Saturday, August 21, 2021

Sports and Games from History, with Chris Eboch. Download #CCSS #lessonplans on #MGLit Mayan #HistoricalFiction⁠ #historyteaching

Some young people struggle to connect to history. If you have young athletes, try looking at sports from other times and in other cultures. Finding the similarities can be a way to get kids interested in history.

For example, the Maya had games and toys that may still seem familiar. Here’s a description from Life among the Maya:

Even with all their duties, Maya children found some time to play. They probably had dolls and toy animals, and they used a marked board and beans to play a game something like checkers. They likely played ball games using rubber balls. In a few western Mexico villages today, the Maya play a ball game probably descended from the ancient version.

Editor Colleen P. Popson studied the game for Archaeology magazine and described the scoring system. “A team wins points when the opposing team makes an error, like missing the ball, hitting out of turn, extending over the center line when returning a serve, knocking the ball out of bounds, failing to announce the score after winning a point, touching the ball with the hands, or, curiously, accidentally touching a teammate. If a ball stops moving before it reaches the center line, it is a … dead ball, and a point for the other team. The team to score eight points first wins.”

Projects can connect historical fiction, history, the arts and more

Learning through Playing

Board games were also popular: In The Mystery of the Ancient Maya, Meyer and Gallenkamp say, “Markets were, as well, meeting places where people gathered and exchanged ideas with visitors from other areas. There may have been games of chance when people got together to trade and talk. One popular marketplace game was played by throwing 'dice' – kernels of dried corn painted with black marks – and betting on how they would fall.”

On her now-defunct website, Nancy McNelly described the Maya game Bul.

“‘Game boards’ have been found scratched into the stone of building floors and the bases of stelae….

“In Bul, a ‘board’ was made by placing 15 grains of corn in a row, the 14 spaces between grains being used for play. Four flat grains of corn with a black mark burned into one side served as dice. When the grains were tossed the count was based on the number that fell with the burned side up (1 burned side and 3 unburned = 1, etc.). But if all the kernels came up blank, the count was 5.

“Bul can be played with any even number of participants. The example used here is the simplest arrangement, with only 2 players. Each player has 5 game pieces; these could be any readily available item: seeds, sticks, bits of cloth, etc. …

“Opposing players each start with a single game piece at opposite ends of the board; each gets two throws of the corn in a row, advancing his marker the number of spaces indicated after each throw. When a game piece reaches the opposite end of the board, it is re-entered at the end where it started, as if the board were circular.

“The real point was to land on a space already occupied by your opponent. You would then take the other game piece ‘captive’ and change direction to drag it back to your ‘home’ end of the board. Once this was done, you could re-enter your piece into play, while the captive marker was ‘dead’. Play continued in this way until all of one side’s pieces were dead.

“With two players, as soon as one captured the other’s marker, there was no way to prevent it from being carried off the board. With multiple players divided into two teams, the situation was different. [Partners could rescue each other by] dragging both the captured piece and the opponent’s marker towards the other end of the board, where the partner’s marker was freed to be put back into play, while the opponent’s piece was dead. If enough people were involved in the game, it could take up to three hours for all of one side’s pieces to be killed.”

If you are studying the Maya, how about trying one of these games?

Adding Historical Fiction

You can round out the lesson by reading historical fiction that includes sports and games. In The Well of Sacrifice, Eveningstar Macaw watches an exciting ball game:

Our team started with the ball, which was as big as my head and made of hard, solid rubber. The leader tossed the ball up and then bounced it off the thick protective pad he wore around his hips. The ball hit the sloped stone wall on the side of the court and spun back. Another player dove and managed to deflect the ball off his arm pad….

The novel also includes a Mayan legend about how the Hero Twins bested the Lords of Death in several challenges, including a ballgame. Read that legend online at Teaching the Myths.


Learning history through games and sports can work in the classroom or with homeschooling. But you don't have to be a teacher – anyone can have fun learning history while playing games!


Get lesson plans to use with The Well of Sacrifice, The Eyes of Pharaoh, and The Genies Gift at the "For Teachers" tab on my website.

