Thursday, December 7, 2017

I Do So Enjoy Being Right (Once in Awhile)

In A Buss from Lafayette, I had a hard time deciding who Clara would guess the old veteran is in the following conversation:

Stamping my foot in frustration, I turned to see whose presence was interfering with the fulfillment of my plan. Among the familiar characters, I saw a tall, skinny stranger who looked to be nearly eighty years of age. He was wearing a rather moth-eaten old uniform of buff and blue. His pure white hair was also in a bygone style, long— if a bit sparse in front— and tied behind with a black ribbon. He held a black tricorne decorated with a black and white cockade. Even through my irritation, I could see that the most interesting thing about the stranger was not his antiquated clothes, his overly long hair, or his three-cornered hat with its leather flower, but his excitement. He was about the most animated person, especially of his age, that I had ever seen. I moved closer to the old gentleman. If I had to wait until he was done talking to get what I wanted from Mr. Towne, I might as well listen to what he had to say. 

“You will never guess who I was mistook for yesterday!” he exclaimed. His merry eyes looked at each of us listeners in turn. 

All of our guesses fell wide of the mark, from Mr. Towne’s boisterous, “President Adams?” to my softly spoken, “Old Father Christmas?” 

“No, t’was for the Nation’s Guest!” the stranger declared, slapping his thigh. “

What? Someone thought you to be Lafayette? Are you jesting?” Mr. Towne spluttered. 

The stranger went off into gales of laughter. “I am telling you the truth of it: folks in the hundreds— nay, the thousands— thought me to be Lafayette himself!”

 - A Buss from Lafayette © 2016 by Dorothea Jensen

The reason for my difficulty? I couldn't decide what Clara would call Santa Claus. I explained this in a "Insight" I wrote last year:

I had trouble deciding what Clara's guess about the old veteran's mistaken identity should be. Clement Moore's poem, "A Visit from Saint Nicholas" (sometimes called "'Twas the Night Before Christmas") was actually published in 1823, two years before the time of my story. This verse, with its Dutch Sinter Klaas inspiration, eventually had a huge impact on the American concept of Santa, but I figured it might not have been widely known in 1825. Therefore I just called the jolly old elf "Old Father Christmas", an earlier English tradition. (Even though I am so fond of Moore's poem that I model all my Izzy Elf stories on it, anapestic tetrameter and all.)

Anyway, you may imagine my delight in coming across this Christmas celebration at Old Sturbridge Village, which depicts Clara's era (more or less). Please note the reference to Father Christmas in the last line, followed by a picture of this historic version of Santa. As OSV scrupulously strives for historical accuracy, I'm taking this to mean I was correct in my decision to use this term in A Buss from Lafayette. Woo hoo.

 All I can say is THANK YOU, Old Sturbridge Village!

Buy links for A Buss from Lafayette can be found up above on the right side of this page!

Thursday, November 9, 2017


Free e-book editions of my prizewinning new historical novel for young (and old) readers age 10 and up, A Buss from Lafayette, are being given away from today through 11/15.  Here are the buy links:

KINDLE (Amazon)

NOOK (Barnes and Noble)


(Honest reviews posted on any of these sites are HUGELY APPRECIATED!)


In June, 1825, everyone around spirited 14-year-old Clara Hargraves is thrilled because the world-famous American Revolution hero, General Lafayette, is about to visit New Hampshire on his “Farewell Tour.” In one event-filled week, what Clara learns about her family, her friends, and Lafayette himself, profoundly changes her life. "Clara carries the story with the strength of her personality, humorous observations, and seemingly timeless adolescent woes. . .will entertain readers as young as 4th grade while older students will appreciate a teenager's perspective" - KidStuff Magazine. "A full-scale history lesson disguised as a can't put it down story." - I Read What You Write Blog.

One recent adult reader of this book, Peter Reilly, posted this on Facebook:
I really enjoyed this book. I'm thinking of switching to middle school girls fiction from here on in. Regardless I think it beautifully captures the excitement around Lafayette's visit and the way it permeated every nook and cranny of the country.

