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Amanda Butts


Historical Fiction Literacy Analysis

Definition/description: Historical fiction involves facts and imagination,
speculation about how life was lived in the past, and gives insight into
history and human struggles over the centuries.
Types of Historical Fiction:
Type I: Authors write a fictional story woven around actual events
and people from the past, creating an integral setting.
The Fighting Ground by Avi
Johnny Tremain by Esther Forbes
Type II: Authors write a fictional story with a backdrop setting, in
which the historical events and people are not extensively
featured or discussed.
A Long Way from Chicago by Richard Peck
Two Crafty Criminals! by Philip Pullman
Type III: Authors recreate their own personal lives and experiences
from a time in history from their memories, family documents, and
A Little Prairie House by Laura Ingalls Wilder
When I was Young on the Mountains by Cynthia Rylant
Learning from Historical Fiction: Historical fiction books can provide
insight into different historical events, while still being interesting for
students. I would use historical fiction books in my class in order to
introduce historical topics to my students. Reading historical fiction books
to students before starting a unit on a certain subject is a great way to
peak students interests on the subject while educating them on the topic.
The students would read several historical fiction books about a topic in
order to see the different perspectives of the topic. I would also use these
books in my classroom by having students relate the historical fiction a
nonfiction book that we read on the same topic, this way students will be
able to see what parts of the book are facts and what is used to make the
story more interesting.
Historical Fiction Literacy Analysis: The Year of the Perfect Christmas
Tree Written by Gloria Houston, Illustrated by Barbara Cooney

Amanda Butts

Book description & theme. This book is about a little girl, Ruthie,
who picks a Christmas tree with her father for the towns Christmas
celebration. When Ruthies father is unexpectedly called out to war,
Ruthie and her mama must find the tree themselves. The theme of
this book is that Christmas, or life in general, is not about the
material things, but rather the family and people that it is spent
with. Ruthie learns that family is what is important.

Setting. This book is set in Spruce Pine, North Carolina during World
War I in the mountains in December. The setting of this story shows
students how life was different back then from what it is like now.
Students are able to see how things have changed and what has
stayed the same.

Plot. Ruthie and her father set out to find a tree for the town for
Christmas. Every year there is a family that chooses the towns
Christmas tree. Ruthies father was called upon to fight in the war
before Christmas came, Ruthie prayed every night for her Papa to
come home. When the war was over, Ruthies Papa sent a package
that said he would be home for Christmas. Ruthie and all the other
children in the town put on a play every year for Christmas, this year
Ruthie was the angel. When Papa does not make it home in time,
Ruthie and her mother must go and get the towns Christmas tree by

Characters. Ruthie is the main character in this story. She is a

young girl whose family is chosen to pick this years Christmas tree.
Ruthies father is a manly man and is chosen to go off to war.
Ruthies mother would give anything for her family to be together
and happy.

Style & Tone. This book is considered Type III of Historical Fiction
because the author is recreating her own personal experience of this
time in history. The tone of this story is hopeful. Throughout the
entire course of the book, Ruthie is hopeful at many different times.
For example, when Ruthie and her father pick the tree, Ruthie is
hopeful that the tree will be perfect for the town. Ruthie is also
hopeful throughout the entire book that her father will be home to
celebrate Christmas with her and her family. Toward the end of the
book, Ruthie is hopeful that she will be a good angel in the
Christmas play.

Amanda Butts

Literacy Growth. This book is a good book for a teacher to use as

an introduction to historical fiction texts. This book is interesting to
students and the illustrations get the students attention. This will
make this book more enjoyable for students. Students can learn how
historical fiction is written and the aspects included in historical
fiction text from reading this book.
Illustrations/Style/Color: The pictures in this book are very appealing to
children and very detailed. The pages are colorful and the illustrations
capture the readers attention. The illustrations add to the book and help
tell the story. The illustrations help students visualize the events that are
Book Rating. Rate the book on a scale of 0 to 5: Rate the book according
to your discussion of it above.
I have decided to give this book a rating of a 4. I think that this book was
enjoyable, and I think students would enjoy it too. The reason this book
was not a 5 for me is because I am not sure that this book would be
appropriate for the curriculum considering some students cannot connect
to having a Christmas tree. I think that there are other books that could be
used to better tell the story of this period.

Reference Page:
Avi (1987). The fighting ground. New York: HarperCollins Childrens Books.
Forbes, E. H., & Ward, L. (2011). Johnny Tremain. Boston: Houghton Mifflin
Houston, G. (1988). The Year of the Perfect Christmas Tree: An Appalachian
Story. Penguin

Young Readers Group.

Peck, R. (2000). A long way from chicago: A novel in stories. New York:
Pullman, P. (2012). Two crafty criminals!. New York: Alfred A. Knopf Books for
Young Readers.

Amanda Butts
Rylant, C., & Goode, D. (1993). When I was young in the mountains. United
States: Perfection


Wilder Graef, R., & Wilder, L. I. (1999). A little prairie house. New York:
HarperCollins Publishers.