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.
Von Steuben's "School for the Soldier" was a brilliant method of teaching the untrained Americans. He himself taught a few men how to move by command, then had each of them teach others, who taught others, etc. Apparently von Steuben would swear at them in French and German, then have his aide swear at them in English, which the soldiers found to be very funny. At the end of the terrible winter of 1777-8 at Valley Forge, we had a trained army. (When we lived near Philadelphia in the 1970s, we went to Valley Forge many, many times. Our two sons learned to ride their bicycles there. Quite a different kind of learning!)
The Riddle of Penncroft Farm
Pat indignantly started to argue, but another exhibit caught her eye. “I never noticed this display before. It’s about that German guy, von Steuben, who taught the Americans to march and maneuver. Apparently he was a phony: instead of being some big shot with the Prussian army, he was really only a captain and hadn’t done any soldiering for years. And get this—it says that Ben Franklin helped fake the guy’s papers so Congress would accept his help!”