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Here are a couple of photos of a 19th century store (in Old Sturbridge Village) like the one Clara visits in the story. Here's the description:

I spied Mr. Towne, his gray hair combed forward in the fashionable “Brutus” style, although his receding hairline made this look a bit odd. He leaned over his counter, which was laden as always with large glass jars of pickles, candy, and other delicacies. Behind him, shelves reached to the ceiling, stuffed with items fascinating to the eye. On one wall, the lower spaces held large wooden barrels of brandy, rum, gin, wine, and molasses, with boxes of oranges, lemons, figs, spices, and sugar loaves on the shelves above. My eye was drawn to the other wall, however, where a rainbow of lace, silk, cotton, wool, linen, gingham, and calico occupied most of the shelves. On the very top level were more personal items: hairbrushes, mirrors, pomatums, patent medicines, and combs. My miracle-working lead comb was up there waiting for me. - A Buss from Lafayette © 2016 by Dorothea Jensen

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Complicated Figuring

A couple of decades ago, I went to Old Sturbridge Village to visit the 19th  century buildings and talk with the costumed guides. I remember very well going to one of the stores and watching and hearing an explanation of how village stores functioned, which was quite differently than those today. The guy behind the counter showed me a thick ledger book full of complicated transactions.  It was common, apparently, for people to "trade" for goods at the store by paying with goods they had grown or made themselves. They also used the store as a way to pay another store customer for goods or services. They did this by designating that credit for what they "traded" at the store be applied to another customer's account.

In my story, the Hargraves family pays with strawberry jam, not only for their own purchases, but to pay a seamstress (another store customer) for making a dress for Clara. Her brother, Joss, buys ice skates, candy etc., by trading baskets of charcoal that he has made.

I went back to Old Sturbridge Village recently and visited the stores there. No one could find that ledger book, but I was allowed to photograph a few ledger pages that were available. These pages were originally handwritten but there were also typed versions that showed the information on  those handwritten pages more clearly.

I was delighted to find evidence of 1) customers paying with their own products and 2) customers paying with goods or money that was credited to a third party. It appears that when an entry is labeled "to", it means a customer bought something at the store and the cost has been written down as a debit in the ledger.  However, those entries labeled "by" seem to show transactions in which a customer has traded something for credit, either for him/herself for for a third party.

In the following excerpt, it appears that Customer #416, Reuben Jones, has earned credit at the store by braiding sixteen hats and supplying two dozen eggs.

In the following accounting, see that Noah Miles used the 
store as an intermediary to pay James Godfrey.

Finally in the excerpt below it appears that Thomas Laughton accrued credit on his account by trading cheese;p Edwin Bemis apparently paid with Rye (whiskey or grain?), Maria Knight by shoes she apparently made; and Polly Knight and Electa Fairbanks had some kind of exchange involving hat braiding credit.

I'm  thinking that there must have been a ledger that kept track of all transactions by a list of customer numbers.

Very tricky book keeping!

Friday, October 20, 2017

A New Boy in Town - Welcome Lafayette!

As faithful readers of this blog know, the young French major general, the Marquis de Lafayette, played a huge role in the American Revolution. This was particularly true at Yorktown, Virginia, the location of the final major battle of the war. It was Lafayette and his men who actually trapped the English, led by General Cornwallis, on the Yorktown peninsula. The timely arrival of a French fleet under Admiral De Grasse put the cork in the bottle. Between the two leaders, they were able to keep him there until Washington and the French general, Rochambeau arrived to besiege and attack the town.

For ten years or so, sculptures of Washington and  De Grasse conferring have stood near the Yorktown waterfront, commemorating one of the meetings they had. Lafayette and Rochambeau were participants at least one of these meeting. Sadly, however, the project ran out of money after sculptor Sid Player finished the first two figures.

The American Friends of Lafayette (a terrific organization of which I am a life member), discussed the possibility of commissioning a statue of Lafayette to put in its rightful place with Washington and De Grasse in Yorktown, to be done at some point in the future.

