Category Archives: Historical Fiction




Yep Laurence. 2008. THE EARTH DRAGON AWAKES: THE SAN FRANCISCO EARTHQUAKE OF 1906. NY: Harper Collins. ISBN 978-0060008468.


THE EARTH DRAGON AWAKES is a fictional historical account of the devastating 1906 San Francisco Earthquake.  Readers experience this tragedy through the eyes of two boys named Henry Travises and Chin. Henry and Chin are friends growing up in San Francisco at the beginning of the twenty century.  Chin, whose family works for the Travises family, is separated from Henry in the aftermath of this terrible disaster.

Laurence Yep masterfully chronicles the hardships the boys and their families undergo while they attempt to rebuild their lives. THE EARTH DRAGON AWAKES is riddled through with historical facts while still painting a believable set of characters and setting. This book “will appeal to readers who enjoy action-packed survival stories” (Prekins n.d.).

THE EARTH DRAGON AWAKES is an entertaining and engrossing story that sneaks in a three-fold educational punch.  First, the book has well research and in-depth historical facts about the Earthquake of 1906.  Laurence Yep also “weaves snippets of information on plate tectonics and more very neatly around his prose” (Threadgill n.d.).  Lastly, THE EARTH DRAGON AWAKES gives children, ages 8-12, an inside view of Chinese-American immigrant culture in the early 1900s.  This book is sure to be a favorable choice of children, parents, and teachers.


Main Characters:

Henry – An 8 year old boy who lives in a wealthy banking household in 1906 San Francisco.  He is best friends with Chin.

Chin – He is a nine-year-old Chinese immigrant whose father is a house servant to a wealthy family in San Francisco. He is friends with Henry.


Enrichment Activities:

Laurence Yep beautifully brings to life the impact the San Francisco earthquake of 1906 had on the Chinese-American people in THE EARTH DRAGON AWAKES. This book could lead to a discussion of a multitude of subjects with children.  For instance, the story  highlights the history of San Francisco, Chinese immigrant culture, earthquakes, and so on.  Pairing this book with non-fictional texts on this subject would enhance the educational aspects of this tale.



Texas Bluebonnet Award nominee


Book Trailer:


What to Read to Next:

Osborne, Mary Pope. 2001. Ill. Sal Murdocca MAGIC TREEHOUSE: EARTHQUAKES IN THE EARLY MORNING.  NY: Random House.  ISBN 978-0679890706


Tarshis, Lauren. 2012. I SURVIVED #6: I SURVIVED THE SAN FRANCISCO EARTHQUAKE, 1906. NY: Scholastic. ISBN 978-0545206990



Prekins, Linda. n.d. “Editorial Review: Booklist.” Amazon. Accessed April 2014, 9.

Threadgill, Catherine. n.d. “Editorial Review: School Library Journal.” Amazon. Accessed April 9, 2014.



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Book Review: THE GREEN GLASS SEA – written by Ellen Klages


Klages, Ellen. 2006. THE GREEN GLASS SEA. New York, NY: Viking Juvenile. ISBN 978-0670061341.


THE GREEN GLASS SEA is a historical fiction novel and coming-of-age story set during World War II in Los Alamos, New Mexico. In 1943, Dewey (10) and Suze (11) were both transplanted to a top-secret and remote military base in Los Alamos.  Ellen Klages tells the story of the struggles that Dewey, Suze, and their scientist families endured during the years leading up to the development of the atomic bomb.


The Good:

Good historical fiction “tells fictional stories while weaving in historical faces, people, and places” (Vardell 2008, 178). Dewey and Suze’s friendship and dialog is “compelling” and appealing to girls aged 10-15 (Engelfried n.d.).  The relationship between the main characters in this tale is a “celebration of intelligence and nonconformity” that children will sure to love (The Historical Novel Society n.d.).


The Bad:

The book touches on many accurate historical details such as “cigarette brands and radio models, as well as the names of the famous scientists who worked on the Manhattan Project” (Kirkus Reviews 2010).  Unfortunately, these well researched and abundant historical antidotes distract from the fictional tale and it “fails to come to life, making [the story] unconvincing and uninteresting” (Kirkus Reviews 2010).


Main Characters:

  • Dewey – Friend of Suze. 10 year old girl sent to live in Los Alamos with his scientist father after her grandmother has a stroke.
  • Suze – Friend of Dewey. 11 year old girl who has a hard time adjusting to life in Los Alamos.


