Long Island Books

New York City has to be one of the greatest places in America, if not the world. Luckily for us, many authors have chronicled The Big Apple's antics in a way just right for kids.

Here are some of the books available. This is not yet a complete list, but I'm adding books to the list daily. If you wish to purchase any of these books, click on either the title or the book cover to be directed to Amazon.com. As a warning, I have put up pictures of the book covers to give you somewhat an idea of the style of each book (I know, I know. "Don't judge a book by its cover") so the pages may load slowly, depending on the speed of your internet connection.

The categories below are sorted by approximate age group and topical categories. Feel free to browse around. The same links are located on the left side of your screen. To return back to this page, simply click on the "Welcome" link on the left.

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Fiction & Historical Fiction: General Books About New York City (Nonfiction) | Fiction NYC Picture Books and "Easy Reader" Stories (Ages 4-8) | Fiction NYC Books (Ages 9-12) | New York Fiction for Young Adults | New York Historical Fiction (Colonial Period and Revolutionary War) | New York Historical Fiction (Ellis Island & Immigration) | New York Historical Fiction (Life in the 1800s) | New York Historical Fiction (Life in the 1900s)

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Beginning Readers

Redcoats and Petticoats

By Katherine Kirkpatrick
When the American Revolution arrives in Thomas Strong's sleepy Long Island village, his life is turned upside down. His church becomes a British fort and Redcoats are quartered in his home. But worst of all, his father is arrested and taken away. It's no wonder that Thomas's mother seems to have been affected in the head. She washes and rewashes handkerchiefs and petticoats and sends Thomas on peculiar and dangerous errands. At first Thomas doesn't know what to make of his mother, but as he keeps his eyes and ears open, he begins to suspect that things are not necessarily as they seem.

Katherine Kirkpatrick's exciting story is based on the Setauket Spy Ring that operated on Long Island from 1778 to 1784. Ronald Himler's dramatic watercolor illustrations bring this pivotal period of U.S. history to life for contemporary readers. Maps and historical notes are included.

Description from Publisher

Basing the book on true incidents and real people of the Revolutionary War, Kirkpatrick (Trouble's Daughter) recreates the actions of a Patriot spies begun by Robert Townsend and assisted by strong-willed, cool-headed Nancy Strong in the little town of Setauket, New York; Nancy used her clothesline and petticoats to signal the location, spotted by her son, of a whaleboat that would transport a vital letter about British battle plans directly to General George Washington. The complete spy ring route, which carried crucial information from British-occupied New York City to Patriot-held Connecticut, is depicted in a colorful map at the conclusion of the book; the detailed historical notes that follow will intrigue those interested in learning about the strong men and women who were instrumental in changing the nation's history. Himler's splendid watercolor paintings illustrate the danger involved in trying to foil the Loyalists and the daily threat of exposure that was faced by the Setauket spies.

Description from Kirkus Reviews

Older Readers

Then Again Maybe I Won't

By Judy Blume
Ever since his dad got rich from an invention and his family moved to a wealthy neighborhood on Long Island, Tony Miglione's life has been turned upside down. For starters, there's his new friend Joel, who shoplifts. Then there's Joel's sixteen-year-old sister, Lisa, who gets undressed every night without pulling down her shades. And there's Grandma, who won't come down from her bedroom. On top of all his other worries, there are all the questions Tony has about growing up....

Why couldn't things have stayed the same?

Description from Publisher

My Secret War: The World War II Diary of Madeline Beck

By Mary Pope Osborne
Set in 1941, this title in the Dear America series features Madeline Beck, an eighth-grader adjusting to a new life in Long Island, New York. She longs for acceptance among her schoolmates and misses her father, a soldier stationed on the West Coast. Starting a club to aid the war effort helps, bringing personal pride, friendships, even romance into her life. Things become complicated, however, when she accidentally witnesses a suspicious beach rendezvous. As with many others in this series, the diary format mixes fact and fiction in a way that may confuse some readers, and the historical note at the back of the book skims the complex issues of the war. But the period details are fascinating--from references to songs and fashions to newspaper headlines and quotes from Roosevelt--and lively, complex Madeline deals with timeless teen dilemmas as she learns the importance of appreciating differences. A fast, engaging read that offers a glimpse into wartime America, especially the war's impact on teens.