I am proud to tell you that my husband and I decided to start the ball rolling right away with a fat donation the very next day. By the end of that day, five other people matched our amount, and the fundraising took off. After six months of tremendous work by the people on the statue committee, enough funds were raised to commission Lafayette's statue to be created by Sid, the woman who had sculpted Washington and De Grasse.

Here I am standing in for the missing Lafayette one year ago.

On October 18, 2017, the statue of Lafayette was unveiled!
Here's the before:

Here is a profile view after the statue was revealed, the guy on the left is Our Marquis!

Here I am with the trio of famous heroes!

I tried my best to give a "buss" to Lafayette. However, because he is made of metal, he couldn't bend down, and because I am not quite of his stature, I couldn't reach up. However, please consider Lafayette well-bussed!

A thrilling day!

Thursday, September 7, 2017

A 31 Year Old Letter about RIDDLE!

I recently finally started sorting through boxes of stuff left behind by my father, who passed away in 2013. I was amazed to find a lot of handwritten letters (remember those?) I had sent to Dad over the years.  One caught my eye.  Here is what I said:

Oct 25, 1986

I'm glad you liked The Riddle of Penncroft Farm. The agent I sent it to rejected it—I made Martha [my sister] come over to open the rejection letter to read it before I did. It's a most painful process. It turned out that the agent did like the historical part but found the modern bits to be "too pale and uninteresting."

I am now in a frenzy of rewriting (14 hours a day!) and am nearly done. I've recast the whole modern story into 1st person, told by Lars. I've kept Aunt Cass alive until after Lars moves to Penncroft, then she dies—adding a nice bit of drama. Aunt Cass is a lot like Gramma Moorehouse—I get to work in all the G.M. Gems like "Tastes like cat pee." (Her assessment of iced tea in her first conversation with David.)[David is now my husband. He wasn't when she said this to him. He couldn't believe that I hadn't forewarned him about Grammy.]

I also have put in a girl character to suck in girl readers at the beginning. I think the Sandy character will interest them later on.

I believe the book is much improved.

I hope to finish the rough draft today and polish it next week.

Well, it took many more rewrites before I was able to find a publisher for this book. It was finally published by Harcourt, Brace, Jovanovich in late September, 1989, three whole years after I wrote this letter. (I didn't put the cat pee comment in there, although the "Why didn't you pick more peas?" came straight from my Grammy.

The Riddle of Penncroft Farm has been in print ever since, has sold thousands and thousands of copies, and been honored in many ways. It won 1st place in the historical fiction category of the 2014 Purple Dragonfly Children's Book Awards. It was also an International Reading Association Teachers' Choice Selection, a Jeanette Fair Award winner, and a Master List Selection for the William Allen White Children’s Book Award, the Rebecca Caudill Award, the Mark Twain Award, the South Carolina Children’s Book Award, the Hoosier Young Readers Award, and the Sunshine State Young Readers Award. As a manuscript, The Riddle of Penncroft Farm won the Children's Literature Competition at The Loft, a regional literary center in Minnesota.

It is used in schools all around the U.S. as a cross-curriculum enrichment resource for the study of the American Revolution. Hooray!

So I guess the lesson displayed by this old, old letter is that it pays to keep trying even when the process is painful!

Here are some links if you would like a copy.

Barnes and Noble



Friday, September 1, 2017

Happy Birthday, America. Really.

When our son was sworn in as a member of the diplomatic corps in 1999, my husband and I attended the ceremony at the Main State Department in Washington, D.C. Afterwards, there was a gathering on the top floor in the John Quincy Adams Reception Room, pictured above.

I believe that we were served glasses of champagne, and I remember casually leaning against the desk just to the left of the  center of this photo to sip from my glass. It was only after I had taken a few sips that I looked down. To my astonishment, I saw what was displayed on this desk: the actual Treaty of Paris, signed by Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, and John Jay on September 3, 1783,  to end our Revolutionary War. I had had no idea that it was kept here, and it was thrilling to see these signatures and know that this document marked the official separation from England, and therefore, the birth of our nation

Article 10th:
The solemn Ratifications of the present Treaty expedited in good & due Form shall be exchanged between the contracting Parties in the Space of Six Months or sooner if possible to be computed from the Day of the Signature of the present Treaty.  In witness whereof we the undersigned their Ministers Plenipotentiary have in their Name and in Virtue of our Full Powers, signed with our Hands the present Definitive Treaty, and caused the Seals of our Arms to be affixed thereto.
Done at Paris, this third day of September in the year of our Lord, one thousand seven hundred and eighty-three.