Chris Eboch’s novels for ages nine and up include The Eyes of Pharaoh, a mystery in ancient Egypt; The Well of Sacrifice, a Mayan adventure; The Genie’s Gift, a middle eastern fantasy; and the Haunted series, about kids who travel with a ghost hunter TV show, which starts with The Ghost on the Stairs. Her writing craft books include You Can Write for Children: How to Write Great Stories, Articles, and Books for Kids and Teenagers, and Advanced Plotting. Learn more at www.chriseboch.com or her Amazon page

Friday, August 20, 2021

Back to School: #HistoricalFiction Resources for the Classroom. Download #CCSS #lessonplans for #MGLit #homeschool #Teaching⁠

The end of summer is looming – depending on where you live, school may have already started. If you'd like to find some new historical fiction resources for your classroom or home school use, check out these sources.

Confessions of a Teaching Junkie has some great resources in her Hooray for Historical Fiction! post. She lists books on the Civil War, Immigration to the US, World War II, and the 1960s/Civil Rights. She also provides guidelines on using Mentor texts and classroom activities.

Scholastic has a post by Tarry Lindquist on Why and How I Teach With Historical Fiction: Why one teacher uses historical fiction in the classroom, tips for choosing good historical fiction, and strategies for helping students differentiate between fact and fiction.

Student cartoons illustrating scenes from The Well of Sacrifice.
The Curriculum Corner website seems unavailable as of this writing, but you might check to see if it comes back online. It offered a download of Historical Fiction Resources. Some of these sound really interesting, with lessons on Comparing Fact and Fiction, Visualizing the Time Period, comparing books, comparing the past to today, and thinking about how characters in the story might present themselves in modern social media. The package also offers journal response pages, a comic strip template, book club celebration ideas, and much more.

Share My Lesson has thousands of items under the Historical Fiction heading, including general lessons for reading/understanding/writing historical fiction, and lesson plans for specific books. You can find my lesson plans for The Well of Sacrifice (pre-Columbian Mayan times), The Eyes of Pharaoh, and The Genie's Gift here as well. As a bonus, all of the lessons here are free!

Teachers Pay Teachers offers a variety of lesson plans when searching for historical fiction. Prices vary from free to over $20. A teacher has provided an extensive, chapter by chapter guide to my novel, The Well of Sacrifice, for $14, or you can get lesson plans I've provided for free. The site also has, for free, A CCSS-Aligned Guide for The Eyes of Pharaoh, my middle grade novel set in ancient Egypt, and a Teaching Guide for The Genie's Gift, a middle grade historical fantasy set in the time of the Ottoman Empire.

Teacher Vision has over 150 items tagged as Historical Fiction, including many book discussion guides.

If you are interested in getting classroom sets of The Eyes of Pharaoh or The Genie's Gift at a discount, contact the publisher, Spellbound River Press, or order direct through Ingram.

Chris Eboch is the author of over 50 books for children, including nonfiction and fiction, early reader through teen. Her novels for ages nine and up include The Eyes of Pharaoh, a mystery in ancient Egypt; The Well of Sacrifice, a Mayan adventure; The Genie’s Gift, a middle eastern fantasy; and the Haunted series, about kids who travel with a ghost hunter TV show, which starts with The Ghost on the Stairs. Her writing craft books include You Can Write for Children: How to Write Great Stories, Articles, and Books for Kids and Teenagers, and Advanced Plotting.

Saturday, July 31, 2021

Connecting Kids to History #historyteaching Get #lessonplans 4 #teachers or #homeschool #KidLit #HistoricalFiction

Historical fiction is a great way to bring history to life. It’s especially valuable for young people, who may not find textbook history interesting.

History Lessons That Resonate

Using historical fiction in the classroom or at home can help kids understand history better. It can also help them understand and identify with people of the past. If they can do that, they should be better able to understand and identify with different people today.

The Eyes of Pharaoh is ideal for use in elementary and middle school classrooms. Check it out now and see if it's right for your classroom!

“Using this historical fiction is a window into Ancient Egypt—its people, culture, and beliefs. My class enjoyed doing research on Egyptian gods and goddesses, and hieroglyphs. Projects extended their knowledge of this fascinating time and place. I also highly recommend it for its fast-paced plot, interesting and ‘real’ characters, and excellent writing.” – teacher of gifted fourth and fifth graders

There are loads of projects classes can do, from art to discussion groups to persuasive letters. In addition, my book explores themes of national pride and attitudes about foreigners and immigration. The book can be used as a discussion starter.

