Tuesday, March 2, 2021

ReFoReMo Day 2: Mentor Text Maven/Author Marcie Flinchum Atkins Hones in on Historical Fiction

Historical fiction doesn’t have to be relegated to a weighty novel. Picture books can combine the elements of the genre in a compact, read-aloud package.

What is historical fiction? Let’s start with a definition. Historical fiction has some basis in fact. It could be a historical time period, an event, or person. A writer might start with an interesting bit in history and dramatize it. They may not have enough facts to write a complete nonfiction story, so they imagine what the historical record doesn’t show.

 

Whatever technique the author uses, they must be transparent about what is made up and what is steeped in fact. Often this is explained in back matter.

 

Imagining Childhood


Fast Enough: Bessie Stringfield’s First Ride by Joel Christian Gill and Emily Writes: Emily Dickinson and Her Poetic Beginnings by Jane Yolen and Christine Davenier take us to the childhoods of the subjects. The authors imagined details where the record was silent or contradictory. Both focus on a time in their childhoods that foreshadowed what was to come.

 

Spare Text


At the Mountain’s Base by Traci Sorell and Weshoyot Alvitre and Lumber Jills: The Unsung Heroines of World War II by Alexandra Davis and Katie Hickey are spare and could be used to introduce historical fiction to a younger audience. While Lumber Jills has a song-like cadence with repeated phrases, At the Mountain’s Base is a poetic circular text reminiscent of a quieter song. Both use spare text, but their tones are completely different.

 

Fictional Families in Real Situations


The Lady with the Books: A Story Inspired by the Remarkable Work of Jella Lepman

by Kathy Stinson and Marie Lafrance and Overground Railroad by Lesa Cline-Ransome and James E. Ransome take a real event in history and imagine a fictional family during that time. Whether it’s post-World II Germany or The Great Migration in the United States, these authors make the time periods come to life using fictional characters in real historical situations.

 

A Story from the Past that Needs More Detail


Francesco Tirelli’s Ice Cream Shop by Tamar Meir and Yael Albert and The Oldest Student: How Mary Walker Learned to Read by Rita Hubbard and Oge Mora take real people and situations and add more details where the historical record is silent. In both books, their subjects are not well-known. Often authors find a snippet of information about a person and research doesn’t turn up enough details to tell a full story. In these cases, authors can create a story that springboards on the bits of historical information they have.


Famous People



Night Walk to the Sea: A Story About Rachel Carson, Earth’s Protector by Deborah Wiles and Daniel Miyares and Ruby’s Hope: A Story of How the Famous “Migrant Mother” Photograph Became the Face of the Great Depression by Monica Kulling and Sarah Dvojack tell about famous people—Rachel Carson and Dorothea Lange. They show the impact they made on a particular child—combining real and imagined details from one or two anecdotes.


Your Turn

What are your favorite historical fiction picture books? How does the author weave fact and fiction in their story?

 


Marcie is giving away a signed copy of her book Wait, Rest, Pause: Dormancy in Nature to one lucky U.S. winner! To be eligible for prizes throughout the challenge, you must be registered by March 1, comment on each post, consistently read mentor texts, and enter the Rafflecopter drawing at the conclusion of ReFoReMo.

 

Marcie Flinchum Atkins is a teacher-librarian by day and a children’s book writer in the wee hours of the morning. She holds an M.A. and an M.F.A. in Children’s Literature from Hollins University. Wait, Rest, Pause: Dormancy in Nature (Millbrook Press, 2019) is her most recent book. Marcie also serves as the nonfiction coordinator for the Mid-Atlantic SCBWI region. She muses about mentor texts and making time to write at www.marcieatkins.com. She’s on Twitter and Instagram as @MarcieFAtkins. 

282 comments:

  1. Marcie, what a great post. My favorite historical fiction picture book is The Gardener by Sarah Stewart.

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    1. Great book! I used to read that one every year with my fourth graders.

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  2. As I do a deep dive into my research, I'm intrigued to discover if my newest project will end up as historical fiction, or if I'll be able to unearth enough for it to be nonfiction. My favorite from the REFOREMO historical fiction list is The Oldest Student.

