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.
I named this character after my own 8th grade teacher, Mrs. Maybelle Hettrick. We were the last class she taught before she retired. She told us stories of her childhood when her family homesteaded in Oklahoma, much like Laura Ingalls Wilder. Mrs. Hettrick lived to be over 100 years old, so she was still alive when I was working on this book many, many years after I was in her class. I sent the manuscript of The Riddle of Penncroft Farm to her when she was in her 90s. She loved it, and said that she especially liked "learning all the new words." I was very impressed that she still had a keen interest in learning new things. (It's probably one reason she lived so long.)
The Riddle of Penncroft Farm
A woman dressed like Raggedy Ann came up to me. “You must be our new student,” she said with a warm smile, trying to smooth orange yarn hair out of her eyes. “I’m Mrs. Hettrick. Welcome to the class. Oh, and Happy Halloween!” She glanced at my jeans and sweatshirt with dismay. “But you don’t have a costume on! What a shame you didn’t know we were having a party. Well, it doesn’t matter. Come meet the other students.”