Upstate New York Books for Kids
(Includes the "Northern and Western Suburbs" of Westchester, Rockland, and Orange Counties)

New York City has to be one of the greatest places in America, if not the world. Luckily for us, many authors have chronicled The Big Apple's antics in a way just right for kids.

Here are some of the books available. This is not yet a complete list, but I'm adding books to the list daily. If you wish to purchase any of these books, click on either the title or the book cover to be directed to As a warning, I have put up pictures of the book covers to give you somewhat an idea of the style of each book (I know, I know. "Don't judge a book by its cover") so the pages may load slowly, depending on the speed of your internet connection.

The categories below are sorted by approximate age group and topical categories. Feel free to browse around. The same links are located on the left side of your screen. To return back to this page, simply click on the "Welcome" link on the left.

If this website came up without frames, click here to see the complete "New York City Books for Kids" website with frames.

For nonfiction books about all of New York State, go to the New York State Books Page.

For nonfiction books about New York City, go to the New York City Books Page.

For books about Native Americans from Upstate NY, go to the New York Native Americans Page.

Other Pages of Interest:
Fiction & Historical Fiction: General Books About New York City (Nonfiction) | Fiction NYC Picture Books and "Easy Reader" Stories (Ages 4-8) | Fiction NYC Books (Ages 9-12) | New York Fiction for Young Adults | New York Historical Fiction (Colonial Period and Revolutionary War) | New York Historical Fiction (Ellis Island & Immigration) | New York Historical Fiction (Life in the 1800s) | New York Historical Fiction (Life in the 1900s)

NYC History: New York Biographies | Native Americans from New York (History and Historical Fiction) | New York History (Colonial Period and Revolutionary War) | New York History (Immigration and Ellis Island) | New York History (The 1800s) | New York History (The 1900s) | The World Trade Center and September 11, 2001 |

NYC Locations: The Statue of Liberty | The Empire State Building | Central Park | NYC Art Museums (Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Museum of Modern Art, etc.) | NYC's American Museum of Natural History | Harlem Books (Including books about the Harlem Renaissance) | Chinatown Books | Little Italy Books | The New York City Subway System | Brooklyn Books | The Bronx Books | Queens Books | Staten Island Books | Long Island Books | Upstate New York Books | New York State Books

Life and Travel in NYC: Thanksgiving in New York City | Christmas in New York City | New York Sports Teams and Players The NYC Fire Department (FDNY) and NY Police Department (NYPD) | General Books About Cities | New York City and New York State Test Preparation and Study Guides | New York Regents Review Books | Parenting in New York City | New York Travel Guides for Families with Children

NYC Toys, Puzzles, and Games (For Kids & Adults) | Coupon Codes

Fiction and Nonfiction for Beginning Readers

Legend of Sleepy Hollow

By Patricia A. Jensen
In this fictional tale of Ichabod Crane and the Headless Horseman, a schoolmaster in the small village of Sleepy Hollow takes a fancy to the daughter of a wealthy family and courts her. The girl's former suitor, however, becomes jealous and comes up with a plan to scare Ichabod away.

Description from Publisher

Headless Horseman

By Natalie Standiford
When the vain, pompous Ichabod Crane tries to steal away Brom Bones's true love, Bones maneuvers a meeting between his rival and the legendary Headless Horseman.

Description from Publisher

In sharp contrast to Irving's eloquent and flowing language, this easy-to-read version of the classic story recounts the major premise in simplified prose. All of the key players are here and retain their distinctive personalities, while some events and circumstances have been left out. Standiford introduces Ichabod's love and admiration for Katrina almost immediately, omitting their initial teacher-student relationship. At the same time, the schoolmaster's fascination with ghosts and the supernatural is adequately developed. Nice, shadowy, colored-pencil drawings that are dark as well as humorous and expressive, complement the text.

Description from School Library Journal

Jay Jay the Jet Plane: Welcome to Tarrytown

By Kelli Chipponeri & Kehlog Albran
Welcome to Tarrytown: A Book of First Words is the perfect irst word book for every Jay Jay fan! Readers will love learning the names of different objects on every page as Jay Jay takes them on a tour of Tarrytown.

Description from Publisher

The Legend of Sleepy Hollow Stained Glass Coloring Book

By Marty Noble
Ichabod Crane, the lovely Katrina van Tassel, the dreaded Headless Horseman and other characters in this much-loved classic come to life with a touch of crayons, felt-tip pens and paints.

Description from Publisher

Grandpa's Hotel

By Riki Levinson
Seemingly set in the Catskills during the 1940s or early 1950s, this remembrance describes the fun a young girl and her extensive family have at her grandparents' hotel. The young narrator and her 13 cousins play softball and croquet, eat Grandma's cooking, and wait for three more cousins to be born. Uncle Herbie, who's in charge of the finances, thinks that the profits are being eaten up (literally) by too much family, but Grandpa won't hear of it--there's nothing sweeter than children. From the grandfather's yarmulke, it's clear that this is an Orthodox Jewish family, but there's nothing in the text to reflect that. More of a mood piece than an actual story, this blankets itself in the warmth of family. Affection and devotion are also manifest in the watercolor art that re-creates the hubbub that comes when so many family members gather in one place.