But often it’s the simple things that help kids connect. For example, the ancient Egyptians may seem wildly exotic in their religion and architecture. Yet their food sounds tasty, and you don’t find too many things that sound yucky-weird – instead it’s “platters piled with joints of meat, bread baked into animal shapes, cheese, nuts, and fresh fruit.” I did a school visit and one of the students brought in “honey cakes” her mother had made from a recipe she found online. They were similar to cornbread served with honey, simple and tasty.

Historical fiction shows our differences, but also our similarities.

I’ve been impressed with the many wonderful ways teachers come up with to use historical fiction in the classroom. Consider this teacher’s review for my novel The Well of Sacrifice:

“My class (fourth/fifth graders) read this book for our theme: The Maya. The book gave authentic facts about the Mayan culture and a plausible explanation for the demise of their culture. We used the book as the backbone of several language arts exercises such as: written and oral reports about the Maya, literary criticism of characters, plot, and sequence, persuasive essays on human sacrifice vs. murder and Mayan culture vs. our own culture; and art projects from wood burning to mapping. We studied geography and the rainforest. The students’ enthusiasm for this book pushed our curriculum into other disciplines including math.”

Historical fiction can connect to other curriculum areas as well. Some teachers like to have students write their own versions of what happened after my book ends. Their answers can range from marriage and happily ever after, to massive death and destruction. This type of exercise another way to get young people engaged with history.

Get her lesson plans here. I also provide free Lesson Plans aligned to the Common Core State Standards (CCSS).

Teachers who would like lesson plans associated with the book can find them at my website, or the publisher’s website links to these and lesson plans for other novels.

Find the books: 

If you buy a classroom or school set of 6 or more copies, contact me via my website for a free Skype or Zoom chat.

Saturday, June 19, 2021

Chris Eboch on Connecting Kids to #History with #HistoricalFiction #KidLit #SummerReading

Easter festival in Uruapan, Mexico
Historical fiction is a great way to bring history to life. It’s especially valuable for young people, who may not find textbook history interesting and who haven’t lived long enough to understand how quickly and dramatically the world can change.

I’ve received letters from students who have read my Mayan novel The Well of Sacrifice with their classes. One pleasant surprise is that some students say they really like the descriptions of the historical time period. I always find that kind of thing interesting, but sometimes I worry that readers will only be interested in the action. I’m glad I’m wrong about that. It’s nice to know we have some young history fans!

I’ve been impressed with the many wonderful ways teachers come up with to use historical fiction in the classroom. Consider this teacher’s review for my novel The Well of Sacrifice:

“My class (fourth/fifth graders) read this book for our theme: The Maya. The book gave authentic facts about the Mayan culture and a plausible explanation for the demise of their culture. We used the book as the backbone of several language arts exercises such as: written and oral reports about the Maya, literary criticism of characters, plot, and sequence, persuasive essays on human sacrifice vs. murder and Mayan culture vs. our own culture; and art projects from wood burning to mapping. We studied geography and the rainforest. The students’ enthusiasm for this book pushed our curriculum into other disciplines including math.”

Some teachers like to have students write their own versions of what happened after my book ends. Their answers can range from marriage and happily ever after, to massive death and destruction. Their stories probably say more about the students’ personal tastes than about my book, but this type of exercise another way to get young people engaged with history.

The author with a young friend in Mexico
Lessons That Resonate

Using historical fiction in the classroom or at home can help kids understand history better. It can also help them understand and identify with people of the past. If they can do that, they should be better able to understand and identify with different people today.

In an interview, a blogger asked me, “Although Eveningstar Macaw’s culture seems very strange for modern readers, she herself is easy to relate to. What do you think people today have most in common with the Maya?”

Although specifics of religion, social structure, and politics often differ across cultures and over time, I assume all people are motivated by the same basic emotions: love, fear, greed, insecurity, pride, piety, etc. In The Well of Sacrifice, Eveningstar is jealous of her older sister and adores her older brother. She’s nervous about going to a party and wishes she had nicer clothes. She’s growing up and discovering that she can’t always trust the system and can’t rely on others to take care of her. All that could happen today. It’s mainly the setting that’s different.

