HomeBooks by AgeAges 9-12Top Historical Fiction Books That Sweep Away Barriers Between Then and Now
Top Historical Fiction Books That Sweep Away Barriers Between Then and Now

Top Historical Fiction Books That Sweep Away Barriers Between Then and Now

Eve Yohalem | The Children’s Book Review | June 11, 2015

Any author will tell you that one of the questions we get asked the most is What are your favorite books? When it comes to historical fiction, coming up with a short list is pretty much impossible. So today I’d like to mention just three: an old favorite, a new favorite, and a medium (as in, I read it not too long ago but not very recently) favorite.

Master and Commander Book SeriesMaster and Commander Series

Written by Patrick O’Brian

My old favorite is the Master and Commander series by Patrick O’Brian. These books were a big part of my inspiration for writing Cast Off. Like the George and Martha series, Master and Commander is about two great friends—a British sea captain and a ship’s surgeon who sail around the world in the early 1800s and have huge adventures along the way. Confession: the twenty-one books in the series take up an entire shelf in my apartment, and I’ve read every one of them multiple times. I also have the Master and Commander lexicon, a CD with all the music mentioned in the series, and the Master and Commander cookbook, which, I’m fairly certain, is the only cookbook in the world with a recipe for sautéed rats.

Now, there are nautical books out there for kids, but none of them are as disgusting as that. I wanted to write a seafaring adventure with all the nitty gritty of what it was really like to live on a ship before people knew anything about germs or anesthesia. And, like Master and Commander, I wanted it to be full of historical detail and exciting happenings, and, most of all, a great friendship.

Ages 14+ | Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company | 2004 (Reprint) | ISBN-13: 978-0393060119

Jefferson's Sons- A Founding Father’s Secret ChildrenJefferson’s Sons

Written by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley

A new favorite of mine is Jefferson’s Sons by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley. It’s the story of the children Thomas Jefferson had with his slave, Sally Hemings. This book made me rethink my view of Jefferson. Or rather, it gave me a far more nuanced, complicated view of Jefferson and what he meant by life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

Ages 8-12 | Publisher: Puffin Books | 2013 | ISBN-13: 978-0142421840

Catherine, Called BirdyCatherine, Called Birdy

Written by Karen Cushman

I’m a big fan of Karen Cushman and I could rave about many of her books, but today I’ll stick with her first novel, Catherine, Called Birdy. Set during the medieval era, it’s about a fourteen-year old girl trying to avoid an arranged marriage. What will stick with me forever about this book is Catherine herself: tart, observant, wry, clever. Despite the 750 years that separate us, I wish that Catherine and I were friends today. And that’s what the best historical fiction does—it sweeps away all the barriers between then and now so there’s just you and a great story with characters you love.

Ages 9-12 | Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers | 2012 (Reprint) | ISBN-13: 978-0547722184

About Eve Yohalem

Eve Yohalem photo

Eve Yohalem

Eve Yohalem’s first book was ESCAPE UNDER THE FOREVER SKY, which Booklist called “riveting.” She lives with her family in New York City. To learn more, and download a free curriculum guide for CAST OFF, visit her website: eveyohalem.com. Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/eyohalem

CAST OFF coverCast Off

Written by Eve Yohalem

Publisher’s Synopsis: A tale of pirates, mutiny, and friendship on the high seas, perfect for fans of The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle

It’s 1663 and there is an extra passenger on board a Dutch merchant ship setting sail for the East Indies. Twelve-year-old Petra has stowed away to escape her abusive father. But she quickly realizes that surviving for months at sea will be impossible without help. So when Bram, the half-Dutch / Half-Javanese son of the ship’s carpenter, finds her hiding spot, Petra convinces him to help her stay hidden . . .and help disguise her as a boy.

If Petra is discovered and exposed as a girl, she could be tossed overboard, or worse . . . returned to her father. And if Bram is exposed for helping her, he could lose the only home—and family—he has. As tensions rise on the ship, with pirates attacking, deadly illness, and even mutiny, Petra and Bram face impossible decisions that test their friendship and threaten their dreams of freedom.

Told in alternating voices and filled with secrets and intrigue, this richly researched novel is historical fiction at its best.

Ages 10 and up | Publisher: Dial Books | 2015 | ISBN-13: 978-0525428565

Available Here: 

Follow Along with the CAST OFF Blog Tour

Mon, June 1
Book Monsters
Tues, June 2
The Hiding Spot
Wed, June 3
Books Unbound
Thurs, June 4
Unleashing Readers
Fri, June 5
Read Now, Sleep Later
Mon, June 8
Mother Daughter Book Club
Tues, June 9
Cracking the Cover
Wed, June 10
The Compulsive Reader
Thurs, June 11
The Children’s Book Review
Fri, June 12
I Read Banned Books


One lucky winner will receive a copy of CAST OFF by Eve Yohalem. Enter here»

Eve Yohalem, author of Cast Off, selected these 3 historical fiction favorites. Discover more articles on The Children’s Book Review tagged with  and 

How You Support The Children's Book Review
We may receive a small commission from purchases made via the links on this page. If you discover a book or product of interest on this page and use the links provided to make a purchase, you will help support our mission to 'Grow Readers.' Your support means we can keep delivering quality content that's available to all. Thank you!

The Children’s Book Review, named one of the ALSC (Association for Library Service to Children) Great Web Sites for Kids, is a resource devoted to children’s literacy. We publish reviews and book lists of the best books for kids of all ages. We also produce author and illustrator interviews and share literacy based articles that help parents, grandparents, teachers and librarians to grow readers. This article was written and provided by a guest author.

No Comments

Leave A Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.