Thursday, November 28, 2013

Historical Titles

Stone, Phoebe. Romeo Blue

May 28th 2013, Arthur A. Levine Books
Nominated for the Cybils by Alex Baugh

In this sequel to The Romeo and Juliet Code, Flissy is still living along the coast in Bottlebay, Maine with her Uncle Gideon and grandmother while her mother remains in England. Derek, a foster child who has been trying to find his father, has a letter from him, and Flissy is concerned that Derek will leave to be with him. World War II encroaches on everything-- ration booklets are coming, Flissy's family are working as spies, and most of the young men they know are being called off to war. Bob Henley has been called up, and he asks Miami to marry him, and also leaves a book of his poems, and Flissy has to deal with a publisher that is interested in them. While Flissy still has a huge crush on Derek, he has other things on his mind. Eventually, Flissy's mother comes back to Maine, and Flissy has to deal with even more family drama.
Strengths: This has a lot of really good details about every day life during the war, and even more details about what it was like to live in a coastal area when spies were thought to be everywhere. There is so much going on, so girls who like drama will be drawn to this.
Weaknesses: This seemed a bit over the top to me, and I never really liked Flissy.

15953254 Anderson, T. Neill. City of the Dead.
August 1st 2013, Charlesbridge Publishing
Nominated for the Cybils by the publisher.

When the bad weather rolls into Galveston, Texas in 1900, people don't know how bad the flooding will be. Daisy and her family hunker down in Lucas Terrace with a lot of her neighbors who see their own houses sailing down the streets. Albert and other boys from St. Mary's Orphanage try to keep the nuns and children together away from the rising waters. Sam struggles to help people in the area, but gets swept away in the flood. Those who survive see the houses tumble down and hundreds of corpses washing away to sea.
Strengths: Somewhat like Blizzard of Glass, (although a fictionalized account) this was rich in details of what the devastation of the storm was like from the points of view of various people. Readers who like survival stories with lots of gory details will be pleased with this one. Historical photos add a lot.
Weaknesses: It was hard to keep the characters straight because they were all undergoing similar, very harrowing experiences. I had to put this down for a while because it got to be a bit too much.

Picture Karwoski, Gail. When Hurrican Katrina Hit Home
June 4th 2013 by History Press
Nominated for the Cybils by Storm's Edge
Copy received from the publisher.

Chazz lives with his grandmother Adele in New Orleans because his mother, Leah, is off studying for a nursing degree and doesn't have time to care for him. Adele is elderly and has recently broken her ankle, but is glad to have Marie working for her. Marie has a daughter and her two children, Lyric and Quen, living with her. Quen has been very ill, so as Hurrican Katrina is on its way, Marie takes Adele and Chazz to her home in the Ninth Ward to take a look at Quen. Of course, once the storm hits, they are all stuck there, along with Chazz's dog, Niki. The group ends up having to stay in the attic, where they ration the little food and water they have and try to take care of the sick baby and Adele. Eventually, Adele and Quen are airlifted out together. After more time, the others are taken to the Convention Center, where they find worse conditions than there were in. Eventually, they all are lucky enough to survive, and the book follows a bit of the rebuilding of their lives.
Strengths: This had good, unflinching descriptions of the difficulties this storm created. Where to go to the bathroom, creepy people boating around wanting to possibly attack others, what the Convention Center was like-- all interesting details. There are not a whole lot of books about this historic event.
Weaknesses:I thought there would be a little more character development with Lyric or Chazz. Also, this is not formatted well for middle school. The unattractive cover and very small print will turn off many readers.

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