more: $7.00 each.
Order code: 5523S

The Ghost Memoirs of Robert Falcon Scott Cover

The ghost of Robert Falcon Scott must tell his story before he is allowed to pass into the beyond. He tells it to CyberRat through the internet. His history of his quest for the South Pole is compelling and sheds light on the motivations of all explorers—those individuals who desire to learn about the unknown, no matter what the odds of survival.

Robert Falcon Scott (1868-1912) was a dreamer. As a child, he wanted to join the French Foreign Legion and be an exotic explorer, but as manhood approached, his family cast him into their mold of the Royal British Navy. Wanting to please his father, Robert determined to make the best of the situation and to rise to the top for personal honor and for the salary increase. Family bankruptcy and his father’s death soon put the family’s support squarely on Robert’s shoulders. So he was quick to accept the offer of Sir Clements Markham, president of the Royal Geographic Society, who was organizing and equipping a British Antarctic expedition to the South Pole. As commander of the expedition, Robert’s wages would rise, and his rank would be Captain. Captain Scott’s command would be England’s first purpose-built ship for scientific work, the Discovery.

Through the internet dialogue, readers learn about both of Scott’s expeditions. The first, lasting from 1902 to 1904, failed to reach the South Pole. Conditions were miserable. Early on, Scott had to shoot the sled dogs, but his team survived, and he returned to England to become famous for his trek for as far as it went.

In 1910, determined to win the prize of success for reaching the South Pole for the British Empire before the United States, Germany, France, Japan, and Norway, Scott began his second expedition. It was a disaster from the beginning. The motor-driven sledges broke down 50 miles from base, the cargo ponies that he had chosen instead of dogs were completely wrong for the job and had to be shot, and blizzards wrecked havoc on his timetable. His team arrived at the Pole to find a note from Norway’s Roald Amundsen—who had already been there. On the torturous way back, Scott’s team froze to death in agony. They were within only 55 miles of One Ton Depot and life-saving provisions.

The technique of the ghost purging himself of his story allows all details to be revealed. Scott kept accurate diaries until the last day, and author Ken Derby did thorough research.

The ghost of Robert Falcon Scott must tell his story before he is allowed to pass into the beyond. He tells it to CyberRat through the internet. His history of his quest for the South Pole is compelling and sheds light on the motivations of all explorers—those individuals who desire to learn about the unknown, no matter what the odds of survival.

Robert Falcon Scott (1868-1912) was a dreamer. As a child, he wanted to join the French Foreign Legion and be an exotic explorer, but as manhood approached, his family cast him into their mold of the Royal British Navy. Wanting to please his father, Robert determined to make the best of the situation and to rise to the top for personal honor and for the salary increase. Family bankruptcy and his father’s death soon put the family’s support squarely on Robert’s shoulders. So he was quick to accept the offer of Sir Clements Markham, president of the Royal Geographic Society, who was organizing and equipping a British Antarctic expedition to the South Pole. As commander of the expedition, Robert’s wages would rise, and his rank would be Captain. Captain Scott’s command would be England’s first purpose-built ship for scientific work, the Discovery.

Through the internet dialogue, readers learn about both of Scott’s expeditions. The first, lasting from 1902 to 1904, failed to reach the South Pole. Conditions were miserable. Early on, Scott had to shoot the sled dogs, but his team survived, and he returned to England to become famous for his trek for as far as it went. 

In 1910, determined to win the prize of success for reaching the South Pole for the British Empire before the United States, Germany, France, Japan, and Norway, Scott began his second expedition. It was a disaster from the beginning. The motor-driven sledges broke down 50 miles from base, the cargo ponies that he had chosen instead of dogs were completely wrong for the job and had to be shot, and blizzards wrecked havoc on his timetable. His team arrived at the Pole to find a note from Norway’s Roald Amundsen—who had already been there. On the torturous way back, Scott’s team froze to death in agony. They were within only 55 miles of One Ton Depot and life-saving provisions.

The technique of the ghost purging himself of his story allows all details to be revealed. Scott kept accurate diaries until the last day, and author Ken Derby did thorough research.