Description from Booklist

Fiction for Older Readers

The Legend of Sleepy Hollow


By John Van Buuren
When Ichabod Crane becomes the new schoolmaster of Sleepy Hollow, he quickly and happily adjusts to the local ways. He delights in the bountiful dinners he's served when visiting the prosperous farms of the region; he enjoys the local yarns and scary legends that fill the firelit evenings of autumn; and he comes to love the idea of marrying Katrina Van Tassel and of one day owning her father's wealth and lands. There's one problem with his plans, though: Brom Bones, the local hero, who decided long ago to wed Katrina himself. And now, to his annoyance, this pasty-faced bookworm named Ichabod is making a serious bid. This droll tale of romantic rivalry climaxes with the appearance of the Headless Horseman.

Description from Publisher

The Legend of Sleepy Hollow

By Washington Irving

Illustrated by Will Moses
Many folk-art paintings illustrate this simplified retelling of Washington Irving's Legend of Sleepy Hollow. Varied in size from small vignettes to double-page spreads, the colorful paintings are reminiscent of the works of Moses' great-grandmother, better known as Grandma Moses. A large-format picture book that will fill a need in some libraries.

Description from Booklist

Rip Van Winkle

By Washington Irving

Illustrated by Will Moses
A companion volume to Moses' edition of The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, this book retells, in somewhat simplified language, Irving's classic tale of Rip Van Winkle, who fell asleep in the Catskills one evening and awoke 20 years later. Oil paintings appear on nearly every page of this large-format book, which includes a double-page spread portraying the hero's awakening. Like his great-grandmother Grandma Moses, the artist paints in a folk art style that may appeal to adults more than to children. Recommended for collections needing illustrated versions of the tale.

Description from Booklist

Otherwise Known As Sheila the Great

By Judy Blume
Sheila Tubman sometimes wonders who she really is: the outgoing, witty, and capable Sheila the Great, or the secret Sheila, who's afraid of the dark, spiders, swimming, and dogs.

When her family spends the summer in Tarrytown, Sheila has to face some of her worst fears. Not only does a dog come with the rented house, but her parents expect Sheila to take swimming lessons! Sheila does her best to pretend she's an expert at everything, but she knows she isn't fooling her new best friend, Mouse Ellis, who happens to be a crackerjack swimmer and a dog lover.

What will it take for Sheila to admit to the Tarrytown kids -- and to herself -- that she's only human?

Description from Publisher

Journey to Nowhere

By Mary Jane Auch
The first book of a proposed Genesee Trilogy introduces 11-year-old Remembrance, her parents, and her younger brother, who travel from Connecticut to western New York State in 1815. Along the way they encounter the usual hardships--violent thunderstorms, raging rivers, dangerous wild animals, and hostile terrain--before reaching Genesee County, where Papa has decided to settle. Many westward-movement novels simply pit a loving family against the forces of nature, but Mem has to contend with her pig-headed father as well. Time after time, Papa pushes unreasonably and refuses to seek prudent advice, which results in unnecessary setbacks and several near-death experiences for his wife and children. A well-written, realistic, and thoroughly researched novel, this will fill the bill for sophisticated historical fiction fans ready for a little grit.

Description from Booklist

In 1815, Mem's father decides that the family will sell their Connecticut farm and nearly everything else they own to load up a wagon and make the long and hazardous trek to a new home in the Genesee Country of upstate New York. Mem and her mother see it as a journey to nowhere, to a desolate place with no house, no neighbors, no school--just endless forest. The trip is difficult from the start. After an unpleasant encounter with some turkey drovers, Mem gets separated from her family and seems hopelessly lost; the wagon turns over on a rickety bridge and much of the food and their few other possessions are washed away. The family pig--almost ready to birth a litter that will be needed on the new farm--is killed by a wolf, and Mem, too, is almost killed twice, first by a bear, and then by falling tree. Pleasant surprises await them at their new home: neighbors who pitch in to raise the family's cabin and barn, a real town only a day's journey away, and a school. It's an exciting tale, but the novel's real strength lies in the interesting characters and homely details of life on the frontier nearly two centuries ago, when Connecticut and New York were separated by more than a few hours on the interstate. From Auch (Eggs Mark the Spot), good historical details and a rattling good adventure.

Description from Kirkus Reviews

Frozen Summer

By Mary Jane Auch
In this sequel to Journey to Nowhere, 12-year-old Remembrance "Mem" Nye and her family have survived their first winter in Genesee County, New York, and are hoping that the summer of 1816 will bring them easier times. Unfortunately, Mama develops severe post-partum depression, leaving her unable to care for the new baby, Lily, and a series of killing summer frosts keeps Papa busy replanting crops in a vain effort to provide for his family. Most of the household tasks fall to Mem (who even learns to catch fish, a skill her father never mastered), but no one is able to prevent Mama's steady descent into madness. Perhaps the most interesting character is Papa--a fiercely independent, dogmatic man with absolutely no talents as a frontiersman, who insists on making all the decisions for his family. In the hands of a lesser writer, we might simply hate him; instead, we empathize with his misguided (yet well-meant) efforts and sigh with relief when he finally agrees to move back East with his children. A thoughtful novel for readers ready to move beyond stories of idealized pioneers.

