Monday, January 15, 2018

She probably COULD cause a toothache!

Goody Two Shoes

I liked everything about school, right down to the sound of the pencils scritching on our slate tablets. Most of all, however, I loved hearing the teacher read stories and fairy tales to us aloud. Even the m – ore youthful fare read aloud in the classroom seemed to transport me right out of Hopkinton and into more exciting times and places. Not all the stories the teachers read had been so enjoyable, however. One in particular, a sickening story named Goody Two Shoes, had a heroine so sweet and, yes, so extraordinarily good that she could give real girls the toothache faster than the hard peppermint candy in Mr. Towne’s glass jars. 

Goody Two Shoes was probably just the sort of person my stepmother wished me to be: the kind of person my cousin Hetty pretended to be when adults were around. “Hetty is actually more ‘Goody Two-Faced,’” I murmured to no one in particular, turning my mind to the puzzle of why Hetty was so mean to me now.
-A Buss from Lafayette © 2016 by Dorothea Jensen

Yup, old Goody was sweet, all right. If you want to read the original story (it’s very short), follow this link for two different versions. (I’m sure that Clara’s teacher read the one published in 1820, btw.)

Goody Two Shoes

Goody Two Shoes was originally published in 1765. The author was anonymous, but was rumored to be Oliver Goldsmith. The title came to be used to signify someone who was a “goody goody” – the type of child who not only ALWAYS behaved the right way, but also tattled on those others who did not.
Goody Two Shoes was  re-published many times over the years. Usually the illustrations were re-done to reflect current clothing fashions. Here’s what Margery Meanwell (AKA Goody Two Shoes) looked like at various times:




Tuesday, January 9, 2018

I'm not ignoring my elves, either!

So just before we took down our Christmas tree, I took the opportunity to make short videos of myself reading the opening of all four of my Izzy elf stories.

Here's the first one: Tizzy, the Christmas Shelf Elf.

I actually wrote this MANY years ago (1991 to be exact) and entitled it Elf on the Shelf. You may imagine my dismay when I decided to publish it more than twenty years later and discovered someone had nicked that title!

You may also imagine my dismay when someone bought this book thinking it was Elf on the Shelf and then wrote a scathing review claiming it was a “knock off” " of that story, and that he found the story "impossible to read."

Hmmm. How did I knock off something produced YEARS after I wrote this?

Can't please everyone.

Anyway, enjoy listening to the beginning of this "knocked off", "unreadable" story in verse!

(BTW, this is available as a paperback, e-book, and audiobook right here.)


In the Works: An Audiobook of A Buss From Lafayette

Sometimes a little kiss can change everything - especially a little kiss from a world-famous hero of the America Revolution!

The other day I started recording the audio version of my historical novel for young readers, A Buss From Lafayette! I decided to document this beginning  by simultaneously making a video version of what I was doing. It was so much fun that I think I might have the video camera running while I record the rest of it. I could then post the occasional video as I go along.

The only downside??? This means I:

1) can't wear my PJs during recording sessions,

2) I have to comb my hair early in the day

3) I have to put on make up every day (not something I enjoy doing but it is nice to have my features actually show up onscreen)

Hmmm. Can I manage to do this every morning??

We'll see.



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!