Novels about Gifted Children: Historical Novels

The novels in this list feature gifted characters in historical settings, providing gifted children not only with a way to discover protagonists with whom to identify but also with an immersive experience in history.

The novels in this list feature gifted characters in historical settings, providing gifted children not only with a way to discover protagonists with whom to identify but also with an immersive experience in history.

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Taking Control

Author: Love, Ann

Subjects: Leadership; Historical Adventure; Ancient Greece; Alexander the Great

Age: 9, 10, 11, 12

Grade: 4, 5, 6, 7

Pages: 137

ISBN: 978-0-89824-998-9

Order code: 9989

Price: $14.99
Website price: $10.00

Class sets: 10 or more: $7.00 each.
Order code: 9989S

Taking Control Cover

Julian is on a class trip to a museum when he meets Mr. Callisthenes, a strange figure who offers to take Julian to the past to teach him about Alexander the Great, a legendary hero who is nothing more than a name to most modern children. Julian, bored with history as dusty artifacts locked in display cases, agrees, and so begins a series of adventures during which Julian travels back in time to find himself present for each of the significant events in Alexander's life—not just as a witness but as an active participant.

On his first trip, Julian witnesses the now-famous scene of young Alexander gentling the great horse Bucephalus. During his next trip, Julian is present as Alexander's father, King Philip, is assassinated, and Alexander becomes ruler. Later Julian goes with Alexander to Troy to honor Achilles and make his claim as Achilles’s successor. Julian is at the Battle of Issus when Alexander defeats Darius, King of the Persians, and begins to subdue the Persian Empire. He watches the taking of Tyre and the slaughter of the townspeople. He sees Alexander going to consult the Oracle of Ammon in Siwa, and he and his sister Melanie are in attendance when Darius is killed, when Alexander decides to return to Macedonia, and finally when the great leader dies. Each visit to the ancient world provides Julian with a more complete understanding of the brilliant, ambitious, complex man who was Alexander the Great.

Julian is on a class trip to a museum when he meets Mr. Callisthenes, a strange figure who offers to take Julian to the past to teach him about Alexander the Great, a legendary hero who is nothing more than a name to most modern children. Julian, bored with history as dusty artifacts locked in display cases, agrees, and so begins a series of adventures during which Julian travels back in time to find himself present for each of the significant events in Alexander's life—not just as a witness but as an active participant.

On his first trip, Julian witnesses the now-famous scene of young Alexander gentling the great horse Bucephalus. During his next trip, Julian is present as Alexander's father, King Philip, is assassinated, and Alexander becomes ruler. Later Julian goes with Alexander to Troy to honor Achilles and make his claim as Achilles’s successor. Julian is at the Battle of Issus when Alexander defeats Darius, King of the Persians, and begins to subdue the Persian Empire. He watches the taking of Tyre and the slaughter of the townspeople. He sees Alexander going to consult the Oracle of Ammon in Siwa, and he and his sister Melanie are in attendance when Darius is killed, when Alexander decides to return to Macedonia, and finally when the great leader dies. Each visit to the ancient world provides Julian with a more complete understanding of the brilliant, ambitious, complex man who was Alexander the Great.

Taking Control Cover

Taking Control Sample Pages:

The Key to Honor

Author: Wanttaja, Ronald

Subjects: American History; Leadership; War of 1812; Maritime History; Sailing Ships

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

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

Order code: 2702

Price: $14.99
Website price: $10.00

Class sets: 10 or more: $7.00 each.
Order code: 2702S

The Key to Honor Cover

A Pacific Northwest Writers Conference Award Winner

High praise from the Sea Room: “A perfect book for young adults...it demonstrates civility and honor, teaches leadership, teaches the nautical stuff along the way, is a bit better than reality..., and feels authentic.... Highly recommended....”

Set during the War of 1812, The Key to Honor is filled with maritime action and images. Young Nate Lawton’s bravery in combat aboard the U.S.S. Constitution in her famous victory over the H.M.S. Guerriere has earned him midshipman’s rank, but he hides a guilty secret: he deserted his post during the battle. Although everyone saw him save the Constitution's captain, no one saw him hide from the rest of the fight. Nate is determined to regain his honor, and it looks as though he will soon have his chance. He has been assigned to the Chesapeake in Boston Harbor. A pair of British frigates, led by the H.M.S. Shannon, blockade the harbor, and the Chesapeake’s Captain Lawrence is under heavy pressure to deal with the blockade and reopen Boston’s vital trade.