Description from Booklist

The second installment of a frontier trilogy that began with Auch's Journey to Nowhere (1997) is the vivid story of courageous Mem Nye, who faces responsibilities that would tax a strong adult. In the Genesee Country of western New York, where the Nyes moved from Connecticut to make a decent living farming, the planting and growing season of 1816 has been plagued by unexpected frosts. One after another of Papa's corn plantings turns black; he's out of seed and nearly out of resources. Far worse th an the crops is Mama's mental state; after giving birth to a child she doesn't even name, she slips into homesickness and depression, and abandons all maternal and domestic responsibilities. Mem names the baby Lily, shoulders Mama's chores and her own, an d attempts to keep up with her studies and her dream of becoming a schoolteacher. Papa, hoping to keep the family's troubles private, becomes increasingly taciturn, and is angry when Mem writes her grandmother for help. Tragedy all but inevitably strikes when Mama and Lily disappear into the bitterly cold countryside, where Mama dies. Mem comes through it all and proves an even stronger character than she seemed in the previous book, facing her work with plenty of worry, but very matter of fact about the necessity of toiling on. Readers will have to wait for the third book to see if the surprising outcome -- Papa plans to return to Connecticut -- holds, making this a refreshing, highly realistic entry in pioneer fiction.

Description from Kirkus Reviews

The Road to Home

By Mary Jane Auch
This sequel to the well-received Journey to Nowhere and Frozen Summer finds 13-year-old Mem Nye, her younger brother, toddler sister, and father leaving their homestead cabin to go back to Connecticut. Mama is dead, their farm a failure, and Mem wants nothing more than to get back to her grandmother and the rest of her mother's family. When they reach Rome, New York, her father decides to become a digger on the Erie Canal, and the children are put up in a boarding house run by Maude Tucker, who starts out by being Mem's nemesis, but becomes the children's savior. Auch does an excellent job of portraying the whole range of Mem's feelings: her longing for a home, her anger at her diffident, whisky-drinking father, her determination to get her siblings back to Connecticut. The emotional story is juxtaposed with all sorts of adventures and events, many unexpected, that keep the action fresh and moving at all times. Fans of the previous books will be eager to learn what happens to Mem, but this well-researched story, with plenty of history about the work on the Erie Canal, also stands alone.

Description from Booklist

Remembrance Mem Nye is delighted to finally leave her father's New York State farm for Connecticut and family. At 13, her life has been hard, caring for baby Lily and keeping after small brother Joshua since their mother died. But Pa is full of dreams, and when they get to Rome, New York, he's seduced by the idea of working on the new Erie Canal. Mem is left in their tavern lodgings with the two younger children and Maude, the warm but distracted innkeeper. When Pa's work keeps him away six days a week, and he spends the seventh drinking, Mem feels she must take the youngsters and get to Connecticut. How Mem attempts to walk to her grandmother's forms the core of this historical novel, and the children's adventures in the town and on the road are full of the reality of life and travel in 1817. Mem seems sometimes older, sometimes younger than 13 (for example, would even a motherless farm girl not know what her menses were when they came?), and Pa is a caricature. The resolution is neat but satisfying, and not quite what anyone expected. The difficulties of caring for a small child like Lily are vividly sketched, as are the travails of daily life in the early 19th century. Hold My Hand & Run, by Margaret McAllister tells a similar tale set in 17th-century England.

Description from Kirkus Reviews

In this powerful conclusion to the pioneer trilogy that comprises Journey to Nowhere and Frozen Summer, 13-year-old Mem searches for a new home for herself and her younger siblings.

Thirteen-year-old Remembrance “Mem” Nye has had much more than her share of responsibility since her mother died. It’s too hard caring for her younger brother and baby sister, and Mem looks forward to returning to the family fold at her grandmother’s house. But their journey back home is delayed when they reach Rome, New York, and Mem’s father joins the crew that is digging the Erie Canal. Mem soon realizes her father isn’t up to providing for them and won’t take them to their grandmother’s. Mem feels her only choice is to pick up and walk with the children all the way to Connecticut. She has faced many challenges. This journey will be the greatest challenge of all.

Description from Publisher

Welcome to the Grand View, Hannah!

By Mindy Warshaw Skolsky
Living in rural New York State during the 1930's, Hannah begins to see her parents and herself in a different light as they settle into their new apartment behind the Grand View Restaurant.

Hungry? Thirsty? Stop Here. The Grand View Restaurant.

When her family buys a little roadside restaurant with a gas station out front and an apartment in the back, Hannah thinks she knows what to expect: She'll still go to the same school, her best friend will still be Aggie Branagan, and she'll still have to put up with that pesky boy, Otto Zimmer.

But life at The Grand View Restaurant turns out to be full of surprises! Hannah never imagined that a piano could play by itself, that she would discover a new secret place by the river, or that square hamburgers could be so perfectly delicious. In fact, life is full of wonders-- her father's amazing inventions, her mother's magnificent garden-- and in the middle of it all, Hannah makes her own discovery about the remarkable magic of home.

