Monday, June 5, 2017

An Almost 60-year-old Duh Moment

I first read Elizabeth Marie Pope's The Sherwood Ring in 1958 when I was in the eighth grade. Along with The Witch of Blackbird Pond, this book has remained one of my favorites. In fact, when I wrote my first historical novel for young readers, The Riddle of Penncroft Farm, I consciously and unconsciously modeled elements of my story after The Sherwood Ring as a kind of homage in its honor.

I enjoy word plays/puns and the like. When I was writing my story, I discovered that there was an antique farm tool (a kind of large sieve) called a "riddle". (One of the few extant uses of this in English today is "riddled with bullets", meaning full of holes like a sieve.) As soon as I heard such an implement existed, I made a point of 1. making one of these a key part of my plot and 2. putting it into my title, so that its double meaning would (as I like to think of it) reverberate nicely.

A Riddle
So you may imagine my chagrin when I suddenly realized that Elizabeth Marie Pope did something similar more than half a century ago when she named her story The Sherwood Ring.

And I totally missed it!

Until now.

Ok, in my own defense, I would like to say that I was blinded by the fact that there is an actual Sherwood ring in the story, the kind worn on the finger. But what I did NOT think about was that the whole story centers on Peaceable Sherwood, a super-competent British officer, assigned with the task of coordinating local Tories (in upstate New York) into a secret fighting force.

I believe that such a secret group of men is called a ring.

So this book's title, The Sherwood Ring, is a double-meaning word play exactly like what I did in The Riddle of Penncroft Farm.

Duh.  



Saturday, May 20, 2017

Honoring Lafayette on Lafayette Day!



May 20, is the anniversary of the 1834 death of America's great Revolutionary War hero, General Lafayette.  In Massachusetts (and New Hampshire) this is proclaimed Lafayette Day. Yesterday the Massachusetts Lafayette Society laid a wreath at the Lafayette memorial plaque on Boston Common. This is located on the side of the Common called "Lafayette Mall". The reason for this title? This was the walkway lined by hundreds and hundreds of schoolchildren who welcomed Lafayette when he arrived in Boston in 1825 to (among other things) dedicate the Bunker Hill Memorial.

It was my great honor to assist Judith Cauilliou, from the French Consulate in Boston, to place the wreath.


Tuesday, May 16, 2017

An award for A BUSS FROM LAFAYETTE!

 I was nosing around the internet today to see if there was anything new about my book, A Buss from Lafayette and I stumbled across this!

Woo hoo!

(I don't even care that they spelled my name wrong.)

:  )

Dorothea

Woo Hoo! An Award for Buss!

Once in awhile (well, every day, actually) I do a search to see if anything new has popped up on my book, A Buss from Lafayette.

This is what I found today:


















Yes, yes, I know my name is spelled wrong, but I don't care! It is just so delightful to find out that some award program liked my book.

Here is some info about the eLit Awards:

Here's info about this award program:
The eighth annual eLit Awards are a global awards program committed to illuminating and honoring the very best of English language digital publishing entertainment.

The eLit Awards celebrate the ever growing market of electronic publishing in the wide variety of reader formats. Hail the revolutionary world of e-books and join the awards program that’s highlighting the best in electronic reading entertainment.

 Thank you eLit!






Sunday, May 14, 2017

NOT a Book Report on Peter Rabbit


I was thrilled to find out that recently my oldest grandson, Stuart, (also known as The Senior Cousin) not only read my book, The Riddle of Penncroft Farm and wrote a book report about it, but he received an A+!

He had to wrap it around a box and decorate it with pix of events from the story.

It seems like only a short time ago that his father read this same story at about the same age (in manuscript form). I don't think he ever wrote a book report or got an A+ on it, however!

Way to go, Stu!





Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Beaming into a classroom as a Gigantic Head!!

Over the last few weeks, I have had the distinct pleasure of making electronic visits to classes in which the kids have read my historical novel about the Revolution, The Riddle of Penncroft Farm. As you can see by this picture, It has been great fun for me to answer their questions!


However, it wasn't until recently that I saw a picture of what kind of image is showing up on the other end. It turns out that I become a Gigantic Head!  (See below.) Wow! Also, notice my Peculiar Facial Expression - which doesn't surprise me because I always throw my whole face into whatever I say. Apparently. (I must have been talking about something sad here.)


