I have a life-long love affair with historical fiction, so anytime I find a book that takes place in a different era I’m usually interested. That’s why I was excited to read Darlene Beck-Jacobson’s new book “Wheels of Change” written for a middle grade audience. Darlene is also the author of the popular blog Gold From the Dust: Bringing Stories to Life.
“Wheels of Change” tells the story of sixth grader Emily Soper who lives in Washington D.C. at the turn of the century. For a twelve-year-old, Emily faces some pretty heavy stuff. Her favorite teacher is a suffragist, her frenemy’s mom is racist and Emily herself is embroiled in a daily battle with her mother over “acting like a proper young lady”.
I especially loved how relatable Emily is. She’s passionate about fighting for justice, but not in a stuffy way. You better be careful around this girl and a teapot!
The historical tidbits peppered into the story were fun, too. In one instance, Emily’s mother is delighted to discover Corn Flakes because it means she doesn’t have to fire up the stove for breakfast.
I think boys and girls alike will relate to this coming-of-age story set against the last days of Theodore Roosevelt’s presidency. They might actually learn something along the way — without even knowing it. That’s the best type of historical fiction as far as I’m concerned.