Description from Publisher

Love from Your Friend, Hannah

By Mindy Warshaw Skolsky

  • A Parenting Magazine Book of the Year
  • A finalist for the Texas Bluebonnet Award
  • A Smithsonian Magazine Notable Book for Children
  • 01-02 Young Hoosier Book Award Masterlist (Gr 4-6)
  • 00-01 William Allen White Children's Book Award Masterlist

Readers who know the earlier Hannah novels, such as Hannah and the Whistling Teakettle and Hannah Is a Palindrome, and remember the pastel colors, gentle beauty, and nostalgic air of their dust jackets will know something's up as soon as they see the splashes of bright colors and stylized forms on the jacket of Skolsky's new novel. Still, Hannah is the same sensitive yet determined girl, though a little older and more independent now. She tells her own story through a series of letters. Spanning the months from the fall of 1937 to the summer of 1938, Hannah's correspondence includes letters to and from her Kansas pen pal Edward, her friend Aggie (who never responds to Hannah's countless letters), President Roosevelt (who always responds and sometimes sends stamps for her postage collection), Eleanor Roosevelt, Aunt Becky, Grandma, and an itinerant artist working for the WPA in Oregon. Not only are the letters lively and readable, they also offer a vivid picture of the period from Hannah's point of view. Though some will find the presidential correspondence unlikely, those who accept the premise will see it offers a broader view of Hannah's America. A fine choice for classrooms studying the 1930s, and for fans of the other Hannah books, a rewarding series of letters from an old friend.

Description from Booklist

Hamilton's chatty, spirited performance is the perfect embodiment of Hannah Diamond, the plucky heroine of Skolsky's epistolary novel. Hannah and her family are lucky to run the successful Grand View Restaurant in Grand View, N.Y., in the late 1930s, when much of the country still suffers the effects of the Great Depression. In fact, tough times are the reason Hannah's best friend, Aggie, moved away. To fill the void in Hannah's life, she begins writing letters not only to Aggie, but to her grandparents, to a new pen pal from Kansas named Edward and even to President Franklin D. Roosevelt. While Aggie has yet to write back, Hannah receives a personal response from FDR that leads to a friendly correspondence with the First Family and FDR's secretary. On this finely paced recording, each letter is read by its author (with each actor assuming an appropriate tone and/or accent), drawing listeners into Hannah's many relationships. One small quibble: the actor who plays Edward has the requisite boyish enthusiasm, but his voice has a rich timbre that sounds a bit old for the part. In any event, young listeners will cheer Hannah's very modern go-getter ways and will likely be fascinated by an author's note and the tale's bountiful details about an era gone by.

Description from Publishers Weekly

You're the Best, Hannah!

By Mindy Warshaw Skolsky
It's springtime in Grand View!

And as always, there's a lot going on. As well as serving square hamburgers and pie a la mode at her family's restaurant, Hannah is getting her new dog, Skippy, ready for the dog show, listing to her favorite radio program, and watching Shirley Temple tap-dance across the big screen. Hannah is also busy helping her father paint he Grand View Restaurant, in the hope that this year they will win the best prize of all.

But no matter how carefully Hannah plans for all the adventures that springtime brings, life is full of surprises. Aunt Becky makes an unexpected visit with some very unusual gifts, and Skippy has his own rules for the dog show. It's going to take one remarkable girl to make sure everything turns out for the best.

Description from Publisher

Formerly published as The Best Father on Route 9W, this old-fashioned novel set in rural New York in the 1930s reflects both a former era and a former era of leisurely told and quietly plotted stories. Hannah's family runs a roadside restaurant and hopes to win a prize for being the Most Attractive Place along the highway by painting blue and white checkerboard designs on the façade. But the judges are put off by the tacky appearance. So Hannah awards her father his own certificate and everyone has ice cream while planning next year's appearance. "Let's Pretend," Milton Cross, and the operas are on the radio, a quirky and overenthusiastic aunt gets off the bus for a visit, the dog Skippy creates havoc at the dog show, and so on.

Description from Children's Literature

One-Eyed Cat

By Paula Fox

  • Newbery Honor Book
  • "New York Times" Notable Book of the Year
  • ALA Best Book for Young Adults
  • ALA Notable Book for Children

Ned Wallis knows he's forbidden to touch the rifle in the attic. But he can't resist sneaking it out of the house, just once. Before he realizes it, Ned takes a shot at a dark shadow.

When Ned returns home, he's sure he sees a face looking down at him from the attic window. Who has seen and heard him?

Ned's feelings of guilt and fear only get worse when one day, while helping an elderly neighbor, he spots a wild cat with one eye missing. Could this be the thing Ned shot at that night? How can Ned bring himself to reveal his painful secret?

By the Newbery Medal Winning author of The Slave Dancer

Description from Publisher

Ned's act of careless cruelty alters his perception of his own life and the sacredness of others'. A subtly written book in which one comes to share his burden.

Description from The Reader's Catalog

{This} is a story about an introspective 11-year-old boy, the only child of a minister and his wife, who is immobilized by arthritis. The year is 1935, the place is a small town in New York State, and Ned Wallis is the boy attempting to be the perfect person his parents believe him to be. . . . The story moves slowly at times, perhaps too slowly for younger readers, and it suffers on occasion from a sense of indirection. . . . Generally, though, One-Eyed Cat succeeds. . . . If I had a child right now in his middle years--old enough to land himself in some sort of mess, young enough not to know yet that his parents themselves are imperfect--I would offer him this book. It says clearly, but never too baldly, that parents are not so easily scandalized as all that,that what disturbs them more than their children's mistakes is the sense thattheir children are concealing serious worries. This is what makes One-Eyed Cat a book of real value.

