Currently viewing the category: "Historical Fiction"

Rosie Revere, Engineer
Author: Andrea Beaty; Illustrated by: David Roberts
Published: September 3, 2013 by Abrams

A Guest Review by Jennifer Zafetti

Summary: Rosie is an ambitious young girl who aspires to be an engineer. She creates an invention for her uncle, but becomes embarrassed when he laughs at her. She does not feel supported , until she meets her Great-Great-Aunt Rose who is both an adventurer and an explorer. Her great-great-aunt yearns to fly so Rosie builds her a contraption made out of cheese. When her great-great-aunt laughs at her failure, Rosie becomes disheartened and swears to never invent again. Rose provides her with comfort and explains that, “Your brilliant first flop was a raging success.” This provides Rosie with the encouragement she needs to try again!

Review: I really enjoyed reading this book! I think that it is so important for kids to embrace failures! If Rosie had admitted defeat after her first failure, she would have never been able to be successful. Rosie’s perserverance allowed her to create a flying contraption for her aunt. Furthermore, the rhyming sentences created an engaging tone that kept me wondering what would happen next. This is a great story to read-aloud to a classroom! Additionally, the illustrations on each page really add to the story and provide detailed visuals to accompany Rosie’s different inventions. Overall, I think that this book can be inspirational for all ages—the simple message: never give up!

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: Rosie Revere, Engineer is an uplifting story in which failure turns into success. Teachers should use this children’s book to teach students about the importance of perseverance. When faced with challenges, students should use them as an opportunity to grow. If you believe in yourself, you can achieve anything!

Also, the teacher can pause the reading to ask for predictions.

Discussion Questions: How did Rosie’s mood change throughout the story?; When is a time that you persevered when facing a challenge?; When is a time that you have learned from a failure? How do Rosie’s family members impact her actions?

Flagged Passage: 

Read This If You Loved: Ada Twist, Scientist by Andrea Beaty, and The Most Magnificent Thing by Ashley Spires

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Thank you, Jennifer!



The Many Reflections of Miss Jane Deming
Author: J. Anderson Coats
Published February 28th, 2017 by Atheneum Books for Young Readers

Summary: High-spirited young Jane is excited to be part of Mr. Mercer’s plan to bring Civil War widows and orphans to Washington Territory—but life out west isn’t at all what she expected.

Washington Territory is just the place for men of broad mind and sturdy constitution—and girls too, Jane figures, or Mr. Mercer wouldn’t have allowed her to come on his expedition to bring unmarried girls and Civil War widows out west.

Jane’s constitution is sturdy enough. She’s been taking care of her baby brother ever since Papa was killed in the war and her young stepmother had to start working long days at the mill. The problem, she fears, is her mind. It might not be suitably broad because she had to leave school to take care of little Jer. Still, a new life awaits in Washington Territory, and Jane plans to make the best of it.

Except Seattle doesn’t turn out to be quite as advertised. In this rough-and-tumble frontier town, Jane is going to need every bit of that broad mind and sturdy constitution—not to mention a good sense of humor and a stubborn streak a mile wide.

Review: I didn’t know much about the Washington Territory. I knew that it had to have been settled quite like Oregon (I’m the Oregon Trail generation!) or California, but I didn’t know about the boat expeditions, or any expeditions for that matter, to the territory. It was fascinating to read about Jane’s trip to Washington as well as the complicated family that she traveled with. Jane’s story is not only a look at the history of America and Washington State, it is also a story of the perception about the role of woman in towns and families. Ms. D, in Jane’s story, is such an interesting character. She, as a very young uneducated woman, married Jane’s father who died in the Civil War. Now she is still young and pretty but has a preteen stepdaughter and a toddler son, both things that make you less of an attractive new wife. Jane also has us look at the idea of woman on the frontier because she learns to step outside of the roles her stepmother wants her to have and expand into a well-rounded frontier girl. 