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  3. Amazing! At the Mountain's Base Haunted me...
    Thank you.

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  4. Thanks for the great list, Marcie. I find it fascinating how these authors use their imaginations to develop their stories while weaving in bits of facts.

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  5. We are big NF picture fans at my house. My daughters love true stories and stories with a LOT of words (contrary to the belief about market trends), but we've read only a few of these. Looking forward to diving into the rest. Thanks for the insight and great examples.

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    1. This is Rhett Trull. I don't know how to make it use my name.

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    2. I loved this post! After reading 6 of the suggested books, I’m inspired to take a stab at writing a historical fiction piece myself.

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  6. Great post! I am a big fan of Barb Rosenstock’s “The Magic Paint Box,” about the abstract artist Wassily Kandinsky. She uses invented dialogue as a refrain throughout the book, to show through lyricism how people around him reacted to his art.

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  7. Great post! One of my favorite historical fiction PBs is Boxes for Katje by Candace Fleming. It is based on a real experience her mother had sending food and clothing to a family in Holland after WWII, which grew into a larger effort in her community. The family then sent the community tulip bulbs in appreciation. The events are based on fact and I believe the letters and dialogue as well as several of the characters were fictionalized.

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  8. I love writing historical fiction (I have a PB getting ready to go out on sub very soon). These are all excellent mentor texts for learning how to find a small moment or fact and make it into a full story with rich content.

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  9. Thank you. Historical fiction isn't my favorite genre but these are some great titles.

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  10. I love historical fiction as an adult reader, and I’m so glad there are HF picture books!! I’m new to reading them.

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  11. So many thanks for this post. Finally, I learnt the difference between biography and historical fiction.

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  12. Thanks so much for the great post, Marcie! One of my favorite NF biographies is The Important Thing About Margaret Wise Brown by Mac Barnett. Mac is unconventional in his approach which hooked me right away.

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    1. Yes, Margaret Wise Brown and I went to the same college. Barnett's biography has such an interesting structure.

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  13. I hadn't seen or heard of the Lady with the Books. Thanks for sharing! I love this genre in my own reading so to apply it to children's books is great too. Thanks!

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  14. These are wonderful texts to study!
    For the second day in a row I'll recommend THE IRIDESCENCE OF BIRDS Maclachlan, Hooper) and add THE TREE LADY (Hopkins, McElmurry) which is a perennial ReFoReMo favorite!

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  15. Historical fiction. Hadn't thought about it as a category for picture books. Thanks for sharing this diverse list of mentor texts.

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    1. It's great to have short form historical fiction to help elementary students who are studying it as a genre. Then when they read longer HF, they can recognize the elements.

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  16. So much to learn and to try out. Thank you for adding to my knowledge.

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  17. I am always overwhelmed at trying to write about little known subjects, so this is all a good reminder.

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  18. I've never thought about writing a historical fiction picture book, but your wonderful post has me thinking! Thank you, Marcie.

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  19. Thank you for introducing me to these books. Bringing ideas to the forefront and ways each author shows or tells the story when the details aren't abundant for the times. Learning how to write and read non-fiction for details.

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  20. Thank you for the great examples!

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  21. Manjhi Moves a Mountain by Nancy Churnin and illustrated by Danny Popovici is one of my favorite historical non-fiction books. Using only a hammer and a chisel, Manjhi spends 22 years cutting a road 360 feet long, 30 feet high, and 25 feet wide to connect two villages that are separated by a mountain. Doing so helps bring better opportunities and health care to the people of his village. Inspiring! Just like the many books shared today. (If you are interested in reading more about Manjhi Moves a Mountain, you can do so in my blogpost https://monicamcguirewriter.com/2020/02/29/the-power-of-perseverance/#more-404)

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  22. This was a wonderful post. I love historical fiction! Digging for Words by Angela Burke Kunkle is a good one too.

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    1. I have this one on hold currently. Looking forward to reading it.

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  23. Children are captivated by the real -- in nature, in history, in their particular lives. Which is why I'm drawn to historical and informational fiction. Today's mentor texts are beautiful entry points for children, portals into a historical moment or person's life. The seed becomes planted -- to invite the child to explore. I was especially taken with Traci Sorell's At The Mountain Base, as an entry point into WWII, female aviators, and Native American culture. Beautifully crafted! Similarly with Jane Yolen's Emily Writes: a quiet invitation to explore not only the life of Emily Dickinson but the world of poetry that begins inside a child.