The Ghost Memoirs of Robert Falcon Scott Cover

Old Wild Man Terry

Author: Moore, Billy Loran

Subjects: American History; Horses; Native Americans

Age: 10, 11, 12, 13, 14

Grade: 5, 6, 7, 8, 9

ISBN: 978-0-89824-610-0

Order code: 6100

Price: $14.99
Website price: $10.00

Old Wild Man Terry Cover

It's the year 1912, and thirteen-year-old Erin has heard rumors about an old hermit who lives in the desert canyons near her home in southwest Texas, but she thinks they're just stories that adults tell to scare children. But when her family's Missouri Fox Trotter mares escape with a herd of wild mustangs, she discovers that the myth is in fact a reality. In an attempt to recapture their horses, she and her twin brother, along with the son of the ranch hands who take care of their property, are injured, and it is Old Wild Man Terry who saves them. Soon Erin learns that the kind but strange-looking man has a fascinating history that includes being raised as a Black Seminole Indian and protecting settlers along the border between the U.S. and Mexico from raiding Indians and outlaws. And, it turns out, he's got a way with horses.

Billy Moore is also the author of The Runaway Scrape, a historical novel about the Texas Revolution of 1836.

It's the year 1912, and thirteen-year-old Erin has heard rumors about an old hermit who lives in the desert canyons near her home in southwest Texas, but she thinks they're just stories that adults tell to scare children. But when her family's Missouri Fox Trotter mares escape with a herd of wild mustangs, she discovers that the myth is in fact a reality. In an attempt to recapture their horses, she and her twin brother, along with the son of the ranch hands who take care of their property, are injured, and it is Old Wild Man Terry who saves them. Soon Erin learns that the kind but strange-looking man has a fascinating history that includes being raised as a Black Seminole Indian and protecting settlers along the border between the U.S. and Mexico from raiding Indians and outlaws. And, it turns out, he's got a way with horses.

Billy Moore is also the author of The Runaway Scrape, a historical novel about the Texas Revolution of 1836.

Old Wild Man Terry Cover

Old Wild Man Terry Sample Pages:

Liberty Girl

Author: Black, Robert

Subjects: School Experience; American History; World War I; Multicultural Friendship; Growing Up/Girls

Age: 10, 11, 12, 13, 14

Grade: 5, 6, 7, 8, 9

ISBN: 978-0-88092-489-4

Order code: 4894

Price: $14.99
Website price: $10.00

Class sets: 10 or more: $7.00 each.
Order code: 4894S

Liberty Girl Cover

This book is set during the last year of World War I in Baltimore, Maryland. Author Robert Black has created the novel out of his grandmother's memories of growing up in wartime Baltimore, and he paints a visually vibrant canvas of the period. His characters are in believable situations and speak believable dialogue.

Seventh grader Eleanor Blizzard and her mother have moved from their home in Indiana to be with Mr. Blizzard. Her father is doing essential work for the Allies in the Great War against Germany. The family will remain in Baltimore as long as the war lasts.

Not yet enrolled in school and with no one her age around, Eleanor and teenage Maggie, the African-American housekeeper of the building, begin a friendship that transcends the differences in their social and economic positions and their cultures. In an environment of war hysteria, the great influenza pandemic, and the racial divides of 1918 Baltimore, Eleanor attempts to make friends and to do what she knows to be right.

Once in school, Eleanor is singled out as dangerously different and is made the object of bullying. Classmates, led by Boy Scout Billy Blake, believe that she lived in a log cabin in Indiana and that her studying German in school makes her suspect for espionage. Stuck-up Gail Jaspers, whose father is reputed to be a war hero on the Front, doesn't miss an opportunity to belittle Eleanor's father's role in the war, as well as the role of Eleanor's uncle, who is a medic in the field. Sentiment is so against Eleanor that she is asked to leave school for a time for her own safety. Eleanor does not want to return, but Maggie convinces her that the only way to make life better is to go back.

Everyone wants to go to the big war rally at the Fifth Regimental Armory. John Phillip Souza and his band will be there, as will the Vice President of the United States. Billy promises that as ushers, the Boy Scouts can sneak some friends in. Eleanor, as part of the group, does not suspect that Billy has abandoned her to embarrass her. Events lead her to meet the Vice President, and Billy and his ushers get into big trouble on their own.

Before the Great War was really over, an erroneous French report of armistice spread worldwide over the wire services. Historically accurate, Liberty Girl captures the glorious moment and its jubilation that the peace announcement brought. The novel also explores the empty feeling in the hearts and minds of the country as the mistake came to light. An influenza pandemic also involves the characters in varying degrees of difficulty.

