Forthcoming children’s and YA historical novels for 2021

The Historical Novel Society lists mainstream and small press titles for readers aged 4 – 18. Details are compiled by Fiona Sheppard using publisher descriptions and recommended age suitability.

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Last updated October 17, 2020

January 2021

Gill Arbuthnott, illus. Mike Phillips, The Amazing Life of Mary, Queen of Scots, Kelpies, Age 7-10 (life of Mary told for Young Readers)

Glenda Armand, illus. Brittany Jackson, Song in a Rainstorm, Albert Whitman, Age 5-6 (story of musical prodigy Blind Tom Wiggins in 19th-century)

Natasha Bacchus-Buschkiel, illus. Francesca Ficorilli, Maria and the Plague, Stone Arch, Age 8-11 (a graphic format Black Death survival story)

Sarwat Chadda, City of the Plague God, Rick Riordan Presents, Age 8-12 (13-year-old Sikander teams up with the hero Gilgamesh to stop the ancient god of plagues)

Maya Chhabra, illus. Eric Freeberg, Stranger on the Home Front, North Star Editions, Age 8-14 (a story of Indian immigrants and World War I – I Am America series)

Judy Dodge Cummings, illus. Eric Freeberg, When the Earth Dragon Trembled, North Star Editions, Age 8-14 (a story of Chinatown during the San Francisco earthquake and fire – I Am America series)

Deborah L. Delaronde, illus. Sheldon Dawson, Louis Riel Day, Theytus Books, Age 4-6 (with help from his grandfather a boy discovers how the fur trade began)

Fabrice Erre, illus. Sylvain Savoia, Magical History Tour #1: The Great Pyramid, Papercutz, Age 8-12 (new series where kids travel through time to follow the Threads of History and uncover its secrets!)
Also: Magical History Tour #2: The Great Wall of China

Julie Gilbert, illus. Francesca Ficorilli, Constance and the Dangerous Crossing, Stone Arch, Age 8-11 (a graphic format Mayflower survival story)

Nikki Grimes, Legacy, Bloomsbury Children’s, Age 10+ (new collection of poetry celebrating little-known women poets of the Harlem Renaissance)

Susan Kusel, illus. Sean Rubin, The Passover Guest, Neal Porter Books, Age 4-8 (picture book retelling of the classic I.L. Peretz story, best known through Uri Shulevitz’s 1973 adaptation The Magician)

Peter Sis, Nicky & Vera, Norton BfYR, Age 8-12 (story of Nicholas Winton who rescued nearly 700 children from Nazi-occupied Prague)

M.J. Thomas, The Secret of the Hidden Scrolls, Worthykids, Age 6-8 (time-traveling chapter book sends Peter and Mary back to Jerusalem, where a teacher named Jesus has started teaching and performing miracles)

Jenni L. Walsh, illus. Jane Pica, Hettie and the London Blitz, Stone Arch, Age 8-11 (a graphic format WWII survival story)

February 2021

Kate Albus, A Place to Hang the Moon, Margaret Ferguson, Age 9-12 (tale of three orphaned siblings who are evacuated from London in 1940 to live in the countryside with the secret hope of finding a permanent family)

Amy Bearce, Rome Reframed, Jolly Fish Press, Age 10-14 (after a cryptic palm reader hands him a weird-looking coin to throw in the Trevi Fountain, Lucas finds himself transported to ancient Rome)

Marianne Hering, Terror in the Tunnel, Focus on the Family, Age 6-8 (Book 23 in the Imagination Station series finds cousins Beth and Patrick nearing Washington, D.C., on the train with Abraham Lincoln, heading to his first inauguration)

Sigal Samuel, illus. Vali Mintzi, Osnat and Her Dove, Levine Querido. Age 4-8 (Osnat was born 500 years ago – at a time when very few believed that girls should learn to read)

Diane Zahler, Daughter of the White Rose, Holiday House, Age 8-12 (based on the real royal scandal of the Princes in the Tower)

March 2021

Mary Kay Carson, Escape from . . . the Titanic, little bee, Age 7-10 (an Irish bellboy and a young girl passenger try to survive the sinking of the unsinkable ship)

Kathleen A. Dinan, illus. Iris M. Kirkwood, Kite to Freedom, Age 9-12 (fictionalized account of actual events that occurred during the construction of the Niagara International Suspension bridge connecting the U.S. and Canada at Niagara Falls)

Anne Dublin, Jacob and the Mandolin Adventure, Second Story Press, Age 9-12 (Jacob and a group of Jewish orphans cross the sea to a new life in the 1920s)

G. D. Falksen, The Secret Life of Kitty Granger, Carolrhoda Lab, YA (portrait of 16-year-old Kitty Granger, a working-class girl on the autism spectrum, who was recruited to spy for the British government in 1967)

Dan Gutman, Houdini and Me, Holiday House, Age 8-12 (when Houdini asks for his help in coming back to life, it seems like a chance 11-yr-old Harry Mancini doesn’t want to miss!)

