Monday, April 19, 2021

 On Wednesday, May 5, at 2 P.M. there will be a dedication ceremony for a new marker commemorating Major General Lafayette's stop in Hopkinton, New Hampshire on June 27, 1825. This visit was part of the world-famous Revolutionary War hero's Farewell Tour, during which he visited all 24 of then existent states. This was a huge deal, as Lafayette was the only general still alive fifty years after the beginning of the Revolution, and was seen as a living link to the late General Washington and many other Founding Fathers.

Millions of excited Americans came to greet and meet him during the 13 months he traveled through the courntry,  going nearly 6,000 miles by carriage, horseback, riverboat etc. His visit to Hopkinton came five days after a huge reception in Concord, NH, only recently designated the capital of the state. 

Sunday, March 28, 2021

Graphic Review #1

I've been playing around with Canva designing some small graphics featuring blurbs from reviews of my books. Here are a few for Liberty-Loving Lafayette, my unique rhyming history inspired by the Broadway smash hit, Hamilton.

I've never carried a torch before, but am delighted that Booklife thinks I have done so with this book.



Saturday, February 27, 2021

Booklife Liked LLL! Hooray!


I'm so pleased to post this most encouraging review of 
Liberty-Loving Lafayette 
done by Booklife, a subsidiary of Publishers Week.

Lin Manuel-Miranda’s Tony award-winning Hamilton made household names of historical figures audiences previously hadn’t known much about. Jensen carries the torch with her second book for young readers (after the YA novel A Buss From Lafayette) about the hero of the American Revolutionary War. In engaging rhyming verse possibly inspired by the musical, Jensen details how the French marquis wound up in the American colonies and got caught up in the war. She peppers the text with modern slang (“bro”) and French phrases (“mal de mer”) while historic paintings, portraits, maps, and engravings (√Člisabeth Louise Vig√©e Le Brun’s sumptuous study of Marie Antoinette; Emanuel Leutze’s dramatic Washington Rallying the Troops at Monmouth) bring to life the tale’s cast and milieu.

The lighthearted storytelling still underscores the subject’s significance–“Without him we would not have won our Independency,” Jensen writes, rhyming with independency with liberty. However, the balance between historical authenticity, approachable language, and rhyme scheme fidelity can be precarious and sometimes gets lost. The text refers to Lafayette by multiple names (Gilbert, “the marquis”) which can be confusing given the plethora of characters, both British and French, featured in the story. Page layouts and the positioning of the period images often interrupts that most crucial element of rhymed, rhythmic storytelling: the flow.

This narrative is meant to be read aloud—and would be a valuable companion for classrooms and projects—showcasing its enjoyable blend of history and rhythm. Jensen proves scrupulous in keeping the text factual, digging into the political realities behind revolutionaries like George Washington embracing a French aristocrat, and her detailed end notes, offer concise explanations (“The French government feared having a ‘celebrity’ like Lafayette join the fight on the side of the Americans”) that will help alleviate any audience perplexity. Young history lovers and fans will savor this playful rendition of Lafayette’s biography, centered around historical documents and works of art.

Takeaway: Young history buffs will enjoy the rhyming text and historical art in this lively biography of the French hero of the American Revolution.

Great for fans of: Jean Fritz’s Why Not, Lafayette?, Selene Castrovilla’s Revolutionary Friends.

Production grades
Cover: A-
Design and typography: A-
Illustrations: A
Editing: A-
Marketing copy: A

Saturday, January 30, 2021

Sandwiches, Earls, and Chickens

Me at Mappertown House
(Randalls in 1996 Emma)
Chickens are off-screen, unfortunately.

On the same Jane Austen tour of England on which I met Nigel Nicolson (see previous blog post), we also visited Mapperton House, in Dorset, UK.  It has beautiful gardens, and was used as the location for Randalls (where the Westons live) in the 1996 BBC production of Emma.  In reality, it is the home of the Earl and Countess of Sandwich.

Of course, as most of you know, an 18th century Earl of Sandwich, not wanting to take time away from his gambling (card game or whatever) to dine, is reputed to have asked for some meat with bread around it. This  event is supposed to be the origin of the sandwich.

At any rate, we were to have lunch at Mapperton, hostessed by the Countess herself. Unfortunately, she was delayed. We learned eventually that this was due to her train being late coming back from London. The reason for her trip there? When Emma was filmed, a historic portrait of one of the earls, maybe the sandwich guy himself, had been removed from the house, perhaps because it was inappropriate for "Randalls," and stored in a secure "fire-proof" location in London. 

Which had burned down. 

The countess had been thus been visiting the National Portrait Gallery to see if purchasing a replacement for the lost portrait was possible. 

She said a friend of hers had suffered a greater loss. ALL the furnishings had been removed from her house when it was used as a location (for Hartfield? Donwell Abbey?) for the same Emma production.All had also been lost in the fire.