Read more about the origins of this story, with photographs of the real Eleanor Blizzard and Maggie, and to see the author's study guide for this book.

Robert Black is also the author of Unswept Graves and The Eyes of the Enemy, published by Royal Fireworks Press.

This book is set during the last year of World War I in Baltimore, Maryland. Author Robert Black has created the novel out of his grandmother's memories of growing up in wartime Baltimore, and he paints a visually vibrant canvas of the period. His characters are in believable situations and speak believable dialogue.

Seventh grader Eleanor Blizzard and her mother have moved from their home in Indiana to be with Mr. Blizzard. Her father is doing essential work for the Allies in the Great War against Germany. The family will remain in Baltimore as long as the war lasts.

Not yet enrolled in school and with no one her age around, Eleanor and teenage Maggie, the African-American housekeeper of the building, begin a friendship that transcends the differences in their social and economic positions and their cultures. In an environment of war hysteria, the great influenza pandemic, and the racial divides of 1918 Baltimore, Eleanor attempts to make friends and to do what she knows to be right.

Once in school, Eleanor is singled out as dangerously different and is made the object of bullying. Classmates, led by Boy Scout Billy Blake, believe that she lived in a log cabin in Indiana and that her studying German in school makes her suspect for espionage. Stuck-up Gail Jaspers, whose father is reputed to be a war hero on the Front, doesn't miss an opportunity to belittle Eleanor's father's role in the war, as well as the role of Eleanor's uncle, who is a medic in the field. Sentiment is so against Eleanor that she is asked to leave school for a time for her own safety. Eleanor does not want to return, but Maggie convinces her that the only way to make life better is to go back.

Everyone wants to go to the big war rally at the Fifth Regimental Armory. John Phillip Souza and his band will be there, as will the Vice President of the United States. Billy promises that as ushers, the Boy Scouts can sneak some friends in. Eleanor, as part of the group, does not suspect that Billy has abandoned her to embarrass her. Events lead her to meet the Vice President, and Billy and his ushers get into big trouble on their own.

Before the Great War was really over, an erroneous French report of armistice spread worldwide over the wire services. Historically accurate, Liberty Girl captures the glorious moment and its jubilation that the peace announcement brought. The novel also explores the empty feeling in the hearts and minds of the country as the mistake came to light. An influenza pandemic also involves the characters in varying degrees of difficulty.

Read more about the origins of this story, with photographs of the real Eleanor Blizzard and Maggie, and to see the author's study guide for this book.

Robert Black is also the author of Unswept Graves and The Eyes of the Enemy, published by Royal Fireworks Press.

Liberty Girl Cover

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Two Worlds

Author: Barron, Marietta

Subjects: Prejudice; Segregation; Mexican-Americans; Multiculturalism; Growing Up

Age: 8, 9, 10, 11

Grade: 3, 4, 5, 6

Order code: 120X

Price: $14.99
Website price: $10.00

Class sets: 10 or more: $7.00 each.
Order code: 120XS

Two Worlds Cover

In the 1920s, America was caught in the winds of full-blown segregation. Two Worlds is the story of a pre-teen Mexican-American boy who challenged the system of school segregation in the mining town where he and his family lived. The story is simply told. It is one of courage, motivation, and self-esteem. The contrasts between the Latino barrio and the white section of town are dramatic and are related with the realism of a young person's viewpoint.

The setting is the barrio. Many people are squeezed together in a tin-shack town where there is work, often dangerous, for a Mexican who is willing to earn wages drastically lower than those of a white person doing the same job. Over the noise of the children and the sounds of the mine machinery, shadows of the Mexican Revolution linger over the heads of families that have relocated to seek peace and a chance to better their lives.

There are no limits to what white bigots will do when a young, intelligent Mexican boy decides, without any legal authority, to take himself into the whites-only school simply because he wants to learn. To eleven-year-old José, the school seems much better equipped than his, even from his youthful vantage-point of evaluating the playground. He decides to remain a quiet figure, to try to blend in because he is an American citizen, to be there just for an education. But José's intelligence works against him, for when he wins the class spelling bee, his cover is blown, and the prejudice of his teacher enflames passions in the town.

José's white classmates' reactions to his presence offer insights into the thoughts and parental influences of children. Ultimately, there is a voice of reason and a happy ending, but not before José runs away from home, experiences life outside of the barrio on his own, and finds himself. He returns home wiser and positive in his outlook. He goes on to win the district spelling bee, and by his example, he opens the town.

