Historical fiction for tweens...the Dear America diaries are back

A review of The Fences Between Us by Kirby Larson

One of my favorite series from childhood is back! As a young teen, I spent countless hours with the historical fiction diaries of the Dear America series, in which girls experience the greatest moments inUnited Stateshistory.

In particular, I remember The Winter of Red Snow, featuring a girl whose family lived near Valley Forge during the Revolutionary War. Along with her mother, she cleans Martha Washington's laundry, giving her an interesting perspective on the preparation for battle at Valley Forge. Another of my favorites was A Light in the Storm, in which a young woman lives in a lighthouse on the Delaware coast. She finds her life, like her state, divided by the Civil War. Her mother supports slavery, whereas she and her father support the Union.

The series (after a six year hiatus) has returned with The Fences Between Us: The Diary of Piper Davis, set in 1941 in Washington State. Piper gives us a two points of view on the aftermath of the attack on Pearl Harbor. Like the brothers of many of her classmates, Piper's older brother enlists in the army and goes to Hawaii to fight. Piper writes him letters in a secret code and spends a lot of time worrying about him. On the other hand, Piper's father is a minister for a Japanese congregation. Piper has friendsin the congregation, as well,and she helps protect their safety as American sentiment becomes more anti-Japanese, even toward those who are American citizens. Her father, based on a real historical figure, works for Japanese-American rights inprotest of internment camps.

From my childhood favorites, I remember the girls being very serious, though they found time for friendship and fun in the midst of war. I found Piper to be much more spirited and carefree, and her sweet silliness made the book an enjoyable read. Her voice will definitely appeal to young teen girls, who will hopefully rediscover these great books. The Fences BetweenUs is a great additionto a wonderful series that I'm happy to have back.

Comments

What a great series! This is definitely my favorite Dear America book.

Laura, I'm glad this series is back, too! What I remember loving most about the books were the attached ribbon bookmarks. Ha! Seriously, though, I was a student and new children's librarian when these first came out and recall that some really well respected authors wrote for this series. Now, when Animorphs get re-released, all will be right with the world.

Molly, I always checked to see if the books were by an author I loved. Looks like the new series will do the same - according to the Scholastic website, a title by Lois Lowry is coming soon!!

http://www.scholastic.com/dearamerica/

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