Description from The New York Times Book Review


By Leander Watts
Albion has the gift. With hammer and chisel he can carve angels from cold stone. Apprenticed to a master stonecutter, he’s learning an art that sets him apart from other boys. But he does not live an easy life, growing up in the barely settled reaches of the American frontier. And when strangers come to his home in Little Sion and make him an incredible offer, Albion decides to leave his small town behind. Lured away to work on a secret project on the utmost fringes of civilization, Albion meets a renegade Iroquois with a thirst for revenge, a girl like no other he’s ever known, and a new master who demands more than Albion can give. This is the tale of his journey into darkness and back again. This is his journal, one of the only things that survives his trek into a strange and unforgiving world.

Description from Publisher

In this nuanced debut novel, Watts relates the story of 14-year-old Albion Straight, apprentice stonecutter in 1835 in the Genesee valley in rural New York State. Journal entries describe Albion's work carving gravestones ("Our tools are cold and hard but they can make a softness, if our skills prevail, out of sandstone and marble and slate") and life with his kindly master's family, including Little Watty, a peculiar, fey child who sees portents and signs everywhere, from Halley's Comet to his vision-plagued dreams. The author slowly and effectively builds a sense of dread as Albion's skills attract the attention of a strange visitor, who hires him to work at Goodspell, an eerie, half-finished mansion comprised of "huge beams jutted this way and that like the bones of a dead giant." As Albion's true mission unfolds, his work designing a memorial for his employer's late wife becomes entangled with the yearnings of his employer's daughter, a beautiful, lonely young woman and the spitting image of her mother. The manor's hidden passageways and disquieting sounds inspire some of the author's most memorable writing, which stirs a sense of foreboding … la Jane Eyre. Despite the vivid imagery, however, the plot sputters to a rather predictable climax. Still, it's an intriguing tale, and the ominous, claustrophobic tone that Watts sustains marks this writer as one to watch.

Description from Publishers Weekly

Saratoga Secret

By Betsy Sterman
In this suspenseful novel set in New York of 1777, the events swirling around the Battles of Saratoga propel a young American girl into a dramatic test of her courage, loyalty, and love. When a secret letter falls into the hands of sixteen-year-old Amity Spencer, the ordinary farm girl is thrust upon a dangerous journey to pass the letter to the Continental Army. On the lookout for spies and traitors, she must also puzzle out her feelings for a handsome peddler with secrets of his own.

Description from Publisher

Sixteen-year-old Amity Spencer lives near Saratoga, New York, in the tumultuous time leading up to the pivotal Revolutionary War battle waged there. Amity must deliver an important message to the Continental troops that will reveal the British Army's intentions. But she must reveal nothing to the man she hopes to marry, who appears to be a British spy. Best for its exciting plot, evocation of the period, and wonderful readability.

Description from Horn Book

The author of Backyard Dragon and Too Much Magic here ventures into the realm of realistic historical fiction. Sixteen-year-old Amity Spencer and her family live in the Upper Hudson River Valley in 1777. Although most of the Revolution has been south of their farm, rumors persist that General Burgoyne and his troops will attack the area. When Amity accidentally learns the date of Burgoyne's invasion, she must travel to Stillwater to warn the Continentals. Sterman does a good job intertwining the fact and fiction of her story (carefully delineating which is which) in a way that readers will appreciate. She touches on both the realities of war (and the surprising things people must do in order to survive) and the uncertainties of knowing who to trust. A satisfying romance as well as a suspenseful adventure, this one should appeal to fans of Seymour Reit's Guns for General Washington, which tells a related story featuring Fort Ticonderoga.

Description from Booklist

Daughter of Liberty: A True Story of the American Revolution by Robert M. Quackenbush
A chance encounter with General George Washington in upstate New York during the Revolutionary War leads a young woman to volunteer for a dangerous mission involving the retrieval of valuable papers.

When Wyn Mabie almost ran over the stranger with her horse, she never could have guessed the effect it would have on the future of the nation. That stranger was General George Washington, whose headquarters had just been taken by the British. Hidden there were papers crucial to the success of the American army. But who could possibly make such a journey, sneak past British forces, and retrieve the papers? Wyn knows instantly that she must volunteer for this dangerous mission, for her family - and for her new country. Thus begins a thrilling real-life adventure that is set during the American Revolution and is based on a story from the author's family history. It is a story of patriotism, courage, and determination that is destined to become an instant classic.

Description from Publisher

The Haunting at Stratton Falls

By Brenda Seabrooke
For 11-year-old Abby, adjusting to Stratton Falls, New York, is even more difficult than anticipated. She misses her father, in Germany fighting the war, and her warm Florida home; her cousin Chad is more mean than friendly; and she's often lonely. One night mysterious wet footprints appear in the hall, and Abby wonders if the ghost stories about the house are true. Enlisting Chad's help, Abby discovers a long-ago tragedy involving a young girl, and on Christmas Day, past and present dramatically come together, unexpectedly resulting in positive changes and realizations. Although the climactic scene is fairly intense (it details the emotional and physical struggles of Abby's accidental near-drowning), fans of history and mystery up to the challenge will enjoy the novel's diverse characters (Abby is likable and sympathetically portrayed), well-paced suspense, period detail, and descriptive, expressive prose. As a bonus, the author supplies some easy-to-do craft ideas by describing Abby's dollhouse furniture project, which uses common household items in creative ways.