In the 1920s, America was caught in the winds of full-blown segregation. Two Worlds is the story of a pre-teen Mexican-American boy who challenged the system of school segregation in the mining town where he and his family lived. The story is simply told. It is one of courage, motivation, and self-esteem. The contrasts between the Latino barrio and the white section of town are dramatic and are related with the realism of a young person's viewpoint.

The setting is the barrio. Many people are squeezed together in a tin-shack town where there is work, often dangerous, for a Mexican who is willing to earn wages drastically lower than those of a white person doing the same job. Over the noise of the children and the sounds of the mine machinery, shadows of the Mexican Revolution linger over the heads of families that have relocated to seek peace and a chance to better their lives.

There are no limits to what white bigots will do when a young, intelligent Mexican boy decides, without any legal authority, to take himself into the whites-only school simply because he wants to learn. To eleven-year-old José, the school seems much better equipped than his, even from his youthful vantage-point of evaluating the playground. He decides to remain a quiet figure, to try to blend in because he is an American citizen, to be there just for an education. But José's intelligence works against him, for when he wins the class spelling bee, his cover is blown, and the prejudice of his teacher enflames passions in the town.

José's white classmates' reactions to his presence offer insights into the thoughts and parental influences of children. Ultimately, there is a voice of reason and a happy ending, but not before José runs away from home, experiences life outside of the barrio on his own, and finds himself. He returns home wiser and positive in his outlook. He goes on to win the district spelling bee, and by his example, he opens the town.

Two Worlds Cover

Oil Field Brats

Author: Esely, Joyce

Subjects: American History; Family Relationships; Oil Fields

Age: 9, 10, 11, 12

Grade: 4, 5, 6, 7

ISBN: 978-0-88092-529-7

Order code: 5297

Price: $14.99
Website price: $10.00

Oil Field Brats Cover

In 1927, the oil field towns of the Texas Panhandle had no roads, houses, or schools. The riggers and their families lived in tent camps in a treeless landscape and had to cope with snakes and mice, the constant smell of oil, the bootleggers and ruffians, dust storms that lasted a week, and mudslides when it rained.

It is in this setting that we find the Petersons. The resourceful Peterson children are "oil field brats" who collect bottles and give rides in mud-sleds to contribute to the family "house fund," which they hope to use to move into a proper house with walls one day. Their papa sinks the money into gushers that don’t gush or that catch fire and take days to extinguish.

Betty Lou once saw a tap dance class, and the height of her ambition is to be in a place where she can learn to dance. That is her dream amidst the dust and danger and the itinerant lifestyle of the oil field pioneers.

By the end of the novel, the father of the Peterson children has taken a job at an oil refinery, the family has moved into a company town, the children have gone from being “brats” to “townies,” and Betty Lou is in a school where tap dancing lessons are part of gym class.  

Joyce Esely has won two Frontiers in Writing awards and a Beaux Arts award. She is also the author of Shining Star, published by Royal Fireworks Press. She is a resident of Fritch, Texas.

In 1927, the oil field towns of the Texas Panhandle had no roads, houses, or schools. The riggers and their families lived in tent camps in a treeless landscape and had to cope with snakes and mice, the constant smell of oil, the bootleggers and ruffians, dust storms that lasted a week, and mudslides when it rained.

It is in this setting that we find the Petersons. The resourceful Peterson children are "oil field brats" who collect bottles and give rides in mud-sleds to contribute to the family "house fund," which they hope to use to move into a proper house with walls one day. Their papa sinks the money into gushers that don’t gush or that catch fire and take days to extinguish.

Betty Lou once saw a tap dance class, and the height of her ambition is to be in a place where she can learn to dance. That is her dream amidst the dust and danger and the itinerant lifestyle of the oil field pioneers.

By the end of the novel, the father of the Peterson children has taken a job at an oil refinery, the family has moved into a company town, the children have gone from being “brats” to “townies,” and Betty Lou is in a school where tap dancing lessons are part of gym class.  

Joyce Esely has won two Frontiers in Writing awards and a Beaux Arts award. She is also the author of Shining Star, published by Royal Fireworks Press. She is a resident of Fritch, Texas.

