Historical Novels for Children: Late Nineteenth-Century America

These novels take place during the mid- to late 1800s, when the nation had settled the question of slavery within its borders but still had not settled the land itself.

For more books that take place during this time period, don't miss the Homesteaders series of novels, which follows two Norwegian immigrant families who come to America with the promise of owning land and building a future for themselves, the promise inherent in the Homestead Act of 1862.

These novels take place during the mid- to late 1800s, when the nation had settled the question of slavery within its borders but still had not settled the land itself.

For more books that take place during this time period, don't miss the Homesteaders series of novels, which follows two Norwegian immigrant families who come to America with the promise of owning land and building a future for themselves, the promise inherent in the Homestead Act of 1862.

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Last Voyage of the Hornet: The Story that Made Mark Twain Famous

Author: Krause, Kristin

Subjects: American History; Sea Adventure; True Adventure; Maritime History; Sailing Ships

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

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

ISBN: 978-0-88092-265-4

Order code: 2654

Price: $14.99
Website price: $10.00

Also an iBook from iTunes

Class sets: 10 or more: $7.00 each.
Order code: 2654S

Last Voyage of the Hornet: The Story that Made Mark Twain Famous Cover

In 1866 the clipper ship Hornet caught fire and sank, leaving the passengers and crew—thirty-one men in all—adrift in three small boats in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. This is the account of those men as they struggled for survival for an astonishing forty-three days on less than ten days of rations. The survivors drifted for thousands of miles before reaching shore.

It was an incredible tale, and one that the down-on-his-luck newspaper reporter Samuel Clemens (a.k.a. Mark Twain) wanted to tell. The story made him famous, launching his writing career. It is a story of the determination of men to survive against all odds.

"Impressively researched, exceptionally well-written, thoroughly reader friendly in organization and presentation, Last Voyage of the Hornet: The Story that Made Mark Twain Famous is enhanced with the inclusion of a one-page listing of 'Points to Ponder,' a three-page glossary, and a two-page listing of bibliographic resources, making it very highly recommended for the personal reading lists of true life adventure enthusiasts, as well as community and academic library maritime history collections." – Midwest Book Review

"Readers...will be rewarded by a truly well-written account of the adventure and Mark Twain's subsequent escapades. [It] is a fantastic tale, both for its narrative of the hapless sailors in the open boat and also for the circumstances that led Clemens to capitalize on his good fortune and launch his career as a teller of tales." – Twain Braden in Ocean Navigator

Praise for the book from Judith Elfring, Captain Josiah Mitchell’s great granddaughter: "Kristin Krause has done excellent research. It is a very interesting read, and the way it is written makes you feel you are actually there.”

In 1866 the clipper ship Hornet caught fire and sank, leaving the passengers and crew—thirty-one men in all—adrift in three small boats in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. This is the account of those men as they struggled for survival for an astonishing forty-three days on less than ten days of rations. The survivors drifted for thousands of miles before reaching shore.

It was an incredible tale, and one that the down-on-his-luck newspaper reporter Samuel Clemens (a.k.a. Mark Twain) wanted to tell. The story made him famous, launching his writing career. It is a story of the determination of men to survive against all odds.

"Impressively researched, exceptionally well-written, thoroughly reader friendly in organization and presentation, Last Voyage of the Hornet: The Story that Made Mark Twain Famous is enhanced with the inclusion of a one-page listing of 'Points to Ponder,' a three-page glossary, and a two-page listing of bibliographic resources, making it very highly recommended for the personal reading lists of true life adventure enthusiasts, as well as community and academic library maritime history collections." – Midwest Book Review

"Readers...will be rewarded by a truly well-written account of the adventure and Mark Twain's subsequent escapades. [It] is a fantastic tale, both for its narrative of the hapless sailors in the open boat and also for the circumstances that led Clemens to capitalize on his good fortune and launch his career as a teller of tales." – Twain Braden in Ocean Navigator

Praise for the book from Judith Elfring, Captain Josiah Mitchell’s great granddaughter: "Kristin Krause has done excellent research. It is a very interesting read, and the way it is written makes you feel you are actually there.”

Last Voyage of the Hornet: The Story that Made Mark Twain Famous Cover

Last Voyage of the Hornet sample pages:

Charissa of the Overland

Author: de la Garza, Phyllis

Subjects: American History; Frontier Life; Historical Adventure; Relationships

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

Grade: 8, 9, 10, 11, 12

Order code: 3709

Price: $14.99
Website price: $10.00

Class sets: 10 or more: $7.00 each.
Order code: 3709S

Charissa of the Overland Cover

Set against the action of Quantrill’s Raiders, westward expansion, Native Americans, and the chaotic conditions caused by the Civil War, this novel tells the amazing story of Charissa Pankhurst, a.k.a. Charley Pankhurst, in the 1860s.