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: One thing I found disappointing was the lack of back matter in the book though I think this may be where the best classroom opportunity comes from. I assume that most young readers won’t know this time period and the west before it was America, so the reader themselves could use Jane’s story to jump start an inquiry look into the Washington Territory, the expeditions there (were they all in boats?!), and how life was different there than in the east.

Discussion Questions: How does Jane break the female mold in this story?; Why isn’t Ms. D as eligible as a wife as the other girls?; Why do Jane’s friends and Jane part ways a bit once they get to Washington?; Why is Jane’s paper book so important to her?; How did Mr. Mercer use propaganda to get young girls on his boat and also to get men in Washington to help pay for the expedition?; Did Miss Gower need Jane’s help or did she have another motive?

Flagged Passages: “It will need to be grand if it’s to fit the seven hundred unmarried girls and war widows Mr. Mercer plans to bring out west to teach in the schools of Washington Territory or to turn their hands to other useful employment.

Or, if you are Mrs. D, marry one of the many prosperous gentlemen bachelors pining for quality female society.

She’s pinned all her hopes on it. Mrs. D hated working in the Lowell mills. She hated leaving her kitchen and hearth and standing for fourteen hours a day before a loom, sneezing from all the dust and lint and not being able to sleep at night because of the ringing in her ears. She wants to be a wife again, to have someone else go out to work while she keeps house. If she has to go all the way to Washington Territory to do it, by golly, that’s what she’ll do.

After Mrs. D paid our passage, Mr. Mercer gave her a copy of a pamphlet he wrote about the advantages and charms of Washington Territory. She glanced at it once, rolled her eyes, then left it on her chair in teh dining room. I snatched it up and hid it in my secret carpetbag, and when she’s not around, I read it.

I’ve read every word hundreds of times. Even the big words I must puzzle over. Even the boring chapters on Lumber and Trade.” (p. 5-6)

Read This If You Loved: The Oregon Trail, The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle by Avi, The Very Nearly Honorable Society series by Caroline Carlson, The Chronicles of the Black Tulip series by Barry Wolverton, Rory’s Promise by Michaela MacColl, Hattie series by Kirby Larson, May Amelia series by Jennifer L. Holm

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risking exposure

Risking Exposure
Author: Jeanne Moran
Published September 13th, 2013 by CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform

Summary: Munich, Germany, 1938. The Nazis are in power and war is on the horizon.

Timid Sophie Adler is a member of Hitler Youth and a talented amateur photographer. When she contracts polio, her Youth leader supplies her with film. Photographs she takes of fellow polio patients are turned into propaganda, mocking people with disabilities, people just like her.

Sophie’s new disability has changed her status. She has joined the ranks of the outsiders, targets of Nazi scorn and possible persecution.

Her only weapon is her camera.

Review: Sophie’s story is one that is not often told. World War II stories often focus on the impact of the Holocaust on the Jewish population of Europe; however, what happened to those in Germany who weren’t Jewish yet the Nazis felt were useless? This story looks at one girls’ version of a story, but Sophie still is “useful” to the Nazis because she is a photographer, but she has to make a choice between taking photographs of what she is told or photographs of the truth about what is going on in Germany. 

Much of Sophie’s story is universal: bullying, friendship, family issues, etc., but readers will also learn about the Hitler Youth and the beginning of Hitler’s rise in Germany.

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: In addition to being a book that should definitely be in classroom libraries, I could also see Risking Exposure being a perfect addition to World War II lit circles/text sets. Since Sophie’s story is so unique, it will make any set of books include more diverse stories about WWII.

Discussion Questions: If you were Sophie, would you go with what she knew was right or would you do what was ordered of you?; How did contracting polio change Sophie’s life?; How did being a photographer potentially save Sophie’s life?; How did Sophie’s kindness cause her to contract polio?; How is Sophie’s story different than other WWII stories you’ve read?; How do you think Sophie’s decision is going to affect her life?