Oil Field Brats Cover

Oil Field Brats Sample Pages:

Tending Ben's Garden

Author: Cory, Kim Delmar

Subjects: Family Relationships; Great Depression

Age: 9, 10, 11, 12

Grade: 4, 5, 6, 7

ISBN: 978-0-88092-778-9

Order code: 7789

Price: $14.99
Website price: $10.00

Class sets: 10 or more: $7.00 each.
Order code: 7789S

Tending Ben's Garden Cover

Set in Michigan during the Great Depression, this is the story of a sister's fierce love for her little brother. 

Ben is an uncommon child. Kate and Ben's widowed mother believes that the best she can do for him is to turn him over to a children's home. Unable to accept that her baby brother has been adopted by a wealthy family, Kate sets out to bring him back.

Kate faces many of life's harsh realities during the months that Ben is gone. The family farm is about to be lost to the bankers. She is forced to face the truth of her father's death. Riding the rails with hobos, she nearly loses her life. She enlists her brothers to help her tend Ben's garden. The garden offers hope for the family—hope that they will once again be together as a family. 

Kim Delmar Cory is the author of Lilly’s Way and Charlie Boy, also published by Royal Fireworks Press. Her books are meticulously researched historical novels and are frequently used in fourth-grade curricula in the study of Michigan history.

Set in Michigan during the Great Depression, this is the story of a sister's fierce love for her little brother. 

Ben is an uncommon child. Kate and Ben's widowed mother believes that the best she can do for him is to turn him over to a children's home. Unable to accept that her baby brother has been adopted by a wealthy family, Kate sets out to bring him back.

Kate faces many of life's harsh realities during the months that Ben is gone. The family farm is about to be lost to the bankers. She is forced to face the truth of her father's death. Riding the rails with hobos, she nearly loses her life. She enlists her brothers to help her tend Ben's garden. The garden offers hope for the family—hope that they will once again be together as a family. 

Kim Delmar Cory is the author of Lilly’s Way and Charlie Boy, also published by Royal Fireworks Press. Her books are meticulously researched historical novels and are frequently used in fourth-grade curricula in the study of Michigan history.

Tending Ben's Garden Cover

Mosquito Girl

Author: Gwin, Sally

Subjects: American History; Mystery; Newspapers; Growing Up/Girls

Age: 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18

Grade: 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12

Order code: 2672

Price: $14.99
Website price: $10.00

Class sets: 10 or more: $7.00 each.
Order code: 2672S

Mosquito Girl Cover

“This unusual story will capture students’ interest while making a point about working to achieve a goal. Recommended for junior high school students.” – Kliatt Magazine

Fifteen-year-old Kate desperately wants to be a newspaperwoman. Her family had arrived in Alaska six months earlier from Minnesota, along with 150 other families taking advantage of the U.S. government’s offer of land to be turned into farming acreage. It is 1935, just before the first snows fly, and the newly settled colony of Palmer, Alaska, is still part tent, part wooden homes.

Clearing the heavily wooded land and building houses for their families is the men’s first priority. The women cook and sew and clean and tend to the children. But young Kate is of a different mind, and her determination and persistence are finally rewarded with menial jobs in the newspaper office of the town’s only paper. Her continued persistence gets her the chance to be an investigative reporter; her subject will be an old Laplander, Grandma Charles. Grandma’s grandson provides a gentle romantic interest for Kate, and readers learn the area’s history through their eyes.

Editor Hank Sloan is gruff and one-handed, and his past is a mystery. When an accident disables his typing hand, Kate takes over, unasked, to get the news in and the paper out. Caught up in the pressure of producing the paper, she neglects the time and rapidly worsening weather. When she finally does head home, she loses direction and nearly dies in the snow.

Running concurrently with Kate’s adventures as a newspaperwoman is the mystery of the published poison-pen letter that takes a grossly one-sided view of the government’s “abandonment” of the settlers in their winter plight. Kate and her teenage friends know that the letter threatens to influence the government to give up the homesteading project. They take action to unmask the writer and protect their new community.

The homesteaders embody the attitudes, hopes, and fears of Americans in the mid-1930s.

“This unusual story will capture students’ interest while making a point about working to achieve a goal. Recommended for junior high school students.” – Kliatt Magazine

Fifteen-year-old Kate desperately wants to be a newspaperwoman. Her family had arrived in Alaska six months earlier from Minnesota, along with 150 other families taking advantage of the U.S. government’s offer of land to be turned into farming acreage. It is 1935, just before the first snows fly, and the newly settled colony of Palmer, Alaska, is still part tent, part wooden homes.

