Wednesday, January 6, 2010


One by one, fifty-six children climbed out of the coal-black train that rolled into Leek in central England. Every family was expected to do their part for the war effort. Daddy fought in France. Grandfather was in the Home Guard protecting the beaches along the English Channel. Grandmother worked in the Stannards Mill on Buxton Road sewing parachutes for the soldiers. Mummy and I wanted to do our part too. Mummy said we could take in one evacuee.

The children cued up and followed their teachers down the narrow cobblestone road. I could tell they were Londoners. They all were sickly and pale. I wondered how long it had been since they played outside. Their shoulders slumped and eyes cast down. Most wore dirty worn out clothes. Each child carried a small white paper bag full of their belongings. They all had a gas mask draped across one shoulder, just like me. Mr. Churchill required every man, woman and child to have one at all times, even babies.

I wanted to run to them and tell them not to be scared, they would be safe here. The War would never come to the countryside. It would stay in London and the south of England.

(This is an exerpt from a historical fiction picture book I am writing....)

I don't know how many times I've heard that historical fiction doesn't sell...But my WAD mate Tess Hilmo recently sold her MG historical fiction.  I love reading historical fiction.  I just read CHAINS & FEVER 1793 by Laurie Halse Anderson and Katherine Paterson's BREAD & ROSES TOO (along with a host of books from England that were published in the early 1950's).  So, if I'm buying them and reading them, aren't other people???  Do you read historical fiction?


  1. Oh, Sharon! So many of my favorite picture books are historical fiction. There are a gazillion, hugely popular, historical fiction PB's selling like crazy (and I own half of them). Your book sounds wonderful. Do it. Write it. I'll buy it. Bunches and tons of people will buy it! :-)

  2. I'm not exactly sure what an Historical Picture Book is, to be really honest, but I would really LOVE to read this story, whatever kind of book it is. Do please write it and let me know the minute it comes out in print. It sounds absolutely awesome.

    ~ Just Joany
    Red Wagon Flights

  3. Awe...Joany and Shannon! You just made my night. I think it's polished and ready to go. I need to start the process of finding an agent or publisher for it. :) I sent it to one publisher and got a lovely hand-written rejection, but that's as far I went with it. I need to get busy (re)searching for a home for EVERYONE DID THEIR PART. Thanks again, ladies. :)

  4. good luck! i think there is room for a historic PB. my little girl enjoys them. Have you tried regional publishers?

  5. Shelli--Thanks. I've only tried one publisher so far, and it was one that I met at a conference. I'm not sure who to send it to. The ms is about children who were evacuated from London during WWII. They were sent to villages in the countryside to live with strangers. It just amazes me that this happened. My Grandad's family took in two children. I really want children to know this happened. I need to find someone with the passion for that era that I have. :)

  6. i do, as long as there's not real people in them (but i already ranted on that). I think YA or MG historical fiction is a great idea.

  7. Falen--I absolutely adore Cynthia Rylant's APPALACHIA & WHEN I WAS YOUNG IN THE MOUNTAINS. From what I understand this is the region of the country she was from. My PB ms is based on research/interviews of people in my family in England that were around during WWII.

    The MG I've started on is going to be from the evacuees POV. It will cover before they were evacuated until they are able to return to London.

    Thanks for stopping by. :)

  8. Historical fiction sells. Especially British history. The Brits can't get enough about the second world war. There are always documentaries being shown on tv.

    You're excerpt shows you are onto a good thing: You've got the setting... what's the plot?

    Why is it called a picture book? Adult/YA fiction doesn't usually come with pictures.

    Your writing style is good ... really good Sharon. Don't let anything put you off :)

  9. Sharon--Thanks for weighing in. :) I appreciate the kind words about my writing and the topic. I wonder if you use different terminology for genres in the UK. Picture books are normally under 1,000 words and geared for young children. As a teacher, I used picture books in my classroom often. Cynthia Rylant is one of my favorite historical fiction picture book writers. (That was a mouthful.) She does a great job of taking you back to the time and place. The plots are simple.

    EVERYONE DID THEIR PART, tells the story of a mother and daughter, in Leek, selecting an evacuee from London during WWII. They end up with two evacuees, sisters. It's written from the daughter's POV.

    My purpose for the book, is to show today's children what people were like during that era. They did things because it was the right thing for the country.

    I'm also working on a mid-grade novel (for 8-12 year olds) about the two girls. It starts in London during the Blitz and is written from their POV.