Award winning author, Laurie Halse Anderson has delighted children with her books for almost two decades. Spanning a variety of genres, from historical fiction to fiction to even non-fiction, Anderson continues to delight with masterful language and intriguing plots that bring her subjects, characters and the events in her books to life.
Anderson has one fiction series and one fiction book out for children. Her fiction series, Vet Volunteers, focuses on animal welfare issues whereas her lone book is a humerous look at what happens when adults try to force kids to fit into a box.
The Hair of Zoe Fleefenbacher Goes to School
The Hair of Zoe Fleefenbacher Goes to School is an inventive tale that features Zoe and her bright red hair that can do literally anything. While her kindergarten teacher embraced the locks as helpful, Zoe's new first-grade teacher explains 'first grade has rules' and thus, Zoe finds herself taming her mane with scrunchies, bobby pins, duct tape, and barrettes galore. The book is funny to the younger set (think first graders) and makes a great read aloud. On top of that, everyone has a happy ending, as Zoe's hair ends up saving the day with a science experiment gone a little wonky. Publisher's Weekly praises the picture book for being "utterly sympathetic to the ways in which a bad class placement can turn a child's world upside down."
Vet Volunteer Series
The Vet Volunteer books are a series of books focused on Maggie, an 11-year-old girl who volunteers at the Wild at Heart Animal Clinic. Each book uses fiction to focus on a different animal rights issue, making them ideal for animal lover in your family. Anderson includes a list of links on her website that go along with each book for kids who want to dig a little deeper. For example, her first book in the series, Fight for Life, has links that give information about puppy mills and the Animal Welfare Act. The books are written at a solid fourth-grade reading level, making them idea for the socially conscious later elementary crowd. Titles in the series (in order) include:
- Homeless focuses on the plight of feral cats when a character in the story decides to rescue a group of homeless cats and then re-release them into the neighborhood.
- Trickster takes the series to Quinn's stables where David, a known troublemaker, meets a horse named Trickster, who is recovering from an accident. David is convinced he is born to ride the recuperating horse, but will the stable owner let him?
- Manatee Blues takes Dr. Mac and her entourage to a manatee rescue center in Florida.
- Say Good-bye introduces readers to the world of therapy dogs and takes on the tough issue of canine cancer.
- Storm Rescue is a race against the clock as one of the characters has to help rescue both a cat and her owner from a hurricane.
- Teacher's Pet shows readers the struggles the blind may go through to learn to work with guide dogs. Fortunately, this blind teacher has a student who may be able to help.
- Trapped focuses on illegal animal traps and through the story, shows readers how to combat this crisis.
- Fear of Falling tackles the very real fear that some riders have when they first learn to jump.
- Time to Fly uses the backdrop of a surprise flock of parrots to deal with tough choices and independence. The main character has to choose whether or not to stay near Dr. Mac's place or go back home with her mother.
- Masks places one of the main characters, Sunita, right in the middle of an animal testing controversy. The book deals with ways people can work with animals without harming them.
- End of the Race takes a look at the issue of dog racing when Mac and some of the vet volunteers go to a local dog race to check on the greyhounds.
- New Beginnings introduces readers to two new characters, Jules and Josh. Jules adopts the class pet, but something goes wrong with his spay surgery, and Jules has to prove she is worthy of being a vet volunteer.
- Acting Out focuses on raising awareness of anti-freeze poisoning as the characters in the book deal with a slate of animals poisoned by the liquid.
- Helping Hands has the vet volunteers rescuing some mistreated ponies and finding a better life for them.
- Treading Water focuses on educating the community about baby animals that you might find in the wild through a story about abandoned ducklings that need to learn how to swim.
- Left Behind tells the story of a little lamb who is alone. The only problem is that sheep only thrive when kept with other sheep. Fortunately, the vet volunteers discover the issue in time to help.
Laurie Halse Anderson has also written several nonfiction titles for children. Fascinated with the genre of historical fiction, she has taken to focusing her nonfiction work for children, thus far, on important female characters from history.
Ever wonder who the women behind the Revolutionary War were? Independent Dames explores the women behind the scenes and all they did to propel America to Independence. The book profiles 89 women, through biographical sketches and humorous illustrations to keep the reader fascinated and engaged. As noted in BookVerdict, Independent Dames was paised by the School Library Journal and The Horn Book as a great read for a side of history many students don't see.
Thank You, Sarah!
Thank You, Sarah! tells the story, somewhat sarcastically, of Sarah Hale, who wrote more than 30 letters to several sitting presidents to get Thanksgiving recognized as an official holiday. Concerned that the observance of Thanksgiving was waning, Sarah took it upon herself to petition, and petition, and petition... until finally she got someone to listen. The book is suitable for early elementary, but would inspire any would-be world changer with the idea that with some persistence, you really can get things done. Publisher's Weekly praises it for its humorous tone.
Most of Anderson's Historical Fiction is geared towards the young adult and teen audience. In fact, she has three historical fiction 'thrillers,' Forge, Fever of 1793 and Chains. Only Chains is geared towards children; both Forge and Fever 1793 are young adult books.
Chains is set during the Revolutionary War and follows the tale of a slave named Isabel as she works for her freedom. Finding herself and her sister in an unthinkable situation, Isabel gets involved with the Revolutionary War by spying on her cruel owners in hopes of securing her freedom. Common Sense Media points out the book contains violence as it pertains to the daily life of a slave. Consequently, the book is most appropriate for children in sixth grade and up. The book has won numerous awards including the Scott O'Dell award for historical fiction. It was also selected as a 2009 Notable Children's book and was a 2008 National Book Award finalist.
Out of Print Books
As Anderson laments on her website, sometimes publishers stop publishing an author's book. Consequently, these titles for children are definitely hard to find, but worth mentioning,
- Turkey Pox is about a young girl who gets chicken pox on Thanksgiving. She thinks the holiday is ruined, but her family rallies around her to save the day.
- No Time for Mother's Day is a delightful story about a girl who realizes what her mother really needs for Mother's Day.
- Ndito Runs features a boy, Ndito, who has to run miles just to go to school.
- Big Cheese of Third Street is a story that proves great things can come in small packages. Bennie Antonelli might be really small and get picked on, but he proves his worth at the annual Third Street block party.
Enjoy Laurie Halse Anderson Today
Often funny and irreverent, Anderson is a master storyteller. Whether she is promoting animals welfare through her writing, weaving fiction with historical fact, or telling the story of heroines of a bygone era, kids will be hard pressed to resist her charms.