Flagged Passages: “When Werner ordered me to grab my camera and follow him into the woods, I obeyed. He was the Scharfuhrer, the Master Sergeant. What else could I do?

My best friend Ronnie bolted to her feet alongside me. ‘You don’t need to go everywhere Sophie does, Renate,’ Wener said to her in his usual high-pitched whine. But she ignored him and winked at me as we crashed through the underbrush. Rennie got away with a certain level of disobedience. Younger sisters can.

But I wasn’t Werner’s sister. I couldn’t risk it.” (p. 3)

Read This If You Loved: The War that Saved my Life by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley, Hitler Youth by Susan Campbell Bartoletti

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An interview by the author of Greenhorn with the director who adapted her book to film

In 2014 I co-produced an independent film adaptation of my middle grade novel Greenhorn, the story of a young Holocaust survivor who arrives at a Brooklyn yeshiva in the 1940s with only a small box that he won’t let out of his sight. The film, like the book, concerns bullying and disabilities and is based on a true story.

The film version of the book premiered in late 2014 at the Landmark NuArt Theatre in L.A. and at The Museum of Tolerance in New York. It was named the 2015 Audience Award Winner for Best Short Film Drama at the Morris and Mollye Fogelman International Jewish Film Festival in Memphis and subsequently aired on public television in Tennessee and Kentucky.

I’ve always wondered what caught the eye of the film’s director Tom Whitus, who wrote the screenplay. Tom is not Jewish and none of his family perished in the Holocaust, so what about the novel made him want to adapt it to film? The following is my short interview with Tom about Greenhorn:

Anna: What first struck you about the book?

Tom: The story is about friendship and loyalty—and standing up to bullies. These are all themes that are as important today as they were in 1946.

Anna: Why did you want to adapt the book to film?

Tom: As much as I respect the power of reading, I knew that the film would give us an opportunity to tell the story on a larger scale. And, since I felt it was important story to tell, I hoped the film would give us a chance to tell the story to a broader audience.

Anna: What did you see as the challenges to filming it?

Tom: The biggest challenge was going to 21st Century New York City to make a film set in 1946. Fortunately, much of New York has architecture of that period, so it was just a matter of framing out all the signs of a modern city. Casting was a challenge as well, finding the boys brought up in a modern world who could look and act like the yeshiva students of 1946. We found some very talented actors to bring those roles to life.

Anna: Are you satisfied with the end result?

Tom: Yes—with this caveat. Whenever I watch the film, I always come across a scene where I say, “I could have done that better.” Still, given our constraints, I think we made a very nice film.

Anna: What do you think the film achieves that the book couldn’t?

Tom: As I said before, I think it reaches a broader audience. There are people out there who will watch the film but might not ever take the time to read the book (though I honestly think you can read the book in less time than it takes to watch the film). That said, the film brings the characters to life.

Anna: Do you think the film is important?

Tom: This is a very important film for many reasons: It is imperative that we remember the Holocaust and the toll it took; we need to remember and mourn the victims of the Holocaust and celebrate those who survived to tell the story; friendship and loyalty can overcome small minded people; and finally, those who are different—those who stutter, those who suffer from tragedy—need to be accepted and loved, not shunned and made fun of.

Anna: Why do you think young people should see the film?

Tom: I think it will help them understand what others have gone through, and how friendship, loyalty and bravery can change the world.

Greenhorn cover-full

Anna Olswanger is the author of Greenhorn and Shlemiel Crooks, a Sydney Taylor Honor Book and PJ Library Book. She has been a literary agent since 2005 and lives in the metro NYC area. Visit her online at www.olswanger.comGreenhorn was published in 2012 by NewSouth Books in hardcover and ebook.

Karen Cushman, Newbery Medalist, called the novel “a tender, touching celebration of friendship, family, and faith.” David Adler, winner of the Boston Globe-Horn Book Honor Book for Nonfiction, called it “a heartwarming and heartrending story of friendship and tragedy.”