To read the whole Treaty, go to:

I later learned that there were actually three original copies of this treaty that were all signed by the official signatories. The other two are at the National Archives.

Anyway, to go back to my moment of stunned realization about this historic document, I looked around and on a nearby wall, over the mantel, I found the famous painting by Benjamin West depicting the signing of this treaty.

Label on Treaty of Paris Painting by Benjamin West
I had seen this painting reproduced in history books a zillion times, but never seen the original. And there it was right in front of me!

(Oddly enough, the year on the painting is  WRONG, it should be 1783!)

If you will notice, the right side, where British signer of this treaty would have been located, is blank. Apparently (according to artist David R. Wagner, who created a "completed" version of the scene), the British signer refused to pose for the picture.

Here is what Wagner says:

This depiction of the signing of the treaty between America and Great Britain by American Artist Benjamin West (1730-1820) was left unfinished because he could not get British Commissioner and member of Parliament David Hartley to sit for the painting. Hartley had posed for individual portraits before, and had actually signed the treaty, but refused to sit for this painting because he said he was "too ugly." In all probability he was commanded by his superiors not to pose, as this loss to the American Colonies was difficult to imagine and no artistic reminders were needed.

In any case, it was definitely the thrill of a lifetime to happen across the original painting and the historic document itself!

(Just glad I didn't spill any champagne on the latter.)

So let us lift our glasses (but not whilst leaning against anything that might contain priceless historical treasures) and sing "Happy Birthday, America!'


P.S. Yes, yes, I know. The 4th of July is the big "birthday" bash, but I think the date this treaty was signed should be celebrated, too.

So here you go:

Friday, August 18, 2017

Dorothea Jensen: The Riddle of Penncroft Farm at Valley Forge

Recently, we visited Valley Forge after many years and made a short video of me reading the scene in which Geordie and Sandy arrive there during the winter of 1777-8.

This was the scene that my 10-year-old grandson "chanted" when I asked him what his favorite part of the book was. That really made my day!

(If the video doesn't show up on your device, follow this link to watch it on YouTube!)

Sunday, August 13, 2017

"Bon for America!""

Mr. Towne jumped back into the conversation, telling us how, after Lafayette had been wounded in the leg, he had shouted “Bone for America!” This had puzzled everyone, as the musket ball had not hit Lafayette’s bone, but had passed clean through his leg. “Lafayette then explained that the word he had used was bon, which means good in French,” said Mr. Towne. “He had been saying ‘Good for America!’ Lafayette thought this misunderstanding so funny, he laughed aloud even while his leg was bleeding away, even though it must have pained him considerably! Now, I do not know if this story be true, but it is still a good yarn.” - A Buss from Lafayette © 2016 by Dorothea Jensen 
I based this "Bone for America" story on that related by Captain John Polhemus in his memoir:"Our Colonel had his horse killed, and General Marquis de Lafayette received a wound in his leg from the same ball, whereupon, while stroking the smarting wound, he exclaimed, 'Bone, bone for America!' I asked him what the bone had to do with it, to which he replied 'Good, good for American liberty!' and we both enjoyed the joke,"

Friday, August 4, 2017

A thrilling visit to Valley Forge!

My husband and I visited Valley
Forge a few weeks ago for the first time in many years. Imagine how thrilled I was to find my first historical novel for kids, The Riddle of Penncroft Farm. for sale in the Encampment Store there!

Several scenes in Riddle are set at Valley Forge, both during the Revolution and in modern times, so it is particularly satisfying to see it on the bookshelf so close to where those scenes occur!