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  24. Great post (and great mentor texts) on one of my very favorite sub-genres. I appreciated the ways to make it work even when little is know.

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  25. Thanks! I have an idea for a historical fiction picture book and these are great mentor texts!

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  26. RUNAWAY: THE DARING ESCAPE OF ONA JUDGE by Ray Anthony Shepherd (Illus. Keith Mallett) is a breathtakingly beautiful and lyrical PB bio of a lesser-known figure of history, enslaved in George Washington's household. Beautiful and powerful, it demonstrates that difficult history can be told in a way that is relatable to young readers.

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    1. Yes, I love Ray's book! I had the pleasure of hearing him read it in draft form at Highlights. I am using it with my fourth grade students now.

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  27. Thanks for highlighting ways an historical fiction writer tells the story.

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  28. Thanks Marcie for this very informative post. I love historical fiction - finding those nuggets can be the start of a great story. Some of my favs: Henry's Freedom Box by Ellen Levine, Stolen Words by Melanie Florence, Finding Winnie by Lindsay Mattick and Boxes for Katje by Candace Fleming.

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  29. Thank you for the post. I'll now remember it's ok to relax and let the research decide!

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  30. Thank you for writing this. I love biographies that foreshadow what is to come in the lives of the famous kids.

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  31. The Boy Who Dreamed of Infinity by Amy Alznauer is a 2020 title where the story is rooted in a real person's experience.

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  32. I love historical fiction. Thank you for the great mentor text.

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  33. I really liked your post. I love historical fiction! Thank you for the ten mentor texts. I will enjoy analyzing each one.

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  34. Thanks for breaking those down into different ways to approach historical fiction. Very helpful.

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  35. All of a Sudden and Forever by Chris Barton--this is the first and only historical picture book I've read on the Oklahoma Bombing. The author gives backmatter explaining his extensive first person research that he did for this inspiring book. He features the elm tree that survived and still thrives after the bombing and how victims and families that lost loved ones can visit the tree and also plant seeds in memory of people who died.

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    1. This is an excellent book. It's nonfiction, and Barton is a master at it!

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  36. This is a great list! I write MG historical fiction and am not so familiar with PB HF. I can't wait to read all of them. I love HF and these books look right up my alley.

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  37. I love historical fiction and am glad to see more of it in PBs. Thanks for sharing this information and great examples for us to read. I have many favorites including THE WHOLE STORY OF THE DOUGHNUT and NADIA: THE GIRL WHO COULDN'T SIT STILL.

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    1. The Hole Story of the Doughnut is great! It's nonfiction (biography). I think Nadia might be too, but it's been awhile since I read it.

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  38. Thanks for sharing this list with us––so many great ones here!

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  39. I like the use of historical fiction being related to picture books! Absolutely loved The Oldest Student.

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  40. Thanks for introducing me to these wonderful books!

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  41. Interesting ways to dig deep into history.

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  42. Love to be introduced to new mentor texts. These are all ones I haven't read yet and one looks perfect for my WIP. Thanks!

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  43. Marcie,
    I am doing research for a PB that will most likely be historical fiction. These mentor texts and your explanations will be very helpful.

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  44. I really like Home in the Woods by Eliza Wheeler. It's based on her grandmother's childhood, so I don't know whether it's still considered historical fiction, but it's a beautiful glimpse into a different time.

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    1. Yes, I read that one recently. I would classify it as historical fiction.

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  45. I love reading historical fiction, but I haven't attempted to write anything in the genre...yet. This post gives me inspiration to consider venturing into unknown territory!

    I really love The Oldest Student. What a wonderful book.

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  46. Sorry for the repeat post. I'm still trying to figure out how to post with my name appearing at the top.

    I love reading historical fiction, but I haven't attempted to write anything in the genre...yet. This post gives me inspiration to consider venturing into unknown territory!

    I really love The Oldest Student. What a wonderful book.