As an aid to teachers and librarians, the publisher NewSouth posted a Classroom Guide for the book on its website:

The guide has curriculum tie-ins to the Holocaust, Judaism, World War II, Heroes and Heroines, U.S. and New York History, World History, Historical Fiction, Friendship, Community, and Family.


TMW Media distributes the film version of Greenhorn and has posted a discussion guide for the film online at

You can view the film’s trailer at

Greenhorn is an important film and book, so thank you to Anna and Tom for sharing it with us! Also, what a fascinating process to learn about!

Kellee Signature andRickiSig

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Nonfiction Wednesday

Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday is hosted by Kid Lit Frenzy and was started to help promote the reading of nonfiction texts. Most Wednesdays, we will be participating and will review a nonfiction text (though it may not always be a picture book).
Be sure to visit Kid Lit Frenzy and see what other nonfiction books are shared this week!

bubonic panic

Bubonic Panic: When Plague Invaded America
Author: Gail Jarrow
Published: May 10, 2016 by Calkins Creek

GoodReads Summary: In March 1900, San Francisco’s health department investigated a strange and horrible death in Chinatown. A man had died of bubonic plague, one of the world’s deadliest diseases. But how could that be possible? Bubonic Panic tells the true story of America’s first plague epidemic—the public health doctors who desperately fought to end it, the political leaders who tried to keep it hidden, and the brave scientists who uncovered the plague’s secrets. Once again, acclaimed author and scientific expert Gail Jarrow brings the history of a medical mystery to life in vivid and exciting detail for young readers. This title includes photographs and drawings, a glossary, a timeline, further resources, an author’s note, and source notes.

Review: I have read about the medieval plague, but I haven’t read much about the plague epidemic of the twentieth century. It was fascinating (and sad) to learn about this time period. Gail Jarrow has an incredible ability to make nonfiction material very accessible to readers. This book is a page-turner, and I had difficulty putting it down! The information is very easy to follow, yet it is complex and made me think! I will read any book by Jarrow because she really makes me think. Her texts go beyond medical information. There are themes, for example, about racism and prejudice that made me want to use this book in the classroom!

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: As with Gail Jarrow’s Fatal Fever, I think it would be wise for teachers to explore other diseases and epidemics while teaching this book. It would be particularly interesting to make connections between this book and Jarrow’s Red Madness and Fatal Fever. Students could participate in literature circles and discuss their learning. I also found the prejudice and scapegoating included in the text to be very interesting and think this would make for very worthy classroom discussions.

Discussion Questions: What role does fear play in the text? How does fear evolve? Is it often validated or invalidated? What negative consequences come with fear?; Are there any heroes in this book? Why or why not?; How can we connect the text to the modern anti-vaccination movement?

Flagged Passage:

bubonic plague spread 

Read This If You Loved: Fatal Fever: Tracking Down Typhoid Mary by Gail Jarrow; Red Madness: How a Medical Mystery Changed What We Eat by Gail Jarrow; Invincible Microbe: Tuberculosis and the Never-Ending Search for a Cure by Jim Murphy and Alison Blank


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Check out the other stops on the blog tour!:

Monday, May 16

The Nonfiction Detectives

Tuesday, May 17

KidLit Frenzy

Wednesday, May 18

Unleashing Readers

Thursday, May 19

Teach Mentor Texts

Friday, May 20

Sally’s Bookshelf

*Thank you to Kerry at Boyds Mills Press for sending this book for review!*

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“Reading the Middle Grade Mind”

Have you ever tried to steer one of your favorite kids toward one of your favorite books? You’re in eager enthusiasm mode. “Hey, you are going to LOVE this book!”

Then the kid rears back, looks like you asked him to drink a glass of hot chalk, gives you that look, and says, “Uh, thanks, but I don’t think so.”

