Thursday, November 5, 2020

What did you do in the Pandemic of 2020, Gramma??? (I Wrote 2 Books!)

Well, in between cleaning out closets and drawers that hadn't been touched in 30 years, I finished writing two books. 

The first, which came out on Bastille Day (July 14) is a unique rhyming history inspired by the Broadway hit, Hamilton. Liberty-Loving Lafayette: How "America's Favorite Fighting Frenchman" Helped Win Our Independence takes less than half an hour to read (although it took a year and a half to write), explains what Lafayette did in our Revolutionary War in playful rhyming verse.

I like to say that it includes everything that "Guns and Ships" left out!.

I illustrated my book with classic pictures of people and events in the story that are in the public domain. Here's an example:

One early reader had this to say about this book:

". . .a perfect example of how a writer can make history/learning history fun. . .the accompanying art is wonderful"-David Bruce Smith, author of Abigail and John, founder of the Grateful American Foundation, and co-founder of the Grateful American Book Prize

I am happy to report that Libetty-Loving Lafayette has been on the Amazon best seller list (in its category: teen colonial and revolutionar war era) ever since it came out!  Woo hoo!

Here's how it starts:

So listen up, my children, and I'll do my best to tell
How a teenaged French aristocrat served all of us so well.
Without his help, we might have lost our fight for Liberty, 
And we’d still be lowly subjects of the British monarchy! 

Liberty-Loving Lafayette: How "America's Favorite Fighting Frenchman" Helped Win Our Independence is available now from:

Amazon link

Barnes & Noble


Apple iBooks


The second book, Bizzy, the Bossy Boots Elf  (which I actually started writing six years ago), came out last month. A rhyming poem modeled on "A Visit from St. Nicholas,"Bizzy is the 5th in my Santa's Izzy Elves Series. 

It was great fun working with my illustrator, Shayne Hood. These pictures were much more complicated that those in my previous elf stories. Many of the illustrations had all 8 Izzy Elves in them, and one actually had 16!

This paperback and Kindle book is currently only available from Amazon, although there will be more sources soon.

Here's the link:


Whew. I guess I better get back to those closets and drawers!



Monday, September 14, 2020

Penncroft Farm: The Battle of Brandywine

On September 11,  to mark the 243rd anniversary of the Battle of Brandywine, I made videos of the part of The Riddle of Penncroft Farm which portrayed my main character Geordie's experiences in that major battle.

Here the links:

Brandywine 1

Brandywine 2

Brandywine 3

Brandywine 4

Tuesday, September 1, 2020

Goody Two Shoes

 Goody Two Shoes

I liked everything about school, right down to the sound of the pencils scritching on our slate tablets. Most of all, however, I loved hearing the teacher read stories and fairy tales to us aloud. Even the m - ore youthful fare read aloud in the classroom seemed to transport me right out of Hopkinton and into more exciting times and places. Not all the stories the teachers read had been so enjoyable, however. One in particular, a sickening story named Goody Two Shoes, had a heroine so sweet and, yes, so extraordinarily good that she could give real girls the toothache faster than the hard peppermint candy in Mr. Towne’s glass jars.

Goody Two Shoes was probably just the sort of person my stepmother wished me to be: the kind of person my cousin Hetty pretended to be when adults were around. “Hetty is actually more ‘Goody Two-Faced,’” I murmured to no one in particular, turning my mind to the puzzle of why Hetty was so mean to me now.

-A Buss from Lafayette © 2016 by Dorothea Jensen

Yup, old Goody was sweet, all right. If you want to read the original story (it's very short), follow this link for two different versions. (I'm sure that Clara's teacher read the one published in 1820, btw.)   Goody Two Shoes

Goody Two Shoes was originally published in 1765. The author was anonymous, but was rumored to be Oliver Goldsmith. The title came to be used to signify someone who was a "goody goody" - the type of child who not only ALWAYS behaved the right way, but also tattled on those others who did not.

Goody Two Shoes was  re-published many times over the years. Usually the illustrations were re-done to reflect current clothing fashions. Here's what Margery Meanwell (AKA Goody Two Shoes) looked like at various times:








Wednesday, July 22, 2020

Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Non-Fattening Pandemic Pastimes

In order to stay sane during this pandemic, I've started taking another look at great reviews of my books. I figure that 1) this cheers me up and, 2) it isn't fattening.

Here is one of the first blurbs I received for A Buss from Lafayette, about five years ago.

Thursday, June 25, 2020

HAMILTON CF Jensen: The Battle of Monmouth!

Ev’ryone attack!




What are you doing, Lee? Get back on your feet!

But there’s so many of them!

I’m sorry, is this not your speed?!

Ready, sir!

Have Lafayette take the lead!
—Hamilton © 2015 by Lin-Manuel Miranda 

After they occupied it the winter of 1777-8, the British departed Philadelphia, apparently en route to New York City. Washington decided to attack the rear of the British column. Lafayette was originally supposed to lead this attack. Once it was decided that a larger force would be sent after the British, however, General Lee insisted he should be in command because of his “seniority.” Lee's forces caught up with the British column at Monmouth, NJ.

After his initial attack, Lee prematurely ordered a retreat, which outraged Washington. (Witnesses said his furious oaths nearly took the leaves off the trees.)

Lafayette, on the other hand, distinguished himself at this battle. (After this, Lee was courtmartialed and never served in the Continental army again.)

Brave Lafayette stood ready to command our troops that day.
But General Lee took precedence, so led the battle fray,
Then messed it up completely when he ordered a retreat,
And all thought Lafayette should have been in the driver's seat.

Wednesday, June 24, 2020

A Rosy Problem for Lafayette

In my research for A Buss from Lafayette, I learned that during his Farewell Tour of the U.S. in 1824-5, he had a constant problem: everywhere he went, people gave him flowers. At times, the carriages he rode in were filled with them. When this happened, he and his entourage would look for places where they could dump the flowers out of view of the people who had given them to him.

Here's how my main character, Clara, describes what she witnesses in A Buss from Lafayette:

I sat up in the water to peer through the woods toward the road. A six-horse stagecoach soon pulled partway into the woods and came to a stop. Perhaps the horses need a drink of water, I thought, puzzled.

But instead of someone unhitching the team so the horses could drink from the brook, someone inside started throwing things out the coach windows. Brightly colored things. Red and yellow and white and pink and . . . Why, they are roses! Hundreds of roses! I thought. Those men are throwing roses into the woods. What on earth is going on?

A Buss from Lafayette © 2016 by Dorothea Jensen

When he came to New Hampshire in late June of 2025, the roses were in full bloom in the state, so many of the flowers presented to him were roses. Below I am posing with New Hamphire roses in full bloom in my back yard during the last week of June 2020. I could have given General Lafayette quite a few roses if he came by my house today - as he actually did on June 27, 2020.

Here is how I imagined Lafayette describing what usually happened as he went through this or any other of the states he visited:

“Sir?” I called, covered in confusion as much as I was in brook water. “Why are they throwing these roses away?”

He laughed. “It is a bit of a guilty secret, mademoiselle.” His words were slow and deliberate. “You see, everywhere I go, people keep giving me roses, roses, and more roses! Whatever I ride in— be it barouche, or curricle, or coach—it is filled to overflowing with them! Because of this, every once in a while I must tell the small lie—that I must make the stop that is necessary—and that I need my privacy. Then I find a secluded nook like this and we cast out all the pretty flowers. Please do not tell anyone. I beg of you.”

A Buss from Lafayette © 2016 by Dorothea Jensen