New Historical Fiction

The Auslander by Paul Dowswell

Reading Level: Grades 7 and up

When Piotr's parents are killed he is is sent to an orphanage in Warsaw. But Peter is Volksdeutscher, of German blood, and with his blonde good looks he is the image of a Hitler Youth. Newly christened Peter, he is grateful to escape the misery of the orphanage and to be accepted into the home of a prominent Nazi family. The friendly, jovial father is involved with research into racial purity. While Peter is never a strong supporter of Nazi doctrine, he finds that he is expected to participate in Nazi Youth organizations. As time passes he questions doctrine and rebels in small ways. Finally, though terrified, he helps the resistance.

While many books have been written about The Holocaust and this period of history, this is one of the few that explains the appeal of National Socialism. The author has obviously done extensive research into the experiments dealing with racial purity. This is a compelling thought-provoking novel.

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You might also find the following books interesting. Both are written by Susan Campbell Bartoletti. The Boy Who Dared and Hitler Youth: Growing Up in Hitler's Shadow.

Your Friend in Fashion, Abby Shapiro by Amy Axelrod

Reading Level: Grade 5-7

Abby Shapiro is an eleven-year-old Jewish girl who desperately wants two things, her first bra and the hot new doll of 1959, the Barbie doll, the one with the bosoms! Her mom says no to the bra and that she can earn her own money to buy the doll. Abby comes up with the idea of designing clothes and sellling her fashion designs to Jackie Kennedy, the "possible future first lady of the United States. Thus Abby begins sending letters to "her friend in fashion."

The book is a lovely coming-of-age story with parts that are laugh out loud funny. Abby learns to deal with complications with her parents, her adored older brother, her gangster uncle, and her neighbors, the witch sisters. Through it all there's her letters to Jackie. A wonderful bonus is the glossary of Yiddish and Hebrew words and expressions.

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Grave Robber's Secret by Anna Myers

 Reading Level: Grades 5-9

 Robby Hare's father decides that he will rob graves and sell the corpses to the medical school. His father forces Robby to help him with his grisly new venture. Although sickened by the task, Robby becomes fascinated with the study of medicine itself and one doctor takes an interest in the bright boy. Life changes when Mr. Burke and his daughter, Martha, come to live in the Hare family boardinghouse. Robby finds a friend in Martha and does not have to rob graves, but something much worse may be taking place in his home.

 The story is based loosely on real-life killers, Hare and Burke who sold the corpses to medical schools in Scotland in the 1820s. This is an interesting historical glimpse into the beginning of medical education.

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