Books by Lynn Cullen

THE SISTERS OF SUMMIT AVENUE by Lynn Cullen
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: Sept. 10, 2019

"Sibling rivalry, betrayal, resentment, and cowardice add spice to this saga of sisters."
Two sisters struggle to mend their once-loving relationship in this novel by Cullen (Twain's End, 2015, etc.). Read full book review >
TWAIN'S END by Lynn Cullen
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: Oct. 13, 2015

"A more nuanced character would have strengthened this sad story of futile, desperate love."
Mark Twain's dark side. Read full book review >
DEAR MR. WASHINGTON by Lynn Cullen
CHILDREN'S
Released: Jan. 8, 2015

"This collaboration's clever epistolary narrative and playful pictures present a fresh, remarkably humanizing view of our first president. (author's note) (Picture book. 5-8)"
Gilbert Stuart, George Washington's portraitist, had 12 children and fretted about his famous subject's unsmiling mien. These details inspire Cullen's story of three rambunctious siblings: Charlotte, James and Baby John Stuart. Read full book review >
MRS. POE by Lynn Cullen
Released: Oct. 1, 2013

"The narrative might have been more interesting had the author focused on the relationship between the title character and her husband."
Edgar Allan Poe, master of the gothic tale, becomes shrouded in even more gloom in Cullen's (Reign of Madness, 2011, etc.) insipid historical novel about his relationship with fellow author Frances Sargent Locke Osgood. Read full book review >
REIGN OF MADNESS by Lynn Cullen
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: Aug. 4, 2011

"Although the outcome is known, the suspense never waivers."
Cullen's second historical novel about Renaissance-era Spanish royals, this time concerning the "Mad Queen," Juana La Loca. Read full book review >
THE CREATION OF EVE by Lynn Cullen
Released: March 1, 2010

"Covering little more than a third of Sofi's life, this love-obsessed narrative leaves plenty of room for a sequel, but no one's likely to be terribly interested unless it offers a more three-dimensional portrait of the artist."
YA author Cullen's foray into adult fiction features a groundbreaking female Renaissance painter but doesn't give her much to do. Read full book review >
I AM REMBRANDT’S DAUGHTER by Lynn Cullen
FAMILY AND GROWING UP
Released: June 1, 2007

Told in the first person, the tale of Cornelia is achingly familiar: She's a girl child in her mid-teens, angry, passionate, hungry both literally and figuratively and ignored by her distracted but brilliant parent, the great painter Rembrandt. He is a pathetic figure here: listening to the voice of God in his head; making images with thick impasto paint; no longer desirable to his patrons; and ignoring the needs of daily life while Cornelia struggles to meet them. She loves her brother Titus, adored of Rembrandt, but he marries and leaves her alone to care for vader. Cullen uses a few Dutch words for 17th-century atmosphere, but Cornelia's bitterness and longing seem very contemporary. The narrative slips back and forth between past (the death of Cornelia's mother, whom Rembrandt never married) and present, when Cornelia is to leave Amsterdam with her new husband. Cullen uses several of Rembrandt's paintings in effective ways to tether the story, even though her fictional climax has no historical basis. (author's note, character list, list of paintings) (Historical fiction. 12+)Read full book review >
MOI AND MARIE ANTOINETTE by Lynn Cullen
ANIMALS
Released: Oct. 1, 2006

Such resolute cutesiness can have a dreary effect, which, alas, is true in this view of the doomed French queen as observed by her pug dog. What happened to Marie Antoinette at the guillotine appears only in the author's note: Sébastian the pug, who refers to himself as moi like Miss Piggy does, accompanies the 14-year-old royal from Austria to France, where she is married to the king's grandson. The dog, mostly ignored, isn't happy until Marie Antoinette's daughter Thérèse is of an age to play, when the now-queen has borne a second child. Versailles is not cozy for children or dogs, and visions of the queen's sumptuous raiment and impossible hairdos contrast with Thérèse in the mirrored halls holding the dog or running in the gardens in parallel to her mother's childhood days. Gouache in matte pastel colors illustrate this lighthearted image of Versailles populated by figures with rosebud mouths and doll-like features. Will appeal to those who love princess stories and can understand that money, jewels and fancy clothes don't necessarily bring happiness. (Picture book. 5-8)Read full book review >
LITTLE SCRAGGLY HAIR by Lynn Cullen
ANIMALS
Released: Oct. 15, 2003

