BeachBoundbooks is pleased to be coordinating a Blog Tour for the middle grade/young adult novel A Buss From Lafayette by Dorothea Jensen from April 11 – May 2, 2016.
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About the Book
Title: A Buss From Lafayette
Author: Dorothea Jensen
Genre: Middle Grade/Young Adult Historical Fiction
Recommended Ages: 10-17
Number of Pages: 266
Publisher: BQB Publishing
Publication Date: April 22, 2016
Synopsis: Fourteen-year-old Clara Hargraves lives on a farm in Hopkinton, a small New Hampshire town, during the early 19th century. She has a couple of big problems. First of all, she has a stepmother, Priscilla, who used to be her spinster schoolteacher aunt. Clara resents that her late mother’s older sister has not only married her father but is about to have a baby. To make matters worse, “Prissy Priscilla” keeps trying to make the rambunctious, clever, and witty Clara act like a proper young lady. Secondly, Clara has red hair, making her a target for teasing by a handsome older boy, Dickon Weeks, and by her pretty seventeen-year-old Dread Cousin Hetty. Clara, however, has a secret plan she hopes will change this. During the last week of June, 1825, Clara’s town is abuzz because the famous General Lafayette is about to visit their state during his farewell tour of America. In those eventful seven days, Clara learns a lot about her family, Hetty, Dickon, herself, and about Lafayette. She comes to understand the huge and vital role the young French aristocrat played in America’s Revolutionary War and to see that her problems might not be quite so terrible after all.
—It is June, 1825. On a farm in Hopkinton, New Hampshire, Clara Hargraves, 14, is telling this story. In this excerpt, she is at the supper table with her father, her stepmother (Priscilla, whom Clara thinks of as “Prissy”), and her brother, Joss.
“I do not need to take a bath every single Saturday night when I can jump in the pond to wash off anytime I like, at least in the summertime.”
Prissy glanced at Father again. “Yes, I have been meaning to speak to you about that, Clara. Now that you are a young lady, you must not swim in the pond any longer. It is not seemly.”
I looked at my stepmother in disbelief. “It is seemly enough, ma’am. I wear my chemise, and Joss’s old breeches, if anyone is around, so I am well-covered.”
“That’s another thing. Now that you are fourteen, you are too old to wear Joss’s clothes anymore,” she said.
“Not even to ride astride?”
“Especially not to ride astride. You are not to do so any more.”
“Wear the breeches or ride astride?”
“But . . .”
Father spoke up. “No ‘buts,’ my girl, you heard your mama. She knows how young ladies must behave. If she says you must ride sidesaddle from now on, that is what you must do.”
“Sidesaddle? But that is so silly!” I protested. “I cannot hold on properly with only one knee around the horse. It is like riding half a horse!”
Father leaned over and patted my hand.
“Nevertheless, daughter, you must use Priscilla’s sidesaddle whenever you ride Feather.” He turned to his wife. “Although that will not be for much longer, I am afraid. I have found a buyer for Feather in Warner. I am taking her up there on Monday. We can certainly use the extra money, with the new baby coming and all.”
“But, Father, there is no other horse I can ride! Fury is getting to be too old for anything but pulling the whisky. And Flame is barely trained to the bridle, let alone any kind of saddle. She’s not even two years old yet!”
“She will be two in a couple of weeks, daughter. Perhaps by the time she is trained, you will have learned to ride properly on your mother’s sidesaddle.”
Something about the way Father said this made my temper flare.
“If you insist, Father. But . . . but she is not my mother, she is only my aunt! My real mother’s old maid sister!” I jumped from my chair and ran from the room, leaving shocked silence behind me
In this coming age novel, Clara Hargraves must come to terms with a step mother she feels is trying to take her dead mother’s place, her flaming red hair that draws attention and teasing, and just being a 14 year old girl.
The book takes place in 1825 and as the title suggests, central to the story is the tour of The States by revolutionary War Hero, General Lafayette. While Clara navigates the inevitable and timeless pitfalls of being a 14 year old, the world around her is a buzz with Lafayette’s tour stops. It seems that where ever she goes the adults are discussing him and his contribution to the Revolutionary War. Against that canvas Clara gets to learn a few things about life not always being what it seems. Maybe her Evil Stepmother/Aunt isn’t the villain Clara would like to believe. Maybe her hateful “perfect’ cousin isn’t so perfect after all. And that boy who has been teasing her mercilessly for years, well just maybe he isn’t so bad either. An unexpected meeting will change her perspective on herself and her family.