Description from Booklist

With her father missing in action in WWII, Abby must live with her pesky cousin Chad's family. As Christmas nears, Abby sees mysterious wet footprints in the hallway and hears the story of a girl who drowned eighty years ago. What is the ghost trying to tell her? The 1940s setting is as intriguing as the not-too-scary chills this well-told tale delivers.

Description from Horn Book

A ghost story at Christmas? 'Tis the season for this novel set in upstate New York during World War II. Elevenyearold Abby and her mother relocate from Florida to her cousin Chad's home in Stratton Falls after learning her father has been reported missing in Europe. It's a home with a secret that Abby wishes to discover. While everyone has heard rumors the house is haunted, not everyone is willing to believe it—especially mischievous Chad, who seems to revel in taunting his cousin—even to the extent of pretending he is a ghost! When a ghost does manifest itself in full view of Chad and Abby, the pace quickens and Abby is intent on learning why "Felicia" returns to the house at Christmas, believing "she" has a purpose for coming there. Is it a message from afar about Abby's father? A warning to her? Readers sense the confusion Abby feels as Christmas Day approaches. She is caught in a conflict between reality and fantasy, while finally learning the reason "Felicia" has returned—and it is for her. Brenda Seabrooke presents a glimpse into civilian life during the war and realistically portrays family life in an intense era.

Description from Children's Literature

Battle Dress

By Amy Efaw

  • Books for the Teen Age 2001

Andi Davis is looking for an escape from her disorganized, dysfunctional home life, and West Point seems the only logical way out. Andi figures that given everything she has had to put up with at home, West Point will be a breeze. But nothing could have prepared her for the first six weeks of cadet training, better known as Beast.

Andi is screamed at, belittled, and worn down during the long, grueling training that is designed to break cadets and then rebuild them into soldiers. The upper class cadets bark orders so fast that her head spins, and the fact that she is one of only two girls in her platoon makes things even more difficult. But Andi decides that anything is better than going home, anything.

This first novel by Amy Efaw, a West Point Class of 1989 graduate, is a powerful and gripping look at an intensely privatecommunity with its own rules and regulations. It shows us the terrors and triumphs of those who want to belong to a team.

Description from Publisher

Andi Davis is a high school senior whose home life could crush the spirit of Mother Teresa. Her extremely dysfunctional family includes a clinically crazy mother, a father defeated by both life with his wife and life in general, and a brother and sister who have learned from their years in the pressure cooker to look out only for number one. When Andi hears about West Point and realizes that she has a good chance to be admitted, it seems like a dream come true. She soon learns, however, that the first six weeks of cadet training at West Point are referred to as "Beast," and not without reason. Raw cadets are mercilessly drilled, screamed at, belittled, and generally harassed until those who survive are ready to begin the process of being transformed into U. S. Army officers. Andi is determined to make it through, although she is wracked with self-doubt, caused by years of her mother's ridicule, and is without help from her browbeaten father. It also seems as if her cadet sergeant tormentors have it in for her, and some of her fellow cadets seem to think that female cadets are not required to "pull their weight." Will Andi make it through "Beast?" If she does not, she will have to go home. This book by a West Point graduate is a gripping, hard-to-put-down look at a young woman's struggle to succeed in a traditionally all-male environment. All readers, regardless of gender, who like a good coming-of-age story will enjoy it.

Description from VOYA

The Legend of Sleepy Hollow and Other Stories

Or, the Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent.

(Modern Library Classics)

By Washington Irving

Introduction By Alice Hoffman
With his beloved Gothic tales, Washington Irving is said to have created the genre of the short story in America. Though Irving crafted many of the most memorable characters in fiction, from Rip Van Winkle to Ichabod Crane, his gifts were not confined to the short story alone. He was also a master of satire, essay, travelogue, and folktale, as evidenced in this classic collection.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow said, "Every reader has a first book.... which, in early youth, first fascinates his imagination, and at once excites and satisfies the desires of his mind. To me, this first book was The Sketch Book of Washington Irving... The charm of The Sketch Book remains unbroken; the old fascination still lingers about it."

Description from Publisher

The Arrow over the Door

By Joseph Bruchac
To fourteen-year-old Samuel Russell, called coward for his peace-loving Quaker beliefs, the summer of 1777 is a time of fear. The British and the Patriots will soon meet in battle near his home in Saratoga, New York. The Quakers are in danger from roaming Indians and raiders--yet to fight back is not the Friends' way. To Stands Straight, a young Abenaki Indian on a scouting mission for the British, all Americans are enemies, for they killed his mother and brother. But in a Quaker Meetinghouse he will come upon Americans unlike any he has ever seen. What will the encounter bring? Based on a real historical incident, this fast-paced and moving story is a powerful reminder that the way of peacecan be walked by all human beings.