Just like adults, kids pick books for their own reasons. And timing is everything. One week a reader might feel like something light that reflects familiar problems like, The Mother Daughter Book Club series; the next week he or she might relish the challenges of Wonder or maybe a visit to a whole to universe in The Lightning Thief or something as wacky as one of the Wimpy Kid books. It all depends on mood, just like it does with you and me. Or stress level. Or time availability. I’ve seen a 9-year old read and enjoy a Babysitter Club book – standard 3rd grade level reading—during a school week, and Wonderstruck— 5thgrade level reading–on her vacation. Makes sense. You and I don’t read Dostoevsky when we barely have time for lunch. Middle grade readers thrive on a huge variety of choice. Which is lucky, since as authors, we are just as eclectic as our young readers!

That said, I am sure there are those of us who try to shake loose a few practical thoughts before we set pen to paper to write our deathless prose. No doubt, in addition to prayer, you’ve tried to psyche out just where that sweet spot in middle grade literature is. Sure, there are trends and the Goodreads lists and I’m sure there are some left-brain writers out there who can successfully write to the formula. But since I’ve always favored on-the-spot research, I thought I’d go directly to the source: my sixth grade consultants: Sarah, Haley, Carolyn, Mia and Emily. “What have you been reading lately?” I asked them. These are just a few samples of the many titles they sent me:

  • Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library by Chris Grabenstein
  • I Will Always Write Back:  How One Letter Changed Two Lives by Martin Ganda
  • The Agony and the Ecstasy by Irving Stone.
  • The Port Chicago 50 by Steve Sheinkin
  • School of Charm by Lisa Ann Scott
  • Black Beauty by Anna Sewall
  • Little Women by Louisa Mae Alcott
  • Number the Stars by Lois Lowry
  • Hope is a Ferris Wheel by Robin Herrera
  • The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
  • Wonder by R.J. Palacio
  • The Egypt Game by Zilpha Keatley Snyder

Sure, it’s a girls list; not much blood and guts there but look at the variety. From dystopia to Victoriana to the serious issues of an adolescent with a disability to pure escapism. Irving Stone, no less! Remarkable that reading tastes could vary so widely among such friends from the same school in the same grade with such similar backgrounds. My point being, that predicting subject matter that will appeal to every middle grader is a losing proposition.

Picture this—and if you’ve taken your children or your students to the library, you’ve seen it many times. A middle grader sitting on the floor between the stacks taking out book after book off the shelf, looking at it very briefly, and then returning it to that empty slot among the other books. Those poor, forlorn, rejected books. Someone put his or her heart and soul into writing that book! What was wrong with it! Well, it just didn’t suit, that’s all. For reasons we, as onlookers (or the unfortunate author of said rejected volume) will never know. My conclusion: short of writing a tome on the love life of ants, I might as well forget trying to guess what will suit the middle grade reader and suit myself instead.

At the same time—trying with some difficulty to recall my past life as a lit. major—I tryed to find the commonalities in the lists of books my sixth graders sent me. It wasn’t in the eras, the settings or the subject matter. They varied from Hogwarts, to Ghana, to the rural South, to a dystopian future, to small town USA, to ancient Rome.  Lots of variety there and choice in those areas can be a matter of cover art, flap blurb or momentary whim. But in the protagonist (Lit. 101 !) I do think young people make a conscious choice to read a book featuring one of two different kinds of protagonists:

  1. A character with whom they can completely identify; someone who shares their sensibilities, their strengths, their weaknesses, and their secret feelings; someone who permits them to sigh in relief, saying, “I am not alone; Someone else feels or behaves that way too.”
  2. A character with whom they can partially identify, but who is perceived as an individual to emulate; someone with qualities to admire, or aspire to, even if those qualities are as basic as patience, or self-assurance, or courage rather than the ability to fly or fight dragons.

