If you or your child is studying early American history, you will want to become familiar with Clyde Robert Bulla’s works.
Bulla has authored a whole, huge long list of books – including two books I’ve already reviewed, Donald’s Duck and The Sword in the Tree.
I really appreciate Bulla’s sensitivity to children and their feelings. He deals with difficult situations, difficult people and difficult topics in a way few adults can. He never patronizes, never alarms, and never trivializes children, their thoughts or their feelings.
We have read several of Bulla’s books when studying early American history and enjoyed each one of them. Squanto, Friend of the Pilgrims is an easy chapter book which tells the story of how Squanto ended up in England and then back in America, helping the Pilgrims. Pocahontas and the Strangers, another easy chapter book, gives readers insight into the relationship between Pocahontas and John Smith – the real relationship, not the Disneyfied version.
My particular favorite is A Lion to Guard Us. In that book, Bulla writes about Amanda Freebold and her younger brother and sister. They and their mother are servants in England, waiting to hear from their husband and father, who sailed for the the new colony of Jamestown three years earlier. After their mother dies, Amanda decides they need to leave the house in which they live to find their father – with a brass lion’s head which their father gave them to remember him by. Amanda has to make many adult decisions since she is the head of the family, and she manages to get the three children passage to America.
Even Bulla’s books set in more recent times are compelling. I especially like The Shoeshine Girl, an ALA Notable Book. It chronicles the transformation of a very angry young girl into a caring, thoughtful girl.