This particular visit was to the classroom of Ms. Sara Shaiman, in Havertown, PA. She has taught Riddle many, many times, and has done a number of things to bring the story alive for her students. For instance, she takes her class to the City Tavern every year, where two scenes of Riddle take place.  (It was also the place where Washington and Lafayette met for the first time!)
In addition, she has made (or had made) a bunch of cup and ball toys for the kids to try out. (Such a toy plays an important role in the story.)  Here's a picture of a couple of these.                                                                                        

I am so grateful to Sara and all the other creative and dedicated teachers who have introduced my characters to so many kids over the years. Thank you!

P.S. I get a huge kick out of doing these visits. If you know of teachers who might like me to beam into their classroom after the students have read either The Riddle of Penncroft Farm or A Buss from Lafayette, please ask them to contact me at jensendorothea@gmail.com.

George Washington Makes A Joke (Sort of): Part 2



In a recent blog post, I talked about the letter written by George Washington that we were privileged to read on a visit to the New Hampshire Historical Society a few weeks ago.  I was able to photograph this missive, and subsequently spent hours trying to puzzle out what Washington said. What with having some bits missing (note torn corner in the picture), and 18th century spelling idiosyncasies (such as a large F-like letter to represent double Ss) there were still a few words I couldn't make out. Then I looked around the internet and found the whole thing posted at the National Archives. Here is the link.

In any case, I found this letter to be quite revealing, not only of Washington's diplomatic skills, but also of a surprising sense of humor he put to use to mute the "dressing down" he is giving to Sullivan.

Remember that Sullivan had already sent out some pretty snorty letters about 1) D'Estaing and 2) the French in general complaining about  being left in the lurch at Rhode Island by our new allies. It was obvious that this letter was what Washington wrote to Sullivan at that point. I told Julien (the young Frenchman who is researching Lafayette's Farewell Tour route in New England) that in this letter Washington was telling Sullivan to "pipe down." (A bit tricky to explain that expression, but I think Julien got it.)

I don't usually think of Washington as being gifted in diplomacy, but please notice what he did in this letter. It is particularly impressive because Washington himself was probably very upset by the rift in the new alliance, which Sullivan had made even worse. As he says himself, "The disagreement between the army under your command and the fleet has given me very singular uneasiness." Nevertheless, Washington manages to give Sullivan a couple of "outs" before lowering the boom on his angry general.

1) First of all, he states that he has not heard from Sullivan since August 23, but says that Sullivan's messages must have gone astray.

2) Secondly, Washington says this of the French: "In our conduct towards them we should remember that they are a people old in war, very strict in military etiquette, and apt to take fire when others scarcely seem warmed." As you can see by the emboldened text, Washington makes a small joke implying that the French are overly touchy. In other words, he is suggesting that the French are so easily enraged that perhaps it is not completely Sullivan's fault that they are angry or offended.

Then, however, Washington goes on to make it clear that Sullivan must keep his mouth shut and do everything he can to keep the news of the "misunderstanding" between the French and Americans quiet.

"It is of the greatest importance, also, that the minds of the soldiers and the people should know nothing of the misunderstanding, or if it has reached them that ways may be used to stop its progress and prevent its effects."

How thrilling it was to read the actual words written by Washington, and to see his diplomacy (and possibly his sense of humor) at work!


From George Washington to Major General John Sullivan, 1 September 1778


To Major General John Sullivan





Head Quarters White plains 1st Septr 1778.
Dear sir.
I have not received any letter from you since the 23d [August] which I attribute to some mishap of the messengers with whom they were sent. I was anxious to learn the determination and designs of the council of officers, that so I might be prepared for eventual measures—The success or misfortune of your army will have great influence in directing the movements and fortune of this.

The disagreement between the army under your command and the fleet has given me very singular uneasiness. The Continent at large is concerned in our cordiality, and it should be kept up by all possible means that are consistent with our honor and policy. First impressions, you know, are generally longest remembered, and will serve to fix in a great degree our national character among the French. In our conduct towards them we should remember that they are a people old in war, very strict in military etiquette, and apt to take fire when others scarcely seem warmed. Permit me to reco⟨mmend⟩ in the most particular manner, ⟨ the ⟩ cultivation of harmony and go⟨od⟩ agreement, and your endeavours to ⟨des⟩troy that ill humour which may ⟨have⟩ got into the officers. It is of the greatest importance, also that the minds of the soldiers and the people should know nothing of the misunderstanding, or if it has reached them that ways may be used to stop its progress and prevent its effects.

I have received from Congress the inclosed by which you will perceive their opinion with regard to keeping secret the protest of the General Officers I need add nothing on this subject.
I have one thing however more to say—I make no doubt but you will do all in your power to forward the repairs of the french fleet, and in rendering it fit for service, by your recommendations for that purpose to those who can be immediately instrumental. I am Dr Sir your most Obt hble servt
Go: Washington