Looking at those basic human instincts helps keep historical fiction relatable. It also allows writers to address current issues. The story of the Mayan collapse touches upon environmental concerns and the dangers of believing that others – the government, religion, the rich – should be responsible for our happiness and safety. These are lessons for today.

My Egyptian mystery The Eyes of Pharaoh also works as supplemental fiction. There are loads of projects classes can do, from art to discussion groups to persuasive letters. In addition, my book explores themes of national pride and attitudes about foreigners and immigration. These are subtle elements, but the book could be used as a discussion starter.

Making friends in Egypt
But often it’s the simple things that help kids connect. For example, the ancient Egyptians may seem wildly exotic in their religion and architecture. Yet their food sounds tasty, and you don’t find too many things that sound yucky-weird – instead it’s “platters piled with joints of meat, bread baked into animal shapes, cheese, nuts, and fresh fruit.” I did a school visit and one of the students brought in “honey cakes” her mother had made from a recipe she found online. They were similar to cornbread served with honey, simple and tasty.

Historical fiction shows our differences, but also our similarities.

Get lesson plans to use with The Well of Sacrifice, The Eyes of Pharaoh, and The Genie’s Gift at the "For Teachers" tab on my website.

Chris Eboch writes fiction and nonfiction for all ages. In The Well of Sacrifice, a Mayan girl in ninth-century Guatemala rebels against the High Priest who sacrifices anyone challenging his power. Kirkus Reviews called The Well of Sacrifice, “[An] engrossing first novel….Eboch crafts an exciting narrative with a richly textured depiction of ancient Mayan society….The novel shines not only for a faithful recreation of an unfamiliar, ancient world, but also for the introduction of a brave, likable and determined heroine.”

The Eyes of Pharaoh, a mystery set in Egypt in 1177 BC. When Reya hints that Egypt is in danger from foreign nomads, Seshta and Horus don’t take him seriously. How could anyone challenge Egypt? Then Reya disappears. To save their friend, Seshta and Horus spy on merchants, soldiers, and royalty, and start to suspect even The Eyes of Pharaoh, the powerful head of the secret police. Will Seshta and Horus escape the traps set for them, rescue Reya, and stop the plot against Egypt in time? For ages nine and up.



Monday, January 4, 2021

#HistoricalFiction Set in Ancient Egypt - #Kidlit for #teachers or #homeschool

The author in Egypt 20 years ago
In my experience, kids – and teachers – love ancient Egypt. It's long ago and far away, and yet somehow the personalities shine through the millennia and resonate with us today. 

A love poem from a young woman says, "My heart thought of my love of you when half of my hair was braided. I came at a run to find you and neglected my hairdo." (What Life Was like on the Banks of the Nile, Time Life Books, page 36.) These windows into the past show us that the human soul has been much the same for 5000 years.

There aren't as many novel set in ancient Egypt as I would like to see, but here's a short list of some that should be appropriate for middle grade students.

Middle Grade Historical Fiction Set in Ancient Egypt

The Eyes of Pharaoh, by Chris Eboch: “Set in Egypt in 1177 BC, brings an ancient world to life. 

When Reya hints that Egypt is in danger from foreign nomads, Seshta and Horus don’t take him seriously. How could anyone challenge Egypt? Then Reya disappears. To save their friend, Seshta and Horus spy on merchants, soldiers, and royalty, and start to suspect even The Eyes of Pharaoh, the powerful head of the secret police. Will Seshta and Horus escape the traps set for them, rescue Reya, and stop the plot against Egypt in time?”

“I found the book fascinating for many reasons. It is informative and educational and it is not only about Egypt but also about friendship and loyalty. The many dimensions in the plot make it an engaging read. The characters are relatable and the author's writing gives a good pace to the story. The twists and turns in the plot make it a compelling read. The setting of the story shows the extensive research the author must have done to make it enjoyable to readers. The mystery that runs through the plot is intriguing and the images are vivid. The author does an excellent job by bringing ancient Egypt to life through this story and giving readers a lot of information about the beliefs that existed in society during that period, as well as the culture and history.” Readers’ Favorite review

Pharaoh’s Daughter: A Novel of Ancient Egypt, by Julius Lester: “Born into slavery, adopted as an infant by a princess, and raised in the palace of mighty Pharaoh, Moses struggles to define himself. And so do the three women who love him: his own embittered mother, forced to give him up by Pharaoh's decree; the Egyptian princess who defies her father and raises Moses as her own child; and his headstrong sister Almah, who discovers a greater kinship with the Egyptian deities than with her own God of the Hebrews. Told by Moses and his sister Almah from alternating points of view, this stunning novel by Newbery Honor-author Julius Lester probes questions of identity, faith, and destiny.”