Vanessa Harbour, Flight, Feiwel & Friends, Age 8-12 (a Jewish boy and a Roma girl lead a group of horses across the mountains to escape the Nazis during WWII)

Susan Hughes, illus. Marianne Ferrer, Carmen and the House that Gaudí Built, Owlkids, Age 4-8 (picture book inspired by the real Batlló family and the house Gaudí designed for them)

I Musici de Montréal, Colm Feore, Ana Gerhard, illus. Marie Gerhard, That’s My Piano, Sir!, The Secret Mountain, Age 7-9 (travel through time following a mouse called Minim as he witnesses the arrival of young Mozart and his family)
Also: A Delicious Taste of Mozzarella (April 2021)

J. M. Lee, The Nightland Express, Erewhon, YA (in antebellum America, two teens bury their secrets and join the historic Pony Express, and soon discover the mortal world is not the only one on the brink of war)

Peter Lerangis, Throwback: Out of Time, HarperCollins, Age 8-12 (13-yr-old Corey has the power to travel back in time and try to fix some of history’s worst evils)

Wendy Orr, Cuckoo’s Flight, Pajama Press, Age 9-12 (Bronze-Age coming-of-age story as Clio battles the political power of the palace and her own feelings of inadequacy to save her town, her horses, and perhaps even herself)

Mary Pope Osborne, To the Future, Ben Franklin, Random House BfYR, Age 6–9 (Magic Tree House adventure set in Old Philadelphia in 1787)

Benjamin Richmond, Escape from . . . Pompeii, little bee, Age 7-10 (Mount Vesuvius is ready to erupt and two friends have to find a way to escape)

Laura Amy Schlitz, illus. Julia Iredale, Amber and Clay, Candlewick, Age 10-14 (blending verse, prose, and illustrated archaeological “artifacts,” this is a tale that vividly transcends time, an indelible reminder of the power of language)

Gloria Whelan, illus. Kirbi Fagan, Summer of the Tree Army, Sleeping Bear, Age 7-8 (in Depression-era northern Michigan, a young boy meets a teenager serving in the Civilian Conservation Corps)

April 2021

Alane Adams, The Medusa Quest, Spark Press, Age 8-12 (Phoebe Katz is on a new mission to save Olympus, to undo the fallout from her last visit)

Laura Best, The Family Way, Nimbus Publishing, Age 4-9 (based on the true story of the Ideal Maternity Home, and its tragic Butterbox Babies,; an exploration of family and of Nova Scotia’s history)

W. N. Brown, Michael Burgan, James Buckley, Jr., Great Escapes #5: Terror in the Tower of London, HarperCollins, Age 8-12 (fifth book in the historical fiction series based on real events)

Alyssa Colman, The Gilded Girl, FSG BfYR, Age 8-12 (set in Gilded Age New York City, follows two girls at an elite magical boarding school who form an unlikely friendship to save magic)

Hédi Fried, illus. Stina Wirsén, The Story of Bodri, Eermans BfYR, Age 6-10 (story about a faithful dog, a Jewish family in danger, and the power of hope in unimaginable circumstances)

Chris Raschka, Saint Spotting, Eerdmans BfYR, Age 4-8 (illustrated picture book introduces readers to saints and symbols through the warm bond between a mother and son)

Pauline Vaeluaga Smith, illus. Mat Hunkin, Dawn Raid, Levine Querido, Age 8-12 (story of one ordinary girl living in extraordinary times, learning how to stand up and fight)

Ted Staunton, illus. Josh Rosen, The Good Fight, Scholastic Canada, Age 10-13 (set amidst Toronto’s turbulent summer of 1933, this graphic novel sheds light on prejudice and social injustice)

Shirley Reva Vernick, Falling Stars, Cinco Puntos, Age 8-12 (historical fiction explores a true story of the only WWII casualties in the continental U.S.)

May 2021

Katherine Factor, Choose Your Own Adventure Spies: Spy for Cleopatra, Chooseco, Age 9-12 (interactive series whereby mid-graders can learn about different times in history)

Justina Ireland, Ophie’s Ghosts, Balzer + Bray, Age 8-12 (Ophelia used to live in a small house in the Georgia countryside. But that was before the night in November 1922 and the cruel act that took her father from her)

Sophie Jordan, Sixteen Scandals, HMH BfYR, YA (newly minted sixteen-year-old Primrose Ainsworth finds herself on a wayward birthday adventure through London with a mysterious hero)

Catherine Gilbert Murdock, Da Vinci’s Cat, Greenwillow, Age 8-12 (time-slip fantasy about rewriting history to save the present)

Ellen Oh, Finding Junie Kim, HarperCollins, Age 8-12 (while facing racist vandalism at her middle school, Junie learns of her grandparents’ experiences as lost children during the Korean War and finds her inner strength)

Manuela Santoni, Brontë, Graphic Universe, YA (story of the lives of the three famous literary sisters)

June 2021

Sharon Dogar, Monsters, Andersen Press, YA (story of Mary Shelley—radical, rebellious and entranced, who defies tradition and society, and who draws upon the monstrous elements of her own life to create the most memorable monster of them all)

Judith Eagle, illus. Jo Rioux, The Secret Starling, Walker Books US, Age 10-14 (a tattered ballet slipper found under the floorboards of Braithwaite Manor may be the key to Clara’s sinister family secrets in this lightly Gothic mystery)

Gary Northfield, Julius Zebra: Grapple with the Greeks!, Candlewick, Age 7-10 (fourth action-packed, hilarious adventure brimming with facts about the ancient world)

Brit Sandstrom, Hollow Chest, Walden Pond, Age 8-12 (WWII-era fantasy about a young boy who braves the claws and teeth of monsters both real and fantastical in order to save his brother, his family, and himself)

July 2021

Lindsay Galvin, A Discovery of Dragons, Chicken House, Age 8-12 (1835. Cabin boy Simon Covington is on the voyage of a lifetime to the Galapagos Islands with the world-famous scientist, Charles Darwin)

August 2021

Stacy Gregg, The Forever Horse, HarperCollinsChildrensBooks, Age 9+ (Maisie finds the childhood diary of famous horse artist, Rose Bonifait, and meets the beautiful black stallion, Claude)


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