Karen Hesse

Karen Hesse

Karen Hesse is the award-winning author of several outstanding books for young readers, including Letters from Rifka and Phoenix Rising.  Karen was born in Baltimore, Maryland and has lived in Vermont since 1976 (Williamsville).

Karen is an author of children's literature and literature for young adults, often with historical settings. Her novel Out of the Dust was the winner of the 1998 Newbery Medal and the Scott O'Dell Award for Historical Fiction.  She has achieved many honors for her more than twenty books over the course of her award-winning career: the Newbery Medal, the Scott O’Dell Historical Fiction Award, the MacArthur Fellowship “Genius” Award, and the Christopher Medal. Her novels burn with intensity, and keenly felt, deeply researched, and are memorable for their imagination and intelligence.

Karen Hesse has visited Village Square Booksellers for an author event and also as a customer. 







Brooklyn Bridge Cover Image
By Karen Hesse, Chris Sheban (Illustrator)
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ISBN: 9780312378868
Availability: DO NOT ORDER - we do not carry or order used books
Published: Feiwel & Friends - September 2nd, 2008

It’s the summer of 1903 in Brooklyn and all fourteen-year-old Joseph Michtom wants is to experience the thrill, the grandeur, and the electricity of the new amusement park at Coney Island. But that doesn’t seem likely. Ever since his parents—Russian immigrants—invented the stuffed Teddy Bear five months ago, Joseph’s life has turned upside down. No longer do the Michtom’s gather family and friends around the kitchen table to talk. No longer is Joseph at leisure to play stickball with the guys. Now, Joseph works. And complains. And falls in love. And argues with Mama and Papa. And falls out of love. And hopes. Joseph hopes he’ll see Coney Island soon. He hopes that everything will turn right-side up again. He hopes his luck hasn’t run out—because you never know. Through all the warmth, the sadness, the frustration, and the laughter of one big, colorful family, Newbery Medalist Karen Hesse builds a stunning story of the lucky, the unlucky, and those in between, and reminds us that our lives—all our lives—are fragile, precious, and connected.

Letters from Rifka Cover Image
ISBN: 9780312535612
Availability: Available from our warehouse - 3-10 Days
Published: Square Fish - January 6th, 2009

“America,” the girl repeated. “What will you do there?” I was silent for a little time. “I will do everything there,” I answered. Rifka knows nothing about America when she flees from Russia with her family in 1919. But she dreams she will at last be safe from the Russian soldiers and their harsh treatment of the Jews in the new country. Throughout her journey, Rifka carries with her a cherished volume of poetry by Alexander Pushkin. In it, she records her observations and experiences in the form of letters to her beloved cousin she has left behind. Strong-hearted and determined, Rifka must endure a great deal: humiliating examinations by doctors and soldiers, deadly typhus, separation from all she has ever known and loved, murderous storms at sea—and as if this is not enough, the loss of her glorious golden hair. And even if she does make it to America, she’s not sure America will have her.

Wish on a Unicorn Cover Image
ISBN: 9780312376116
Availability: Available from our warehouse - 3-10 Days
Published: Square Fish - March 17th, 2009

Now I didn’t believe a broken-down old unicorn could make wishes come true . . . not for a minute. But what if it could? Mags has a lot to wish for—a nice house with a mama who isn’t tired out from work; a normal little sister; a brother who doesn’t mooch for food; and, once in a while, she’d like some new clothes for school. When her sister Hannie finds a stuffed unicorn, Mags’s wishes start to come true. She knows the unicorn can’t really be magic, but she won’t let anything ruin her newfound luck—even if it means telling her own sister to believe something that can’t possibly be true.

Sable Cover Image
By Karen Hesse, Marcia Sewall (Illustrator)
ISBN: 9780805057720
Availability: DO NOT ORDER - is probably Out of Print
Published: Redfeather Book from Henry Holt - April 1st, 1998

Tate is overjoyed when a scrawny mutt turns up in the yard one day. She even persuades Mam and Pap to let her keep Sable, named for her dark, silky fur. But before long, the incorrigible dog begins to cause trouble with the neighbors. Will Sable have to go?

Lavender Cover Image
By Karen Hesse, Andrew Glass (Illustrator)
ISBN: 9780805042573
Availability: DO NOT ORDER - is probably Out of Print
Published: Redfeather Book from Henry Holt - September 14th, 2010

Codie is secretly sewing a blanket for her favorite aunt Alix's new baby. Will the blanket be "fully done" by the time the baby is "fully done"?

The Cats In Krasinkski Square Cover Image
By Karen Hesse, Wendy Watson (Illustrator)
ISBN: 9780439435406
Availability: Available from our warehouse - 3-10 Days
Published: Scholastic Press - August 1st, 2004

When Karen Hesse came upon a short article about cats out-foxing the Gestapo at the train station in Warsaw during WWII, she couldn't get the story out of her mind. The result is this stirring account of a Jewish girl's involvement in the Resistance. At once terrifying and soulful, this fictional account, borne of meticulous research, is a testament to history and to our passionate will to survive, as only Newbery Medalist Karen Hesse can write it. Full color Grades 2-5

Aleutian Sparrow Cover Image
By Karen Hesse, Evon Zerbetz (Illustrator)
ISBN: 9781416903277
Availability: Available from our warehouse - 3-10 Days
Published: Margaret K. McElderry Books - June 1st, 2005

In June 1942, seven months after attacking Pearl Harbor, the Japanese navy invaded Alaska's Aleutian Islands. For nine thousand years the Aleut people had lived and thrived on these treeless, windswept lands. Within days of the first attack, the entire native population living west of Unimak Island was gathered up and evacuated to relocation centers in the dense forests of Alaska's Southeast. With resilience, compassion, and humor, the Aleuts responded to the sorrows of upheaval and dislocation. This is the story of Vera, a young Aleut caught up in the turmoil of war. It chronicles her struggles to survive and to keep community and heritage intact despite harsh conditions in an alien environment.