Description from Booklist

In September 1941, the war rages in Europe as thirteen-year-old Madeline Beck and her mother move into a boardinghouse in Long Island, New York, while Madeline's father, a Navy fighter pilot, is on duty in the Pacific. Madeline's diary records her attempts to fit in at her new school and incidents in her daily life, offering fascinating glimpses into those turbulent days when the United States was suddenly plunged into war. Madeline and a handsome classmate, Johnny Vecchio, become good friends and get involved in patriotic war efforts. They patrol beaches watching for enemy submarines when German U-boats are spotted close to the shores, and a life-threatening situation develops when the spunky young girl discovers explosives smuggled ashore by German saboteurs. When the telegram arrives with the dreaded news that her beloved dad has been critically wounded, Madeline's world is shattered. Fortunately her father survives, but now Madeline and her mom must move to the West Coast to be near him as he recuperates in a hospital there. This prospect is bittersweet, as Madeline has become deeply fond of her best friend, Johnny. In this entry in the Dear America series, Osborne has concocted a page-turner that skillfully captures the spirit of the day with authentic details of wartime events, intriguing situations, likeable characters, and an easy narrative. Historical facts and dramatic photographs at the end of the book are informative and add special interest. This absorbing novel should have wide appeal among young adults, particularly history buffs. It might even hook reluctant readers.

Description from VOYA

In September 1941, Maddie Beck and her mother move to a rundown boardinghouse on Long Island. Maddie's dad is somewhere in the Pacific on an aircraft carrier, and Maddie takes hope in the fact that the United States is not yet at war. But a pair of German-Jewish refugees who also live in the boardinghouse hint at horrors yet to come. By the time of Pearl Harbor in December, Maddie is trying to transcend her desire to be accepted, her longing for penny loafers, and her dislike of the gap between her front teeth into what young people can actually do for the war effort. She takes Eleanor Roosevelt's words to heart, and soon she's organizing ways of collecting scrap, bacon fat, and other items to be recycled. She's working alongside Johnny Vecchio of the sparkling brown eyes, and wonders if they could be more than pals. Osborne (Adaline Falling Star) has captured perfectly the cadences of 1940s speech and music in Johnny and Maddie's conversations. The historical discovery of Nazi explosives on the shores of Long Island in June 1942 is used in this fictional diary as a catalyst to their story, and is made both plausible and engaging. Maddie is as self-dramatizing as any young teen, but her circumstances are dramatic, especially after her father is wounded. Historical notes and photographs close the text. Young readers with grandparents and great-grandparents who lived through these times will be especially intrigued.

Description from Kirkus Reviews

Trouble's Daughter: The Story of Susanna Hutchinson, Indian Captive

By Katherine Kirkpatrick
Susanna Hutchinson is the youngest child of Anne Hutchinson, who was exiled from her Boston community for her radical stand on religious freedom. The family eventually settled on Long Island Sound (today's Co-op City).

In 1633, Susanna is 9 years old when Lenape Indians massacre her family and take her captive. Despite the massacre, the Lenape treat her well, and she grows to love them, particularly the wise woman of the tribe who reminds Susanna of her mother Anne. Susanna discovers her own visionary powers and uses them to help her adopted people, until, at 14, she is devastated to learn she has been ransomed by a brother and must return to colonial society.

Description from Publisher

With this compelling saga, Kirkpatrick comes to the forefront as a historical novelist. In 1663, Susanna Hutchinson, daughter of religious firebrand Anne Hutchinson, moved with her family to the wilds of Long Island so her mother would not be persecuted for her beliefs and public statements. Not long after, Lenape warriors massacre the family and take Susanna hostage. Susanna's evolution from hostile, frightened prisoner to member of the tribe through her transition back to white society is both detailed and credible (although Kirkpatrick explains that, except for one, the Indian characters come from her imagination). The extended author's note tells how Kirkpatrick did her research; that it was extensive shows in the book's rich detail. There is even an appended list of Lenape words and pronunciations. But all the research in the world wouldn't have helped had the telling been ineffective. Happily, Kirkpatrick not only spins a good story, but she also successfully makes readers understand what is happening inside Susanna's head as she tries to come to terms with the fact that the man who murdered her mother is also her rescuer and, in the tribe, her father. Readers will go through the emotional adjustment process with her, making this a book in which children do more then just view history--they see themselves.