Clearing the heavily wooded land and building houses for their families is the men’s first priority. The women cook and sew and clean and tend to the children. But young Kate is of a different mind, and her determination and persistence are finally rewarded with menial jobs in the newspaper office of the town’s only paper. Her continued persistence gets her the chance to be an investigative reporter; her subject will be an old Laplander, Grandma Charles. Grandma’s grandson provides a gentle romantic interest for Kate, and readers learn the area’s history through their eyes.

Editor Hank Sloan is gruff and one-handed, and his past is a mystery. When an accident disables his typing hand, Kate takes over, unasked, to get the news in and the paper out. Caught up in the pressure of producing the paper, she neglects the time and rapidly worsening weather. When she finally does head home, she loses direction and nearly dies in the snow.

Running concurrently with Kate’s adventures as a newspaperwoman is the mystery of the published poison-pen letter that takes a grossly one-sided view of the government’s “abandonment” of the settlers in their winter plight. Kate and her teenage friends know that the letter threatens to influence the government to give up the homesteading project. They take action to unmask the writer and protect their new community.

The homesteaders embody the attitudes, hopes, and fears of Americans in the mid-1930s.

Mosquito Girl Cover

The Day Mrs. Roosevelt Came to Town

Author: Buckley, Anne

Subjects: Romance; American History; African-Americans

Age: 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18

Grade: 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12

Order code: 4586

Price: $14.99
Website price: $10.00

Class sets: 10 or more: $7.00 each.
Order code: 4586S

The Day Mrs. Roosevelt Came to Town Cover

The Day Mrs. Roosevelt Came to Town was inspired by an overnight visit that Eleanor and Franklin Roosevelt made to Lancaster, Texas, in 1936, prior to attending the Texas Centennial. The novel, a work of historical fiction, traces the efforts of a young African-American woman, Olive Johnson, as she moves beyond her station of maid and creates a new life for herself.

Olive is empowered by Mrs. Roosevelt’s words and spirit. She learns about Mrs. Roosevelt by reading her work aloud to her employer, Ethel Wilson, whose untimely death sends Olive to the home of Louise and Bill Andrews as a maid. Abusive treatment from Louise prompts Olive to consider other work. The opening of Madam C.J. Walker’s College of Beauty Culture in Dallas, a school for colored cosmetologists, answers her dreams. After working for the Andrews during the day, Olive commutes to school nightly on the electric trolley (the Interurban). Tuition is a strain, but her mother, Bessie Mae, helps her work it out. A young African-American porter, Lewis Bonner, becomes intrigued with Olive and her determination, and he helps her overcome her apprehension about the big city and school. Usually shy, Olive warms to him. Bessie Mae and Pastor Simpson of the Free Will Baptist Church favorably measure Lewis’s character, and with their approval, romance develops.

Louise Andrews, hating to lose a good maid, tries to derail Olive’s education by loading her down with impossible household chores, but Olive perseveres because she needs the money. Olive’s moments of joy and laughter come from third grader Lily, Louise’s daughter, and Lily’s grandmother Ella. They forge a deep and caring relationship. Events take a tragic turn when Olive’s mother dies in a tornado. Overcome with grief, Olive retreats within herself, rejects Lewis, and finds solace only in her beauty training. She struggles to cope with the devastating change in her life.

Eleanor Roosevelt’s written words echo in Olive’s mind, and when Mrs. Roosevelt finally arrives in town and speaks to the crowd gathered at the strain station, Olive’s inner soul knows that Mrs. Roosevelt’s speech is for her. Mrs. Roosevelt’s words about fear, race, immigrant families, and an individual’s spirit empower Olive. Lewis is the porter on the Roosevelts’ railroad car. Heeding her soul and her inner strength, Olive steps forward to join him and begin her new life.

Author Anne Buckley has been a freelance writer, journalist, and publicist. Winner of the Anita Cole Memorial Scholarship, University of North Texas Centennial Literary Festival, Anne is also an active member of Women in Film/Dallas and the Dallas Screenwriters Association. She resides in Dallas, Texas.

The Day Mrs. Roosevelt Came to Town was inspired by an overnight visit that Eleanor and Franklin Roosevelt made to Lancaster, Texas, in 1936, prior to attending the Texas Centennial. The novel, a work of historical fiction, traces the efforts of a young African-American woman, Olive Johnson, as she moves beyond her station of maid and creates a new life for herself.

