The Picaresque of Ímagine Purple by Beth Fine is an Educational Fiction Mystery Series with teachable moments. The books are Grade Level and Age-Appropriate.
Plenty of new history mysteries books scream to be written. For instance, although many books about the Titanic↑ have analyzed known facts, other mysteries remain open for probing and
speculation by fiction writers. Beyond the vain promotion of Titanic as unsinkable, many questions still exist on why this
cutting-edge cruise ship lacked enough lifeboats to handle passengers and crew, violating common safety.
Or, take the inner workings of a tyrant like King Henry VIII↑. A biographical mystery still lurks in the wings on why a young prince, trained to design ship harbors and to be the Crown’s
liaison to the Church in Rome↑, became a religious rebel when forced to
assume the English throne.
The Picaresque of Ímagine Purple adapts history mysteries books style to 1969-70. Within each new location, the lead character Ímagine finds unexpected mysteries grounded in real history. For example, although traveling on a
fictionalized version of The Last Passenger Train Across Newfoundland, she learns the real story of the first railroad wind expert, Lockie MacDougall. Ima also solves the disappearance of a passenger named Bronco Billy who was a real cowboy star in an early film called
The Great Train Robbery, 1903.
Injecting truth and history with mystery and imagination, The Scary Ferry to Nova Scotia has shades of the RMS↑Titanic and
The Perfect Storm. This Imasode has character biographies which add
authentic flavor to the historical fiction: Captain Cornflower descends from a Loyalist↑ family that moved to Canada during the Revolutionary War; Dr. Raymond Larson has Viking↑ and Innu↑ ancestors; Chief Engineer Zaragoza has Basque↑ relatives who fished the Cabot Strait↑ during the1500s.
As a teacher on sabbatical, Ima enjoys connecting events and people and slushes along in a mixture of fact and fiction that assures her picaresque will bring
jaw-dropping adventure. She sits watching the 1969-70 world make changes both serious and frivolous: competitive actors on Broadway; high hippies at Woodstock, really high astronauts on the moon,; a young Black man in prison; musicians in Mo-Town: thugs in labor fights; doctors in heart research; folks behind the Iron Curtain↑; fashion buffs of London.
In recording the details in her journal, Ima hopes to spice up next year’s lesson plans and may even try writing history mysteries books herself after her trip. But first as an English teacher, she will encourage her class to appreciate history through historical fiction literature, not unlike the teacher below intends:
TEACHER: “Please open your history books and read the next chapter about the Loyalists.”
STUDENTS: (Groaning) Do we hafta? History books are so boring…stale…dry as toast.
TEACHER: Okay. Let’s personalize history. Are there any Loyalists in your family?
STUDENTS: Sure. My folks are loyal to the kind of gas and hamburgers they buy.
TEACHER: (Indomitably.) Ever heard of the book,
Escape: Adventures of a Loyalist Family?
STUDENTS: (Perking up.) Did they make a movie of it?
TEACHER: All I know is the author injected fictional flavor into dry…stale textbook facts.
STUDENTS: Like Pirates of the Caribbean added fictional spice up Blackbeard’s story?
TEACHER: Yes, that’s how historical fiction books can help you understand the past.
STUDENTS: It’s easy when you stir real and fictional people into boring historical books.
TEACHER: Good. Then if we also add mystery to this recipe, we have a winning combination.
STUDENTS: Hey Teach… we’re making a food…metaphor.
TEACHER: Right. You remembered last week’s lessons. Now, this week we want to set up a history mysteries problem to solve: “Why would the Loyalists rather leave their colonial homes and move to Canada than fight in the American Revolution?”
The musical film Les Miserable has familiarized a new generation with the historical fiction book that dealt
unabashedly with excesses, disappointments, and mysteries behind the French Revolution. History books and biographies are full of such stories for writers to
exploit, stories of victories and stories of mistakes. Once digesting the facts, writers can transform history into historical fiction and history mysteries books so that young people can
derive a different, broader outlook. With a more mature perspective, they can better understand which historical paths to follow; which, to avoid.