I also managed to make some very short video recordings of me reading bits about Valley Forge from both Riddle  and my new book, A Buss from Lafayette.

Here is the link to one Riddle vid on YouTube here.)

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Baron de Kalb Re-visited!

I had the distinct pleasure recently of chatting at my 50th college reunion with a new friend, Mary Weshinskey, the wife of one of my classmates. I was telling her about my book, A Buss from Lafayette, and she said "I'm actually descended from one of the guys who came over to America with Lafayette."

Of course, I asked who this was, and she replied, "the Baron de Kalb."

How thrilling was that!

She said that his line had ended up with just female descendants, so his name had pretty much died out.

We had great fun establishing a "Friends of the Baron de Kalb" club consisting of the two of us.

Anyway this inspired me to look the Baron up and remind myself who he was and what he did for America.

This Bavarian officer did, indeed, come over on Lafayette's ship, the Victoire, in 1777 in company with the young (19!) marquis.  At first, he was unable to secure an appointment as an officer with the American forces, but Lafayette quickly interceded and he was given the rank major general. He was apparently a very capable soldier and officer, and was disappointed when later, at the battle of Camden, the so-called "hero of Saratoga", General Gates, was given the command. Gate deserted his men in the thick of the battle and galloped away. Or that is the traditional account, anyway.

De Kalb was wounded numerous times at that battle, and despite being treated by British General Cornwallis' personal doctor, died of those wounds. He is buried in Camden. George Washington visiting his grave years later, is reported to have said, "So, there lies the brave de Kalb. The generous stranger, who came from a distant land to fight our battles and to water with his blood the tree of liberty. Would to God he had lived to share its fruits!"

Meanwhile, I found the following letter written by de Kalb which gives an "unbiased" first person view of my hero, Lafayette:

On the whole, I have annoyances to bear, of which you can hardly form a conception. One of them is the mutual jealousy of almost all the French officers, particularly against those of higher rank than the rest. These people think of nothing but their incessant intrigues and backbitings. They hate each other like the bitterest enemies, and endeavor to injure each other wherever an opportunity offers. I have given up their society, and very seldom see them. La Fayette is the sole exception; I always meet him with the same cordiality and the same pleasure. He is an excellent young man, and we are good friends... La Fayette is much liked, he is on the best of terms with Washington. 

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Coolest Brandywine Battle Map EVER!

I found this animated map online and it is FANTASTIC. It clearly shows the movements of the British troops crossing Brandywine Creek on fords unknown to Washington.

Both of my historical novels for young readers, The Riddle of Penncroft Farm and A Buss from Lafayette, have sections about the Battle of Brandywine, which was the biggest and longest land battle of the American Revolution.

Below is a screen shot of the beginning of the day, September 11, 1777. Note that I went to Backgrounds and Layers and selected 1777 base, Fords, historic structures, and division labels.

Here is the link to check it out for yourself:


Today I am reviewing a new historical novel for children, At the Dawn of Legend: Guinevere Book Two, by Cheryl Carpinello. Like me, Cheryl is a former teacher who understands the importance of hooking kids on history through fiction.

The history in this story is a long way from the American history that inspires my writing, but it hooked me due to my own interest in the Arthurian legend because of the musical, "Camelot." I was fourteen when it came out on Broadway. This was the perfect age to fall madly in love with the characters (not to mention Julie Andrews, Richard Burton, and Robert Goulet) which, of course, I did. Needless to say, it was a huge disappointment when the film was made years later, and didn't include any of these gifted actors!

I must insert here that I saw the movie when I was in the Peace Corps in Brazil, which did not have a tradition of musical theater. Most of the audience went to "Camelot" thinking they would be seeing a "spaghetti western" (like "The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly") because Lancelot was played by Franco Nero, a star in that popular genre. Therefore, when Franco opened his mouth and sang (or lip synced) "C'est Moi", half the audience stood up, shouted "horrĂ­vel" (horrible) and stomped out of the theater. The rest left soon after that. I must admit that I felt like doing the same.

