I have acquired a prescribed book list from an outgoing teacher who teaches two of the three sections of eighth grade reading; I have the third group (my first year with 8th grade). The novels are taught in order based on their setting date--the first being an American Revolution book My Brother Sam Is Dead by James Lincoln Collier and Christopher Collier.
For me, this book gets off to a slow start, but halfway into it, I was hooked. The overused comment about this book (which has been said for years at this school and probably all that teach it)--"Why do we have to read this? Sam dies." My reply, "Well, the Titanic sunk and how many of you watched the movie?" Several giggles.
Teaching this book in the context of our faith-based school adds so much to the book's discussion. Like many novels, I feel so blessed that I can incorporate this into our discussions.
I found a really great website ( click HERE ) that centers on the town of Redding. It has a Google map showing where all of the places in the novel are located. I cannot wait to share this with the students--many of whom are history buffs.