The Ballad of Jesse Pearl by Shannon Hitchcock

The Ballad of Jesse Pearl cover image

When her sister Carrie, who is dying of TB, asks Jesse to describe her heaven, and Jessie says it smells like freshly baked biscuits, only you don’t have to bake them, this rural story had me hooked. The author creates scenes intimate enough for the reader to hear the baby clank his spoon on the tray of his high chair. She makes me love this family by zooming me in close and deftly employing historical period detail throughout.

Life and death questions in the book are balanced by coming-of-age ones, like whether to stay on familiar ground with her sweetheart or whether to go out into the unknown to follow her dream. The challenges faced by Jesse feel as relevant today as in the 1922 North Carolina setting. When Sophie asks Jesse what she needs to be happy, Jesse’s first reply is one today’s girls might well make: I’m not sure. Nobody ever asked me before.

What brings Jesse through more than her share of hardship for any fourteen-year-old is her passionate spirit. Here is a heroine whose conflicting feelings tear her apart, one whose gumption puts her back together and on her path.

text © Susa Silvermarie2013

The Boy on the Porch by Sharon Creech

This middle grade fiction from master storyteller Sharon Creech is full of mystery, generosity, and the marvels that may happen when judgment is suspended and life is received as given. It is the simple tone of the tale, and the deep rich layers resonating beneath that simplicity, as well as the circular shape of the story, that make it unforgettable.

A rural childless couple, John and Marta, accept the boy who appears on their porch, the boy who cannot tell them where he came from, but can show them his exultant spirit through painting and music. Later when the boy’s father comes for him, John and Marta’s grief is replaced by further generosity in the form of fostering other children. At the end of the parable-like story comes a satisfying surprise.


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Ghost Hawk by Susan Cooper

Leave it to Susan Cooper’s brilliance to come up with a ghost point of view to convey the tangled complexity between the settlers and the first Americans. Here is a tumultuous epic that changes the way I think about the history of the land where I live. As I read this historical fiction for 10-14 year olds, I also kept thinking how chillingly similar is our own time, to the early 1600’s when Massachusetts Bay Colony Pilgrims misused their strong convictions, to cast out and persecute Quakers and Baptists and others who wanted real religious freedom including separation of church and state. As the ghost of Little Hawk says to his lifelong English friend John Wakely, “Treasure your uncertainty. Wrong choices come out of strong convictions that will not bend.”images-1


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“Tales from My Teachers” live on Amazon

Thrilled to show off the cover of my e-book, now listed on Amazon and available as a KDP Select title for $2.99.

Here’s what they are saying about Tales from My Teachers on the Alzheimer’s Unit:Riveting. Deeply affecting. Evocative. Profound. Groundbreaking. Transfixing. Stunning. (They are friends of mine, but hey!) Check out the collection for yourself. Your reviews on Amazon deeply appreciated.

Tales from My Teachers on the Alzheimer’s Unit


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