Charissa’s parents died of typhoid. Now Southern zealots have forced her much-older husband and her to hide out and live in caves in the Ozarks. Her husband is mercifully shot when he contracts rabies, and the young, wounded Union soldier Charissa meets while living in the caves is hunted down and hanged by Quantrill’s Raiders. Feeling it her duty to tell the young man’s parents, she risks her life to get to their farm. This is Charissa’s journey of change. At the farm, needing to take control of her life, she vows to kill Quantrill. There, sixteen-year-old Charissa clips her hair and casts aside her calico skirts to morph into Charlie, a young man with freedom that a woman could never know. She then strikes out for an adventure-filled life on the rough frontier.

Intending to follow through on her vow, Charlie joins the Raiders and meets Quantrill’s young wife Kate and Doctor Benson. Kate immediately knows Charley's secret but keeps it because she wants a female friend to talk to. Doc Benson knows too, but his business is doctoring and getting to Texas. Charley helps the good doctor, breaks horses for Quantrill, and learns to drive a buckboard. Eventually Kate tells her husband about Charley, and he too keeps the secret from his men because he loves his wife. Charley finds that she cannot kill Quantrill, and she leaves the Raiders instead. She begins to work with a sixteen-mule team operation, does a stint as a horse jockey, becomes a jerk-line freighter, and eventually drives big Concord stagecoaches across the West.

Charley's relationships with men and women exude humor as she perfects her walk and her tobacco chewing and spitting expertise. They reach memorable proportions when squaws capture her spying on their ceremony and prepare to castrate her, only to discover her secret. The women collapse laughing, and Charissa makes her escape. Later, Charley becomes close to her freight-hauling boss, and she is certain that he knows she is a woman when he announces that he has a proposition to put forth. Sure that he will propose marriage, she buys a velvet dress for her unveiling. But she is mistaken. His proposition is an offer to Charley for half of the business. Those who met Charley early and recognized that she was a girl in disguise kept the secret, did not question her motivation, and offered suggestions for improving her appearance. Charissa listened well!

Phyllis de la Garza is an award-winning author of more than a dozen published books, both fiction and nonfiction, about the Old West. She is a book reviewer for True West and Chronicle of the Old West, she has been a member of both Western Writers and Mystery Writers of America, and she has been a SPUR Award finalist. She is also the author of Camels West and Silk and Sagebrush: Women of the Old West, both published by Royal Fireworks Press. She lives in Willcox, Arizona.

Set against the action of Quantrill’s Raiders, westward expansion, Native Americans, and the chaotic conditions caused by the Civil War, this novel tells the amazing story of Charissa Pankhurst, a.k.a. Charley Pankhurst, in the 1860s.

Charissa’s parents died of typhoid. Now Southern zealots have forced her much-older husband and her to hide out and live in caves in the Ozarks. Her husband is mercifully shot when he contracts rabies, and the young, wounded Union soldier Charissa meets while living in the caves is hunted down and hanged by Quantrill’s Raiders. Feeling it her duty to tell the young man’s parents, she risks her life to get to their farm. This is Charissa’s journey of change. At the farm, needing to take control of her life, she vows to kill Quantrill. There, sixteen-year-old Charissa clips her hair and casts aside her calico skirts to morph into Charlie, a young man with freedom that a woman could never know. She then strikes out for an adventure-filled life on the rough frontier.

Intending to follow through on her vow, Charlie joins the Raiders and meets Quantrill’s young wife Kate and Doctor Benson. Kate immediately knows Charley's secret but keeps it because she wants a female friend to talk to. Doc Benson knows too, but his business is doctoring and getting to Texas. Charley helps the good doctor, breaks horses for Quantrill, and learns to drive a buckboard. Eventually Kate tells her husband about Charley, and he too keeps the secret from his men because he loves his wife. Charley finds that she cannot kill Quantrill, and she leaves the Raiders instead. She begins to work with a sixteen-mule team operation, does a stint as a horse jockey, becomes a jerk-line freighter, and eventually drives big Concord stagecoaches across the West.

Charley's relationships with men and women exude humor as she perfects her walk and her tobacco chewing and spitting expertise. They reach memorable proportions when squaws capture her spying on their ceremony and prepare to castrate her, only to discover her secret. The women collapse laughing, and Charissa makes her escape. Later, Charley becomes close to her freight-hauling boss, and she is certain that he knows she is a woman when he announces that he has a proposition to put forth. Sure that he will propose marriage, she buys a velvet dress for her unveiling. But she is mistaken. His proposition is an offer to Charley for half of the business. Those who met Charley early and recognized that she was a girl in disguise kept the secret, did not question her motivation, and offered suggestions for improving her appearance. Charissa listened well!

Phyllis de la Garza is an award-winning author of more than a dozen published books, both fiction and nonfiction, about the Old West. She is a book reviewer for True West and Chronicle of the Old West, she has been a member of both Western Writers and Mystery Writers of America, and she has been a SPUR Award finalist. She is also the author of Camels West and Silk and Sagebrush: Women of the Old West, both published by Royal Fireworks Press. She lives in Willcox, Arizona.

