Reviewed for Fifth Grade, 2009

Promises to the Dead

When Jesse goes to the marsh in search of a turtle for his uncle's soup, he finds a dying slave hiding in the trees. Scared and freezing, Jesse hastily promises to sneak her son to a relative in Baltimore, despite the fact that it's against the law and against his upbringing. This fast-paced historical novel takes place just before the dawn of the Civil War. An edge-of-the-seat adventure with a young hero who will appeal even to kids who normally sleep through history class, and spark an interest in one of America's most crucial periods. (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $5.99)