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  47. I love the language in Emily Writes by Jane Yolen. Another favorite is The Queen and the First Christmas Treen by Nancy Churnin. Thank you for this wonderful post.

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  48. thanks so much --really looking forward to reading these and I enjoyed the themes and descriptions you shared

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  49. Thank you for this post. I am a big fan of historical fiction in picture books when well done. Some of my favorites are Shark Lady, Girl Running, and The Boy Who Grew A Forest.

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    1. All of these are wonderful. They are all biography (nonfiction).

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  50. YAY, mentor text maven, Marcie. I am so glad you broke this own to explain the conundrum of "imagined childhood." Love this.

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  51. Some of these books surprised me, because my understanding was that in the last decade or so, the trend was toward biographies needing to be 100% accurately supported by facts. It's interesting to see that "fictionalized biographies" are still being published, at least for the youngest readers.

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  52. The Oldest Student is my favorite. I will look into these other titles as well. Thanks for sharing your insights!

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  53. Thank you for this post. Helps a good deal to move my PBs forward to completion.

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  54. The Oldest Student is so inspiring and one of my favorites! I have fallen in love with this genre over the past couple of years. Thanks for all of these amazing titles!

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  55. Terrific post! I love how you broke historical fiction down into these categories! BEFORE SHE WAS HARRIET (Cline-Ransome/Ransome) is one of my favorites. I also love HENRY'S FREEDOM BOX (Levine/Nelson) and Jen Bryant's books.

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    1. Yes, I love both of those books. I'd consider BEFORE SHE WAS HARRIET a biography (nonfiction).

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  56. What a great list with lots of styles. Thanks Marcie!

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  57. Very inspiring post with some wonderful titles. Thanks!

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  58. Historical fiction is my favorite genre. I had to stop myself from doing research on each story before finishing each of the books. Now, it's research time! My favorite historical fiction read is Pink and Say by Patricia Polacco.

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  59. Another excellent post, thank you! I also like the Eliza (Hamilton) biography by Margaret McNamara, told as a story by a grandmother to her descendants. (This is Erin Siska from her husband's computer.)

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  60. Thank you for the great post. Loved all of these books. So much to learn!

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  61. I love The Right Word by Jen Bryant and Melissa Sweet. The illustrations provide the fiction with the fact in a way that allows modern children to appreciate the biography.

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  62. For some reason I had a harder time getting these from the library... I am particularly interested in Jane Yolen’s book about Emily Dickinson and Wiles’ book about Rachel Carson!

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  63. Historical fiction is such an interesting genre! I have been reading a lot of diverse books with my students lately, and one of my new favorites is The Other Side by Jacqueline Woodson. It explores the ideas of segregation and friendship. My students loved this book! Dina Austin

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  64. I have The Oldest Student by my chair! Eight Days Gone by Linda McReynolds (illus by Ryan O'Rourke) is still one of my favorite books of historical fiction for the spare language and appeal to younger readers.

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    1. I'd consider Eight Days Gone nonfiction since I think everything in the text could be verified. I do love the short lines and quick cadence in that one.

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  65. Marcie, you did a great job of digging deep into different kinds of historical fiction with these mentor texts. They are all wonderful, but now even more useful with the context you provided. So, thank you!

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  66. Thanks, Marcie for these great mentor texts that show different techniques for historical fiction. I'm especially drawn to the spare text for this genre, and loved AT THE MOUNTAIN'S BASE.

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  67. Thank you Marcie for breaking down the different types of historical fiction. The Oldest Student is one of my favorites.

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  68. As an elementary librarian, I LOVE using picture books to introduce historical events and content. Sweet Clara and the Freedom Quilt is a beautiful introduction to the Underground Railroad, The All I'll Ever Want Christmas Doll is a fabulous peek into the Depression, and The Taste of Colored Water is a gorgeous tale about segregation.

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  69. I loved The Clothesline Code: The Story of Civil War Spies Lucy Ann and Dabney Walker by Janet Halfmann.

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    1. I'm not familiar with this one. Thanks for letting me know.

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  70. I was moved by the stories in all these book and wish I could get my hands on Ruby's Hope, Francesco Tirelli, and Night Walk to the Sea as these stories too look absolutely uplifting. A favourite? Perhaps The Oldest Student who's belief that one is never to old to learn is very inspirational for me as I try to write stories too.