Charissa of the Overland Cover

Psalm for a Winter Twilight

Author: LaForce, Beatrice

Subjects: Communication; American History; Prejudice; 23rd Psalm; Native Americans

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

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

Order code: 3202

Price: $14.99
Website price: $10.00

Class sets: 10 or more: $7.00 each.
Order code: 3202S

Psalm for a Winter Twilight Cover

Inspired by the Native American version of the 23rd Psalm, Psalm for a Winter Twilight is a moving study of the contrasts and similarities between Native Americans and whites in the abysmal time of American history when the Native Americans had already been defeated, and white men persisted in driving them, often starving, from their homes and land.

It was a time of maniacal vengeance on both sides, and innocent children were slaughtered. It was a time of tragic cultural ignorance and a mean-spirited sense of superiority spurred on by fear. But there was also a commonality in people—a possibility of understanding. And the story, which opens in blood-red violence, closes in the cooler glow of the possibility of brotherhood under a Greater Being. This night is one of the commonality of humankind and peace, when Native Americans and white people share the transcending beauty of the 23rd Psalm in sign and spoken English.

The novel addresses knee-jerk emotions and considered actions. It speaks to the better side of people: the minister and his wife who adopt two orphaned Native American children and raise them as their own, the once-proud chief and his small band of survivors who opt to trust, the U.S. Army officer who is wrestling with his military oath and his religious/humane convictions. There are the young soldiers and homesteaders driven by punishing overkill, too, but this night, in a house of God, they are held off. At the center of the story stand the two adopted children, now teenagers. They are the interpreter and the bridge.

From their first encounters with Christian missionaries, the North American Plains Indians used sign language to communicate the Psalm among tribes that spoke different oral languages. In 1894, Isabel Crawford, a Baptist missionary to the Kiowa tribe in Oklahoma, translated the sign version into literal English. The Native American version of the 23rd Psalm is included in this story in a slightly edited form.

Inspired by the Native American version of the 23rd Psalm, Psalm for a Winter Twilight is a moving study of the contrasts and similarities between Native Americans and whites in the abysmal time of American history when the Native Americans had already been defeated, and white men persisted in driving them, often starving, from their homes and land.

It was a time of maniacal vengeance on both sides, and innocent children were slaughtered. It was a time of tragic cultural ignorance and a mean-spirited sense of superiority spurred on by fear. But there was also a commonality in people—a possibility of understanding. And the story, which opens in blood-red violence, closes in the cooler glow of the possibility of brotherhood under a Greater Being. This night is one of the commonality of humankind and peace, when Native Americans and white people share the transcending beauty of the 23rd Psalm in sign and spoken English.

The novel addresses knee-jerk emotions and considered actions. It speaks to the better side of people: the minister and his wife who adopt two orphaned Native American children and raise them as their own, the once-proud chief and his small band of survivors who opt to trust, the U.S. Army officer who is wrestling with his military oath and his religious/humane convictions. There are the young soldiers and homesteaders driven by punishing overkill, too, but this night, in a house of God, they are held off. At the center of the story stand the two adopted children, now teenagers. They are the interpreter and the bridge.

From their first encounters with Christian missionaries, the North American Plains Indians used sign language to communicate the Psalm among tribes that spoke different oral languages. In 1894, Isabel Crawford, a Baptist missionary to the Kiowa tribe in Oklahoma, translated the sign version into literal English. The Native American version of the 23rd Psalm is included in this story in a slightly edited form.

Psalm for a Winter Twilight Cover

A Charm of Silver

Author: Ferguson, Cameron

Subjects: American History; Girl's Adventure; Silver Mining

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

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

Order code: 1641

Price: $14.99
Website price: $10.00

Class sets: 10 or more: $7.00 each.
Order code: 1641S

A Charm of Silver Cover

New York Public Library Choice, Books for the Teenage Reader

Set in the thriving mining city of Butte, Montana, in the spring of 1889, and involving its cultures of Irish, Cousin Jacks (people from Cornwall, England), and Chinese, this novel underscores the tensions and cultural interactions of the period and accurately depicts mining methods for its underground action sequences.

Molly Harrington lives with her upper-class, widowed maternal grandmother, Cattie, in a fancy house in the fashionable section of Butte. Molly’s mother has died, and her father, a miner, has broken off all contact. Grandmother has no use for the poorer shanty Irish or any other culture and has given Molly no information about her father. But Molly is now fifteen, and her tension over Grandmother’s strict control is forcing her to break from Cattie and try to find her father. By putting bits of remembered and overheard information together, she determines that her father is a Cousin Jack. During her search, she mixes with the townspeople and learns about them and the mines. She cleverly follows a supply delivery to her father’s mine, where she discovers him stealing silver from an adjoining Cousin Jack tunnel. Even so, she begs for a reconciliation, which he rejects.

Back at Grandmother’s, after hearing that the Cousin Jacks have discovered the theft of their silver, Molly again sneaks into the mines to warn her father to escape with his freedom. Determined, he commands her to stay with him until his business is done, but she flees through the tunnels. Topside, there is news of a coming battle: the Cousin Jacks have accused the Irish miners of stealing their silver. Molly feels that she must now tell what she knows to the Cousin Jacks’ mine superintendent to stop an underground battle. She returns to the mines with his son to find him, but they are too late; the fight is on. They are separated, and Molly is on her own. For a fleeting moment she confronts her father again, and their relationship is forever changed. Events occur rapidly, and with a surprise twist, the battle is defused.

