Meyer, Carolyn. 1993. White lilacs. New York, NY: Gulliver Books. ISBN: 0-15-200641-9.
Twelve-year-old Rosa Lee Jefferson tells of her life in Dillon, Texas. She describes the small black section of town that is called Freedom and its inhabitants and their relationship with the white community in Dillon. Ku, Klux, Klan along with the women's desire for a park right where Freedom stands bring dramatic scenes of the racism and bigotry that existed in the early 1920's. The emotions of the times and the characters were done well and with accuracy for the time period as well as the location. The factual basis for this story comes from the history of Denton, Texas. As the main character in the story, Rosa Lee uses her growing talents as an aspiring artist to capture the town of Freedom in her sketches before all is torn down, lost and forgotten. Publisher's Weekly puts the story line into "a struggle for equal rights (which) quickly becomes a sorrowful march toward an inevitable eviction." Extremely moving, this book takes one through the struggles of individuals within an entire community divided against itself through racial injustice and total lack of feeling toward another ethnic group.
Marrin, Albert. 1995. The sea king, sir frances drake and his times. New York, NY: Atheneum Books for Young Readers. LC: 95-060386.
Albert Marrin has captured the essence of the time period as well as the key players in the rise, exploits and fall of Sir Francis Drake. The attention to detail to include his burial at the eastern end of the Panama Canal gives the reader a lot of understanding and knowledge in a palatable way. The photographs as well as the descriptions add to the visual imagery that one is able to obtain from this reading. Booklist states, "Quotations, meticulously attributed in the source notes, bring an immediacy sometimes lacking in biographies." His listing in the notes adds to the authenticity that he achieved for his readers. Listing of more books also gives the reader more places to go if they would like to learn more about this historical figure. The index also makes the book useable as a primary source for research projects. I was amazed with the amount of material and knowledge that was included in this book while still managing to make the book readable for the young adult. The language was not too difficult and, in the same breath, was not too simple to make the book more a children's book. It addresses the needs and level of the readers with ease while it is also comprehensive. Mr. Marrin has certainly addressed his audience well.
Giblin, James Cross. 2002. The life and death of adolf hitler. New York, NY: Clarion Books. ISBN: 0-395-90371-8.
Through many gathered sources James Giblin has given accuracy and a person to Adolf Hitler and his actions. While the book resounds at the end with the message of preventing such a leader ever developing such power again, all must be aware of the past and the climate of the times that allowed such a man to charismatically guide the German people in his genocide of Jews, Africans, gypsies, etc. The details, while stated in a format for young adults, carry enough information that we don't get a watered down rendition of the life of this man. We gain information on how he came to power and how he played people and countries against each other for his successes. Publishers Weekly states that the author "offers an absorbing portrait of an enigmatic leader who loved dogs and opera but could order the extermination of millions of innocent people." His coverage of Hitler is fair in presenting the facts and the man, which is more than most would be able to do. Young adults who read this will be more able to answer the question of the century - "How can a man like this lead an entire country and people to commit such inhuman acts against others?" The photographs, glossary, sources cited and the index make this book useful as a research tool as well as a biography.
Lasky, Kathryn.1994. Beyond the burning time. New York, NY: The Blue Sky Press. ISBN: 0-590-47331-X.
Based on the Salem witch trials in Massachusetts, Mary Chase, a twelve year old, takes us through the experience of the time with a new twist. In this novel we are introduced to the possibility that greed, politics and family feuds were part of the stage setting for this to occur. Not only do we get an idea of what went on to cost the lives of so many people during these trials, we also get the emotional impact as Mary and her brother, Caleb, work to save the life of their mother who is accused and imprisoned as a witch. While set in 1692, the book makes it real enough that one can almost imagine such things happening now. Truly this is a stage of America's history that should not be forgotten so we don't have to live through it again in any form. The School Library Journal comments that "the characterizations of Mary and her brother, Caleb, apprentice to a ship's carpenter, are sturdy and complex." The Puritan theme rings true and thus makes the "crying out" of pious, religious people even more difficult to grasp as the plot unfolds.