Historical Novels

The Italian renaissance

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THE SMILE 

2008 Dutton (pb 2009)

ISBN 978-0-525-47999-4

  • Bank Street Best Books selection

  • highlighted review VOYA (5Q)

  • in German (2009 Fischer Schatzinsel DAS GEHEIMNISVOLLE LÄCHELN ISBN978-3-596-85378-6)

  • in Greek (2009 Agyra Publishing House, Athens ΤΟ ΧΑΜΟΓΕΛΟ ISBN 978-960-422-811-9)

  • in Polish (2010 Wydawnictwo Jaguar, Warszawa USMIECH LISY ISBN 978-83-7686-010-7)

  • in Australia and New Zealand (Random House Australia)

VOYA:

... spot-on flair for infusing history with emotion...

KIRKUS:

... magnificent and mournful portrait of the Italian Renaissance, both tragic and triumphant...

PUBLISHERS WEEKLY:

...romantic tragedy and redemption...

reviews another review

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DAUGHTER OF VENICE

2002 Delacorte (pb 2003)

ISBN 0-385-90036-8

  • Nevada Young Readers Award

  • starred review SCHOOL LIBRARY JOURNAL

  • Booksense 76

  • starred review VOICE OF YOUTH ADVOCATES

  • Dorothy Canfield Fisher Book Award Master List, Vermont

  • YALSA 100 Great Books for Teens

  • Renaissance Learning recommended list

  • excerpted in READ vol.53, no. 15, March 19, 2004

  • UK published edition (2002 Walker Books, Ltd. ISBN 0-7445-9059-0; 2004, pb ISBN 0-7445-9080-9)

  • in German (2003 Fischer Schatzinsel DONATA, TOCHTER VENEDIGS ISBN 3-596-85124-6)

SCHOOL LIBRARY JOURNAL:

...Even when acting rebelliously, [the main character's] actions and thoughts feel authentic to the time and world... engrossing and exotic...

 

VOYA:

... engaging... exciting... thoroughly satisfying ending...

reviews another review 

Ireland in times of famine

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HUNGER: A TALE OF COURAGE

2018 Simon & Schuster (pb 2019)

ISBN 978-1-4814-7749-9

  • Carolyn W. Field Honor Book, Pennsylvania Library Association

  • starred review Booklist

  • Junior Library Guild selection

  • audio version (Tantor ISBN 978-1541469648)

BOOKLIST:

...realistically
drawn personalities and relationships as well as fine-tuned ethical dilemmas...uplifting historical novel that views a national tragedy through the lens of a moving personal story

 

KIRKUS:

A worthy introduction to an important slice of history.

BOOKLIST (Audio):

Careful pacing -- from ...lush green fields through the gradually accelerating drumbeat of death, starvation, and debilitating disease -- adds drama, bringing home just how capricious fate and be, and on what small choices a life can be spared or lost.

Italian immigrants in the USA in the 1890s

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THE KING OF MULBERRY STREET

2005 Delacorte (pb 2007)

ISBN 0-385-74653-9

  • Sydney Taylor Honor Book presented by the Association of Jewish Libraries 2006

  • Junior Library Guild

  • Parents' Choice Silver Honor Award

  • starred review in KIRKUS

  • starred review in PUBLISHERS WEEKLY

  • New York Public Library 100 Books for Reading and Sharing

  • A PJ Our Way Selection (Association of Jewish Libraries)

  • Sons of Italy National Book Club selection

  • Notable Social Studies Trade Book for Young People (by NCSS and CBC)

  • Dorothy Canfield Fisher Award List (Vermont)

  • Oklahoma Sequoyah Book Award Master List

  • Rhode Island Children's Book Award Nominee

  • Pennsylvania Keystone to Reading Book Award Master List, Intermediate Category

  • Graden State Book Award Nominee (New Jersey)

  • in Japanese (2009 Kaiseisha Publishing ISBN 978-4-03-726770-4)

PUBLISHERS WEEKLY:

This tale may well offer readers insight into how their own families found their way here -- or send them in search of those stories.

KIRKUS:

This powerfully vivid story has the immediacy of Napoli's always-immaculate prose, coupled with a basis in family lore and urban history that make it irresistible... Dom's voice and presence make his life as real and as tangible as possible. History comes to vibrant life for middle-grade readers and almost anyone whose ancestors come from foreign lands.

SCHOOL LIBRARY JOURNAL:

Napoli is an expert at gripping readers' emotions, which she does with consummate skill in this tale... of the struggle many children faced when they first came to America.

reviews another review another review another review

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ALLIGATOR BAYOU

2009 Random House (pb 2010)

ISBN 978-0-385-76472-8

 

  • American Library Association Top Ten Best Books for Young Adults

  • Parents' Choice Gold Award for Historical Fiction

  • Junior Library Guild

  • International Reading Association's (IRA) Notable Books for a Global Society

  • Bank Street Best Books (Historical)

  • part appeared in TLI Grade 8 Interim assessment 2011-12 by The Learning Institute

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KIRKUS:

... haunting... deep reflection on our country's treatment, past and present, of its immigrants...

 

BULLETIN OF THE CENTER FOR CHILDREN'S BOOKS:

... ominous, eminently booktalkable theme...

reviews another review  another review another review

 

 

 

 

 

 

Above are sixth and seventh graders in Portland, Oregon, reading ALLIGATOR BAYOU as part of their curriculum.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Donna Jo with two great-granddaughters of Giuseppe Difatta (one of the main characters in the novel), Debbie Flores and Linda Ott, in New Orleans, January 2019

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