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  71. Thanks Marcie. I love Finding Winnie - The True Story of the World's Most Famous Bear. The story structure is interesting to me. Looking forward to getting your latest from the library.

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  72. Thank you for a wonderful overview of all these good books. "Fast Enough" was a nice read...I found a book written by the Bush sisters..."Our great big back yard", and even though it is fiction, I remember hearing in an interview that it was based on one of their family vacations...it's a sweet book too. These kinds of books are wonderful ways to introduce children to history and historical figures and times in history that they may not otherwise know about or remember.

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  73. I am enjoying the clarification through reading of the differences in historical fiction, non fiction, narrative not fiction. Now to examine structure to help my writing!

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  74. What a great collection of books. I love the Oldest Student. Will try to get hold of some of the others.

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  75. Thanks for the great examples. Some are new to me!

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  76. Thanks so much, Marcie! I love Marvelous Cornelius By Phil Bildner and John Parra - a story built around a real person that gives information about Hurricaine Katrina.

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  77. Fabulous list, Marcie! Imagining into the spaces where the record is blank frees up the author to create something beautiful and possible in the midst of all the possibles. Thanks for a great post!

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  78. Thanks for these suggestions! I loved The Oldest Student, and Emily Writes has wonderful lines and interesting back matter.

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  79. I loved learning about so many books I probably never would have picked up. I keep hearing about so much nonfiction coming out, but hadn't really looked at historical fiction. I really loved THE OLDEST STUDENT especially. Thank you for introducing me to these titles!

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  80. Ok, so if I'm going to be totally honest, I haven't actually read many historical fiction picture books prior to these excellent ones you've turned my attention to! So, my favorite so far is one from this list: Francesco Tirelli's Ice Cream Shop. It's fun, but serious and heartfelt at the same time; and of course, educational. It has a lot to offer.

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  81. Thank you, Marcie, for this list. I'm working my way through it. I had no idea that women worked as lumber jacks during the second war. I love learning something new. I look forward to finishing the list that you provided. One of my favorite historical fiction books is OX-CART MAN by Donald Hall.

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  82. Thanks for that list of books. I enjoyed The Oldest Student especially.

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  83. I really enjoyed reading this post about historical fiction and the definition...I feel silly typing this but I never thought of a picture book as historical fiction before! I loved reading about Mary Walker in The Oldest Student. What an incredible story and life--she's the true definition of lifelong learner. I learned something new with each of the texts today. I really enjoyed the language of Overground Railroad.

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  84. thank you so much for this thoughtful post - the way you identified the different devices authors have used to create compelling HF PBs is really insightful

    One of my favorite HF PBs not noted here is Hello Lighthouse, for its use of an inanimate MC, its lyricality, and its exquisite art

    thank you again!

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    1. Yes, this is one that shows so much in the illustrations.

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  85. Thank you for this interesting post!

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  86. I loved The Lady with the Books.

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  87. Again, I appreciate the diversity of these historical fiction mentor texts. They are captivating! I love Overground Railroad. This post opens up some exciting possibilities for a couple of writing ideas. Thanks!

    I just read The Important Thing about Margaret Wise Brown, mentioned in a comment above and love it. :)

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  88. The idea of placing a historical figure with a child works well in "Night Walk to the Sea." This selection showed a wide range of ways to approach historical fiction. So many possibilities.

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  89. Great post, Marcie! I enjoyed the selected books!

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  90. Historical fiction is becoming my favorite genre! I am waiting for the arrival of NIGHT WALK TO THE SEA and EMILY WRITES and can't wait to read them! A few of my favorite classics in this genre are Alice McLerran's ROXABOXEN and Gloria Houston's MY GREAT-AUNT ARIZONA - both beautifully nostalgic testimonies to lives and places.

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  91. Joanne Roberts
    I love The Camping Trip That Changed America, by Barb Rosenstock and Mordicai Gerstein which tells a story and includes tall tale anecdotes, but the haunting refrain (completely factual) ties in with the bittersweet surprise ending (also completely factual). It does its job perfectly. And Renato and the Lion by Barbara Dilorenzo falls in this category too.