Olive is empowered by Mrs. Roosevelt’s words and spirit. She learns about Mrs. Roosevelt by reading her work aloud to her employer, Ethel Wilson, whose untimely death sends Olive to the home of Louise and Bill Andrews as a maid. Abusive treatment from Louise prompts Olive to consider other work. The opening of Madam C.J. Walker’s College of Beauty Culture in Dallas, a school for colored cosmetologists, answers her dreams. After working for the Andrews during the day, Olive commutes to school nightly on the electric trolley (the Interurban). Tuition is a strain, but her mother, Bessie Mae, helps her work it out. A young African-American porter, Lewis Bonner, becomes intrigued with Olive and her determination, and he helps her overcome her apprehension about the big city and school. Usually shy, Olive warms to him. Bessie Mae and Pastor Simpson of the Free Will Baptist Church favorably measure Lewis’s character, and with their approval, romance develops.

Louise Andrews, hating to lose a good maid, tries to derail Olive’s education by loading her down with impossible household chores, but Olive perseveres because she needs the money. Olive’s moments of joy and laughter come from third grader Lily, Louise’s daughter, and Lily’s grandmother Ella. They forge a deep and caring relationship. Events take a tragic turn when Olive’s mother dies in a tornado. Overcome with grief, Olive retreats within herself, rejects Lewis, and finds solace only in her beauty training. She struggles to cope with the devastating change in her life.

Eleanor Roosevelt’s written words echo in Olive’s mind, and when Mrs. Roosevelt finally arrives in town and speaks to the crowd gathered at the strain station, Olive’s inner soul knows that Mrs. Roosevelt’s speech is for her. Mrs. Roosevelt’s words about fear, race, immigrant families, and an individual’s spirit empower Olive. Lewis is the porter on the Roosevelts’ railroad car. Heeding her soul and her inner strength, Olive steps forward to join him and begin her new life.

Author Anne Buckley has been a freelance writer, journalist, and publicist. Winner of the Anita Cole Memorial Scholarship, University of North Texas Centennial Literary Festival, Anne is also an active member of Women in Film/Dallas and the Dallas Screenwriters Association. She resides in Dallas, Texas.

The Day Mrs. Roosevelt Came to Town Cover

Growing Up as a Greek-American

Author: Kallas, John

Subjects: American History; Diversity; Personal Experience; Greek-Americans; Growing Up

Age: 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18

Grade: 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12

Pages: 158

ISBN: 978-0-89824-489-2

Order code: 4892

Price: $14.99
Website price: $10.00

Class sets: 10 or more: $7.00 each.
Order code: 4892S

Growing Up as a Greek-American Cover

John Kallas was born in America in 1922 to Greek parents who had immigrated to the United States not long before. His father was a storyteller, and John carries on that tradition in this book, which artfully describes what being a Greek-American in the twentieth century was like. The stories are warm, funny, loving, and accurate. They are about John's parents and siblings, his childhood in the Greek neighborhood of Newark, New Jersey, his school experiences, his time serving in the Army during World War II, his visit as an adult to his parents' villages in Greece, and more. This is life as it was lived in Greek-American households across the country as families bridged the divide between two very different cultures. They are the challenges and triumphs of a strong people in a land where diversity was not always welcome.

Although author John Kallas could not speak a word of English when he entered kindergarten, he worked hard and eventually earn both an M.A. and a Ph.D. He knew well the immigrant experience, and he shares it in this book in a way that brings it to life and makes it real. These are stories that readers will carry with them and that will help them to appreciate the beautiful, quirky, friendly, hard-working people who are the Greeks and the Greek-Americans.

John Kallas was born in America in 1922 to Greek parents who had immigrated to the United States not long before. His father was a storyteller, and John carries on that tradition in this book, which artfully describes what being a Greek-American in the twentieth century was like. The stories are warm, funny, loving, and accurate. They are about John's parents and siblings, his childhood in the Greek neighborhood of Newark, New Jersey, his school experiences, his time serving in the Army during World War II, his visit as an adult to his parents' villages in Greece, and more. This is life as it was lived in Greek-American households across the country as families bridged the divide between two very different cultures. They are the challenges and triumphs of a strong people in a land where diversity was not always welcome.

