26 Responses

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  1. kaywinters
    kaywinters January 19, 2010 at 9:41 am |

    Clara is such a wonderful writer. And historical fiction so appropriate to use in the middle grades. Students are drawn in by story and learn more, and more quickly about history, the atmosphere of history, the meaning of history than from any textbook. When I was a kid I hated history. It seemed like just a boring collection of dates of events that had nothing to do with me. I love reading and writing historical picture books. When history is told through story… connections are made, the past comes to life and Clara is an expert at doing that!
    Kay Winters

  2. Christina Gammon
    Christina Gammon January 19, 2010 at 9:53 am |

    The artwork on the cover is what draws me to the book. It reminds me of the books I read when I was a kid. Refreshing to see something not so flashy. I’m sure the images inside are fantastic!
    Thank you for your review!
    Christina Gammon

  3. Cathy Graham
    Cathy Graham January 19, 2010 at 10:10 am |

    Looks like a wonderful book. I just love reading historical fiction and think kids today are so fortunate to have access to such good books that teach about history at the same time in such an entertaining way.

  4. Jodi Webb
    Jodi Webb January 19, 2010 at 10:19 am |

    My daughters have aged out of this fiction but my niece is crazy for historical fiction. I’d love to get a Hattie book for her. I wonder if Clara is from the Delaware River Valley or just did a lot of research on the area?

  5. Tracey
    Tracey January 19, 2010 at 10:27 am |

    Looks like a great book. I think my 10 year old would like it. Would it be too rough for my 8 year old?

  6. Clara Gillow Clark
    Clara Gillow Clark January 19, 2010 at 10:28 am |

    Thanks for writing in with a question, Jodi. I am from the upper Delaware River Valley. I call it the country of my heart. My grandmother’s grandmother was a Delaware Indian. She’s buried in the middle of a farmer’s field, not all that far from the River. My father’s family settled here in the early 1800′s.

  7. Clara Gillow Clark
    Clara Gillow Clark January 19, 2010 at 10:35 am |

    Thanks for leaving a comment, Tracey! Hill Hawk Hattie and the sequels–Hattie on Her Way and Secrets of Greymoor are perfect for a ten year old. The books have been used successfully in 3rd grade classrooms, but you might want to read the series first and then decide.

  8. Gina
    Gina January 19, 2010 at 11:32 am |

    I’ve been looking for a new series for my (way) above grade level 8 year old daughter who is a voracious reader. She really enjoys historical fiction, and these seem like a perfect fit! :D

  9. Cath
    Cath January 19, 2010 at 11:42 am |

    Hi Clara,

    I love historical fiction, but I’ve shied away from writing in that field because of the research! What kinds of sources did you use, and how difficult was it to find and get good, in-depth sources for a series like this?

  10. Clara Gillow Clark
    Clara Gillow Clark January 19, 2010 at 12:22 pm |

    Thanks for the great questions, Cath! My best resources were Historical Societies/Museums, which preserve and archive so many valuable materials for researchers–street maps, occupations, businesses, social histories, journals. . .

    Another great source is old newspapers. New York State has put all their old newspapers on microfilm. My local librarian wrote to the State archives in Albany, NY and was able to get the microfilm for the exact dates that Secrets of Greymoor takes place. I incorporated factual details gained from reading the “news” into the pages of the book–about the “flower” costume party, the valentines, and the bigger things like tax notices and how they were handled. (My husband is an attorney and he helped me find old laws on foreclosure from the 1800′s.) I loved reading about the complaints of horse and sleighs speeding on busy streets, about windows decorated for valentines. . .

    Of course, I also used the internet to find details of Victorian life, whatever I couldn’t find from my primary sources.

  11. Patrice Campbell
    Patrice Campbell January 19, 2010 at 1:04 pm |

    This looks like a great book for my grandchildren. It’s so hard to find interesting content that is age appropriate as they read far above their grade level. The civil war era is of particular interest to the oldest.
    Can’t wait to introduce this series to them.

  12. Marcella Dill
    Marcella Dill January 19, 2010 at 1:13 pm |

    This book sounds very interesting. When an author can come up with a good theme and historical data for students to learn, it is a worthwhile undertaking to read and purchase. We need more books of this nature to stimulate (especially middle school children) to want to learn more! History doesn’t have to be boring, and this should be a great tool for their use. Congratulation, keep up the good work and keep on writing.

  13. Cinda
    Cinda January 19, 2010 at 1:36 pm |

    This book sounds like something I would enjoy. Love the cover!

