Books by Alan Armstrong

RACING THE MOON by Alan Armstrong
Released: June 26, 2012

"High-flying adventure grounded in reality. (suggestions for further reading) (Historical fiction. 8-12)"
Obsessed with rocket-building and outer space, two siblings living in Silver Springs, Md., in 1947 find the perfect ally right next door. Read full book review >
Released: Sept. 22, 2009

The author of Whittington (2005) profiles another medieval celebrity using a similar scenario—fleshing out historical incidents with imagined but thoroughly researched details and conversations and framing the entire narrative as a tale told to a rapt modern audience. When his anthropologist father goes missing on a Marco Polo—related expedition to the Gobi, 11-year-old Mark and his mother fly to Venice. As they wait for news, Mark visits local landmarks that Marco Polo would have known, absorbs historical background from a group of Venetian rats and a Tibetan mastiff and meets Dr. Hornaday, a friend of his father's, who regales him with a harrowing account of the 13th-century traveler's journey. Though laced with facts—what goods traveled over the Silk Road? "Rats, umbrellas, noodles, hissing cockroaches, ideas, walnuts, opium, gunpowder, and a whole lot more," says Hornaday—Armstrong's tale-within-a-tale never becomes pedantic. Young readers will likely skip the 25-plus pages of source notes at the end, but they will come away with vivid pictures of Marco Polo's character and world, plus the satisfaction of experiencing a well-told story. (Fantasy. 11-13) Read full book review >
RALEIGH’S PAGE by Alan Armstrong
Released: Sept. 25, 2007

Young Andrew's mind's been set afire by his teacher's enthusiasm for the opportunities offered by America, so when his father finds him a position as page to Sir Walter Raleigh, he dares to hope for overseas excitement. Once ensconced in Raleigh's household, he quickly becomes caught up in the web of intrigue that is Queen Elizabeth's court. When events take Andrew, his teacher and Raleigh's navigator to Virginia, they find themselves at the mercy of both insufficient provisions and the military captain of the enterprise, whose determination to find gold leads to the first in a tragic history of conflicts with the Native Americans. The monumental research that provides the foundation for this tale is woven effortlessly into the account of Andrew's coming-of-age, the brutality and the prejudices of the times always evident. Armstrong walks a fine line between accurately representing the beliefs and sensibilities of 16th-century Englishmen and accommodating modern social attitudes, a feat he accomplishes neatly, between Andrew's native teenage sense of justice and the introduction of Sky, Andrew's Native-American friend. It's an absorbing historical adventure from an emerging master. (Fiction. 10-14)Read full book review >
WHITTINGTON by Alan Armstrong
Released: July 26, 2005

Into Bernie's barn, filled with castoff animals he has either actively collected or hasn't the heart to refuse, wanders Whittington the cat, an ugly bruiser of a tom who seeks community. Abby and Ben, Bernie's grandchildren, also seek refuge in the barn; they live with him because their mother is dead and they don't know where their father is. Over the course of seasons, from winter till fall, Whittington tells the story of his namesake, Dick Whittington, and his famous cat. Entwined with Whittington's storytelling is Ben's struggle to learn to read, and the commitment of both humans and animals to his success. The magic that allows Abby and Ben and the animals to talk to each other is understated and assumed, unremarkable. What is remarkable is the compelling quality of both characterization and story. Even as the youthful exploits of the long-dead Lord Mayor of London bring together friend and foe in the barn, the finely drawn characters and the small-scale but no less monumental struggle of Ben to read keep the pages turning. It's a lovely paean to the power of story and the words that carry it along. (Fiction. 8-12)Read full book review >