2014 Purple Dragonfly 1st Prize Winner, Historical Fiction; International Reading Association Teachers' Choices Selection. ". . .a wonderful book that melds both past and present together... This novel is a perfect example of historical fiction.” - Monroe County Library System. Young Lars Olafson moves from Minnesota with his parents to Penncroft Farm, the old family farm near Valley Forge, Pennsylvania. Lars is miserable until he meets Geordie, a boy whose stories of the Revolutionary War are as exciting as those of an eyewitness. Then Lars is faced with a mystery linked to the Revolution, and Geordie’s ghostly tales are his only chance of solving it. One reviewer said: ". . . two terrific stories are intertwined nicely and come together in a satisfying conclusion. Not only is the history presented in an interesting and painless manner, but also readers should come away eager to read more about this period. Middle graders are in store for a real treat with this offering." –School Library Journal, Elizabeth Mellett, Brookline Public Library, MA (THE RIDDLE OF PENNCROFT FARM is available in paperback and e-book editions.)
Dorothea Jensen is proud to be one of a very few people who has boarded a pirate ship and attacked a Viking vessel manned by real Vikings wearing horns and furs. She was born in Boston, but grew up in Chillicothe, Illinois, site of the Viking adventure. She then earned a BA in English from Carleton College and an MA in Secondary Education from the University of New Mexico. She has served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in South America, taught middle and high school English, tutored refugees in ESL, written grant proposals for various arts organizations, written a play performed in Noh style, and raised three children.
Her first historical novel for young readers, THE RIDDLE OF PENNCROFT FARM, has been used in classrooms for many years as an enrichment resource for kids studying the American Revolution. Her next novel, A BUSS FROM LAFAYETTE, is set in 1825 in the small town in New Hampshire where she has lived since 1991.
Dorothea also writes modern Christmas stories in verse. Modeled on the 19th century classic poem, "A Visit from St. Nicholas", these award-winning Santa's Izzy Elves story poems feature decidedly 21st century elves savvy in modern technology.
I wrote this story more than thirty years ago, so was delighted to recently find proof that one of the historic al details I used was correct. The new museum about the American Revolution in Philadelphia has one of these fringed hunting shirts on display, Here's what the sign about it says: In the summer of 1775, riflemen from Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Virginia joined the New England troops already gathered in Boston to form a Continental Army. Many of these mid-Atlantic troops wore fringed hunting shirts like this example. A uniquely American garment that originated in the Virginia backcountry, it was thought to evoke the dress of Native Americans. As stories of the riflemen’s marksmanship spread, General Washington saw a psychological advantage in outfitting thousands more of the American soldiers in these distinctive shirts. In his headquarters orders for July 24th 1776, Washington wrote that he “earnestly encourages the use of hunting shirts,” in part because they were “justly supposed to carry no small terror to the enemy, who think every such person a complete marksman.”
The Riddle of Penncroft Farm
Geordie sprang up from the bed. “Your ignorance is vastly amusing, Lars. Early in the war, hardly anybody had a real uniform—except for rich people like Washington. And those uniforms were all different colors, not just blue and buff. Some American uniforms were as red as the ones the British soldiers wore.” He looked at the history book picture and chuckled. “Nay, country boys like Will were lucky if they had a whole pair of ordinary breeches, let alone a whole uniform. Sometimes they’d make themselves leather hunting shirts to use for a sort of uniform. In truth, Washington liked to have them wear those shirts, because the British figured everybody in one was a genuine sharpshooter. Most of those American boys couldn’t hit the broad side of a barn, but they surely did look the part!