Rave Reviews Log: Historical Fiction

March 30, 2011

Daniel at the Siege of Boston 1776

By Laurie Calkhoven
Era: American Revolution, Boston
Rating: 3 3/4 stars

Daniel Prescott lives in a city under siege.  The British are living in Boston and things are getting more and more tense under the strict new taxes set by the king.  Daniel's family runs a publick house where several Redcoat officers live and eat regularly.  But Daniel's family, despite acting sympathetic to the British, are really gathering information to pass on to help the rebellion.  Even Daniel's schoolmaster, Master Richardson, helps to spy and pass information to the Patriots.  But as talk of war heats up, Daniel's father leaves to join the army and Daniel is forced to make hard decisions.  Can he act as a spy himself and foil the plot he overhears?  Can he trust his old teacher?  And what about his old schoolmate that used to always act so stuck up?  Who should he believe in?  A very interesting account of siege of Boston and the battles surrounding that time period.  Historical fiction buffs will be pleased with this tale, especially ones who live have visited some of the sites mentioned in Boston.

March 01, 2011

Heart of a Samurai

By Margi Preus
Era: 1840's and 1850's Japan and America
Rating: 4 stars

This book is based on the true story of 14 year old Manjiro who is shipwrecked off the coast of Japan while fishing with some others in 1841.  They are eventually rescued off a tiny island by an American whaleboat.  At that time, Japan refused to allow any boats from any other countries to land, and they told horrible stories about the barbarians from other places.  Once taken away from Japan, you were never allowed to return.  So Manjiro and his friends find themselves on a whaleboat, heading far far away from their homeland.  Slowly, they learn a little of the language and ways of the sailors, but none embrace these new things like young Manjiro, who eventually develops a close relationship with the captain.  When the captain offers to adopt Manjiro, renamed John Mung, and bring him home to Fairhaven, Massachusetts, Manjiro accepts to the horror of his friends.  But Manjiro longs to explore and see these new things and places, and this is but the beginning of his adventures!  Readers will enjoy learning all about Manjiro's struggles and travels in America and beyond, and it makes it all the better that this tale is a true one.  But will Manjiro ever make it home to Japan again?  A truly involving story.