At any rate, I enjoyed reading Cheryl's story of Guinevere as a 15-year-old girl. (I have not read the first book, On the Eve of Legend, when Guinevere was younger still.) She is depicted as courageous, impulsive, and loyal to her best friend, 11-year-old Cedwyn, son of the woman who raised her after the death of her mother. It was very satisfying to see the young Guinevere come to life on the page, and I look forward to reading more of her "backstory" in Cheryl's books.  There are dangers and adventures (not to mention unicorns) galore in this book, and I think young readers, especially girls, would find this story quite appealing

Guinevere Dawn o
f Legend Cover 
FINAL Apple & B&N 

Title: Guinevere: At the Dawn of Legend Book Two
Author: Cheryl Carpinello
Publisher: Beyond Today Educator 
Publication Date: June 21, 2017 
Number of Pages: 121 Genre: Children's Historical Fiction 

“ Think before acting, ” her father always warned. But Princess Guinevere is ruled by her heart. Her betrothal to King Arthur has not changed this. 

When Guinevere and Cedwyn’s latest adventure takes a dangerous turn, they find themselves embroiled in a life-or-death struggle as foretold by Merlyn’s Goddess of the Stones. 

Renegades — foiled in their attempt to kidnap the princess — steal the children of Cadbury Castle to sell as slaves. Guinevere and Cedwyn vow to rescue the children, but a miscalculation puts them all in more danger. The plan quickly unravels, and Guinevere ’ s impassioned decisions come crashing down as Cedwyn chooses to turn his dream of becoming a knight into reality. Will their courage be strong enough to survive, or will one make the ultimate sacrifice?

Links to Cheryl's Online Information:

Monday, July 31, 2017

Lafayette's visit to the Adams Female Academy

Adams Female Academy in Derry, New Hampshire
Above is an old picture of Adams Female Academy, which is the school that Clara's cousin, Hetty, attends in A Buss from Lafayette. Hetty's description of what happened when Lafayette visited there in June, 1825, is based on Amos Parker's Recollections of General Lafayette on his Visit to the United States in 1824 and 1825. Keene, NH: Sentinel Printing, 1879.

I recently was sent this photo of Adams Female Academy by Julien Icher, a young French researcher who just finished documenting Lafayette's New England visits during his Farewell Tour. (To visit his app based on this research, visit:

* * *

Dear Clara,

You will be utterly pea green with envy when you hear what just happened to me. (At least pea
green is one of the few colors that does not look totally horrid with your carroty hair.) I have just
had the most thrilling time of my life!

Yesterday, the famous Marquis de Lafayette visited our school. Our teacher, Miss Grant, told
us to wear our best white dresses that day, so I wore my new white silk with the puffy sleeves and
the gored skirt with that stiffened band around the bottom that makes it bell out beautifully. It is the very latest fashion from Boston. I also stood out from the other girls because my dear father had
given me a very special gift: a pair of white gloves he bought in Boston, with the image of the famous
Marquis printed right on them!

I shook my head in disgust. Only my vain cousin would dwell on her fashionable dress instead of the
historical figure she was about to meet.

We all wore blue ribbons as sashes and red roses in our hair, so we looked red, white, and blue:
so very patriotic. The Marquis told Miss Grant that they are the colors of France as well. (It is
lucky you were not there. Terrible color on you, red.) Mother had done my hair in a special way
with soft curls around my face. Even I must admit the red rose looked very nice against my black hair.

I murmured to myself, “What a spoiled brat she is. I would rather be a hoyden than a brat like Hetty.”

When the Marquis de Lafayette arrived, Miss Grant announced each of our names and he shook
hands with us. I believe he thought me the prettiest girl there, although of course he had not the time
to say so. Too bad you will not get to see him, as I do not believe he is visiting any village schools.
Oh, wait, I forgot! You are not even in school this summer because you must help on the farm. Poor

                                                                     - A Buss from Lafayette © 2016 by Dorothea Jensen

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

I LOVE the company I'm keeping!

 I was delighted to find A Buss from Lafayette included in a short summer reading list posted on the Grateful American Foundation website. I was doubly delighted when I saw the other books listed there!

