Morning Sun

Take a trip with some time-traveling literature

- By Mary Grahame Hunter

This week, we’re traveling back in time, with historical fiction for middle schoolers. Some of these selections are newer, and some are considered classics. These titles present compelling narratives and introduce young readers to important historical figures, but they’re written with a pace and a lexicon that invites them into these true stories, sparking their curiosity as they illuminate the past.

‘Amber and Clay’ by Laura Amy Schlitz/ Julia Iredale

Journey to ancient Athens in this striking tale of Rhaskos, an enslaved boy who befriends the great philosophe­r Socrates, and Melisto, a wealthy girl who is sent away from home to serve the goddess Artemis. Although they lead very different lives, Rhaskos and Melisto’s destinies are connected by fate and the will of the gods. Written in verse and in prose, with illustrati­ons, Amber and Clay is refreshing, immersive, and one of the best historical fiction novels published this year.

‘The Inquisitor’s Tale’ by Adam Gidwitz/ Hakim Aly

This novel set in thirteenth century France has touches of fantasy in it (including a noteworthy adventure featuring a flatulent dragon) yet is also grounded in the diversity, humor, and artistic expression of the High Middle Ages. Three children — a monk-in-training, a Jewish healer, and a girl who sees visions — become unlikely allies and set out together with the help of a miraculous dog in a race across the country to save books from being burned.

‘Show Me a Sign’ by Ann Clare Lezotte

Mary Lambert lives on Martha’s Vineyard in the early nineteenth century, and has only ever known a community where deaf and hearing people live and work together. A young scientist arrives on the island, determined to discover the reason so many of its inhabitant­s are deaf, and shows little respect for Mary, her neighbors, and her way of life. After a harrowing kid

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