An any rate, while waiting for the countess to arrive, we had ample time to wander about the grounds. In doing so, I noticed some ornate-looking, unusually large chickens.

I proclaimed to our group, "Well! I've seen plenty of chicken sandwiches, but this is the first time I've ever seen a Sandwich chicken."

Stumbling into a Rather Appropriate Nickname

Obviously, my first name is "Dorothea." However, when I was born my brother Paul, only 15 months older than I, had a bit of trouble saying my four syllable name. He called me "Dee Dee." So that is what everyone called me. 

When I was 13, however, I went to a summer camp where the other girls in my cabin thought that "Dee Dee" looked too juvenile for a teenager. Because of this, I decided to change the spelling to "Deedy." I don't really remember why, except I thought to emulate "Kathy," or "Patty," or "Judy," etc.

It wasn't until I was MUCH older that I realized that the word "Deedy" has an actual meaning. Or it used to. In England.

It all started when I read Jane Austen's novel Emma for the umpteenth time.

Chapter 10 opens thusly:

The appearance of the little sitting-room as they entered, was tranquillity itself; Mrs. Bates, deprived of her usual employment, slumbering on one side of the fire, Frank Churchill, at a table near her, most deedily occupied about her spectacles, and Jane Fairfax, standing with her back to them, intent on her pianoforte.

Of course, first I chuckled, because it was obvious to those privy to their secret relatioship that Frank and Jane, for once unchaperoned because of her grandmother's nap, had been doing Something Else but quickly took a more innocent pose.

Then I thought, "Whoa. Deedily??" 

That sent me straight to the dictionary, and here's what I found (these are, of course, modern internet versions of what I found in the late 20th century).

Definition of deedily:

dialectal, chiefly England

Hmmm. From there I sped to the adjective form. . .

So. At least in archaic British English, Deedy actually has a meaning (possibly based on "full of deeds").

 So take your pick: industrious, active, earnest, serious, hard-working, busy, eager, tireless, industrious, or effective. 

Whew. Makes me tired just thinking about it.

But I must admit, at least some of these words do actually apply to me. (Not sure about "serious," "effective," and one or two others.)

However, it was after I learned about my nickname's meaning that a really cool thing happened.

I met Nigel Nicolson. son of Virginia Woolf's lover, the British writer/gardener Vita Sackville-West. He was the president of the Kent branch of the Jane Austen Society at the time, and a distinguished author, publisher, and Jane Austen scholar.

I was on a tour with the Jane Austen Society of North America (JASNA) when I met Mr. Nicolson at Godmersham. (This was the Kent estate that Jane Austen's brother, Edward, inherited from his adoptive parents).

I had a nametag on identifying me as a JASNA member, and "DEEDY" was written on it in large letters. Mr. Nicolson looked at it, then looked at me. 

"I like your name," he said.

Right then I decided that I like it, too.


Dorothea (AKA Deedy) Jensen 

          Nigel Nicolson at the "Garden Front" of Godmersham

Wednesday, January 27, 2021

The Power of Idealizing and Idolizing Pix

I chose the idealized picture of Washington (below) to include in my rhyming history, Liberty-Loving Lafayette.  The reason I used this instead of the usual staid images painted by Gilbert Stuart et al is simple. I think it shows how the very young Lafayette might have imagined his hero when he was pondering coming to fight on the American side. He might not have pictured an angel crowning Washington with a laurel wreath, but Lafayette certainly did idolize the man. 

I came across  similarly "idealizing and idolizing" picture recently that I believe shows exactly why millions of Americans turned out to see Lsfayette when he toured America in 1824-5. This engraved image, created by Achille Moreau, in 1825, based on a painting by Jean Auguste Dubouloz. 

I find it interesting that these two Frenchman exactly nailed what Lafayette's tour meant to Americans. He was the last general officer from the Revolution still living, and he had been a close friend of Washington (who had died 25 years earlier), and many other Founding Fathers. Thus, he was a living link with a defining moment of our nation's history.

At the bottom of the image are these words (in French and in English)

"The spirits of the defenders of the American liberty are visiting him during his passage. The genii protectors of America drive away the storms."

Here is one explanation of what this picture portrays:

"Lafayette’s triumphal tour of the United States in 1824-1825 focused the attention of Americans on the heroes of the Revolutionary War and  confirmed Lafayette’s own place among them. In this allegorical imageof Lafayette’s return voyage to France in 1825 on board the frigate Brandywine, the old general remembers the heroes who achieved American independence." 

At the front of the crowd of Revolutionary heroes, George Washington and Benjamin Franklin are clearly identifiable. I don't know who the others pictured are. If anyone has a guess or more solid information about their identities please let me know at 

Notice the native American kneeling on the right. I assume this is meant to depict the Oneida and other tribes who helped the Americans. Lafayette, after all, personally convinced the Oneida to join our army at Valley Forge, and they played a key role at Barren Hill, etc. (I can't figure out why he alone is kneeling.)

Title: Marquis De Lafayette
National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution
Date: 1825