Description from Booklist

Based on actual events in the life of Susanna Hutchinson, this is the compelling story of a young girl torn by divided loyalties. In 1633, religious freedom acitvist Anne Hutchinson unwittingly moved her family into the center of a war between the Dutch and the native tribes of Long Island. Soon after, her nine-year-old daughter, Susanna, becomes the sole survivor of a brutal Native American massacre. Taken prisoner and then adopted into the Lenape tribe, Susanna fights the native ways. Hated by some, a curiosity to others, Susanna is drawn to Som-kay, the tribal medicine woman. As Som-kay guides her through the ways of the Lenape, Susanna begins to develop an appreciation and eventually affection for her new family. Although her own emerging psychic powers trouble and occasionally scare her, Susanna begins to recognize both the uniqueness and universality of different cultures. After nearly five years with the Lenape, she is reunited with older relatives and once again must struggle with new customs and ways.

Kirkpatrick tells a gripping tale of a young girl struggling with grief, maturation, loss, and reclamation. While Susanna's coming-of-age story may be more gripping than some, her endurance and survival of personal tragedy brought her an understanding and sense of peace not found by many. Although historical in setting, this is a tale of hope for young adult readers today. Historical notes and a Lenape pronunciation guide are included.

Description from VOYA

In this rich and engrossing fictional account of actual events, nine-year-old Susanna is captured by the Lenape after witnessing the massacre of her family and spends the next four years as a member of the tribe. Initially not wanting to "become an Indian," she holds the murder of her family close to her heart, attempts escape, and resists learning the Lenape language. She gains strength from her memories of her famous mother, Anne Hutchinson, the strong-willed and outspoken 17th-century heretic. Gradually, Susanna learns to communicate and partially accepts her new identity as Mee-pahk ("Pretty Leaf"). She finds a strength similar to her mother's in the wise medicine woman, Som-kway, and enjoys the friendship of her sister, Sa-kat. Susanna comes to recognize the inherent humanity of her new family, despite radical cultural differences, and discovers one day, somewhat to her dismay, that she "could no longer hate" them. When arrangements are made to trade her back to her white family, she does not wish to leave the Place of Stringing Beads. Susanna is a heroine after her mother's blood: strong and visionary. Readers will avidly follow her physical and spiritual development as she moves through incomprehension and anguish to self-discovery and an appreciation of Lenape life. The people and culture are warmly realized with a wealth of careful detail and sensitivity that make the characters and sense of place memorable. Top-notch historical fiction.

Description from School Library Journal

Treason Stops at Oyster Bay

By Anna Leah Sweetzer
When the British seize control of Long Island in 1776, the Townsend family is forced to play host to British troops, and teenaged Sally is torn between loyalty to the rebels and a handsome British colonel.

Description from Publisher

Teenager Sally Townsend is shocked and dismayed to learn that British soldiers have taken over her Long Island home, demanding that her family board them for the duration of the Revolutionary War. At first she is repulsed by the officers' rude behaviors, but later she finds herself attracted to the courtly Colonel Simcoe. Then she overhears important information and must choose whether or not to pass it along to her brother, Robert, a Patriot spy. Sweetzer does a good job of portraying the plight of colonists forced to host British troops and the resulting ambivalence that developed.

Description from Booklist

With the British occupation of Long Island in 1776, fifteen-year-old Sally Townsend and her Patriot family find themselves forced to host British soldiers in their home. While wartime details take a backseat to Sally's romance with a British colonel, the fast-moving--if melodramatic--chapters and the protagonist's quandary over her divided loyalties will appeal to junior-high historical fiction/romance devotees.

Description from Horn Book

Sarah Bishop

By Scott O'Dell

  • Tennessee Children's Choice Book Award Nominee. 1980/81
  • Mark Twain Award Nominee. 1982
  • Fifteen-year-old Sarah lives on a little Long Island farm at the outbreak of the War for Independence. Her brother defies his Tory father and leaves to join the patriot army. Soon her father dies for his Tory sentiments. Finding herself a homeless orphan, Sarah goes to the crowded young city of New York. There she finds herself accused by the British of a crime she did not commit. Fleeing for her life, Sarah finds a cave in the wood about 50 miles north of the city. The cave becomes her wilderness refuge. Drawing on strengths and skills she had not known she possessed, she begins to shape a new life.

