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.
Once again, I had fun with the ancestor whom modern day Eddy Owens always brags about. I made him a fan not only of Conway (of Valley Forge infamy), but also BENEDICT ARNOLD! Of course, this is all revealed in the diaries, so Eddy (and everyone else) finds out about it.
The Riddle of Penncroft Farm
In the spring of 1778, after the British left Philadelphia with the Americans right behind them, we settled back into an almost normal existence at Penncroft Farm. Still, I hungrily followed the course of the struggle. It was from Mistress Derry that I heard about Benedict Arnold’s treason, though her account was garbled by comments about Peggy Shippen Arnold and her lamentable taste in clothes. Eventually I sifted out the important facts of the matter: how Arnold had bargained with the new British commander, General Clinton, to allow West Point, the crucial fortress under his command, to fall to the enemy. I wondered if Will was one of the soldiers whose lives Arnold had been willing to sacrifice for British gold, and I thanked God the plot had been discovered before anyone died to satisfy Arnold’s ambitions. I also wonderedif Ned Owens had found a new idol. Between the disgraced Conway and the treacherous Arnold, Ned had been unlucky in his choices.