The Golden Goblet, by Eloise Jarvis McGraw - Ancient Egypt: “A Newbery Honor Book: Ranofer wants only one thing in the world: to be a master goldsmith like his beloved father was. But how can he when he is all but imprisoned by his evil half brother, Gebu? Ranofer knows the only way he can escape Gebu's abuse is by changing his destiny. But can a poor boy with no skills survive on the cutthroat streets of ancient Thebes? Then Ranofer finds a priceless golden goblet in Gebu's room and he knows his luck−and his destiny−are about to change.”

A Place in the Sun, by Jill Rubalcaba: “When Senmut, a young stone sculptor, is exiled for life to the gold mines of Nubia, he must count on all his skills in order to survive. A novel of bristling intrigue, set against the dramatic historical backdrop of 13th century B.C. Egypt.”

Mara, Daughter of the Nile, by Eloise McGraw (Set in the time of Queen Hatshepsut): “Mara is a proud and beautiful slave girl who yearns for freedom. In order to gain it, she finds herself playing the dangerous role of double spy for two arch enemies – each of whom supports a contender for the throne of Egypt.” (This one is slow, in my opintion.)

Cleopatra VII: Daughter of the Nile, Egypt, 57 B.C. (The Royal Diaries), by Kristiana Gregory: “Established Dear America author Kristiana Gregory kicks off the Royal Diaries with the captivating story of young Cleopatra's tumultuous life. Daughter of King Ptolemy Autletes, Pharaoh of Egypt, Cleopatra lives a life filled with opulence and mystery.”

The Wadjet Eye, by Jill Rubalcaba: “A historical novel set in 45 B.C. Damon's medical training under the Pharaoh's own physician didn't prepare him for his mother's last illness—or for the adventure that follows. Damon must travel from Alexandria all the way to Spain, where his father is fighting in Caesar's army, to deliver the news of his mother's death to the father he hardly knows. Soon the quiet, studious Damon and his best friend, the soldierly Artemas, are caught up in danger and intrigue--from shipwreck and shark attack to the political maneuverings of Cleopatra, Cicero, and Caesar. Fast-paced and suspenseful, this compelling historical novel combines page-turning excitement with a well-researched portrait of the ancient world.”

Several of these are older books, and some feel a bit outdated in their style now, but they are still worth a read. 

Do you know of any wonderful novels for young people set in ancient Egypt to add to the list?


Chris Eboch writes fiction and nonfiction for all ages, with several novels for ages nine and up. The Genie’s Gift draws on the mythology of 1001 Arabian Nights to take readers on a fantasy adventure. In The Well of Sacrifice, a Mayan girl in ninth-century Guatemala rebels against the High Priest who sacrifices anyone challenging his power. Learn more at www.chriseboch.com or her Amazon page, or check out her writing tips at her Write Like a Pro! blog.

Tuesday, December 8, 2020

Our Best Holiday Shopping Guide: #KidLit Books for #HistoricalFiction Lovers #holidaysale

Find fabulous historical novels for middle grade kids – or any age!

The Eyes of Pharaoh, by Chris Eboch - only 99 cents for the Kindle this month!

When Reya hints that Egypt is in danger from foreign nomads, Seshta and Horus don’t take him seriously. How could anyone challenge Egypt? Then Reya disappears. To save their friend, Seshta and Horus spy on merchants, soldiers, and royalty, and start to suspect even The Eyes of Pharaoh, the powerful head of the secret police. Will Seshta and Horus escape the traps set for them, rescue Reya, and stop the plot against Egypt in time?

The Eyes of Pharaoh, set in Egypt in 1177 BC, brings an ancient world to life. “Mid School students and their teachers will love this fast paced mystery that has so much history and culture hidden in plain sight…. You won’t be able to put the book down until you learn what happens to the three friends.”

