Selected and annotated by Fiona Hartley-Kroeger, CCB Volunteer
When we think of revolution in the context of literature, we usually think of governments overthrown, of daring rebel bands working in secret or storming the walls of a monolithic power to establish a new order of justice and peace (concluding in either weary hopefulness or disappointed hindsight). Many of the books in this bibliography–spanning fantasy, science fiction, historical fiction, contemporary realism, graphic novels, and nonfiction–do feature this kind of revolution. But some of them also embody other meanings of the word: what the Oxford English Dictionary calls “a convolution; a twist, a turn; alteration, change; upheaval; reversal of fortune.” These books ask us to consider what kinds of revolution are possible: who can be a revolutionary; for what cause one might rebel, and in what way; and on what stage revolution might take effect.
Bow, Erin. The Scorpion Rules. McElderry, 2015. 384 p. Gr. 8-10.
Greta (Duchess of Halifax and Crown Princess of the Pan-Polar Confederacy) lives as a Child of Peace under the rule of a “benevolent” AI overlord. She and her friends live–or die–under an inviolable system of rules in which their lives are forfeit at the first sign of war between nations. Can the Children of Peace save themselves without destroying the rest of the world?
Brown, Don. Aaron and Alexander: The Most Famous Duel in American History; written and illus. by Don Brown. Roaring Brook, 2015. 32 p. Gr. 2-4.
Are you obsessed with Lin-Manuel Miranda’s revolutionary musical Hamilton? This lively, illustrated account of the (in)famous duel between two Founding Fathers is well worth a read: you won’t be throwing away your shot!
Cameron, Sharon. Rook. Scholastic, 2015. 464 p. Gr. 8-10.
A brilliant post-apocalyptic re-imagining of The Scarlet Pimpernel! While a post-revolutionary Paris runs red with blood from the guillotine, a young Englishwoman conceals a daring secret identity.
Carleson, J.C. The Tyrant’s Daughter. Knopf, 2014. 304 p. Gr. 7-10.
After her father is killed in a coup, Laila, her mother, and brother flee from their unnamed Middle Eastern country to America. Laila struggles to fit in with her new agemates, confronts her own changing view of her situation, and draws upon her strength and intelligence to chart a future for what remains of her family. In this story written by a former CIA agent, Laila’s voice is a welcome perspective on a world too often reduced to one of incomprehensible, labyrinthine violence whose victims have neither faces nor voices.
Cashore, Kristin. Bitterblue. Dial, 2012. 576 p. Gr. 9-12.
In the aftermath of the events of Graceling, now-Queen Bitterblue must stage a revolution against her own government: a revolution of words and memory that may enable her country, finally, to begin to heal.
Cokal, Susann. The Kingdom of Little Wounds; illus. by Pier Gustafson. Candlewick, 2013. 554 p. Gr. 10-12.
Many things are rotten in the gilded, brutal Scandinavian Renaissance court. Half fairy tale, half history, the shimmering, interwoven tale of three women and their private revolutions is visceral and unforgettable.
Collins, Suzanne. Mockingjay. Scholastic, 2010. 390 p. Gr. 7-10.
Katniss has become the reluctant face of the Rebellion. But as she and her friends and allies seek to end the reign of the sinister President Snow once and for all, they will encounter new heights of cruelty and compassion from within and without. In the final, most powerful volume of Collins’s sustained cry against commodified violence, the fate of Panem hangs in the balance–but also at stake is Katniss’s faith in the human heart.
Donnelly, Jennifer. Revolution. Delacorte, 2010. 496 p. Gr. 7-9.
Grieving for her brother’s death, modern-day teen Andi discovers the diary of Alexandrine Paradis, a spirited young woman caught between loyalties in the French Revolution. This is a beautifully poignant novel about love, grief, and a need for healing and redemption that transcends time.
Fleming, Candace. The Family Romanov: Murder, Rebellion, and the Fall of Imperial Russia. Schwartz & Wade, 2014. 304 p. Gr. 7-12.
The last days of the Romanov court come alive in Fleming’s sophisticated, compelling account of the personalities and politics of the Russian Revolution.
Heppermann, Christine. Poisoned Apples: Poems for You, My Pretty; illus. with photographs by Regina Belmonte, Ashley Gosiengfiao, Lissy Laricchia, et al. Greenwillow, 2014. 114p. Gr. 10 up.
Heppermann’s tart and twisting poems use fairy-tale motifs to bite deep into the images and expectations of modern femininity. In a literary landscape saturated with fairy-tale adaptations, this collection of poems is a revolution and a revelation.
London, Alex. Proxy. Philomel, 2013. 384 p. Gr. 8-10.
London offers a clever dystopian twist on The Whipping Boy and A Tale of Two Cities. Rich, spoiled Knox accidentally kills a girl, and his proxy, Syd, is expected to take the punishment–as usual. But Syd has had enough of being abused and exploited, and when Knox and Syd actually meet, the story takes a turn that neither of them could have imagined.
Meyer, Marissa. Winter. Feiwel, 2015. 800 p. Gr. 7-10.
Cinder and her faithful band head to the moon to make good on the promise that what Luna needs is not a princess but a revolutionary.
Sheinkin, Steve. The Port Chicago 50: Disaster, Mutiny and the Fight for Civil Rights. Roaring Brook, 2014. 208 p. Gr. 6-10.
Sheinkin’s vivid portrait of a tragedy that helped fuel the Civil Rights Movement brings to the fore the racial politics underlying the explosive deaths of 320 African-American sailors–not in combat but on the docks of Oakland, CA. The subsequent legal battle, in which survivors were charged with mutiny after refusing to return to unsafe working conditions, is compellingly narrated. This clear yet nuanced account underscores systemic racial injustice that Americans are still confronting today.
Stevenson, Noelle. Nimona; written and illus. by Noelle Stevenson. HarperTeen/HarperCollins, 2015. 266 p. Gr. 7-10.
Supervillain Ballister Blackheart’s life is turned upside down by the arrival of his gleeful new shape-changing sidekick, Nimona. Together, can they overthrow the evil Institute and prevail against Blackheart’s nemesis, the flowing-haired Ambrosius Goldenloin? Or will Nimona’s mysterious past destroy them all?
Yang, Gene Luen. Boxers; written and illus. by Gene Luen Yang, color by Lark Pien. First Second/ Roaring Brook, 2013. 328 p. Gr. 8-12.
Yang’s extraordinary graphic novel duology presents a complex, tragic portrait of the Boxer Rebellion. In Boxers, a village boy named Little Bao receives strength from the local gods and becomes the leader of a rebellion against the invading missionaries who threaten the villagers’ way of life.
Yang, Gene Luen. Saints; written and illus. by Gene Luen Yang, color by Lark Pien. First Second/ Roaring Brook, 2013. 170 p. Gr. 8-12.
The counterpoint to Boxers, Saints is the story of Vibiana, an outcast girl who finds acceptance and understanding among the newlyarrived Catholic missionaries. Guided by visions of Joan of Arc, Vibiana becomes a warrior maiden, and inevitably, inorexably, her path approaches that of Little Bao.