Nate must first discover what honor is. Does it lie in the senseless duels fought by his superior officers? The arrogant leadership shown by his fellow midshipmen? Or in overcoming the contempt of the experienced seamen directed toward him as their fifteen-year-old leader? One of the shortest battles of the early U.S. Navy provides Nate’s answers and the novel’s finale.

Readers become one with Nate as he shares his thoughts and feelings, which are juxtaposed with Navy protocol and shown both aboard and off ship. The author’s extensive research is deftly blended with his smooth writing style to enhance the novel’s superb realism, from dialogue and full-bodied characterization to ships’ details, Navy rules, confrontational scenes, and the historic final battle.

“...fascinating...a gripping naval story hard to lay down, it is also a coming-of-age story, a novel of character development that far surpasses many naval stories for adults.” – John Forester

A Pacific Northwest Writers Conference Award Winner

High praise from the Sea Room: “A perfect book for young adults...it demonstrates civility and honor, teaches leadership, teaches the nautical stuff along the way, is a bit better than reality..., and feels authentic.... Highly recommended....”

Set during the War of 1812, The Key to Honor is filled with maritime action and images. Young Nate Lawton’s bravery in combat aboard the U.S.S. Constitution in her famous victory over the H.M.S. Guerriere has earned him midshipman’s rank, but he hides a guilty secret: he deserted his post during the battle. Although everyone saw him save the Constitution's captain, no one saw him hide from the rest of the fight. Nate is determined to regain his honor, and it looks as though he will soon have his chance. He has been assigned to the Chesapeake in Boston Harbor. A pair of British frigates, led by the H.M.S. Shannon, blockade the harbor, and the Chesapeake’s Captain Lawrence is under heavy pressure to deal with the blockade and reopen Boston’s vital trade.

Nate must first discover what honor is. Does it lie in the senseless duels fought by his superior officers? The arrogant leadership shown by his fellow midshipmen? Or in overcoming the contempt of the experienced seamen directed toward him as their fifteen-year-old leader? One of the shortest battles of the early U.S. Navy provides Nate’s answers and the novel’s finale.

Readers become one with Nate as he shares his thoughts and feelings, which are juxtaposed with Navy protocol and shown both aboard and off ship. The author’s extensive research is deftly blended with his smooth writing style to enhance the novel’s superb realism, from dialogue and full-bodied characterization to ships’ details, Navy rules, confrontational scenes, and the historic final battle.

“...fascinating...a gripping naval story hard to lay down, it is also a coming-of-age story, a novel of character development that far surpasses many naval stories for adults.” – John Forester

The Key to Honor Cover

The Key to Honor Sample Pages:

The Price of Command

Author: Wanttaja, Ronald

Subjects: American History; Leadership; War of 1812; Maritime History; Sailing Ships

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

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

Order code: 2869

Price: $14.99
Website price: $10.00

Class sets: 10 or more: $7.00 each.
Order code: 2869S

The Price of Command Cover

The Battle of Lake Erie took place a little more than three months after the battle between the U.S.S. Chesapeake and the British H.M.S. Shannon. In this follow-up novel to The Key to Honor, Midshipman Nate Lawton is sent to Lake Erie to help man the rough frontier fleet built by Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry.

To his initial delight, Nate finds that a shortage of officers places him in a much higher position than his limited experience would normally bring. The fortunes of war catapult him to an even higher rank: the acting first lieutenant of a brig of war. But command has its price. Nate’s captain is unwilling to pay it, and he uses Nate as a scapegoat for the dirty work. The captain thinks nothing of bending the truth to glorify his own career and to ruin Nate if he speaks out. Now Nate is caught between the rocks of naval discipline and the shoals of his superior officer’s unbending ambition, and he must decide what to do.

The Battle of Lake Erie took place a little more than three months after the battle between the U.S.S. Chesapeake and the British H.M.S. Shannon. In this follow-up novel to The Key to Honor, Midshipman Nate Lawton is sent to Lake Erie to help man the rough frontier fleet built by Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry.

To his initial delight, Nate finds that a shortage of officers places him in a much higher position than his limited experience would normally bring. The fortunes of war catapult him to an even higher rank: the acting first lieutenant of a brig of war. But command has its price. Nate’s captain is unwilling to pay it, and he uses Nate as a scapegoat for the dirty work. The captain thinks nothing of bending the truth to glorify his own career and to ruin Nate if he speaks out. Now Nate is caught between the rocks of naval discipline and the shoals of his superior officer’s unbending ambition, and he must decide what to do.

