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.”
 

“Huh?”

“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:

Amazon

Bookdepository.com

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

Cheers,

Dorothea

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!

Cheers,

Dorothea

 

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. making 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.

Duh.