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The Ghost of Gosswater, When the Sky Falls and Arctic Star among Bishop's Stortford College librarian Lizzie Hall's recommended historical fiction books for children

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Bishop's Stortford College Prep School librarian Lizzie Hall writes about the magic of storytelling...

Dear Reader. Historical fiction makes history come alive.

Learning about the past teaches children about events far removed from their own life experience.

There is a super array of new historical fiction being published for middle-grade pupils and teenagers. Here are some of the highlights...

Ages 9-12

When the Sky Falls by Phil Earle

1941. War is raging. And one angry boy has been sent to the city, where bombers rule the skies.

Joseph will live with Mrs F, a gruff woman with no fondness for children. Her only loves are the run-down zoo she owns and its mighty silverback gorilla, Adonis.

As the weeks pass, bonds deepen and secrets are revealed, but if the bombers set Adonis rampaging free, will either of them be able to end the life of the one thing they truly love?

This is sure to be a future classic and is inspired by a true story.

When the Sky Falls by Phil Earle (47631061)
When the Sky Falls by Phil Earle (47631061)

Arctic Star by Tom Palmer

Winter 1943. Teenagers Frank, Joseph and Stephen are Royal Navy recruits on their first mission at sea during the Second World War.

Their ship is part of an Arctic convoy sailing to Russia to deliver supplies to the Soviets.

Arctic Star by Tom Palmer (47631041)
Arctic Star by Tom Palmer (47631041)

The convoys have to navigate treacherous waters, sailing through a narrow channel between the Arctic ice pack and German bases on the Norwegian coast.

Faced with terrifying enemy attacks from both air and sea, as well as life-threatening cold and storms, will all three boys make it home again?

The Ghost of Gosswater by Lucy Strange

The Lake District, 1899. The earl is dead and cruel cousin Clarence has inherited everything.

Twelve-year-old Lady Agatha Asquith is cast out of Gosswater Hall to live in a tiny, tumbledown cottage with a stranger who claims to be her father.

Aggie is determined to discover her real identity, but she is not alone on her quest for the truth.

On the last day of the year, when the clock strikes midnight, a mysterious girl of light creeps through the crack in time. She will not rest until the dark, terrible secrets of the past have been revealed...

The Ghost of Gosswater by Lucy Strange (47631049)
The Ghost of Gosswater by Lucy Strange (47631049)

The House of Serendipity by Lucy Ivison

Welcome to the House of Serendipity, where friendships are fashioned and destinies designed amongst the ball gowns, tiaras and trifles!

Meet Myrtle Mathers and Sylvia Cartwright, two girls from different worlds bonded by a passion for fashion.

They know that the perfect outfit can make dreams come true and their dazzling designs are the talk of 1920s London.

So when Agapantha Portland-Prince wants to escape her glamorous debutante ball for a life of adventure, it's their magical talents she needs.

But can the girls make all their secret dreams a reality, or will this be the most stylish scandal of the century?

The House of Serendipity by Lucy Ivison (47631033)
The House of Serendipity by Lucy Ivison (47631033)

The Good Thieves by Katherine Rundell

Fresh off the boat from England, Vita Marlowe has a job to do. Her beloved grandfather Jack has been cheated out of his home and possessions by a notorious conman with Mafia connections.

Seeing Jack's spirit is broken, Vita is desperate to make him happy again, so she devises a plan to outwit his enemies and recover his home.

She finds a young pickpocket working the streets of the city and, nearby, two boys with highly unusual skills and secrets of their own are about to be pulled into her lawless, death-defying plan.

The Good Thieves by Katherine Rundell (47631059)
The Good Thieves by Katherine Rundell (47631059)

Maria's Island by Victoria Hislop

The absorbing story of the Cretan village of Plaka and the tiny, deserted island of Spinalonga – Greece's former leper colony – is told to us by Maria Petrakis, one of the children in the original version of The Island.

She tells us of the ancient and misunderstood disease of leprosy, exploring the themes of stigma, shame and the treatment of those who are different, which are as relevant for children as adults.

Gill Smith's rich, full-colour illustrations will transport the reader to the timeless and beautiful Greek landscape and Mediterranean seascape.

Maria’s Island by Victoria Hislop (47631029)
Maria’s Island by Victoria Hislop (47631029)

Ages 13+

The Fountains of Silence by Ruta Sepetys

Madrid, 1957. Daniel - young, wealthy and unsure of his place in the world - views the city through the lens of his camera.

Ana is a hotel maid whose family is suffering under the fascist dictatorship of General Franco.

Lives and hearts collide as they unite to uncover the hidden darkness within the city. A darkness that could engulf them all...

Master storyteller Ruta Sepetys once again shines light into one of history's darkest corners in this epic, heart-wrenching novel about identity, unforgettable love and the hidden violence of silence.

The Fountains of Silence by Ruta Sepetys (47631055)
The Fountains of Silence by Ruta Sepetys (47631055)

The Last Hawk by Elizabeth Wein

Nazi Germany is a dangerous place for a girl with a stammer. Although her father tries to keep her safe, Ingrid can't help feeling like she's let him down.

But in the air, soaring high as she pilots her beloved glider planes, Ingrid is free and incredibly talented.

When she gets the chance to fly in a propaganda tour alongside her hero, Germany's daring female test pilot Hanna Reitsch, Ingrid leaps at the chance.

But, through Hanna, she will learn some dangerous truths about Germany's secret missions and the plans that could change the course of the war to secure victory for the Nazi regime.

When everything is at stake, Ingrid must decide where her loyalties lie. Suitable for struggling, reluctant or dyslexic readers.

The Last Hawk by Elizabeth Wein (47631063)
The Last Hawk by Elizabeth Wein (47631063)

A Snowfall of Silver by Laura Wood

In the Autumn of 1931, 18-year-old Freya Trevelyan runs away from her home in Cornwall to follow her dream of becoming an actress.

When she is invited to join a theatrical company about to head out on tour, Freya thinks the path to success is clear.

Amidst all the glamour and bustle of stage life, she finds, for the first time, a place to belong.

But can reality ever live up to her expectations? What if her life - and falling in love - turns out to be nothing like she planned?

A Snowfall of Silver by Laura Wood (47631037)
A Snowfall of Silver by Laura Wood (47631037)

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