The Price of Command Cover

The Price of Command Sample Pages:

Finding Her Way

Author: Faigen, Anne

Subjects: American History; Relationships; Gifted Women and Girls; Growing Up Gifted; Transcendentalism

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

Grade: 8, 9, 10, 11, 12

Order code: 4055

Price: $14.99
Website price: $10.00

Class sets: 10 or more: $7.00 each.
Order code: 4055S

Finding Her Way Cover

“A novel that will illuminate Thoreau, Walden Pond, Margaret Fuller, and the Transcendentalists for secondary students” – KLIATT Magazine

Concord, Massachusetts, 1845. Fifteen-year-old Rachel is neglecting her farm chores in order to sketch and draw. To make money for her art supplies, she raises hens for their eggs. But a drought forces her father to ask for that money for the farm. Understanding his need, but miserable when he calls her life’s ambition to draw a “little hobby,” Rachel runs to Walden Pond to recover. There, she is befriended by Henry David Thoreau, who is living “an experiment” in Walden Woods.

During a subsequent visit to Thoreau, Rachel meets Margaret Fuller, author, editor of The Transcendentalist Journal, reporter, and America’s first female foreign correspondent. Fuller takes samples of Rachel’s art with her to New York for an opinion about an art tutor. Gino Riccardi agrees to instruct Rachel by mail until she can come to New York.

Rachel’s family visits her brother in Boston, and Rachel, not allowed into the factory, contents herself with sketching a young boy warming himself by the fire in the courtyard. She is shocked by the number of children working there.

Rachel’s talent reaches new highs with the sketch of the young Simon, and Riccardi notifies her that she must now come to New York for instruction. With no means of living in New York, Rachel wants Thoreau to intercede with Riccardi to keep her lessons coming by mail, but Thoreau instead tells her about his friends, the Emersons, who live in New York and have room for her (William is Ralph’s brother). Their conversation is interrupted by shouts of Rachel's brother falling into frozen Walden Pond while ice fishing. Thoreau rushes out to save him.

With the family now in debt to Thoreau for their son’s life, he asks that they express their gratitude by allowing Rachel to stay with the Emersons and study art in New York. He also asks for the portrait of Simon.

In the spring, Rachel says goodbye to Thoreau and her beloved woods; he too prepares to leave Walden.

Throughout the novel, the author is careful to contrast for the reader the difference between commonly accepted attitudes and expectations and those of the Transcendentalists, who judged people in defiance of conventional expectations. This book is an accessible introduction to the Transcendentalists and to some of the important issues that characterized their thought.

“A novel that will illuminate Thoreau, Walden Pond, Margaret Fuller, and the Transcendentalists for secondary students” – KLIATT Magazine 

Concord, Massachusetts, 1845. Fifteen-year-old Rachel is neglecting her farm chores in order to sketch and draw. To make money for her art supplies, she raises hens for their eggs. But a drought forces her father to ask for that money for the farm. Understanding his need, but miserable when he calls her life’s ambition to draw a “little hobby,” Rachel runs to Walden Pond to recover. There, she is befriended by Henry David Thoreau, who is living “an experiment” in Walden Woods.

During a subsequent visit to Thoreau, Rachel meets Margaret Fuller, author, editor of The Transcendentalist Journal, reporter, and America’s first female foreign correspondent. Fuller takes samples of Rachel’s art with her to New York for an opinion about an art tutor. Gino Riccardi agrees to instruct Rachel by mail until she can come to New York.

Rachel’s family visits her brother in Boston, and Rachel, not allowed into the factory, contents herself with sketching a young boy warming himself by the fire in the courtyard. She is shocked by the number of children working there.

Rachel’s talent reaches new highs with the sketch of the young Simon, and Riccardi notifies her that she must now come to New York for instruction. With no means of living in New York, Rachel wants Thoreau to intercede with Riccardi to keep her lessons coming by mail, but Thoreau instead tells her about his friends, the Emersons, who live in New York and have room for her (William is Ralph’s brother). Their conversation is interrupted by shouts of Rachel's brother falling into frozen Walden Pond while ice fishing. Thoreau rushes out to save him.

With the family now in debt to Thoreau for their son’s life, he asks that they express their gratitude by allowing Rachel to stay with the Emersons and study art in New York. He also asks for the portrait of Simon.

In the spring, Rachel says goodbye to Thoreau and her beloved woods; he too prepares to leave Walden.

Throughout the novel, the author is careful to contrast for the reader the difference between commonly accepted attitudes and expectations and those of the Transcendentalists, who judged people in defiance of conventional expectations. This book is an accessible introduction to the Transcendentalists and to some of the important issues that characterized their thought.