Description from Publisher

Fourteen-year-old Samuel Russell hates being called a coward because he is a Quaker, and he vows to defend his family if Loyalists or Indians try to harm them. Stands Straight, an Abenaki boy whose mother and brother were murdered by white men, has joined his uncle's scouting party, though he questions why Indians should fight in the white man's war. In alternating narratives, the two boys tell this quietly compelling story, which is based on an actual incident that took place in 1777, just before the Battle of Saratoga. As Samuel's family sits in the meeting with the rest of the Quaker congregation, the Indian scouting party to which Stands Straight belongs surrounds the cabin. Stands Straight follows his uncle Sees-the-Wind inside, and after being assured that there are no weapons in the cabin, the Abenakis leave their bows and arrows outside and sit with the Quakers in silence. At the end of the meeting, the Quakers and the Indians share the handshake of peace, and Sees-the-Wind places an arrow over the cabin's door to show the Abenakis that the Quakers are people of peace. Simple black-and-white drawings reflect the dignified tone of the story, which explores the complexities of the Indian-white relationship, focusing on two lesser-known groups who were involved in the conflict. An author's note provides thorough historical background about the incident, as well as a brief history of the Quakers and the Abenakis. A truly excellent example of historical fiction for the middle-grade/junior-high audience.

Description from Booklist

Guns for General Washington: A Story of the American Revolution

By Seymour Reit
Seymour Reit re-creates the true story of Will Knox, a nineteen-year-old boy who undertook the daring and dangerous task of transporting 183 cannons from New York's Fort Ticonderoga to Boston--in the dead of winter-to help George Washington win an important battle.

Description from Publisher

The importance and usefulness of the historical fiction genre shines in this well-written, accurate account of a turning point in the American Revolution. Not many children are aware of the strife and courage that took place to keep our young country in this war against the British. This story is based upon the events that helped save Boston and gave the strength and will for General Washington and his troops to carry on. The Knox brothers were like many others in the army, becoming cold and frustrated with the lack of action in the standstill war. Both sides were short on supplies and a waiting game developed about who would resupply and strike first. Will Knox devised a seemingly impossible plan to leave Boston for Fort Ticonderoga, NY to bring back 183 cannons to fight the British. The plan was approved, and so began the epic struggle to transport the weapons across 300 miles of mountainous rugged terrain in the middle of winter. They were not only fighting the elements of winter, no roads and the unforgiving terrain, but also needed to get back to Boston before the British troops resupplied and took over their stronghold. Amazingly, the team made it and was able to save their country in time. The combination of pride and unlimited determination in the fight to create our country makes this a wonderful addition for students of this time period. A map of the route is included in the front of the book.

Description from Children's Literature

New York Ninjas (American Chiller, #4)

By Jonathan Rand
My brother and I, along with Sarah Wheeler, were going to go trick-or-treating. Sarah and her family just moved into the house across the street. We live in Albany, New York, which is about one hundred and fifty miles north of New York City. That's where Sarah and her family moved from. She's becoming a good friend, and the three of us had been hanging out together.

After trick-or-treating, we were all going to go to the big Halloween party in the school gym.

We would never make it.

In just a few short hours, we would be running down sidewalks, house to house, ringing doorbells and knocking on doors. The usual Halloween stuff.

Only, tonight would be different.

Tonight wouldn't go as planned.

Tonight, Brad, Sarah and I would find something that would lead to the scariest night of our lives.

Description from Publisher

Little Maid of Mohawk Valley

By Alice Turner Curtis
During the Revolutionary War, ten-year-old Joanne Clarke, living in a log cabin in the Mohawk Valley, delivers an important message to General Philip Schuyler at Albany after being kidnapped and abandoned by an Indian.

Description from Publisher

Gathering of Pearls

By Sook-Nyul Choi
In this sequel to The Year of Impossible Goodbyes and Echoes of the White Giraffe, Sookan Bak has left her Korean home to attend a Catholic women's college in New York in 1954. This semiautobiographical account of her freshman year is very much a docu-novel about the new scholarship girl caught between two cultures, trying to fit in. Everything is overarticulated. Sookan and her friends speak like therapists ("You need to live your own life"). She writes long letters home about her cultural conflicts ("Here they do not place so much emphasis on patience, humility"), and her first-person narrative repeats all the analysis. Mostly, the U.S. is better than Korea, freer for the individual, though she does come to see that sometimes her American friends feel like outsiders and have problems with their families' expectations, just as she does. The last section of the book is the most immediate: her beloved mother dies, and Sookan is not told till long after the funeral. Her grief is heartfelt. We feel her distance from home.

Description from Booklist

In this sequel to Choi's autobiographical The Year of Impossible Goodbyes and Echoes of the White Giraffe, 19-year-old Sookan continues her journey--this time leaving Korea to study at Finch, a Catholic women's college in White Plains, N.Y. Although frightened by the enormity of her adventure and confused by the strangeness of American culture, Sookan is determined to excel at her studies, work for her keep, and serve as unofficial ambassador for her country. She has little time to enjoy what her bubbly roommate Ellen calls "college life"--parties, football games, and young men. Sookan makes friends but feels guilty whenever she has fun; she has a responsibility to her family, as her older sister Theresa keeps reminding her, that her American classmates cannot begin to understand. Sookan rebelliously feels that many of the American customs are good, although she can never lead Ellen's carefree life. When tragedy comes to her again, Sookan recalls what her mother used to tell her: Just as oysters make pearls out of grains of sand, women create something precious from their suffering. Preparing to face life alone, Sookan gathers her strength--her pearls--and resolves to succeed. Sookan is sometimes annoyingly good, but the story of her struggle with her Korean heritage makes her more than just an ethnic Pollyanna.