Witness Cover Image
ISBN: 9780439272001
Availability: DO NOT ORDER - is probably Out of Print
Published: Scholastic Paperbacks - March 1st, 2003

Leanora Sutter. Esther Hirsh. Merlin Van Tornhout. Johnny Reeves . . .These characters are among the unforgettable cast inhabiting a small Vermont town in 1924. A town that turns against its own when the Ku Klux Klan moves in. No one is safe, especially the two youngest, twelve-year-old Leanora, an African-American girl, and six-year-old Esther, who is Jewish. In this story of a community on the brink of disaster, told through the haunting and impassioned voices of its inhabitants, Newbery Award winner Karen Hesse takes readers into the hearts and minds of those who bear witness. ...Great read aloud - our book group each took turns reading the verses.

Just Juice Cover Image
By Karen Hesse, Robert Andrew Parker (Illustrator)
ISBN: 9780590033831
Availability: Available from our warehouse - 3-10 Days
Published: Scholastic Paperbacks - November 1st, 1999

Letters and numbers still don't make sense to Juice Faulstich. She'd rather skip school and spend the day at home in the North Carolina hills. But when the bank threatens to repossess her family's home, Juice faces her first life-sized problem.

Stowaway Cover Image
By Karen Hesse, Robert Andrew Parker (Illustrator)
ISBN: 9780689839894
Availability: Available from our warehouse - 3-10 Days
Published: Margaret K. McElderry Books - June 1st, 2002

It is known that in the summer of 1768, Captain James Cook sailed from England on H.M.S "Endeavour, " beginning a three-year voyage around the world on a secret mission to discover an unknown continent at the bottom of the globe. What is less known is that a boy by the name of Nicholas Young was a stowaway on that ship. Newbery winner Karen Hesse re-creates Cook's momentous voyage through the eyes of this remarkable boy, creating a fictional journal filled with fierce hurricanes, warring natives, and disease, as Nick discovers new lands, incredible creatures, and lifelong friends.

Out of the Dust (Scholastic Gold) Cover Image
ISBN: 9780590371254
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Scholastic Paperbacks - January 1st, 1999

A poem cycle that reads as a novel, this Newbery Medal winner tells the story of Billie Jo, a girl who struggles to help her family survive the dust bowl years of the Depression. Fighting against the elements on her Oklahoma farm, Billie Jo takes on even more responsibilities when her mother dies in a tragic accident. A testament to the American spirit, this novel is an instant classic.

A Time of Angels Cover Image
ISBN: 9781423115731
Availability: DO NOT ORDER - is probably Out of Print
Published: Disney-Hyperion - September 1st, 2008

This classic novel tells the story of a young Jewish girl who is sick with influenza during the 1918 epidemic. Separated from her family, she relies on an old German man, and her visions of angels, to get better and to reunite with her family. In 1918, war separates Hannah Gold and her younger sisters from their parents. The girls stay with their Tanta Rose in the West End of Boston while the await the return of their Mother and Father and the beloved family life they once knew. When a deadly influenza epidemic strikes, Hannah and her aunt struggle to keep illness at bay. But evertually, like so many others, Tanta Rose and younger girls succumb to the virus. Hannah flees Boston to seek refuge with a relative but falls ill on the train. As the fever intensifies strange voices and faces surround Hannah, most remarkably a girl with violet eyes who seems to always turn up at the right moment in the most unexpected place. Through every devestating turn, Hannah continues to hold out hope of being reunited with her family. Will she realize her dreams?

Come On, Rain! Cover Image
By Karen Hesse, Jon J. Muth (Illustrator)
ISBN: 9780590331258
Availability: Backordered at our warehouse
Published: Scholastic Press - February 1st, 1999

A young girl eagerly awaits a coming rainstorm to bring relief from the oppressive summer heat. "Come on, Rain!" Tess pleads to the sky as listless vines and parched plants droop in the endless heat. Then the clouds roll in, and the rain pours. And Tess, her friends, and their Mamas join in a rain dance to celebrate the shower that renews both body and spirit. Through exquisite language and acute observation, Karen Hesse evokes this refreshing experience, and Jon J Muth's lyrical artwork perfectly reflects the spirit of the text.

The Music Of Dolphins (Apple Classics) Cover Image
ISBN: 9780590897983
Availability: Available from our warehouse - 3-10 Days
Published: Scholastic Paperbacks - February 1st, 1998

A girl raised by dolphins must choose between two worlds in this critically acclaimed novel about what it means to be a human being. After rescuing an adolescent girl from the sea, researchers learn she has been raised by dolphins and attempt to rehabilitate her to the human world.