Finding Her Way Cover

Only the Birds Are Free: The Story of a War-Child in Greece

Author: Cornwell, Anna Christake

Subjects: Greek-Americans; European History; World War II

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

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

Order code: 5728

Price: $14.99
Website price: $10.00

Class sets: 10 or more: $7.00 each.
Order code: 5728S

Only the Birds Are Free: The Story of a War-Child in Greece Cover

Born in the United States to Greek parents, Anna Christake Cornwell was trapped in Greece during the Nazi occupation in World War II. Her mother and father had returned to Greece to educate their young son Tasio and their daughter Anna in the mother tongue and the ways of the homeland. Underlying the parents' concern was their daughter's free spirit, which seemed so different from what was expected of a proper girl in Greece. In 1940, in spite of the growing danger of world war, her father opted to return to the United States, leaving the rest of the family to follow later. But before they could book passage, they were trapped by the war, and Mama was left to protect her two young children from the Nazis for the next five and a half years.

The horrors of war brought Anna, Tasio, and Mama to know hunger and the constant threat of starvation, disease, exposure to the elements, and enemy bullets. Constantly on the alert for raids, the refugees often ran to the mountains to hide, abandoning what little of their belongings remained.

As was the case with everyone they knew, Mama and her children came to hate the Nazis and side with the resistance. As she grew up, Anna’s natural ability marked her for leadership in the resistance, and by the time she was fourteen, she was a leader in the youth resistance movement—with her mother’s full approval. What was proper behavior for a young girl had changed dramatically under the pressure of German occupation.

Only the Birds Are Free is a story of action and emotion. The characters are robust, and the descriptive passages are unforgettable. Anna’s story was originally published in Greek; this is her English translation. Anna and her family now reside in New York.

Born in the United States to Greek parents, Anna Christake Cornwell was trapped in Greece during the Nazi occupation in World War II. Her mother and father had returned to Greece to educate their young son Tasio and their daughter Anna in the mother tongue and the ways of the homeland. Underlying the parents' concern was their daughter's free spirit, which seemed so different from what was expected of a proper girl in Greece. In 1940, in spite of the growing danger of world war, her father opted to return to the United States, leaving the rest of the family to follow later. But before they could book passage, they were trapped by the war, and Mama was left to protect her two young children from the Nazis for the next five and a half years.

The horrors of war brought Anna, Tasio, and Mama to know hunger and the constant threat of starvation, disease, exposure to the elements, and enemy bullets. Constantly on the alert for raids, the refugees often ran to the mountains to hide, abandoning what little of their belongings remained. 

As was the case with everyone they knew, Mama and her children came to hate the Nazis and side with the resistance. As she grew up, Anna’s natural ability marked her for leadership in the resistance, and by the time she was fourteen, she was a leader in the youth resistance movement—with her mother’s full approval. What was proper behavior for a young girl had changed dramatically under the pressure of German occupation.

Only the Birds Are Free is a story of action and emotion. The characters are robust, and the descriptive passages are unforgettable. Anna’s story was originally published in Greek; this is her English translation. Anna and her family now reside in New York.

Only the Birds Are Free: The Story of a War-Child in Greece Cover

My Friend in Africa

Author: Franck, Frederick

Subjects: History; Personal Experience; Africa; Medicine; Schweitzer, Dr. Albert

Age: 8, 9, 10

Grade: 3, 4, 5

ISBN: 978-0-88092-325-5

Order code: 3253

Price: $14.99
Website price: $10.00

Class sets: 10 or more: $7.00 each.
Order code: 3253S

My Friend in Africa Cover

This is the story of a young African boy who is brought to Schweitzer’s clinic for an infection in his foot. There, he comes to admire the doctor and wishes to become a doctor himself, but before he can do so, there is much he has to learn and unlearn. He finds a place and a set of duties at the hospital, only to be sent away by Dr. Schweitzer when his foot has healed. He later returns as a doctor.

My Friend in Africa is based on a true story and is delightfully illustrated by Dr. Franck. It was originally published as a joint publication with the Schweitzer Institute for the Humanities.

This is the story of a young African boy who is brought to Schweitzer’s clinic for an infection in his foot. There, he comes to admire the doctor and wishes to become a doctor himself, but before he can do so, there is much he has to learn and unlearn. He finds a place and a set of duties at the hospital, only to be sent away by Dr. Schweitzer when his foot has healed. He later returns as a doctor.

My Friend in Africa is based on a true story and is delightfully illustrated by Dr. Franck. It was originally published as a joint publication with the Schweitzer Institute for the Humanities.

My Friend in Africa Cover

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