Category: Historical Fiction

The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle Review

Here we are at the end of the As! There were several books that caught my attention on this shelf (Animorphs!), but I really wanted to read something by Avi, since I’ve heard so much about this author. I wanted to read Poppy, the first novel in the Dimwood Forest series, but it was checked out! Instead I picked up The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle.

AND - AVI

I really enjoyed this book! Avi is a fantastic storyteller and I felt truly immersed in the story. The content was geared more for a middle level audience, as it does get a bit violent with two deaths and a whipping. I found Charlotte Doyle to be an interesting character caught in a peculiar circumstance. In the beginning she is an obedient schoolgirl on her way back home to America to return to her family, but by the end she becomes independent and no longer feels as though she should confine herself to society’s expectations of what she should be. A positive message I think young minds today need to see. The ending was a major surprise, and I’m honestly not sure how I would have reacted had I been in a similar situation.

While reading this book I felt it was somewhat similar to Paula Fox’s The Slave Dancer. Anyone interested in historical fiction or living while at sea would enjoy both of these novels.

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American Girl – Meet Kit Review

AME

Today’s book was easy to select because this entire column is dedicated to American Girl novels. Growing up, I never quite understood  why so many girls were obsessed with these dolls, but I always found myself drawn to Kit, the short-haired blonde who seemed to have a spunky personality. I thought it would appropriate for me to learn more about who Kit really is by choosing Meet Kit as my book for this column.

AME Meet Kit CoverKit Kittredge is a tomboy. She likes playing baseball, writing newspaper stories on her typewriter, and loves the story of Robin Hood. She lives with her ideal family during the time of the Great Depression. Her family hasn’t really been affected by all the changes the Depression caused, but when one of the members of her mother’s garden club is no longer able to afford to stay in their home, Kit’s mother offers to let them stay with the Kittredge family. Kit must now adjust to having two new members of the household, including sickly Stirling. Halfway through the book, her father looses his job as a car salesman, and Kit’s family must adjust to the changes and figure out how to make money when there are no jobs.

This book is a great starting point for entering the historical fiction genre for 2-5th graders. The story itself is well-written and I loved that they included pictures in the margins to show objects that children may be unfamiliar with, such as when phlox flowers are mentioned. The book also includes an informational section in the back of the book to provide additional facts about the time period, which would be perfect to use as discussion at home and in the classroom.

My only gripe about this story is that I’m not sure it does justice to what families faced during this time period. The Great Depression was a difficult experience to live through, many people were homeless and went hungry. This book briefly touches on these issues, but Kit probably will not be experiencing them herself any time soon. The biggest problem Kit seems to face in the book is that she has to move into the attic to make room for strangers to live in her room.