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Writers Inspiring Change feature author: Dorothea Jensen

Updated: Jan 30, 2023

IWIC: Tell us about you! Dorothea: My name is Dorothea Jensen. I was born in Boston, Massachusetts, and grew up in Chillicothe, Illinois. I majored in English literature at Carleton College and earned an MA in education at the University of New Mexico. I have been an ESL tutor for refugees, taught junior high and high school English, served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Brazil, and written grant proposals for arts organizations.

IWIC: Tell us about your writing. Dorothea: In 1989, Harcourt Brace Jovanovich published my 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 has been read in classrooms throughout the U.S. since its release. A Buss from Lafayette is set in the small New Hampshire town where I live. Two things inspired me to write this story. First, I met a woman whose ancestor received a kiss (a buss) from Lafayette on his Farewell Tour of 1824-5. That buss, passed down through generations and was passed along to myself. Second, I learned that Lafayette passed right by our house in 1825. This sparked my interest in Lafayette’s contributions to our struggle for independence. The result, A Buss from Lafayette, has won numerous awards, detailed below. I also enjoy writing rhyming verse. I have written a series of award-winning illustrated modern Christmas stories in verse featuring the very high tech Santa’s Izzy Elves.

IWIC: What message is purveyed in your books? Dorothea: I am trying to hook kids on history (among other things) by showing them how complicated and fascinating the past can be.

IWIC: Tell us more about your book, A Buss from Lafayette. Dorothea: In June, 1825, everyone around the 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.

Awards: Gold Medalist (Middle School/Historical Fiction), 2017 Literary Classics Award; 1st Place Winner (Historical Fiction), 2017 Purple Dragonfly Book Awards; Bronze Medalist (Juvenile/Young Adult Fiction), 2017 eLit Awards ; Quarter Finalist, 2016 Booklife Prize (Middle Grade); Finalist, Book Excellence Award (Young Adult); Seal of Approval Recipient, 2017 Literary Classics Awards. Also named on the Grateful American Kids website as one of the best history book for kids to read!

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