Enrichment Activities:

This book could be a jumping off point to initiate a discussion on the history of World War II and the atomic bomb.  The award winning non-fiction book BOMB: THE RACE TO BUILD AND STEAL THE WORLD’S MOST DANGEROUS WEAPON would be a wonderful book to pair with the THE GREEN GLASS SEA.  Scholastic also has an excellent teacher extension activity on their website:


Awards: (from author’s website:

  • Winner, 2007 Scott O’Dell Award for Historical Fiction
  • Winner, 2007 Judy Lopez Memorial Award for Children’s Literature
  • Winner, 2007 New Mexico State Book Award (YA)
  • Finalist, 2007 Quill Awards (Young Adult)
  • Finalist, Northern California Book Awards, 2007 (Children’s)
  • Finalist, Locus Awards, 2007 (Best First Novel)
  • Book Sense #1 Children’s Pick – Winter 2006/2007
  • One Book, One Nebraska for Kids – 2009
  • 2009 Rebecca Caudill Young Readers Award Master List, (Illinois)
  • 2008 NeNe Award List (Hawaii)
  • 2008 Bluegrass Award Master List (Kentucky)
  • 2007-08 Maine Student Book Award List
  • 2007-08 Isinglass Teen Read List (New Hampshire)
  • 2009 Rhode Island Teen Book Award List
  • 2008-09 South Carolina Junior Book Award List


Ellen Klages Reads from the Final Pages of THE GREEN GLASS SEA:


What to Read to Next:

Sheinkin, Steve. 2012. BOMB: THE RACE TO BUILD AND STEAL THE WORLD’S MOST DANGEROUS WEAPON. New York, NY: Flash Point. ISBN 978-1596434875


Klages, Ellen. 2010. WHITE SANDS, RED MENACE. New York, NY: Puffin. ISBN 978-0142415184



Engelfried, Steven. n.d. “School Library Journal: Editorial Reviews.” Amazon. Accessed April 6, 2014.

Kirkus Reviews. 2010. “Kirkus Reviews.” THE GREEN GLASS SEA. May 10. Accessed April 6, 2014.

The Historical Novel Society. n.d. “THE GREEN SEA OF GLASS.” Accessed April 9, 2014.

Vardell, Sylvia M. 2008. Children’s Literature in Action: A Librarian’s Guide. Westport, CT: Libraries Unlimited.


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Audio Book Review: MOON OVER MANIFEST – written by Claire Vanderpool & narrated by Justine Eyre Cassandra Campbell, & Kirby Heyborne


Vanderpool, Claire. 2011. Narr. Justine Eyre, Cassandra Campbell, & Kirby Heyborne. MOON OVER MANIFEST. Weaverville, NC: Listening Library. ISBN 978-0-307-94193-0.


MOON OVER MANIFEST is a Newberry Award winning historical middle-grade novel set in the small town of Manifest, Kansas. In 1936, 12-year-old Abilene Tucker is sent by her father to live with an old friend named Shady.  Missing her father, Abilene seeks to feel closer to him by unearthing information about his past life in Manifest.  When Abilene discovers an old cigar box buried under the floorboards with letters and a map dating back to 1918, it ignites her imagination.  In researching the contents of the cigar box, Abilene uncovers the rich historical tapestry of the many people living in this small mining town.


MOON OVER MANIFEST is an intricate network of richly historical and engrossing stories within stories. The history of Manifest, Kansas is cleverly told through narration by 12 year old Abilene & Miss Sadie, “newspaper columns from 1917 to 1918, … while letters home from a soldier fighting in WWI add yet another narrative layer” (Isaacs n.d.).  These different methods of developing this historical novel are cleverly set apart in the audiobook by three different readers speaking the parts.


Claire Vanderpool “draws in [young] readers without overwhelming us with historical details and long descriptions” (Vardell 2008, 190).  This story is a perfect blend of relatable fictional characters and historical facts while still staying true to the dialog, setting, “attitudes, values, and morals of the times” (Vardell 2008, 190-191).  Children in grade 5-8 will connect with this “thoroughly enjoyable, unique page-turner” (Stienberg 2010).


Main Characters:

  • Abilene Tucker12 year old protagonist sent by her father to live in Manifest, Kansas
  • Miss Sadie – tells Abilene stories about the past
  • Gideon Tucker — Abilene’s father
  • Pastor Shady Howard – Abilene’s caretaker in Manifest


Enrichment Activities:

Children who read historical fiction “’often will want to learn more about the facts behind the story” (Vardell 2008, 188).  This book would be perfect to pair with many non-fiction informational history books.  Moreover, Random House has a freely accessible MOON OVER MANIFEST online lesson plan for teachers:



  • 2011 Newbery Medal
  • Spur Award – Best western juvenile fiction
  • Kansas Notable Book


Meet-the-Author Book Reading:


What to Listen to Next:

Vanderpool, Claire. 2013. Narr. Cassandra Campbell. NAVIGATING EARLY. Weaverville, NC: Listening Library. ISBN 978-0385361040.


Philbrick, Rodman. 2013. Narr. William Durfis. THE MOSTLY TRUE ADVENTURES OF HOMER P. FIGG. Weaverville, NC: Listening Library. ISBN 978-0739372326.



Isaacs, Kathleen. n.d. “Booklist: Editorial Reviews.” Amazon. Accessed April 4, 2014.

Stienberg, Renee. 2010. “School Library Journal: Editorial Reviews.” Amazon. Accessed April 5, 2014.

Vardell, Sylvia M. 2008. Children’s Literatue in Action: A Librarian’s Guide. Westport, CT: Libraies Unlimited.


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