• Happy birthday Diane Wolkstein (The Magic Orange Tree and Other Haitian Folktales, Esther's Story) and Bob Barner (Dem Bones, Dinosaur Bones).
  • The Mayflower Compact, the first governing document of Plymouth Colony, was signed on this day in 1620. Read On the Mayflower by Kate Waters, Across the Wide Dark Sea by Jean Van Leeuwen, and The Mayflower and the Pilgrim’s New World by Nathaniel Philbrick.
  • In 1954, the Armistice Day holiday is officially changed to Veterans Day in the United States, and Remembrance Day in British Commonwealth countries. Read Truce by Jim Murphy, The Wall by Eve Bunting, I Remember Korea by Linda Granfield and Russell Freedman.

On this day in history, the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month, World War I ended in 1918. America’s involvement came late in the conflict, and, in fact, most of the books written about World War I for young readers have originated in England. But Crossing Stones by Helen Frost, written entirely in verse, is the story of the affect of the war on two Midwestern families who send sons away to fight. Muriel, Emma, Ollie, and Frank each tell their stories in language so precise and beautiful that the reader gets swept up in the events of the time—fighting the war, the flu pandemic, and the suffragette movement. Although from another era, these characters emerge as very real and relatable in their passion for life and their moral conflicts. To create such living, breathing figures, Helen Frost drew on family history and personal memories from her childhood in Brookings, South Dakota. Frost’s poetry is so fluid and immediate that only after breathlessly reading until the end of the story did I even become aware of the strict poetic structure used for each character’s voice. In Crossing Stones Helen Frost alternates free verse with cupped-hand sonnets to add dimension to each character. Consequently, the literary craft of this novel is as brilliant as any we have for young readers. This book demonstrates the same attention to word choice as Karen Hesse’s Out of the Dust. If you want young reader’s grades five through eight to truly understand what Armistice Day means, introduce them to Crossing Stones. History, poetry, human relations, the sadness or war, the resilience of the human spirit—all are conveyed in a novel that runs just under two hundred pages. From my point of view, Crossing Stones stands as one of our finest literary novels for children written in the first decade of the twenty-first century.

Here’s a passage from Crossing Stones:


Originally posted November 11, 2010. Updated for .

Tags: Family, History, Women, Women's Suffrage, World War I
Instructional materials from TeachingBooks.net for Crossing Stones


  1. Anita – Lovely story. Can’t wait to read this one. By the way, this comment came from my windows-PC. Apparently there is difficulty sending comments from our Mac.

  2. Diane says:

    I just love Helen Frost’s poetry! I read this book aloud to my eighth grade daughter and we both really enjoyed this historical fiction story.

  3. Carla Lance says:

    Such an appropriate choice for 11-11-11 and to recommend to students prior to our Veteran’s Day assembly. Thank you!

  4. G. Perry says:

    This sounds like a great book. I’ll be reading it.

    Speaking of 11/11/11 – I attended the opening ceremony of the new Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art today featuring Alice Walton. Veterans were all seated in the front rows.

    Side note 1: Of additional significant interest to me, is that there is some kind of private Children’s book collection at this new world class museum and I’ll be applying for access to it. I have no idea what’s there, but I will report to Lady Anita, once I do the recon.

    As a side note 2: I’ve been posting on this site from the beginning with an Apple iMac or Macbook Pro.

  5. Anita says:

    Gordon: Good to hear from you today. I think some of the posting issues have been cleared up. I am always happy to get yours.

  6. Anabellynn says:

    Such a joy to see this book today on Veterans Day. I had the pleasure of sharing coffee with Helen Frost in BG, Ky after Bookfest last year.

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