Author Cameron Ferguson deftly mixes history and characterization. His characters’ personalities develop primarily through their reactions to events, and their reactions and conversations drive the plot. Ferguson is a resident of Montana.

“...the plot’s fast-moving excitement will provide enjoyment for readers. Additionally, the portrayal of the conflict between the Irish and Cousin Jack populations in the American West is fascinating, and the lessons on the price of prejudice, ethnic conflict, and racism make the book useful for classroom discussions.” – Booklist

New York Public Library Choice, Books for the Teenage Reader

Set in the thriving mining city of Butte, Montana, in the spring of 1889, and involving its cultures of Irish, Cousin Jacks (people from Cornwall, England), and Chinese, this novel underscores the tensions and cultural interactions of the period and accurately depicts mining methods for its underground action sequences.

Molly Harrington lives with her upper-class, widowed maternal grandmother, Cattie, in a fancy house in the fashionable section of Butte. Molly’s mother has died, and her father, a miner, has broken off all contact. Grandmother has no use for the poorer shanty Irish or any other culture and has given Molly no information about her father. But Molly is now fifteen, and her tension over Grandmother’s strict control is forcing her to break from Cattie and try to find her father. By putting bits of remembered and overheard information together, she determines that her father is a Cousin Jack. During her search, she mixes with the townspeople and learns about them and the mines. She cleverly follows a supply delivery to her father’s mine, where she discovers him stealing silver from an adjoining Cousin Jack tunnel. Even so, she begs for a reconciliation, which he rejects.

Back at Grandmother’s, after hearing that the Cousin Jacks have discovered the theft of their silver, Molly again sneaks into the mines to warn her father to escape with his freedom. Determined, he commands her to stay with him until his business is done, but she flees through the tunnels. Topside, there is news of a coming battle: the Cousin Jacks have accused the Irish miners of stealing their silver. Molly feels that she must now tell what she knows to the Cousin Jacks’ mine superintendent to stop an underground battle. She returns to the mines with his son to find him, but they are too late; the fight is on. They are separated, and Molly is on her own. For a fleeting moment she confronts her father again, and their relationship is forever changed. Events occur rapidly, and with a surprise twist, the battle is defused.

Author Cameron Ferguson deftly mixes history and characterization. His characters’ personalities develop primarily through their reactions to events, and their reactions and conversations drive the plot. Ferguson is a resident of Montana.

“...the plot’s fast-moving excitement will provide enjoyment for readers. Additionally, the portrayal of the conflict between the Irish and Cousin Jack populations in the American West is fascinating, and the lessons on the price of prejudice, ethnic conflict, and racism make the book useful for classroom discussions.” – Booklist

A Charm of Silver Cover

Lilly's Way

Author: Cory, Kim Delmar

Subjects: Family Relationships; Historical Fiction

Age: 9, 10, 11, 12

Grade: 4, 5, 6, 7

Pages: 187

ISBN: 978-0-88092-363-7

Order code: 3637

Price: $14.99
Website price: $10.00

Class sets: 10 or more: $7.00 each.
Order code: 3637S

Lilly's Way Cover

Muskegon, Michigan, 1891. Twelve-year-old Lilly works in her mother’s inn, along with her teenage sister Lu and her teenage brothers Gaston and Leo. The family has been fatherless since just before Lilly’s birth, when Lilly's father deserted them. The inn was a gift to Lilly’s parents from his wealthy parents early in the marriage to help settle their son’s gambling, irresponsible nature. It didn’t work, but it has provided shelter and a modest income for the family. Now, money is tight, and changes have to be made.

Their mother, Beth, wants to make the inn into a resort by sprucing it up and marketing some of its specialties, particularly orchard-fresh foods and tours. Gaston wants to join a lumbering outfit to make extra money. Lu, artistic and a wonderful seamstress, works part-time at the Muskegon newspaper and wants to look fashionable and marry well. Lilly wants to attend college and become a writer. But more than anything else, she wants to know that her father loves her.

Rich and powerful businesswoman Grandmére Claire Marie never approved of her son’s marriage and broke ties with the family when he left it. A chance sighting of Lilly’s flaming red hair (unmistakably the same as her son’s) revives her thoughts of the family and the past. Her own red hair is not lost on Lilly, who sees her across the street and immediately knows who she is.

Later, when Gaston is in an accident during a logger’s contest with a thousand dollars prize money, Lilly runs into town to Grandmére to fetch a doctor because she is sure that a good one will respond to her grandmother’s call. They arrive at the accident site to find Gaston already in the care of Dr. King. On the way, Grandmére begins to heal the family rift by accepting Lilly as her grandchild. When Lilly tells her mother about her grandmother’s words, Beth realizes that she and her mother-in-law really never took the time to listen to each other.

