The best friendly, feel good historical fiction

Sylvia McNicoll Author Of Revenge on the Fly
By Sylvia McNicoll

Who am I?

When I was invited to write a historical fiction that appealed to male readers, I wanted to showcase the struggles and dramas in peacetime rather than in war. Scientists vilifying the fly in order to demonstrate the connection between microbes and disease—and enlisting children to kill the flynow that was a battle I could get behind. Revenge on the Fly, in all the forty books I’ve written, is my only foray into historical fiction. However, like most writers, I read across the genres voraciously. What I most love to read and write about are strong characters who demonstrate unwavering resilience.


I wrote...

Revenge on the Fly

By Sylvia McNicoll,

Book cover of Revenge on the Fly

What is my book about?

“Why must everyone I love die?” That’s the question 12-year-old William Alton asks of his father when a shipmate falls ill on their voyage to Canada. At his new school, Will gets a surprising answer. In 1912, cities around the world declare war on the fly, blaming it for the spread of all disease: summer complaint, typhus, consumption, and typhoid.

To avenge his mother and his sister’s recent deaths, Will throws himself into the local fly-killing contest using ingenuity and determination to rise to the top ranks. Along the way, he makes an enemy of wealthy super competitor Fred Aitken. Can Will beat Fred at his own game or will he maintain his integrity and stay on track of his real mission?

The books I picked & why

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Until Niagara Falls

By Jennifer Maruno,

Book cover of Until Niagara Falls

Why this book?

First of all what drew me to this novel was the setting. Who doesn’t love Niagara Falls? It’s the summer of 1960, a simpler time yet fraught with the same problems tweens always face. Brenda needs a friend and when schoolmate Maureen Sullivan gives her chickenpox, you know the adventures this new friend will draw her into won’t always be safe and cosy. What I love is Brenda’s ultimate courage in standing up for herself against Maureen while at the same time standing by her. 


The Glory Wind

By Valerie Sherrard,

Book cover of The Glory Wind

Why this book?

The Glory Wind is set on the prairies in 1940 and is a wonderful story for the reader who enjoys a good cry. Eleven-year-old Luke is attracted to an imaginative and impulsive new classmate Gracie. Their innocent friendship is tried and tested by small-town prejudices over Gracie’s mother’s morality and Luke struggles to stay true. Then tragedy in the form of a tornado throws Luke’s heart to the wind.


Bright Shining Moment

By Deb Loughead,

Book cover of Bright Shining Moment

Why this book?

Set in Ottawa 1942, the depiction of old-timey poverty is both authentic and poignant. Twelve-year-old Aline Sauriol (refreshingly French Canadian) is embarrassed that she can’t even collect old chewing gum to help the nuns stick work to the bulletin board. What is so inspiring about this story is the resilience this family demonstrates as they share out their home in order to make ends meet. Love of family over material goods triumphs giving readers a bright shining revelation.


Uncertain Soldier

By Karen Bass,

Book cover of Uncertain Soldier

Why this book?

This story has won many awards including the Geoffrey Bilson Award for historical fiction but I love it for looking at the German side of World War II, not the battle but the prejudices a 12-year-old Canadian German and a 17-year-old German prisoner of war face in rural Alberta. Karen creates compelling fiction that humanizes instead of demonizes “the enemy.”


Last Airlift: A Vietnamese Orphanas Rescue from Waraa

By Marsha Forchuk Skrypuch,

Book cover of Last Airlift: A Vietnamese Orphanas Rescue from Waraa

Why this book?

Many authors like to use the drama of battle to engage readers in history but instead in Last Airlift Marsha Skrypuch uses the emotional aftermath and upheaval. This is the real-life story of Son Thi Anh Tuyet at eight years old when she is rescued from a Saigon orphanage and airlifted to Toronto in April of 1975. Tuyet has survived polio and feels her limp will prevent her from being adopted so she makes herself useful and looks after the orphan babies. When she arrives in Canada, she expects to continue her role as a caregiver for children but instead finds a family that cares about her.  


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