Karen S. Hesse (born August 29, 1952) is an American author of children’s literature and literature for young adults, often with historical settings.
Out of the Dust is a story of a girl living through the dust bowl of the Depression. The mother of the central character dies giving birth to of her stillborn brother Franklin. After the mother dies, Billie Jo and her father try and continue on with their lives.
Hesse tackled a more disturbing subject in the 2001 verse novel Witness. The Ku Klux Klan, re-invigorated in the 1920s (in this book, 1924 and ’25) tries to take over a small Vermont town. The book is written from the perspectives of several people – Merlin Van Tornhout and Johnny Reeves, both members of the Klan; Sara Chickering, a farmer; Esther Hirsh, a six-year-old Jewish girl; Leonora Sutter, an African American girl; Iris Weaver, a restaurateur; Harvey and Viola Pettibone, shop owners; Reynard Alexander, a newspaper editor; Fitzgerald Flitt, the doctor; and Percelle Johnson, the town constable. In Witness Hesse continued the distinctive poetic/prose style she pioneered in Out of the Dust.
Hesse also wrote The Music of Dolphins, about a girl who was raised by dolphins.
Stowaway is based on the true story of an 11-year-old boy who stowed away on Captain James Cook’s ship Endeavour in 1768.
Brooklyn Bridge is based on the true story of the family who created the teddy bear in Brooklyn in 1903.
Did You Know?..
Her first novel was a rejected story about meeting Bigfoot.
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