I have a few YA books that I enjoy re-reading about once a year. When I’m sick or need a good comfort read, I read books like "The Secret Garden," "A Little Princess," (both by Frances Hodgson Burnett) "A Horse and His Boy" (or any of the other Narnia books by C.S. Lewis), and "A Greengage Summer" by Rumer Godden.
A rather obscure book from my childhood that really stuck with me is "The Golden Horseshoe" by Elizabeth Jane Coatsworth. It's inspired by an actual historic adventure in Virginia, an expedition to explore the Blue Ridge Mountains and beyond in 1716. The Governor and some other gentlemen set out with a some Native American guides and explored "the west." Everyone involved got a gold horseshoe pin when they returned, and so were known as the Knights of the Golden Horseshoe.
In this YA book, a half brother and sister (she's half Native American) don't get along very well. And since she's a girl in Colonial Virginia, she gets to do roughly zero of the adventuring. When her father announces that he and her brother are going on this expedition, the sister decides to go, too. She runs away to her Native American relatives, and disguises herself as a boy. Her brother and father accept her as a boy, and no one guesses her secret. In the end, when her secret is revealed, they are forced to revise their opinion of her and girls in general.
The book is sadly out of print and rather old-fashioned (strangely enough, it was originally printed by my publisher, so perhaps I can start a one-woman campaign to get them to publish it again). But I was riveted as a child. I grew up outside of Charlottesville near the Blue Ridge Mountains, right around where the expedition began. There was a show of artifacts from the expedition a few years after I read the book and I got to see one of the actual golden horseshoe pins. It made the fictional story feel very real for me.
At this point it would be great if I could say that I grew up to write historical fiction or YA or something. But I didn't. I write mysteries, but I borrow from historical events all the time. And in my second book DEAD IN THE WATER, I call a Puerto Rican female gang "The Golden Horseshoe Gang" as sort of a twisted homage to the knights. No one will get the reference. Unless, of course, they read this blog.