Author Focus

Author Focus: Steve Sheinken

Sometimes history gets the bad rap of being boring. If your kids think this, or if they think the opposite and LOVE history, I have an author for you to check out immediately.

Steve Sheinken used to write history textbooks, but don’t let that stop you from picking up one of his middle grade or young adult books. His first book King George: What Was His Problem? is filled with stories from the American Revolution they wouldn’t let him put in the history books. It has a cover that is anything but boring and might be the perfect way to help your kids dip their toes into the subject of history in a way that is not at all boring.

In one of Steve’s most recent books for elementary-school aged kids, Abraham Lincoln, Pro Wrestler, I found the following quote:

“‘Kids say [history] is… Abby lowered her voice to a whisper, ‘boring.’

‘Some shows are boring, some books,’ Mr. Douglass said. ‘But history is just stories. Surprising, sad, funny, gross stories. Set in all different times and places. What’s boring about that?’”

To me, this feels like the perfect description of what Steve accomplishes with his books. He finds and shares unique stories from history that have been overlooked or forgotten and shares them in an exciting and very readable way. His knack for creating historical books that read like suspenseful novels is legit.

Author Focus: Jennifer A. Nielsen

We (and I say “we” a lot in this post, because Jennifer Nielsen books have become a family affair) were first introduced to Jennifer A. Nielsen through her historical fiction novel, A Night Divided. While I haven’t read it yet, most of my kids have. They love it and are continually shocked when they remember I haven’t read it yet. If you ask us for a historical fiction recommendation, A Night Divided will surely be on the list.

My oldest picked up the first book in the Ascendence Trilogy, The False Prince when she was in junior high. She was hooked. She couldn’t stop reading until she had finished all three books. The same was true of my son when he read it this past summer. This fantasy series is full of high adventure, twists, turns and a good dose of humor. It is a lot of fun and has become a favorite at our house.

I finished Nielsen’s newest book Resistance this week. Resistance is another historical fiction novel and in my opinion it is her best yet. Set in Poland just before the Warsaw Ghetto uprising, it follows a young Jewish girl determined to do everything she can to fight the Nazi’s. It was excellent. I have told my kids they HAVE to read it.

With such strong feelings towards so many of her books, I wanted to share them with you. Below are short descriptions of Nielsen’s books. Most fall in the fantasy genre, but the two historical fictions listed we highly recommend.

If you are looking for quality books for your teens and pre-teens, Jennifer A. Nielsen would be a great author to try.

Author Focus: Gordon Korman

When my almost teen boys find an author they like AND I notice them reading more than one of his books, my read-radar goes way up. It hasn’t happened often, but it’s starting to more (yay!). So, when I noticed one reading Ungifted, and another reading Restart, followed by Slacker and a request for Korman's newest release, I figured it was time to see what this author was all about. 

A quick amazon search revealed that Gordon Korman is a prolific author. He has written over 85 middle grade and teen novels! And, once I started reading I discovered that I enjoyed his books almost as much as my boys. Most of his books are told from multiple character’s points of view (which my boys really like). And, they are funny, the plots are entertaining, and each book wraps up with the perfect dose of heart. 

Every one I’ve read so far, I would be quick to recommend. 

Interested? Here is a list to get you started. 

Author Focus: Kate DiCamillo

Kate DiCamillo is one of my favorite authors. She is a storyteller extrodinaire. Her characters are rich. Her word choice is perfect. She captures emotion in a way that very few can. I haven’t read all of her books yet, but I have read most and each one is special.

My kids have also connected with her work. In fact, my most reluctant reader would say that two of her books are among his favorites. Her books are some of my favorites to recommend. If you or your young reader are looking for something to read, you can’t go wrong with a Kate DiCamillo book.

Below are some of my favorites.