Rave Reviews Log: Historical Fiction

May 17, 2007

The Sacrifice

By Kathleen Benner Duble
Period: 1692 Massachusetts/Salem Witch Trials
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Noelle

What happened in Salem Village reverbrates miles away in Andover, Massachusetts in this quick-moving story. Abigail Faulkner is an outspoken girl living a normal life of chores and church in Andover. When the girls of Salem Village, a full 18 miles away, begin accusing others of witchcraft, Abby is both fascinated and horrified. But then the witch hysteria hits Andover in full force, and Abby's aunt, among others, is accused of witchcraft. A month after she has been taken to jail to await her trial in Salem, Abby and her older sister Dorothy are also accused by their old servant, Sarah. The two girls are sent to prison with their aunt, and spend the next three months in a crowded, dark jail cell in Salem. They hear that noone who has gone to trial has been found innocent. Then their mother visits with a bold plan to free them before it is too late. Can the girls keep their stories straight and avoid the gallows? Or will the truth set them free? This is a fascinating story about the witch trial hysteria that swept through Massachusetts towns and villages and is still a mystery to this day. Readers will be swept along in the wake of these impossible events and be left with much to think over. A good bit of history in a fast-moving tale.

May 10, 2007

The Invention of Hugo Cabret: A Novel in Words and Pictures

By Brian Selznik
Era: early 20th century Paris
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Noelle

Although this book weighs in at a hefty 526 pages, fear not! Less than 200 of those pages have words on them! Brian Selznik breaks new ground by telling a novel-like story in both traditional pages of text as well as over 300 pages of illustrations that serve to move the story along. Hugo Cabret is a boy working to keep all the clocks running in a Paris train station. The uncle who should be doing the job has disappeared, and afraid of what will happen to him if anyone finds out, Hugo keeps himself hidden. But Hugo has another secret--a mechanical automaton that his father had been trying to repair when he died. Hugo feels like the automaton will be able to write a message to him from his father if he can only get it working, so he steals parts from the toymaker in the station. One day, the toymaker, Papa Georges, catches him and finds on Hugo a notebook with drawings of the automaton and seems shocked. But how can a toymaker know about the automaton? Hugo, and the toymaker's adopted daughter, Isabelle, form an unlikely alliance which leads them to discover the message from the automaton and the real identity of Papa Georges. Most of the action scenes are described via the pictures instead of the text, and once the reader gets used to this, the story flows well. The plot is fast-paced, and readers will fly through it to its happy conclusion, learning about clocks, early movies, and the power of dreams along the way.