Duncan Christie arrives to woo Beth. Gaston appears to have won the thousand-dollar prize, to be used on the inn. And Lilly determines that Dr. King is the right man for her mother, particularly after she overhears that Duncan is an embezzler. He has been courting Beth because one of her orchards is rumored to contain bank robbers’ gold. Meanwhile, Grandmére has been quietly maneuvering to help the family. The prize money Gaston got from the logging company was from her, as was a well-meaning letter to Beth. As the family begins to clear the orchard of dead trees, they find a willow filled with gold coins. Thoughts now turn to building a proper dock for a ferry landing, indoor plumbing, telephones, and college.

The novel closes with Lilly coming to terms with herself about her father, who has been in town and has left at his mother’s mansion letters for his estranged wife, the children, and his mother, who personally delivers the letters and apologizes for the missed years. Lilly reads that he loves her. She needed to know that, but now, more importantly, she realizes that she has always been her mother’s daughter, and she prepares to get on with the things she has to do.

Lilly’s Way is at once a beautiful novel of family values and an accurate historical picture of the juxtaposition of Michigan’s lumbering and tourist industries.

Kim Delmar Cory is the author of Charlie Boy and Tending Ben's Garden, 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.

Muskegon, Michigan, 1891. Twelve-year-old Lilly works in her mother’s inn, along with her teenage sister Lu and her teenage brothers Gaston and Leo. The family has been fatherless since just before Lilly’s birth, when Lilly's father deserted them. The inn was a gift to Lilly’s parents from his wealthy parents early in the marriage to help settle their son’s gambling, irresponsible nature. It didn’t work, but it has provided shelter and a modest income for the family. Now, money is tight, and changes have to be made.

Their mother, Beth, wants to make the inn into a resort by sprucing it up and marketing some of its specialties, particularly orchard-fresh foods and tours. Gaston wants to join a lumbering outfit to make extra money. Lu, artistic and a wonderful seamstress, works part-time at the Muskegon newspaper and wants to look fashionable and marry well. Lilly wants to attend college and become a writer. But more than anything else, she wants to know that her father loves her.

Rich and powerful businesswoman Grandmére Claire Marie never approved of her son’s marriage and broke ties with the family when he left it. A chance sighting of Lilly’s flaming red hair (unmistakably the same as her son’s) revives her thoughts of the family and the past. Her own red hair is not lost on Lilly, who sees her across the street and immediately knows who she is.

Later, when Gaston is in an accident during a logger’s contest with a thousand dollars prize money, Lilly runs into town to Grandmére to fetch a doctor because she is sure that a good one will respond to her grandmother’s call. They arrive at the accident site to find Gaston already in the care of Dr. King. On the way, Grandmére begins to heal the family rift by accepting Lilly as her grandchild. When Lilly tells her mother about her grandmother’s words, Beth realizes that she and her mother-in-law really never took the time to listen to each other.

Duncan Christie arrives to woo Beth. Gaston appears to have won the thousand-dollar prize, to be used on the inn. And Lilly determines that Dr. King is the right man for her mother, particularly after she overhears that Duncan is an embezzler. He has been courting Beth because one of her orchards is rumored to contain bank robbers’ gold. Meanwhile, Grandmére has been quietly maneuvering to help the family. The prize money Gaston got from the logging company was from her, as was a well-meaning letter to Beth. As the family begins to clear the orchard of dead trees, they find a willow filled with gold coins. Thoughts now turn to building a proper dock for a ferry landing, indoor plumbing, telephones, and college.

The novel closes with Lilly coming to terms with herself about her father, who has been in town and has left at his mother’s mansion letters for his estranged wife, the children, and his mother, who personally delivers the letters and apologizes for the missed years. Lilly reads that he loves her. She needed to know that, but now, more importantly, she realizes that she has always been her mother’s daughter, and she prepares to get on with the things she has to do.

Lilly’s Way is at once a beautiful novel of family values and an accurate historical picture of the juxtaposition of Michigan’s lumbering and tourist industries

Kim Delmar Cory is the author of Charlie Boy and Tending Ben's Garden, 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.

Lilly's Way Cover

Lilly's Way Sample Pages:

Charlie Boy

Author: Cory, Kim Delmar

Subjects: American History; Relationships; Automobiles; Technology; Inventions

Age: 10, 11, 12, 13, 14

Grade: 5, 6, 7, 8, 9

Order code: 4969

Price: $14.99
Website price: $10.00

Class sets: 10 or more: $7.00 each.
Order code: 4969S

Charlie Boy Cover

Detroit in the 1890s. In bicycle shops around the city, men are experimenting with the internal combustion engine in an effort to make horseless carriages. It is the crucial time in the development of Detroit as the automobile center of the world, and this book brings to life the excitement of the early development of the automobile, as well as the intense competition among the individuals involved.

A bicycle shop owner named William Metzger was one of the pioneers of the auto industry. Into his shop comes twelve-year-old Charlie O’Brien, a young man with an astounding ability to draw and to make automobile ideas come alive. Charlie moves into Metzger’s shop, and together they work toward the development of the automobile. They ride with Charles King in the first car to drive the streets of Detroit. They spend evenings with the Dodge brothers working on ideas. They do not miss baseball at Bennett Park, which would later be called Tiger Stadium, and many of the other attractions of Detroit in the 1890s.