A big thank you to David Bruce Smith, who is doing so much to hook kids on history! He has established the Grateful American Foundation, which gives an annual award for the best fiction or non-fiction history book for kids. He has also created the GratefulAmericanKids website, which has many fun articles, pictures, videos, etc. to engage young people's interest in history.

 Check out this wonderful video entitled "Grateful American Kids Rock!"



Friday, June 30, 2017

Where Washington Met Lafayette: The City Tavern Revisited!

 The City Tavern 
138 South 2nd St
Philadelphia, PA

The City Tavern is the spot where General Washington first met the 19-year-old French volunteer, the Marquis de Lafayette. The childless Washington and the fatherless Lafayette eventually became such close friends that many described them as being like father and son.

My family lived close to Philadelphia for five years in the 1970s. We moved there just a day or two before the Bicentennial, July 4, 1976.  (On the day itself, we took the train into Center City, and en route we joined all the other passengers in singing "Happy Birthday" to the USA!) During our time in Pennsylvania, we went many times to the City Tavern, Independence Hall, Valley Forge, the site of the Battle of Brandywine, etc.  Those experiences so whetted my interest in the Revolution that I ended up writing two historical novels about it for young readers, The Riddle of Penncroft Farm and A Buss from Lafayette. In Riddle, I set two scenes, one "modern" and one during the American Revolution, at the City Tavern.

In fact, someone (no idea who) put a reference to this on Wikipedia:

We moved from Philadelphia to Minnesota in 1981 (that's where I wrote Riddle), and it wasn't until 1991 that I had a chance to visit The City Tavern again. Here is a picture from that visit.

At the time, I imagined that the door to the right of the staircase went down to a basement, and I had Geordie's brother, Will come up from the basement through that door. I learned on this visit that it actually goes out to a back yard. Oops.

Several weeks ago, my husband and I dined at the City Tavern for the first time in many years. It was such fun! I brought along a copy of The Riddle of Penncroft so I should shamelessly pose with it in the pix below.
Here I am sitting on a settle at The City Tavern. I asked my husband to take this photo because of the reference to settles in The Riddle of Penncroft Farm.

I cleared and wiped the table, then swept the plank floor while Aunt Cass did the dishes. Then she picked up a sweater and put it on. “Better wear your jacket,” she said. “Sandra put it in one of the settles last night.”


“The settles—those high-backed benches. The seats open up. That’s where I keep“open up. That’s where I keep hats and mittens and things.”

I flipped open one of the wooden benches. My jacket was inside. “It looks like my coat is already settled in,” I punned.

“You’re a punster—good,” remarked Aunt Cass without a glimmer of a smile. “Always liked puns; never much good at making ’em up. Come on.” She pushed open the door and we went outside.” 
- The Riddle of Penncroft Farm, © 1989 by Dorothea Jensen

Finally, a couple of members of the costumed waitstaff were obliging enough to be in this picture.

Anyway, I highly recommend that you visit The City Tavern sometime. The food is delicious, and the setting really does "bring history alive."

But I also highly recommend that you read The Riddle of Penncroft Farm first!

I am shamelessly including buy links to make it easy for you - here they are:


(It is also available as an e-book on Amazon, B & N, Kobo, etc.)



Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Kid Stuff!

Today I received a copy of Kid Stuff (Upper Valley) Magazine, which is aimed at parents in New Hampshire and Vermont. It lists many interesting events in these states that parents might want to enjoy with their children. (It is distributed free at various stores around the region.)

I am happy to report that the 2017 summer edition also includes a lovely review, written by Hayley Durfor, of my new historical novel for young readers about General Lafayette (among other topics), A Buss from Lafayette. I am posting this review below (with permission from the magazine).

My favorite part? When Hayley says this:

"A Buss from Lafayette will entertain readers as young as 4th grade, while older students will appreciate a teenager's perspective."

I couldn't have described the "target market" for my story any better myself!

Many thanks to Hayley Durfor and to Amy Cranage, Associate Editor of Kid Stuff!




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. makin 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  g 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.


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


 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.)

:  )