    Description from scottodell.com

    Hope's Crossing

    By Joan Elizabeth Goodman
    Loyalists to King George attack the Wakeman house in Fairfield, Connecticut, expecting to capture Captain Wakemen, only to find he's gone to help George Washington-so they take his thirteen-year-old daughter instead, hoping to exchange her for the General. The plan fails, and Hope soon finds herself trapped on Long Island with one of her captors. The captor's mother, Mother Thomas, befriends Hope and, aware of the cruelty of her son, helps Hope escape to New York City. Unable to find transportation to Connecticut, Mother Thomas and Hope are helped by some kind people, but unfortunately they both come down with smallpox and Mother Thomas dies. Remembering her father's admonition to "be brave," which Mother Thomas also echoed, Hope (now taken in by the sister-in-law of a British general) must plan her own escape. Aided by a friend of Mother Thomas, Hope bravely conquers her fear of heights, escapes New York, and is reunited with her family. In the midst of one calamity after another, a picture of life during the Revolutionary War works hard to appear here. Through Hope's eyes we see inhumanity, kindness, sacrifice, violence, and suffering. In addition, while many were affected adversely, others, as portrayed by the sister-in-law of the British general, continued to live lives of excess. Unfortunately, the writing lacks polish. The author attempts to use words associated with the times but fails to be consistent; she starts with "ye" and "tis," and every so often drops a few into conversations, but occasionally more modern language appears (i.e., "done in"). Young girls may get caught up in Hope's adventures, which are loosely based on an actual event. This novel gives a different view of the war from Scott O'Dell's Sarah Bishop and Ann Rinaldi's books.

    Description from VOYA

    When 12-year-old Hope's father leaves his family behind in answer to General Washington's summons, he admonishes her to be brave. They have no way of knowing that within days her courage will be severely tested. Late one night, their homestead is attacked by Loyalist raiders in search of her father. Not finding him, they take Hope instead and burn the place to the ground, setting a terror-stricken girl upon a difficult journey during which she is forced into a variety of roles simply to survive. Eventually, she and Mother Thomas, her captor's mother (who had been treated little better than Hope), escape together, eventually ending up in New York City, a Loyalist stronghold, where she pretends to be the woman's Loyalist granddaughter. After the elderly woman dies of smallpox and Hope becomes deathly ill but survives, she finds herself recuperating in the home of a Tory general. With the aid of a friend of Mother Thomas, the girl secretly flees the general's house and makes her way home. Hope exhibits tremendous resourcefulness and steadfastness. Because she meets so many kind, warmhearted people while living among the Tories, she learns that the enemy wears a very human face. This story is rich with the details of life during the Revolutionary War. The discussion of the treatment of smallpox, particularly the primitive inoculation practices of the time, do not often appear in young people's novels. While Hope's character lacks the emotional depth of some of Ann Rinaldi's protagonists, her adventures should be popular.

    Description from School Library Journal

    The Great Gatsby: The Authorized Text

    By F. Scott Fitzgerald
    In 1922, F. Scott Fitzgerald announced his decision to write "something new--something extraordinary and beautiful and simple + intricately patterned." That extraordinary, beautiful, intricately patterned, and above all, simple novel became The Great Gatsby, arguably Fitzgerald's finest work and certainly the book for which he is best known. A portrait of the Jazz Age in all of its decadence and excess, Gatsby captured the spirit of the author's generation and earned itself a permanent place in American mythology. Self-made, self-invented millionaire Jay Gatsby embodies some of Fitzgerald's--and his country's--most abiding obsessions: money, ambition, greed, and the promise of new beginnings. "Gatsby believed in the green light, the orgiastic future that year by year recedes before us. It eluded us then, but that's no matter--tomorrow we will run faster, stretch out our arms farther.... And one fine morning--" Gatsby's rise to glory and eventual fall from grace becomes a kind of cautionary tale about the American Dream.