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  92. This helped me immensely. I now know that if I can't find enough historical records on a subject, whose story I would love to impart, I could push it into the realm of historical fiction and let my story soar.

    One of my faves from this genre is The Tree Lady!

    Thanks for the lovely read!

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    1. I love The Tree Lady. I'd classify that one as biography (nonfiction).

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  93. Thanks, Marcie! My daughters and I loved FAST ENOUGH. It's so relatable!

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  94. Linda Kay ChavezMarch 2, 2021 at 7:05 PM

    What an interesting post! I especially loved the Overground Railroad and The Oldest Student. She learned to read at 116? Amazing! I especially appreciate the back matter that clarifies factual information and often shows photographs of the subject.

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  95. Another incredible day of books! I was thrilled by the new perspective of writing about a real person or event but with a fictional approach. I've been mulling around an idea that I wondered if I could approach because of the lack of records and facts. These books showed that it's possible to honor your topic and be honest, even without straight facts. How liberating!

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  96. Hi Marcie, Thank you for this post. This is a wonderful compilation of historical fiction picture books. My favorite recent picture book in this category is LUBNA AND PEBBLE by Wendy Meddour illustrated by Daniel Igneus. I was going to mention Mother Jones and Her Army of Mill Children by Jonah Winter and Nancy Carpenter but as it is listed as nonfiction I don't think fact and fiction is showcased! Do you take care to look for mentor texts that fall into the fiction category?

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    1. It's interesting. I'd classify Mother Jones as historical fiction. I know it's classified as biography, but it's told from first person POV. For me, that crosses a line into fiction because we have to imagine the POV.

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  97. SO many takeaways from today's reads. I'm not usually drawn to historical fiction and these books drew me in. So much diversity their approaches and protagonists. My treasure is this line from Emily Writes, "a mother who makes her feel rainy."

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  98. Wow! Such inspirational stories! One of my favorite historical fiction picture books is Show Way by Jacqueline Woodson.

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    1. Jacqueline Woodson is such a master at historical fiction picture books!

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  99. One of my favorite's is Ada's Violin: The Story of the Recycled Orchestra of Paraguay by Susan Hood. I have loved so many more but can't remember all the titles.

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    1. I love Susan Hood and appreciate the back matter that she supplies. A great story. Her Titan and the Wild Boars about the soccer boys stuck in a cave was also masterfully done.

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    2. I'm also a huge fan of Susan Wood's work. I'd classify Ada's Violin as nonfiction.

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  100. I really enjoyed all the books. I am not a big non fiction reader but many of these could tease me over to this side.

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  101. Two of the most memorable historical fiction books I have read were entitled, Shi-shi-etko written by Nicola Campbell. Such a deeply moving book about a young Native American girl preparing to go to a residential school. I like to pare that with David Robertson's When We Are Alone about the residential boarding schools. This is a highly emotional book that my students loved to listen to. Both books create highly emotional discussions and have students asking questions to simulate further research. This, let's dig deeper quality is what I think historical fiction PB's call upon their readers to continue. HF is my favorite genre of picture book.

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  102. I love LUBNA AND PEBBLE. Such an incredibly sweet story.

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    1. I didn't realize this one was historical. I will go back and reread.

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  103. I found one online, the others are not a the library but I haven't been by Target yet. I been known to read a few there too.

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  104. Question... Would the book, Amelia and Eleanor Go for a Ride fit into the historical fiction picture book genre? I have never really been able to find if this story was based in truth..

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    1. I think so. She explains in the back matter about where she got different information and where she changed things. It's a great book!

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  105. I love Marvelous Cornelius about Hurricane Katrina and a “magical” garbage collector and based on a true story! (Neha Thakkar)

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  106. Terrific post, thank you for the wonderful mentor text selections. From this list, I really loved THE OLDEST STUDENT. Such an inspiring story.

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  107. At The Mountain's Base was magical. Beautiful, lyrical language. I love the weaving that flowed through the story tying the pieces together. I also enjoy the girl power!

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  108. I recently read Flight for Freedom, which I loved. Also Swan by Laurel Snyder.

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    1. Yes, both are excellent books. I'd classify them both as nonfiction.