The Well of Sacrifice, by Chris Eboch: Eveningstar Macaw lives in a glorious Mayan city in the ninth century. When the king falls ill and dies, the city begins to crumble. An evil high priest, Great Skull Zero, orders the sacrifice of those who might become king, including Eveningstar’s beloved brother. Suspicious of the High Priest’s motives, Eveningstar attempts to save her brother, thus becoming the High Priest’s enemy. Condemned to be thrown into the Well of Sacrifice, Eveningstar must find a way not only to save her own life but to rescue her family and her city from the tyrannical grasp of Great Skull Zero.

“[An] engrossing first novel….Eboch crafts an exciting narrative with a richly textured depiction of ancient Mayan society….The novel shines not only for a faithful recreation of an unfamiliar, ancient world, but also for the introduction of a brave, likable and determined heroine.” - Kirkus Reviews

The Genie’s Gift, by Chris Eboch: Shy and timid Anise determines to find the Genie Shakayak and claim the Gift of Sweet Speech. But the way is barred by a series of challenges, both ordinary and magical. How will Anise get past a vicious she-ghoul, a sorceress who turns people to stone, and mysterious sea monsters, when she can’t even speak in front of strangers?

The Genie’s Gift is a lighthearted action novel set in the fifteenth-century Middle East, drawing on the mythology of The Arabian Nights.


The Wind Called My Name, By Mary Louise Sanchez: Some days, ten-year-old Margarita Sandoval feels as if the wind might blow her away. The country has been gripped by the Great Depression, so times are hard everywhere. Then she has to leave her família in New Mexico -- especially her beloved Abuelita -- to move to Fort Steele, Wyoming, where her father has taken a job on the railroad.

When Margarita meets Caroline, she's excited to have a friend her own age in Wyoming. But it often seems like Caroline, like many other people in town, doesn't understand or appreciate the Sandovals' Hispanic heritage. At the same time, the Sandovals discover that Abuelita might lose her home unless they can pay off her tax bill. Can Margarita keep her friend, help her family in New Mexico, and find a place in Fort Steele for good? Learn more at https://marylouisesanchez.com/ or her Amazon page.

After the Ashes, by Sara K Joiner: Katrien lives on Java in the Dutch East Indies in 1883. She is determined to prove Darwin’s theory of natural selection. Unfortunately, nothing causes her Aunt Greet more angst than Katrien crawling around the muddy jungle collecting bugs in the name of science―and in the company of a native boy, no less! If only Katrien would take an interest in running a household and making friends with other girls. But Katrien has no interest in changing, especially if it means socializing with the likes of mean Brigitta Burkhart.

Then, one stifling afternoon, Katrien’s world turns upside-down when the nearby volcano Krakatau erupts with a terrifying blast. For days, a deathly ash rains down on the Javan coast. Amidst the chaos, Katrien knows her only hope of survival is to flee the jungle with the one person she vowed she’d never befriend.

Learn more at Sara K Joiner‘s website or Amazon.

More young adult than middle grade, but definitely worth a read – Bull Rider, by Suzanne Morgan Williams: Cam O’Mara, grandson and younger brother of bull-riding champions, is not interested in partaking in the family sport. Cam is a skateboarder, and perfecting his tricks—frontside flips, 360s—means everything until his older brother, Ben, comes home from Iraq, paralyzed from a brain injury. What would make a skateboarder take a different kind of ride? And what would get him on a monstrosity of a bull named Ugly? If Cam can stay on for the requisite eight seconds, could the $15,000 prize bring hope and a future for his big brother?

Bull Rider, set during the Iraq War, is a Junior Library Guild Selection, is on state award lists in Texas, Nevada, Missouri, Wyoming, and Indiana, and won a Western Heritage Award from the National Cowboy Museum in Oklahoma City. 

Suzanne’s nonfiction titles include Pinatas and Smiling Skeleton. The Inuit, Made in China, and China’s Daughters. Visit her website or Amazon page.