It might be simplistic to say that the former is featured in reading that requires a little less concentration than the latter. I’m sure there are examples either way. But the best authors show us well rounded characters who evolve and change in both cases. What a privilege it is to read the work of the many wonderful authors of middle grade fiction who make their characters come alive for us. I see my young friends absorbing Palacio’s Auggie, Hodgson Burnett’s Sara Crewe, Pullman’s Lyra, Selznick’s Ben and Rose; Riordan’s Percy, and Lowry’s Jonas and I think, “These characters are becoming part of who my young friends are.” How could they not?

I too feel as though I too have been influenced by the thousands of fictional characters that have filled me up over the years. A good number have come from middle grade books. Many from young adult books. One memorable one was the picture book that inspired my own middle grade novel, The Unintended Runaways, with its lively painting of a gypsy wagon and the carefree little girl who lived in it.

The tale that formed around that picture was the story I wanted to tell. I fought it. I’d been in marketing and public relations and I knew historical fiction was emphatically NOT in vogue. Would anyone read it? Newsletters and conferences told me I would never sell it.  “Write it anyway,” I told myself. I already had visions of the beautiful blue wagon and the big shire horse trotting down the lovely rural roads of mid-19th century England. market.

“Don’t be an idiot,” I argued back. “You’re a journalist. You wrote a history book. Get out there and write something that’ll sell. How about an academy for shapeshifters? A middle school mafia? An underground society ruled by 12-year olds? You can do it! Get with the program!”

“Yeah,” said my better self. “And it will suck, big time and you will hate every minute of it. This is 40,000 words we’re talking about.”

So I did it my way. I wrote my historical novel about 19th century young people. Unfashionable as my setting might be, I knew today’s middle graders would identify with the larger themes of justice, freedom, and family. And I hoped they would fall in love with my characters just as I did.

Thus The Unintended Runaways came into being. My sixth grade consultants – who were very generous early readers!—say they like it. (They kind of have to say that.) But the proof will be in the sales figures. Because as a general rule……

There’s just no reading the middle grade mind.





unintended Runaways

Summary: For a girl who loved adventure, twelve-year old Lia Leonides had the perfect life. Every summer, she and her grandfather traveled the rural roads of England in their gypsy wagon, stopping at fairs and selling horse brasses along the way. It was exactly the life Lia wanted, until the day a mysterious letter arrived. Lia’s grandfather warned her not to get her hopes up, but lifelong dreams are hard to ignore. Lia’s father was alive and looking for her. But when her grandfather suddenly passes away, Lia is sent to work as a servant in an orphanage and is left with a choice that she never wanted to make: let the world decide her future for her, or run away and decide it for herself? Lia, with the help of her beloved pets and some unexpected friends, must take her gypsy wagon south on a harrowing journey before her father disappears forever. A persistent sheriff and the constant threat of misfortune won’t make the trip easy, but Lia and her friends don’t plan to let anything stop them from forging their own destinies.


sally b-p

About the Author: Sally Barlow-Perez openly admits that books have taken over a good chunk of her life. She gobbles down two or three library books a week, ranging in genre from young adult, to middle grade, to fantasy, to mystery. She tries to balance her book obsession with writing, hiking, and hanging out with the young people who inspire her. But no matter how hard she tries, she always comes back to books. As a fiction writer, Sally’s focus is curiosity. “Curiosity is a great excuse for writing, as well as for reading,” she says. “Even when I finish a book, I still wonder what the characters are doing!” Sally makes her life in Palo Alto, California. She has two grown sons, whom she believes to be her greatest contribution to mankind. The Unintended Runaways is her first middle-grade novel. More information is available at

Thank you Sally for this insightful guest post!

Kellee Signature andRickiSig

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Tyranny of Petticoats Banner

tyranny of petticoats

A Tyranny of Petticoats: 15 Stories of Belles, Bank Robbers, and Other Badass Girls
Authors: Various
Published March 8th, 2016 by Candlewick Press

Summary: From an impressive sisterhood of YA writers comes an edge-of-your-seat anthology of historical fiction and fantasy featuring a diverse array of daring heroines.