The novel is accessible for young readers, who are drawn into Charlie’s world.

Charlie is a fictional character, but Will Metzger was a real Detroiter who opened the first automobile dealership in Detroit in the 1890s. He was the M in EMF cars—an early competitor of Ford. He built cars for Pierce Arrow and was a founder of the Detroit Athletic Club and the American Automobile Association.

Kim Delmar Cory is the author of Lilly’s Way and Tending Ben's Garden, 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.

Detroit in the 1890s. In bicycle shops around the city, men are experimenting with the internal combustion engine in an effort to make horseless carriages. It is the crucial time in the development of Detroit as the automobile center of the world, and this book brings to life the excitement of the early development of the automobile, as well as the intense competition among the individuals involved.

A bicycle shop owner named William Metzger was one of the pioneers of the auto industry. Into his shop comes twelve-year-old Charlie O’Brien, a young man with an astounding ability to draw and to make automobile ideas come alive. Charlie moves into Metzger’s shop, and together they work toward the development of the automobile. They ride with Charles King in the first car to drive the streets of Detroit. They spend evenings with the Dodge brothers working on ideas. They do not miss baseball at Bennett Park, which would later be called Tiger Stadium, and many of the other attractions of Detroit in the 1890s.

The novel is accessible for young readers, who are drawn into Charlie’s world.

Charlie is a fictional character, but Will Metzger was a real Detroiter who opened the first automobile dealership in Detroit in the 1890s. He was the M in EMF cars—an early competitor of Ford. He built cars for Pierce Arrow and was a founder of the Detroit Athletic Club and the American Automobile Association.

Kim Delmar Cory is the author of Lilly’s Way and Tending Ben's Garden, 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.

Charlie Boy Cover

For the Love of Gold

Author: Diller, Janelle

Subjects: Values; American History; Family Relationships; Mystery; Gold Mining

Age: 11, 12, 13, 14, 15

Grade: 6, 7, 8, 9, 10

Order code: 2680

Price: $14.99
Website price: $10.00

Class sets: 10 or more: $7.00 each.
Order code: 2680S

For the Love of Gold Cover

Kansas State Reading Council Choice

“...a good lesson in the telling.” – The Provident Bookfinder

Colorado, 1896. Keziah Fursman hurries home alone after school. Hairless Henry Stokes, an oddball miner, follows her and warns her that her father had better stop taking his gold. Her family does not understand the message. Some months later, the family gains full ownership of a mine that Daniel Fursman, Keziah’s father, had grubstaked to veteran miner Jeb Rowley. Jeb died under curious circumstance. Daniel would prefer selling the mine to mining it.

Two fires destroy the town. Although Daniel is tempted to mine the vein he’s found, he is the town’s best carpenter, and he’s overwhelmed with work in rebuilding Cripple Creek. The family’s gold fever is put on hold. A neighbor, Mr. Schmieder, does strike a rich vein and immediately buys a huge house with all its accouterments. Keziah and her family are jealous. It appears that mining has made a better life for the Schmieders. Daniel decides to reopen his mine, but promising veins play out quickly, and the family finds itself in debt from the mine’s expenses. 

The Fursmans begin to see that all is not well with the Schmieder family. The Schmieders were poor and unhappy; now they are rich and unhappy. Fortunately for the Fursmans, Ethel Blade agrees to buy their mine as payment for their debts at her supply store. Keziah and Daniel return to the mine once more to collect Daniel's tools. Henry Stokes kidnaps Keziah, still believing that Daniel was stealing his gold—just as Jeb Rowley had done. Keziah reasons with him. To check her story, Stokes returns to Cripple Creek. He later releases her, unharmed. Keziah finally understands that the most precious gold is her family.

The novel has richly developed characters, and it is filled with historical atmosphere.

Kansas State Reading Council Choice

“...a good lesson in the telling.” – The Provident Bookfinder

Colorado, 1896. Keziah Fursman hurries home alone after school. Hairless Henry Stokes, an oddball miner, follows her and warns her that her father had better stop taking his gold. Her family does not understand the message. Some months later, the family gains full ownership of a mine that Daniel Fursman, Keziah’s father, had grubstaked to veteran miner Jeb Rowley. Jeb died under curious circumstance. Daniel would prefer selling the mine to mining it.

Two fires destroy the town. Although Daniel is tempted to mine the vein he’s found, he is the town’s best carpenter, and he’s overwhelmed with work in rebuilding Cripple Creek. The family’s gold fever is put on hold. A neighbor, Mr. Schmieder, does strike a rich vein and immediately buys a huge house with all its accouterments. Keziah and her family are jealous. It appears that mining has made a better life for the Schmieders. Daniel decides to reopen his mine, but promising veins play out quickly, and the family finds itself in debt from the mine’s expenses. 