Middle grade girls will immediately identify and relate with Clara. Despite the historical time gap, Clara’s life isn’t so different from theirs; Chores, boys, growing womanhood and greater responsibilities. Meanwhile, without even realizing it they will pick up an excellent education on the primary figures of the American Revolution, as well what life was like for kids their age in the early 1800’s. For that reason, I believe in a classroom setting this book would also appeal to middle grade boys.
I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review
About the Author: Dorothea Jensen
Dorothea Jensen, born in Boston, Massachusetts, grew up in Chillicothe, Illinois. She majored in English literature at Carleton College. After teaching high-school English and serving as a Peace Corps volunteer in Brazil, she earned a master s degree in education at the University of New Mexico. In 1989, Harcourt Brace Jovanovich published Dorothea s novel for young readers about the American Revolution, The Riddle of Penncroft Farm. In addition to other honors, it was named an International Reading Association Teacher s Choices Selection and is read in classrooms throughout the U.S. A Buss from Lafayette is set in the small New Hampshire town where Dorothea lives. Two things inspired her to write this story. First, was learning that Lafayette passed right by her house during his 1824-5 Triumphal Tour. Another was meeting a woman whose ancestor received a kiss from Lafayette. That buss, passed down through generations, eventually came to Dorothea. This sparked her interest in Lafayette s contributions to our struggle for independence. Dorothea also enjoys writing rhyming verse. She has written a series of award-winning illustrated modern Christmas stories in verse featuring Santa’s Izzy Elves.
For more information about Dorothea and her books, please visit http://www.dorotheajensen.com/.
In The Author’s Own Words:
Tell us about yourself. I just turned 70, but am still going strong. For a number of years, I was an singer/actress in amateur and professional companies. (As a mezzo, I usually lost the hero to the soprano.) I have been having fun putting all my old skills to work with video blogs, audio recordings of songs from the stories, audiobook recordings etc.
I earned a BA in English at Carleton College and an MA in Education at the University of New Mexico. I have one husband, three kids and six grandsons (whom I put in my Izzy Elf stories). I have lived all over the U.S., as well as in Holland and Brazil.
People often ask me how a “woman of a certain age” has learned to create/maintain book trailers, YouTube channels, websites, blogs, Pinterest, Bublish, Google+, Twitter accounts, etc. I tell them I do it the same way I learned my way around the many places I have lived: I get hopelessly lost and stumble around until I figure out where I am.
What inspired your book, A Buss from Lafayette? I met an elderly woman whose great-grandmother was one of the little girls who presented Lafayette with a posy when he was touring the U.S. in 1824-25, for which he apparently “bussed” her (a playful smacking kiss). That buss was passed down in my new friend’s family, and she passed it along to me. I then learned that General Lafayette came right by my house in June, 1825, on that same tour. This all piqued my interest about Lafayette and the immense part he played in the American Revolution. After years of research, I wrote a story about a troubled teenager who lives in my little town in New Hampshire at the time of Lafayette’s “Farewell Tour”.
Tell us about your main character. Clara Hargraves, 14, lives on a farm in Hopkinton, New Hampshire, during the early 19th century. She has a couple of big problems. First of all, she has a stepmother, “Prissy” Priscilla, formerly her spinster schoolteacher aunt, who keeps trying to make her act like a proper young lady. Secondly, she has red hair that makes her a target for teasing. Clara, however, has a secret plan she hopes will change this.
In June,1825, Clara’s town is abuzz because General Lafayette, hero of the American War of Independence, is about to visit their state. In one eventful week, Clara learns a lot about her family, herself, and, most of all, about Lafayette and his huge and vital role in America’s Revolutionary War. She also just might find that her problems are not quite so terrible after all.
What other books have you written? The Riddle of Penncroft Farm; Tizzy, the Christmas Shelf Elf; Blizzy, the Worrywart Elf; Dizzy, the Stowaway Elf; and Frizzy, the S.A.D. Elf. All have won awards, I’m happy to say!
Blog Tour Giveaway
Prize: One winner will receive a $25 Amazon gift card or $25 PayPal cash prize, winner’s choice Giveaway ends: May 2, 11:59 pm, 2016 Open to: Internationally How to enter: Please enter using the Rafflecopter widget below.Terms and Conditions: NO PURCHASE NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW. A winner will be randomly drawn through the Rafflecopter widget and will be contacted by email within 48 hours after the giveaway ends. The winner will then have 72 hours to respond. If the winner does not respond within 72 hours, a new draw will take place for a new winner. Odds of winning will vary depending on the number of eligible entries received. This contest is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with Facebook. This giveaway is sponsored by the author, Dorothea Jensen and is hosted and managed by Stacie from BeachBoundBooks. If you have any additional questions – feel free to send and email to stacie@BeachBoundBooks.com.