Description from Kirkus Reviews

The Legend of Sleepy Hollow

By Washington Irving

Illustrated By Arthur Rackham
Washington Irvings The Legend of Sleepy Hollow first appeared in 1819. In the generations that have followed, this tall tale of Ichabod Crane's terrifying yet hilarious encounter with the Headless Horseman has become so popular that it has passed into American folklore.

In 1928, a new edition of The Legend of Sleepy Hollow was issued, featuring enchanting paintings and drawings by world-renowned illustrator Arthur Rackharn. To this day, many consider Rackham's the definitive illustrations for Irving's highspirited tale.

Now a new generation of readers and listeners can fall under the spell of Irvings story and Rackham's pictures. This edition of the complete, unedited text faithfully reproduces all eight of Rackham's colorful paintings, twenty-four of his penand-ink drawings, and his colorful endpapers.

Here you will meet the tall, gangly Ichabod Crane, the schoolmaster who is as much in love with Katrina Van Tassel's fortune as he is with the beautiful Katrina herself. You will also meet Ichabod's rival, the hotblooded brawler and prankster Brom Bones. And you can decide for yourself if Ichabod Crane really met the Headless Horseman on that dark, lonely road late one night.

The Legend of Sleepy Hollow is a fine blend of comedy and the supernatural for the whole family.

Description from Publisher

Non-Fiction for Older Readers

Erie Canal: Canoeing America's Great Waterway

By Peter Lourie
Lourie takes a three-week canoe trip down the Erie Canal in a book well illustrated with color photographs of his modern-day expedition and black-and-white archival photographs. The text also balances a historical overview with a travelogue of the author's modest adventures exploring both the present-day canal as well as ruins from the past.

Description from Horn Book

Blizzard: The Storm That Changed America

By Jim Murphy
On March 10, 1888, the weather on the eastern coast of the U.S. was so pleasant that families were picnicking. By Monday morning, however, a huge, destructive blizzard--actually two storms--stretched from Delaware north to Maine and as far west as the Mississippi River. New York City had 21 inches of drifting snow; Troy, New York, was blanketed under 55 inches. Supplies of fuel, food, and milk dwindled; power lines snapped; trains were trapped; nearly 200 ships were lost at sea; and an estimated 800 people died in New York City alone. No wonder some called the storm "The Great White Hurricane." Like Murphy's award-winning The Great Fire, this is an example of stellar nonfiction. The haunting jacket illustration grabs attention, and the dramatic power of the splendid narrative, coupled with carefully selected anecdotes, newspaper accounts, and vintage and contemporary photos, will keep the pages turning. Murphy does a fine job describing the incredible storm, the reasons behind the tragic consequences, and the terrifying fates of victims. A splendid choice for booktalking; order several copies. Notes are appended.

Description from Booklist

In March of 1888, two massive weather systems converged on the northeastern United States, precipitating gale-force winds, heavy snows, and subzero weather. The storms caught a nation unaware; for two days an ensuing blizzard raged, killing hundreds of people. In its aftermath, legislation expanded the role of the United States Weather Bureau, and cities began complying with directives for placing utility cables underground and developing workable emergency action plans. New York City, hit especially hard, revamped its transportation system and began building the subways still in operation today. Drawing on extensive newspaper articles, histories of the period, and archived letters and journals, Murphy writes of the storm through the experiences of a number of people: a young woman traveling by rail from Buffalo to New York City; a cub reporter weathering the storm on a pilot boat in the Atlantic; three young adults commuting across Newark Bay to work in the Singer Sewing Machine factory; a farm family in Connecticut; a female telegraph operator; and the president of the New York Central Railroad. Not only do these individuals personalize the account with their triumphs and tragedies, they also serve as demographic representatives of the larger population. Each provides Murphy entry into background discussions covering the political and social conditions of that time, including urban transportation, the plight of the poor, and the job insecurity of white- and blue-collar workers. Murphy treats his subject with respect as he curbs the inherent sensationalism of the topic through an informal, journalistic style. To build urgency in the narrative, he creates cogent transitions from one event to another and from personal events to broader historical segments. Even with all of these connections, individual chapters stand alone, providing access for browsers and those searching for nonfiction read-alouds. Sepia-colored illustrations (archival photographs and original art from the period) reinforce the historical setting; an explanatory chapter on sources and an index close the book.

Description from Horn Book

The Susan B. Anthony Women's Voting Rights Trial: A Headline Court Case

By Judy Monroe
When Susan B. Anthony cast her vote in Upstate New York in 1872 she broke a New York State law that prohibited women from voting. Succeeding in her effort to vote caused her to be tried under a law that empowered the federal government to prosecute violations of state voting laws. Her trial and her punishment set in motion the beginnings of the suffragist movement. It was the beginning of a long effort toward the passage of the Nineteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, granting women throughout the United States the right to vote.

Description from Publisher

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