The Fursmans begin to see that all is not well with the Schmieder family. The Schmieders were poor and unhappy; now they are rich and unhappy. Fortunately for the Fursmans, Ethel Blade agrees to buy their mine as payment for their debts at her supply store. Keziah and Daniel return to the mine once more to collect Daniel's tools. Henry Stokes kidnaps Keziah, still believing that Daniel was stealing his gold—just as Jeb Rowley had done. Keziah reasons with him. To check her story, Stokes returns to Cripple Creek. He later releases her, unharmed. Keziah finally understands that the most precious gold is her family.

The novel has richly developed characters, and it is filled with historical atmosphere.

For the Love of Gold Cover

Unswept Graves

Author: Black, Robert

Subjects: American History; Adventure; Immigration; Chinese-Americans

Age: 10, 11, 12, 13, 14

Grade: 5, 6, 7, 8, 9

ISBN: 978-0-88092-903-5

Order code: 9035

Price: $14.99
Website price: $10.00

Class sets: 10 or more: $7.00 each.
Order code: 9035S

Unswept Graves Cover

"This is a charming, highly imaginative, and inventive book that is equally well-written and well-researched." – China Insight

"I couldn't put this book down and kept getting in trouble for reading in class and at dinner! It is interesting to find out what life was really like for Chinese people in America, as you are inside the head of one. A very good book." – Rosie, age 12

Unswept Graves is a gripping story that starts in the present day in a small Nebraskan town about to celebrate its annual Founders’ Day. The founders were said to include young Jasmine Wu’s great-great-grandparents, Charlie and Hannah Fong. Jasmine and her friend Oz get to find out the Fongs’ story when they are suddenly and magically transported by her ancestors’ mysterious pendant back in time to the Chinatown of San Francisco in the late 1890s.  

They find out that it was a dangerous, brutal time to be Chinese, especially for young girls. Jasmine is kidnapped and sold into slavery. Oz has to dress as a boy to rescue her and get her to the shelter of the Mission House. They meet Charlie Fong, and somehow they have to make sure that the future happens. In the end, the founders and ancestors are honored as they should be, and Jasmine discovers her heritage.

The title refers to the traditional Chinese festival of Ching Ming, or "Grave Sweeping Day,” when families pay tribute to their ancestors and tend to their family gravesites. Author Robert Black says his purpose in writing the book was “to give readers a taste of what life used to be like—and an experience of being there. I hope too they will learn the same lesson that Jasmine learns during her trip to the past about the challenges and hardships people had to face and the determination it took to survive all that.”

Author Robert Black’s research into the life of Chinese immigrants revealed shocking anti-Chinese prejudice in the U.S. at the time and also the dangerous work of rescuing slave girls by the Presbyterian Mission Home in San Francisco. The home still exists on Sacramento Street; it is now Cameron House, a Chinese community center. Black is also the author of The Eyes of the Enemy and Liberty Girl. The latter novel is set in Baltimore and is based on his grandmother’s diaries about growing up part German at the end of World War I.

Review:

"This is a charming, highly imaginative, and inventive book that is equally well-written and well-researched.... It introduces to young adult readers a largely-unknown aspect of Chinese-American history that takes off first in Nebraska. How many books are there about the Chinese in Nebraska? Probably no others. The Chinese-American experience in the Midwest is largely, albeit not totally, ignored in fiction.

"One of the particular delights of this book is that although Jasmine and Oz are thrust into the past, at all times they are aware of being from the future.... Their determined 21st-century American responses to 19th-century situations deftly reveal the difference between the accepted social place of women then and now. At the same time, we are given a view of 19th-century horse-and-buggy life and the vicissitudes of Chinese immigrants in the lawless American West.

"Several stories are woven into this narrative: Chinese-American history, the plight of mixed-race children, abuse of women, positive interactions between Chinese and Caucasians in 19th-century California, missionary work among immigrants, and life in small-town America. And the narrative is, if not totally believable (unless we believe we can go back to the past), totally captivating."  Raymond Lum, China Insight

"This is a charming, highly imaginative, and inventive book that is equally well-written and well-researched." – China Insight

"I couldn't put this book down and kept getting in trouble for reading in class and at dinner! It is interesting to find out what life was really like for Chinese people in America, as you are inside the head of one. A very good book." – Rosie, age 12

Unswept Graves is a gripping story that starts in the present day in a small Nebraskan town about to celebrate its annual Founders’ Day. The founders were said to include young Jasmine Wu’s great-great-grandparents, Charlie and Hannah Fong. Jasmine and her friend Oz get to find out the Fongs’ story when they are suddenly and magically transported by her ancestors’ mysterious pendant back in time to the Chinatown of San Francisco in the late 1890s.  

They find out that it was a dangerous, brutal time to be Chinese, especially for young girls. Jasmine is kidnapped and sold into slavery. Oz has to dress as a boy to rescue her and get her to the shelter of the Mission House. They meet Charlie Fong, and somehow they have to make sure that the future happens. In the end, the founders and ancestors are honored as they should be, and Jasmine discovers her heritage.