    It's also a love story, of sorts, the narrative of Gatsby's quixotic passion for Daisy Buchanan. The pair meet five years before the novel begins, when Daisy is a legendary young Louisville beauty and Gatsby an impoverished officer. They fall in love, but while Gatsby serves overseas, Daisy marries the brutal, bullying, but extremely rich Tom Buchanan. After the war, Gatsby devotes himself blindly to the pursuit of wealth by whatever means--and to the pursuit of Daisy, which amounts to the same thing. "Her voice is full of money," Gatsby says admiringly, in one of the novel's more famous descriptions. His millions made, Gatsby buys a mansion across Long Island Sound from Daisy's patrician East Egg address, throws lavish parties, and waits for her to appear. When she does, events unfold with all the tragic inevitability of a Greek drama, with detached, cynical neighbor Nick Carraway acting as chorus throughout. Spare, elegantly plotted, and written in crystalline prose, The Great Gatsby is as perfectly satisfying as the best kind of poem.

    Description from Amazon.com

    Cutlass in the Snow

    By Elizabeth Shub
    Shub, who has previously collaborated with Isadora on Seeing is Believing and The White Stallion, deftly portrays the details of the sail across Great South Bay and the excitement of the adventure. She describes the landscape of Fire Island with extraordinary love and care. One is torn between rushing through the book oto see the outcome and lazing over the beautiful prose. It's 1797 and 10-year-old Sam and his grandfather sail from Long Island to Fire Island. Once on the island they find a pirate's cutlass thrust into the snow. It marks the spot where a treasure chest is buried. Isadora's wispy and wonderful black-and-white picturesone per chapterevoke perfectly the period and the warm relationship between grandfther and grandson.

    Description from Publishers Weekly

    {The author is} a noted translator of folk and fairy tales. . . . Her impressive credits notwithstanding, the author here tells only a slight tale, onein which the possibilities are not developed. . . . Surprisingly, {she} does not take advantage of the dramatic world of piracy. . . . The multilayered illustrations of the award-winning artist and writer Rachel Isadora give vigor tothe adventure. Her drawings . . . sweep across the full page and inform as well as amuse with unexpected detail. . . . Despite shortcomings, the story, which is cleverly brought into the present, will appeal to many young readers. They may be inspired not only to dig for treasure in the sand but to explore other sea adventures and tales of its mythic figures.

    Description from The New York Times Book Review

    Keeping the Good Light

    By Katherine Kirkpatrick
    Seventeen-year-old Eliza Brown was born and raised on a small island with barely enough room for the lighthouse her family must attend to around the clock. Each day she rows a mile to attend school on City Island. But chores and family responsibilities have not allowed Eliza to have a social life there. Then when a family tragedy brings her to live with her older sister's family on City Island, Eliza's life changes forever. Her new life is filled with challenges, friendships, and some painful decisions. Where does a spirited and rebellious young woman like Eliza really belong?

    Description from Publisher

    Teens, teachers, and librarians looking for historical fiction with strong regional flavor will relish this novel. Based on actual places and events, the coming-of-age story re-creates daily life during the early 1900s at Stepping Stones Lighthouse, located in Long Island Sound. Eliza Charity Brown's family staffs the lighthouse. Unable to have friends because of the remoteness of the place, Eliza spends her days fishing for eels, polishing brass, and attending school on nearby City Island. But she yearns for freedom from chores and isolation. When her favorite brother, Peter, drowns, Eliza escapes the lighthouse to live with her sister on City Island, and her high spirits and rebellious nature eventually spark adventures that result in romance and a challenging new life. Rich in historical detail, this engaging story presents a lively heroine eager to set out on her journey to adulthood.

    Description from Booklist

    The plot is engaging and enriched with substantial historical detail, bringing time and place vividly to light. . . . Liza's personality is vibrant and irresistible; secondary characters are varied and multidimensional. . . . Overall, this is an outstanding book with a truly contemporary heroine in a historical setting. Readers of L.M. Montgomery's "Anne of Green Gables" series will find in Liza a kindred spirit.

    Description from School Library Journal

    The Swastika on the Synagogue Door

    By J. Leonard Romm
    When a Long Island synagogue is defaced with a swastika and an anti-semitic slogan, a teenage brother and sister try to solve the mystery with the help of their rabbi and a Holocaust survivor.

    Description from Publisher

    From Canoes to Cruisers: The Maritime Heritage of Long Island

    By Joshua Stoff

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