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  109. Thanks for this great breakdown of different historical fiction texts.

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  110. Thanks for this great breakdown of different historical fiction texts.

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  111. I’ve been wondering about historical fiction in picture books. Love this list. & will look forward to finding more & maybe writing one. Thanks for sharing.

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  112. I'm interested in historical fiction and even have an idea or two to start exploring, so I appreciate this informative post, especially the explanations and examples of the various techniques. I look forward to much more research. Thank you!

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    1. Ugh. I really have to figure this name thing out. Kristin Sawyer

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    2. Laurie Seaford
      I think you just type your name before writing your post. ;)

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  113. MARCIE: THANK YOU for this INSPIRING post and the WONDERFUL book recommendations to study. I have many historical fiction book stories brewing in my head; it's one of my FAV genres to write and read! Children and adults can learn SO MUCH through this smaller lens into a moment or person in history, which then HOPEFULLY will lead us to want to learn more. My favorite authors in this field are Patricia Polacco and Marissa Moss. Everything they write is AMAZING!!! One of my FAVORITE NF PB is Peter Brown's "The Curious Garden." When the author came across a secret garden that had overtaken an old railway line in NYC, he did some research, but ALSO let his imagination RUN WILD to create the BEAUTIFUL story of how this garden came to be. MAGICAL!!!

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    1. Yes, The Curious Garden is lovely, though fiction. Definitely an example of getting a spark of an idea and turning it into a beautiful book.

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  114. Thank you for these mentor titles. I need to read more in this genre!

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  115. I have read historical fiction picture books over the years but have never attempted to write in that genre. The closest I've gotten is with my historical fiction chapter book series, HISTORY'S MYSTERIES, but articles like this one is challenging me to spread my wings into other genres.

    Great post!

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  116. A great historical fiction book I love is actually a chapter book called, Bud, Not Buddy by Christopher Paul Curtis. The story of Bud takes you through The Great Depression era. It’s a delicate balance to present fictional characters navigating historical events and allow the reader to make an emotional connection to the story. The Overground Railroad by Lesa Cline Ransome is my favorite on today’s list.

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    1. Yes, Christopher Paul Curtis is a masterful historical fiction writer for middle grade. Love his work!

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  117. Great mentor texts - I especially loved Lumber Jills and Ruby's Hope. One of my favorite historical fiction book is Finding Winnie.

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  118. One of my favorite historical fiction books to read with kids is Henry's Freedom Box by Ellen Levine. Henry capitivates readers and allows them to relate to his struggle to freedom. The books I especially liked from today's session were The Oldest Student by Rita Hubbard and Oge Mora, Emily Writes by Jane Yolen and Christine Davenir and Lumber Jills by Alexander Davis and Kate Hickey. All three books describe remarkable women and relate their stories in appealing styles.

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  119. Wonderful descriptions and examples. Thank you! I enjoyed reading Saving the Countryside, The Story of Beatrix Potter and Peter Rabbit. I think it fits nicely in this category.

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    1. I will look for this one. The reviews call it biography, but I'm always curious where that line is.

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  120. Loved reading Emily Writes. Jane Yolen's lyrical writing is perfect for a book about a young poet.

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  121. This was very helpful to a project I am thinking about right now! I have limited experience in this genre and look forward to reading more historical fiction picture books. Thanks for this helpful post!

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  122. Great Post Marcie, thank you for the wonderful examples. Noah Webster and his Words challenged the way I think about historical picture books.

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  123. Great post Marcie, I learned a lot about the different groups of Historical Fiction.
    My favorite ones are: The Oldest Student and The Noisy Paintbox: The Colors and Sounds of Kandinsky's Abstract Art

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    1. Yes, both are great examples of historical fiction.

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  124. Thank you, Marcie, for sharing a very helpful definition of historical fiction and giving excellent examples of current picture books in this genre. Two of my favorites are: BOXES FOR KATJE by Candace Fleming and FINDING WINNIE—THE TRUE STORY OF THE WORLD’S MOST FAMOUS BEAR by Lindsay Mattick.
    I appreciate the comments of all the participants too. I look forward to reading more in this genre.