  14. Madeline
    Madeline January 19, 2010 at 2:13 pm |

    I loved reading historical fiction when I was a girl, and this sounds exactly like the kind of book I would’ve enjoyed. I’ll have to pass this title/series on to my friend, who has two girls right in this age range. :)

  15. Robyn
    Robyn January 19, 2010 at 4:03 pm |

    I love historically based children’s books that do not shy away from the difficulties of the time period because they help children gain perspective on their own lives. It sounds like this one touches on a few important facts: 1) that little girls were not considered as useful as sons, 2) that doing “chores” was a fact of life (and a lot more strenuous than walking the dog or bringing out the trash) and 3) feeling unappreciated (having to deal with a father who talks abusively). All good themes to explore for young people.

  16. Tami
    Tami January 19, 2010 at 4:39 pm |

    This series sounds perfect for my granddaughter. It sounds realistic and exciting.

  17. Shelby
    Shelby January 19, 2010 at 7:12 pm |

    Looks like an interesting book! Probably perfect for Alex if I could ever get him to read anything I suggest! I like Robyn’s comments on the book too…I never really thought about kids learning valuable lessons like that from historical fiction!

  18. Clara Gillow Clark
    Clara Gillow Clark January 20, 2010 at 5:45 am |

    I like the way you think, Robyn. Thank you for that wonderful comment and insightful points for readers to consider!

  19. Janet
    Janet January 20, 2010 at 8:12 am |

    I love reading and writing historical fiction. I did like history as a child and books like these give children not interested in history a chance to become interested by reading good stories that incorporate info from a certain time period into an interesting and fun book. Please enter me into your giveaway.

  20. Donna Volkenannt
    Donna Volkenannt January 20, 2010 at 8:20 am |

    Hi Clara,

    Historical fiction fascinates me. Your characters sound so interesting and vivid; I love your characters’ names (we have a black lab named Harley). I also love books that not only have a good story and teach something, but also convey a positive message without being preachy. Your book sounds like it does all that and would be a great book for my 11-year-old grandson to read.

    Thanks for introducing us to another interesting book and author, Margo.

    Donna Volkenannt

  21. Nancy Olson
    Nancy Olson January 20, 2010 at 3:35 pm |

    Glad to see that it has been used in a classroom. Your description of the reading skills included make it sound ideal. Many 5th graders study American History so it’s always great to find a book with an appropriate reading level. Do you also have a teaching guide for your books with extra ideas?

  22. Clara Gillow Clark
    Clara Gillow Clark January 21, 2010 at 5:30 am |

    Hi Nancy,

    Thank you for asking about teaching materials. I have teaching guides for Hill Hawk Hattie and Hattie on Her Way, and coming soon for Secrets of Greymoor. I also have a Readers Theater script available for Hill Hawk Hattie, and one in the works for Secrets of Greymoor. All of my materials are free. Simply e-mail me: claragillowclark at gmail dot com. I will send them by e-mail, or, if you prefer, send me your address and I’ll be happy to mail copies.

  23. Karen McGrath
    Karen McGrath January 21, 2010 at 5:41 pm |

    Hi Clara, I haven’t read your books yet but I sure want to after reading this website! I have some questions for you as a writer. Do you find yourself writing a lot of history into the books so that you have to pare it back or are you light on the historical facts and need to fill more in later? Also, how do you research dialect from the time period?

    Historical fiction fascinates me and I have condsidered writing some myself. Any advice is greatly appreciated. Thanks so much, Karen :)

  24. Clara Gillow Clark
    Clara Gillow Clark January 21, 2010 at 6:53 pm |

    Hi Karen,

    What great questions! Let me address the question about dialect first. I don’t write in dialect, but rather try to capture the language of time and place by the words the characters use. E.g. Hattie’s Pa has very little education and so he doesn’t use proper grammar. They live in the hills in the 1800′s, so it’s natural that the words they use reflect where they are. In one instance. Hattie’s Pa tells her that [town folks] in the pretty little valleys stuck together like pitch to a pine tree. Hattie’s maternal grandmother, however, comes from high society and her manner of speaking reflects that. One more thing: My grandparents were born in the 1800′s, and so I knew first hand how people from that time period spoke. Even though he’d been dead a long time when I wrote Hill Hawk Hattie, I could (can) still hear my grandfather’s voice and the way he expressed himself.

    I do a lot of research, and as I research, I begin to visualize, paint pictures in my mind of settings, dress, manners, etc. When I write, the places are as real to me as where I live. Yes, sometimes I can’t use some of the wonderful, rich details I read about, but in my mind they are still a part of the world I have created even if there isn’t a place for them in the book. I know it’s time to write when I can taste, touch, smell, feel, and see the world my character lives in. Feel free to write me at claragillowclark at gmail dot com if you have additional questions about the writing process. Thanks!

  25. Un-Forgettable Friday: Contest winners and Felicity Floo Visits the Zoo | Margo Dill's Read These Books and Use Them!

    [...] such thoughtful comments. If you didn’t win, you can purchase the Hattie books right from Tuesday and Wednesday’s posts! They are a great way to teach children about this time in United [...]

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