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 guess this is about as close to an "author's message" as anything else I put into this book. It is also the reason I wrote THE RIDDLE OF PENNCROFT FARM in the first place, I guess.
For more about the challenges of writing historical fiction that shows the complexity of the past, see my blog:
The Riddle of Penncroft Farm
Finally, as she stirred hot spiced cider in the big copper kettle in a pretty witchy way, Aunt Cass said, “You know, people keep moaning gloom and doom about how horrible everything is now and mooning on about the good old days.” She sniffed. “The good old days were just as mixed a bag as any other days, old or new. And yet we muddled through.” She pointed a knobby finger at me. “That’s the value of history, L. George. Don’t you forget it. People have always managed to muddle through, and I believe they always will. I guess it’s human nature to forget the bad times, gloss ’em over, shine ’em up, and put ’em all neat and clean in the history books.” She absentmindedly scratched her head, knocking her witch’s hat askew.