Although author John Kallas could not speak a word of English when he entered kindergarten, he worked hard and eventually earn both an M.A. and a Ph.D. He knew well the immigrant experience, and he shares it in this book in a way that brings it to life and makes it real. These are stories that readers will carry with them and that will help them to appreciate the beautiful, quirky, friendly, hard-working people who are the Greeks and the Greek-Americans.

Growing Up as a Greek-American Cover

Growing Up as a Greek-American Sample Pages:

River Rats

Author: Wyatt, Leslie J.

Subjects: Bullying; Leadership; Family Relationships; Growing Up

Age: 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18

Grade: 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12

ISBN: 978-0-89824-378-9

Order code: 3789

Price: $14.99
Website price: $10.00

Also an iBook from iTunes

Class sets: 10 or more: $7.00 each.
Order code: 3789S

River Rats Cover

The novel is set in 1940s rural Missouri, with World War II about to shatter lives forever. The story is told in the authentic voice of twelve-year-old Kenny, who roams the countryside with his older brother and friends, hanging out together in the bottoms of the Chariton River. Trouble comes with the arrival of a new boy, Henry Nichols, who is "a thin stick of a person, looking like a half-starved hound...and not like us." 

Can he join the River Rats? Kenny's big brother, Jim, is a bully and tries everything he can to humiliate and hurt the newcomer, who doesn't even go to school he's so poor. Kenny must risk losing the friendship of his own brother by doing what, deep down, he knows is right. In the midst of the rough and tumble of the boys' day-to-day lives, the story tackles head-on the dilemmas and choices that Kenny must face about loyalty, friendship, and right and wrong.

"Playing out against the small foreground of local events is a big story on the world stage: over in Europe, another dominating individual is bending all of Europe to his sway. Kenny comes to realize that trivial-seeming decisions can have big consequences, and a tyrant is a tyrant, no matter how petty. Readers will appreciate the authentic feel of the times and the interplay between characters." – Redeemedreader.com

Author Leslie J. Wyatt learned first hand about the Chariton River bottoms from someone who grew up there. "Listening to his stories was like stepping into a bygone age. I began to wish I could capture them for my children and all the other children in the world who would never get to live that life."

Wyatt’s writing credits include a previous historical novel and more than 200 stories and articles in national magazines. A two-time graduate of the Institute of Children’s Literature and a member of SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators), she served as 2010 SCBWI Missouri Mentor and has presented at literature festivals, SCBWI writing conferences, schools, and homeschool co-ops. Her work is varied, but the themes of justice, individuality, and heritage run throughout them. She is the author of The Flight of the Cliff Bird, also published by Royal Fireworks Press.

The novel is set in 1940s rural Missouri, with World War II about to shatter lives forever. The story is told in the authentic voice of twelve-year-old Kenny, who roams the countryside with his older brother and friends, hanging out together in the bottoms of the Chariton River. Trouble comes with the arrival of a new boy, Henry Nichols, who is "a thin stick of a person, looking like a half-starved hound...and not like us." 

Can he join the River Rats? Kenny's big brother, Jim, is a bully and tries everything he can to humiliate and hurt the newcomer, who doesn't even go to school he's so poor. Kenny must risk losing the friendship of his own brother by doing what, deep down, he knows is right. In the midst of the rough and tumble of the boys' day-to-day lives, the story tackles head-on the dilemmas and choices that Kenny must face about loyalty, friendship, and right and wrong.

"Playing out against the small foreground of local events is a big story on the world stage: over in Europe, another dominating individual is bending all of Europe to his sway. Kenny comes to realize that trivial-seeming decisions can have big consequences, and a tyrant is a tyrant, no matter how petty. Readers will appreciate the authentic feel of the times and the interplay between characters." – Redeemedreader.com

Author Leslie J. Wyatt learned first hand about the Chariton River bottoms from someone who grew up there. "Listening to his stories was like stepping into a bygone age. I began to wish I could capture them for my children and all the other children in the world who would never get to live that life."

Wyatt’s writing credits include a previous historical novel and more than 200 stories and articles in national magazines. A two-time graduate of the Institute of Children’s Literature and a member of SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators), she served as 2010 SCBWI Missouri Mentor and has presented at literature festivals, SCBWI writing conferences, schools, and homeschool co-ops. Her work is varied, but the themes of justice, individuality, and heritage run throughout them. She is the author of The Flight of the Cliff Bird, also published by Royal Fireworks Press.

River Rats Cover

River Rats Sample Pages:

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