Criss-cross America — on dogsleds and ships, stagecoaches and trains — from pirate ships off the coast of the Carolinas to the peace, love, and protests of 1960s Chicago. Join fifteen of today’s most talented writers of young adult literature on a thrill ride through history with American girls charting their own course. They are monsters and mediums, bodyguards and barkeeps, screenwriters and schoolteachers, heiresses and hobos. They’re making their own way in often-hostile lands, using every weapon in their arsenals, facing down murderers and marriage proposals. And they all have a story to tell.

With stories by:
J. Anderson Coats
Andrea Cremer
Y. S. Lee
Katherine Longshore
Marie Lu
Kekla Magoon
Marissa Meyer
Saundra Mitchell
Beth Revis
Caroline Richmond
Lindsay Smith
Jessica Spotswood
Robin Talley
Leslye Walton
Elizabeth Wein

A Tyranny of Petticoats Blog Tour!

The authors of this anthology are as diverse as their characters, so to give readers a better sense of their diverse processes and experiences writing for this anthology, the following three questions were asked of each contributor:

1. What inspired you to write about this particular time and place?

2. What was the most interesting piece of research you uncovered while writing your story?

3. Who is your favorite woman in history and why?

Today we are happy to host Caroline Richmond, Lindsay Smith, and Robin Talley as they answer those questions for us:

Caroline Tung Richmond
Story title: “The Red Raven Ball”
Story setting: 1862, Washington, D.C.

About the Author: CAROLINE TUNG RICHMOND  is the author of The Only Thing to Fear and the forthcoming The Darkest Hour, a YA novel set in Occupied France during World War II. A self-proclaimed history nerd, Caroline lives with her husband and daughter in the Washington, D.C., area — not far from several Civil War battlefields.

Caroline Richmond

  • What inspired you to write about this particular time and place?
    • As a kid growing up in the Washington, D.C., area, I’ve always been fascinated by the Civil War. It always struck me how D.C. — the capital of the Union — butted right up against the Confederate border. The city was well-fortified, but it still must’ve been scary to live in the capital during the war, with Confederate troops looming nearby. So when Jessica Spotswood kindly invited me to contribute to A Tyranny of Petticoats, I immediately wanted to set my short story in Washington during the Civil War, and that’s how “The Red Raven Ball” came to be.
  • What was the most interesting piece of research you uncovered while writing your story?
    • Finding an old photo of my husband’s ancestors! My husband is related to a famous nineteenth-century politician named Robert Ingersoll — dubbed “the most famous American you never heard of” by the Washington Post — and I wove a few details of his life into “The Red Raven Ball.” While researching Ingersoll, I came across a photo of him with his family. It was such a treat to study their faces and know that their blood runs in my daughter’s veins!
  • Who is your favorite woman in history and why?
    • Elizabeth Cady Stanton, hands down! Stanton dedicated her life to fighting for women’s suffrage in the United States, and she was basically a nineteenth-century badass lady. One example of her awesomeness? Prior to her wedding, she instructed the minister to omit the phrase “promise to obey” from her vows. She also raised seven kids while working tirelessly as a suffragette, abolitionist, and social activist. She’s truly an inspiration to me.

Lindsay Smith
Story title: “The City of Angels”
Story Setting: 1945, Los Angeles, CA

About the Author: LINDSAY SMITH  is the author of the Sekret series of paranormal spy thrillers set in Soviet Russia, and Dreamstrider, a high fantasy adventure. She grew up watching far too many movies from the 1940s — from Abbott and Costello comedies to musicals to anything dazzling with old Hollywood glamour. Not one for California weather, however, she lives in Washington, D.C., with her husband and dog, and writes on foreign affairs.