The title refers to the traditional Chinese festival of Ching Ming, or "Grave Sweeping Day,” when families pay tribute to their ancestors and tend to their family gravesites. Author Robert Black says his purpose in writing the book was “to give readers a taste of what life used to be like—and an experience of being there. I hope too they will learn the same lesson that Jasmine learns during her trip to the past about the challenges and hardships people had to face and the determination it took to survive all that.”

Author Robert Black’s research into the life of Chinese immigrants revealed shocking anti-Chinese prejudice in the U.S. at the time and also the dangerous work of rescuing slave girls by the Presbyterian Mission Home in San Francisco. The home still exists on Sacramento Street; it is now Cameron House, a Chinese community center. Black is also the author of The Eyes of the Enemy and Liberty Girl. The latter novel is set in Baltimore and is based on his grandmother’s diaries about growing up part German at the end of World War I.

Review:

"This is a charming, highly imaginative, and inventive book that is equally well-written and well-researched.... It introduces to young adult readers a largely-unknown aspect of Chinese-American history that takes off first in Nebraska. How many books are there about the Chinese in Nebraska? Probably no others. The Chinese-American experience in the Midwest is largely, albeit not totally, ignored in fiction.

"One of the particular delights of this book is that although Jasmine and Oz are thrust into the past, at all times they are aware of being from the future.... Their determined 21st-century American responses to 19th-century situations deftly reveal the difference between the accepted social place of women then and now. At the same time, we are given a view of 19th-century horse-and-buggy life and the vicissitudes of Chinese immigrants in the lawless American West. 

"Several stories are woven into this narrative: Chinese-American history, the plight of mixed-race children, abuse of women, positive interactions between Chinese and Caucasians in 19th-century California, missionary work among immigrants, and life in small-town America. And the narrative is, if not totally believable (unless we believe we can go back to the past), totally captivating."  Raymond Lum, China Insight

Unswept Graves Cover

Unswept Graves Sample Pages:

Going for the Gold

Author: Lewis, Norma

Subjects: History; Historical Biography; Gold Rush

Age: 11, 12, 13, 14, 15

Grade: 6, 7, 8, 9, 10

Order code: 327X

Price: $14.99
Website price: $10.00

Going for the Gold Cover

In the depression that began in 1893, people had no unemployment insurance or welfare programs. The promise of gold lured many of them, and by 1897, "Ho! For the Klondike!" rang out across the land. North America's last gold rush had begun.

Few of the adventurous schemers and dreamers had any idea of what they were getting into. The Klondike River was just a name to them, and the fact that the gold lay buried 50 or 60 feet in permafrost meant nothing to the uninitiated.

Sailing through Southeast Alaska's Inside Passage, with stinking chickens, sheep, and pigs, and then crossing either the White Pass at Skagway or the Chilkoot Pass at Dyea jolted most people into the reality of the hardships of thier quest. The Northwest Mounted Police allowed no one to enter Canada without enough food and supplies to last a year. That meant at least half a ton to transport. Most stampeders moved their own outfits by taking 50 to 75 pounds at a time 5 to 10 miles, caching it, and then returning for the next load. Icelock and mudlock were often the only rewards for endurance. The gold was not there to grab and run with.

This book is an entertaining compendium of an amazing period. It was built on painstaking research and short-story biographies. The vivid portraits are full of details and include an exciting cast of characters: George Carmack and Skookum, Jim Mason, Belinda Mulrooney, Mike Mahoney, Soapy Smith, Martha Purdy, Jack London, Ed Jesson, Stroller White, Klondy Nelson, Felix Pedro, Jujira Wada, Fannie Quigley, and Wyatt Earp. There are also period photos and author's notes, as well as an extensive bibiliography.

In the depression that began in 1893, people had no unemployment insurance or welfare programs. The promise of gold lured many of them, and by 1897, "Ho! For the Klondike!" rang out across the land. North America's last gold rush had begun.

Few of the adventurous schemers and dreamers had any idea of what they were getting into. The Klondike River was just a name to them, and the fact that the gold lay buried 50 or 60 feet in permafrost meant nothing to the uninitiated.

Sailing through Southeast Alaska's Inside Passage, with stinking chickens, sheep, and pigs, and then crossing either the White Pass at Skagway or the Chilkoot Pass at Dyea jolted most people into the reality of the hardships of thier quest. The Northwest Mounted Police allowed no one to enter Canada without enough food and supplies to last a year. That meant at least half a ton to transport. Most stampeders moved their own outfits by taking 50 to 75 pounds at a time 5 to 10 miles, caching it, and then returning for the next load. Icelock and mudlock were often the only rewards for endurance. The gold was not there to grab and run with.

This book is an entertaining compendium of an amazing period. It was built on painstaking research and short-story biographies. The vivid portraits are full of details and include an exciting cast of characters: George Carmack and Skookum, Jim Mason, Belinda Mulrooney, Mike Mahoney, Soapy Smith, Martha Purdy, Jack London, Ed Jesson, Stroller White, Klondy Nelson, Felix Pedro, Jujira Wada, Fannie Quigley, and Wyatt Earp. There are also period photos and author's notes, as well as an extensive bibiliography.

Going for the Gold Cover

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