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  125. Laurie Seaford
    These books were more difficult to find. I was only able to read five of the nine. I really want to read Emily Writes. Thanks Marcie for finding such diverse, current titles. I love the thought of discovering some little-known person like Mary Walker and bringing her story to light. Another I like is MARY BLAIR'S UNIQUE FLAIR: THE GIRL WHO BECAME ONE OF THE DISNEY LEGENDS. What a fun opening: "Mary Browne Robinson loved color. Even her name had a color in it. All she wanted was to paint."

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    1. I haven't read this one, but I love Amy Novesky's work. I will see if I can find it.

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    2. The publisher categorizes this one as nonfiction, but I only saw a few pages of a preview on Edelweiss. Does the author talk about where she took liberties in the author's note?

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  126. This is my second time trying to post. For some reason it didn’t come through the first time. My favorite historical fiction picture book is black out by John Rocco. Today’s readings were phenomenal Overground rail road, The Oldest student, Emily Writes, The lady with the books, and Fast Enough. -Mimi

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    1. I've always thought Blackout was contemporary fiction. But he was inspired by the 2003 blackout, so technically that is the past. :)

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  127. This is such a great genre. I've always been intimidated by the idea of writing NF and the work it takes to get every detail exact. But with historical fiction, there's a lot more room and less pressure. I really liked seeing the different ways historical fiction can be done. Next time I'm inspired by something or someone in history, I'm going to give this genre a try!

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  128. An entry to the wondrous world of Historical Fiction Picture Books.

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  129. Excited to attempt some historical fiction. That you for this lovely post and titles.

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  130. Wooo, so many good books. Thanks for the great post. One of my recent favs: Pocket Full of Colors: The Magical World of Mary Blair, Disney Artist Extraordinaire by Amy Guglielmo, Jacqueline Tourville, and Brigette Barrager.

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    1. It's been a while since I read this one, but I think this one is a biography. The author's note doesn't indicate that she made anything up. Its simple text makes this a good biography for a younger audience.

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  131. Thank you for this illuminating post!! My excitement and love for historical fiction have been brewing as I consider using this genre for a story about my own family's history. One PB that comes to mind: Judah Touro Didn't Want to Be Famous (read it a while ago, but it resonated deeply)

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    1. I don't know this one. The reviews say it's a biography, but I'll see if I can get ahold of a copy.

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  132. The majority of the historical fiction PBs I have been reading in recent years are about the first Thanksgiving to my classroom. This has made me realize how much more attention I need to pay to new PB releases as an aspiring author but also as an early childhood educator.

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  133. What a great assortment of historical fiction, Marcie. Thank you for sharing these and pointing out the many types of historical fiction.

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  134. Thank you for sharing such great titles!

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  135. Love historical fiction, but not too familiar with it in kidlit. Look forward to reading the titles here. Have read The Oldest Student (remarkable) and Finding Winnie (loved Milne's stories of Pooh). Now I'm tempted to give historical fiction a try!

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  136. As a lover of nonfiction, a researcher on many academic subjects, and a teacher of many years, I am increasingly amazed by what I do NOT know. Thank you so much for this information!

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  137. Thank you for your post! Loved hearing how a snippet of a fact, can turn into an entire book.

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  138. Terrific post that gave me a better understanding of the genre. The mentor texts show the scope of approaches to pbs in this genre.

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  139. Thank you for clearly delineating approaches/categories of historical fiction.So helpful. I realized I clumped it in with biographies. I really enjoyed The Oldest Student.

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  140. Thanks for the post, Marcie! Great titles.

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  141. Thank you for this fabulous list! I used to love reading Roxaboxen when I taught. Is that considered historical fiction? Looking forward to learning more about this genre.

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  142. There are some favorites here and some I haven't yet read. I look forward to digging in. Thanks so much!

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  143. I really appreciated your clarification regarding different types of historical fiction. Most of the mentor texts were so moving! A good story based on a real person or event always brings it to a different level for me. I will never forget Mary Walker!

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  144. This is what I love about ReFoReMo and why I try to read every book I can find on the list because I am introduced to books I've never read and may never have read if it wasn't for this challenge. Thank you for the great list, Marcie. I enjoyed reading and learning.

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