The Amethyst Road, by Louise Spiegler: In a society similar to ours in some ways and very different in others, 16-year-old Serena and her older sister, Willow, struggle to get by in a tough, crime-infested urban neighborhood. By birth they are half Yulang, half Gorgio, but are accepted by neither race. The sisters get no help from the Yulang, because Willow’s child was born out of wedlock and the family has been declared outcast. The Gorgios are even worse, trying to take the child away. A run-in with social services launches Serena on a journey that is at once an escape and a quest to reunite her family.

With the help of a boy named Shem, who is on a quest of his own, Serena travels deep into the mountains, where precious gems are mined, and across barren plains, where white-clad Trident Riders are terrorizing anyone who is not Gorgio. Along the way, Serena finds the answers she seeks—and some she didn’t even know she was looking for.

The Amethyst Road, a fantasy set in an alternative Pacific Northwest, was a Junior Library Book selection, a New York Library Book for the Teen Age and a finalist for the Andre Norton Award (Hugo-Nebula Award Scheme) among other honors.

The Jewel and the Key, by Louise Spiegler: An earthquake and the discovery of a mysterious antique mirror unleash forces that jolt sixteen-year-old Addie McNeal back to 1917 Seattle, just as the United States is entering World War I. Addie finds herself shuttling back and forth between past and present, drawn in both times to the grand Jewel Theater. In both decades the existence of the Jewel is threatened and war is looming … and someone she cares about is determined to fight.

Eventually, Addie realizes that only she has the key to saving the Jewel—and the lives of her friends. But will she figure out how to manipulate the intricately woven threads of time and truly set things right?

To learn more about Louise Spiegler and to see examples of class-plans to accompany the books, visit her website. You can also find the books on her Amazon page.

The Young Inventors Guild series, by Eden Unger Bowditch: The Atomic Weight of Secrets is set in 1903. Five truly brilliant young inventors, the children of the world’s most important scientists, went about their lives and their work as they always had.

But all that changed the day the men in black arrived.

An amazing story about the wonders of science and the still greater wonders of friendship, The Atomic Weight of Secrets or the Arrival of the Mysterious Men in Black, the first book of theYoung Inventors Guild trilogy, is a truly original novel. Young readers will treasure Eden Unger Bowditch’s funny, inventive, poignant, and wonderfully fun fiction debut.

The Ravens of Solemano: It has been mere days since the brilliant children of the Young Inventors Guild slipped through the fingers of the horrible Komar Romak. They have escaped with their lovely and caring schoolteacher, Miss Brett; with their long-absent parents; and with their bizarre captors, or protectors, or both – the Mysterious Men in Black. Now they are traveling by train, destined for parts unknown.

But a note in the hands of a dead man in a New York tunnel guarantees that safety is but an illusion. When the children’s world is blown open, life will never be the same again.

From the rolling plains of America to the wide-open waters of the Atlantic, through the Strait of Gibraltar to the remarkable village in the hills of Abruzzo, Italy, The Ravens of Solemano or The Order of the Mysterious Men in Black, is an adventure like no other.

Get ready for Christmas with Jingle Night: A Christmas Story, part of The Anderson Family Chronicles by Jennifer Bohnhoff: Christmas is on its way, and despite Mom's attempts to eggnog and carol everyone into the holiday spirit, no one in the Anderson family is feeling it. Chloe, Hec’s drama queen older sister, won't be happy until she can be the angel of death in the holiday play. Hec’s younger brother Calvin is left speechless when his obnoxious puppet, Mr. Buttons suffers a tragic accident. Stevie can only remember four words from the song he must sing at the Little Leapers Preschool Pageant. And only the perfect tree and the perfect string of lights can lighten Dad's mood. In spite of being loaded down with homework, Hec and his best buddy Eddie embark on a madcap plan to save Christmas. Only a giant white bear stands in the way of his plans to convert the jingle in his pocket into presents under the tree.

You'll also want to pick up Tweet Sarts: A Valentine's Day Story, for next year!

On Fledgling Wings, by Jennifer Bohnhoff: Nathaniel Marshal is a bully with a short temper and an empty place in his heart left by the mother who disappeared when he was a baby. The spoiled boy can’t wait to leave boring Staywell and begin training so he can become a knight like his father, the cold and distant Sir Amren. But when he arrives at Farleigh, he finds himself in a place of death and danger.