Retelling the tale "Why Dogs Have Wet Noses" from the dog's perspective, Cullen sets the story in America and uses Appalachian dialect recorded by Richard Chase. The result is a folksy, charming, appealing variation. "Folks didn't take much to dogs in them days, thought dogs were no count, just toters of fleas." When Little Scraggly Hair limps into Noah's barnyard where he's sawin' and hammerin' away, the two take to each other immediately. Scraggly totes his bag of nails and herds the critters onto the ark. Come the rains, he bounds up the ramp, but there's no room. He's "stuck 'tween a pair of cranky bears and two snortin' buffaloes. Fits so tight, he has to stick his nose through a knothole," where, many days later, a dove with a branch lands. Colorful watercolor illustrations harmonize with the folksy tone and effective points of view buoy up the subtleties. An author's note upfront details her story's origin. Another refreshing take on the biblical story, less religious, more human nature. (Picture book. 4-8)Read full book review >
NELLY IN THE WILDERNESS by Lynn Cullen
CHILDREN'S
Released: March 1, 2002

In a story that spans the four seasons of 1821, 12-year-old Nelly and her older brother, Cornelius, see their family devastated by the death of their mother, turned topsy-turvy by the arrival of their young and bookish stepmother, and enlivened by visits from a most peculiar John Chapman, a neighbor fond of planting apple trees. Set on the Indiana frontier, this has all the elements of a Little House wannabe. Here, though, Pa is gruff and non-communicative, disappearing for months and returning only with his pretty new wife Margery. Said wife brings a trunk full of books but can't cook the simplest foods. Pa and Cornelius spend a good deal of their time hunting and even bring home a catamount baby that Nelly adopts. Pa has killed the mother for her skin and warns Nelly that the adorable creature will grow up to kill. Nelly pays him no mind, to her eventual regret. She even cooks up a rather absurd romance between John Chapman and her stepmother. Needless to say, Nelly grows to appreciate her stepmother's good points, especially her storytelling and her books. When her baby arrives, it is Nelly who is present and Nelly who promises the dying Margery that she will love and cherish the infant. Cullen works hard to make Nelly an appealing heroine and develops the conflict in Nelly between love for her dead mother and growing respect for the stepmother. There's also a storyline for brother Cornelius who goes to a nearby abandoned fort ostensibly for schooling but really because of a girl. The father remains a stock, underdeveloped character, and while the hardships and loneliness of frontier life are developed in the story, references to relations with Indians appear thrown in merely for good measure. Pleasant but unsubstantial fare. (Fiction. 8-12)Read full book review >
THE THREE LIVES OF HARRIS HARPER by Lynn Cullen
CHILDREN'S
Released: March 18, 1996

Harris, 12, has a summer job baby-sitting preschooler Jamey Benya, who is a handful. Harris is impressed with Jamey's wealthy parents, who contrast sharply with his own messy, easygoing, financially just-about-making-it mother and father. When he's not sitting, Harris hangs out with his big-talking best friend, Bert, whose sole aim in life is to call ``babes'' on the phone and make dates for him and Harris. Harris tells his parents that he won't be going on a family camping trip and secretly nurses a hope that the Benyas will adopt him. Then Jamey runs away; in his search for the child, Harris learns something about both the Benya family and his own, all too predictable to matter much. Bert's machismo is far more offensive than amusing, but Harris is a reassuringly normal hero, whose actions are mostly believable. He's stuck in a well- worn plot, though, where Cullen (The Backyard Ghost, 1993, etc.) surrounds him with little more than cardboard characters; readers will smell the set-up before he does. (Fiction. 10-13) Read full book review >
THE BACKYARD GHOST by Lynn Cullen
CHILDREN'S
Released: April 20, 1993

When Eleanor's family moves from Marietta to Decatur, Georgia, it's popularity panic. Hoping to impress the new crowd, particularly silver-blond, earring-swinging Misty (jealously guarded by possessive Jessica), Eleanor tries her ``Pig Face'' grimace and notes on toilet-paper, antics considered cute and funny in her old school; here, they backfire. She tries to avoid nerdy kids like shy ``egghead'' Charlie, who hangs around her backyard keeping in touch with the ghost of Joseph, a young bugler killed there in a Civil War battle. A secret fantasy of being a pioneer girl also links Eleanor to the past, enabling her to sense Joseph's presence. Still, she's interested only in popularity; she uses the ghost as an excuse for a party for her prospective friends—another plan that goes awry. Meanwhile, Charlie's convinced that contact with Joseph is growing weaker because his bugle is missing from its burial place. Sure enough, when the bugle turns up, firm contact is reestablished. Descriptions of the apparitions comprise some of this first novel's best writing, but the opportunity to develop a good ghost story with a taste of history is frittered away: even readers sympathetic to Eleanor's concerns will lose patience with her obsession and her infantile behavior (she seems more like a fourth-grader than a seventh), and be disappointed when this potentially exciting tale vanishes into thin air. (Fiction 9-11) Read full book review >