  • What inspired you to write about this particular time and place?
    • I’m deeply drawn to twentieth-century history — that sense of immediacy while still being at a slight historical remove is fascinating to me. When Jessica Spotswood mentioned she hadn’t gotten any story proposals set during World War II, I knew I wanted to pick that time period. The idea of a home-front drama really appealed to me because of the significant roles women got to play in the war effort that they had rarely been offered before the 1940s. Evelyn’s and Frankie’s characters just grew organically from that setting.
  • What was the most interesting piece of research you uncovered while writing your story?
    • I fell down a rabbit hole researching all the tiny details of munitions and airplane factory life for women during World War II. They could earn the right to fly particular banners over their factories, for instance, if they sold enough war bonds. All of the home-front stories I read as research were inspiring, though — that curious mix of patriotism, determination, and sisterhood these women felt as they tended victory gardens, rationed meat, and collected scrap metal for the war effort.
  • Who is your favorite woman in history and why?
    • I love disruptive women in history! Catherine the Great, Alice Roosevelt, Empress Dowager Cixi — all women who cared nothing for others’ opinions of them and didn’t let others stand in their way when they set out to accomplish their goals.

Robin Talley
Story title: “The Whole World is Watching”
Story setting: 1968, Grant Park, IL

About the Author: ROBIN TALLEY is the author of Lies We Tell Ourselves, a finalist for the 2015 Lambda Literary Award for LGBT Children’s/Young Adult, as well as the contemporary novel What We Left Behind and the upcoming thriller As I Descended. Robin lives in Washington, D.C., where she enjoys being surrounded by history, though she’s glad to be living in the twenty-first century.


  • What inspired you to write about this particular time and place?
    • Nineteen sixty-eight was a time of massive protests across the United States — much like the present day. I was interested in exploring the history of antiwar protests in the 1960s and how they intersected with the ongoing civil rights movement, the burgeoning feminist movement, and the very early days of the movement in support of equal rights for LGBTQIA+ people. As an added bonus, the sixties had some truly amazing clothes, hairstyles, and slang that were fun to think about.
  • What was the most interesting piece of research you uncovered while writing your story?
    • The antiwar protests at the Chicago 1968 Democratic National Convention were crushed by what were then considered extreme police tactics, and there was a national outcry after video of the police brutality was shown on live TV. Hundreds of demonstrators were injured by police and National Guard officers who dramatically outnumbered the protestors and who didn’t hesitate to use violence against them. In my research I learned that the police tactics used were unheard of at the time, such as the use of military-style weapons like tear gas and the wearing of protective gear like riot helmets over their regular clothing. But today many police units combating protests in places like Ferguson, Missouri, and Baltimore, Maryland, have taken much more extreme approaches, including the use of advanced military gear and weaponry. It was interesting to learn how things have progressed in terms of police tactics, and the public’s reaction to them, over the past few decades. What was once considered extreme would be considered commonplace, maybe even tame, by today’s standards.
  • Who is your favorite woman in history and why?
    • There are way too many to pick just one favorite! So I’ll name the woman who I think is the obvious choice to go on U.S. currency (preferably the twenty-dollar bill so we can get rid of Andrew Jackson) — Harriet Tubman. Through sheer determination and a lot of skill she took the biggest risk imaginable — and she succeeded, changing the lives of so many and changing the world at the same time.

Don’t miss the other stops on the blog tour!

Wednesday, March 2  A Foodie Bibliophile in Wanderlust
·         J. Anderson Coats
·         Andrea Cremer
·         Y. S. Lee

Thursday, March 3 Charting by the Stars
·         Marissa Meyer
·         Saundra Mitchell
·         Beth Revis

Friday, March 4 Unleashing Readers
·         Caroline Richmond
·         Lindsay Smith
·         Robin Talley

Monday, March 7 Teach Mentor Text
·         Katherine Longshore
·         Marie Lu
·         Kekla Magoon

Tuesday, March 8th  YA Love
·         Leslye Walton
·         Elizabeth Wein
·         Jessica Spotswood

Tyranny of Petticoats is on sale March 8th!

Kellee Signature andRickiSig

**Thank you to Kathleen at Candlewick for having us as a part of the blog tour!**

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