Set in the period of Richard the Lionheart, this is a coming of age story about a boy who must confront issues that many modern boys will recognize: the need to control one’s temper and destiny, the quest for acceptance, the desire for fitting in, and the awakening of love.

The Bent Reed: A novel about Gettysburg, by Jennifer Bohnhoff: It’s June of 1863 and Sarah McCoombs feels isolated and uncomfortable when her mother pulls her from school and allows a doctor to treat her scoliosis with a cumbersome body cast. She thinks life can't get much worse, but she's wrong.

Physically and socially awkward, 15-year-old Sarah thinks her life is crumbling. She worries about her brother Micah and neighbor Martin, both serving in the Union Army.  She frets over rumors that rebel forces are approaching the nearby town of Gettysburg. When the McCoombs farm becomes a battle field and then a hospital, Sarah must reach deep inside herself to find the strength to cope as she nurses wounded soldiers from both sides.  Can she find even more courage to continue to follow her dreams despite her physical disabilities and her disapproving mother?

Code: Elephants on the Moon, by Jennifer Bohnhoff: “And now some special messages,” the radio announcer said.  “The siren has bleached hair.  Electricity dates from the twentieth century.  The moon is full of elephants.”

Elephants on the moon doesn’t make any sense to Eponine Lambaol.  Little has made sense since General Petain, the leader of the French government, allowed the German army to occupy half of  France in the spring of 1940. After her father is conscripted to work on German fortifications, Eponine's mother moves to Amblie, a small town near the coast of Normandy.  They are the only Bretons, and most of the natives seem to hate them even more than they hate the Germans.  After Sarah, a Jewish classmate, disappears under mysterious circumstances, Rene, the charming and handsome son of the mayor, becomes the only remaining villager who treats Eponine well. He's hard to resist, but is he any safer than the disfigured German sergeant who tries to befriend her?

As rumors of an allied invasion swirl around her, Eponine begins to understand that nothing and no one is what it seems, and that the phrase ‘The moon is full of elephants’ makes more sense and is fraught with more danger than she could have ever believed possible.

Learn more at Jennifer’s website or her Amazon page.

The Iron Horse Chronicles, by Robert Lee Murphy: Eagle Talons, Book One, follows the adventures of Will Braddock, a fourteen-year-old orphan, who sets out in 1867 on a quest to determine his own destiny and winds up being involved in the building of the first transcontinental railroad. Will must prove to his newfound fictional friends, as well as numerous historical personages, that he possesses the gumption to make his own way in the dangerous West. He learns after many hard knocks that he must rely upon himself to achieve his goal. 

Bear Claws, Book Two, takes Will across Wyoming, through Utah and Nevada, and on into the Sierra Nevada Mountains of California. Will Braddock continues as a hunter for his uncle’s survey team as the transcontinental railroad crosses Wyoming in 1868. But Paddy O’Hannigan’s vendetta grows more sinister, and Will is forced to use all his skills to save Ulysses S. Grant when Paddy attempts to blow up the presidential candidate’s train.

Golden Spike concludes the trilogy. The driving of the Golden Spike at Promontory Summit in Utah on May 10, 1869, almost didn’t happen. None of the history books mention this crucial event. Only five people were aware of the incident. Will Braddock knew. He was one of those five. It all started when Paddy O’Hannigan attacked Will; his uncle, Sean Corcoran; and Homer Garcon, in Echo City, Utah, four months earlier. When Will chases after Paddy, the Irish thug traps Will into a bigger mess. 

To learn more about Robert, visit his website. See Robert’s books on Amazon or B&N.

Sunday, March 15, 2020

Stuck at Home? Enjoy an ebook

The Corona Virus has caused a lot of disruptions. Among them are school shut-downs. I am a middle school Language Arts teacher, and my school is in one of the states that had decided that closing schools is the best way to limit the spread of the virus. I won't see my students for the next three weeks. 

To keep them reading, I'll be offering my books on Kindle FOR FREE. The first book I'm offering is The Bent Reed, an historical novel set in Gettysburg during the Civil War. You can get your free copy by clicking this link:  http://ow.ly/EbxW50yLNDX.

Keep checking back: I'll offer one or two books a week until my kids go back to school.

I hope this makes your quarantine a little nicer, and I'm wishing you health.