Books by Natalie Kinsey-Warnock

TRUE COLORS by Natalie Kinsey-Warnock
CHILDREN'S
Released: Nov. 13, 2012

"Blue's first-person voice is believable and her growth convincing in this satisfying family and friendship story—with a perfect cover to boot. (Historical fiction. 9-12)"
In the summer of 1952, 10-year-old Blue finds that her "real mama" isn't the one who abandoned her when she was 2 days old, but the strong woman who raised her on a farm in Vermont's Northeast Kingdom. Read full book review >
NORA’S ARK by Natalie Kinsey-Warnock
CHILDREN'S
Released: July 1, 2005

Grandma didn't want a new house: "That new house is just gravy." When Wren asks her what she means, Grandma says that though potatoes with gravy tastes good, you don't need the gravy: " . . . and I don't need that new house. I like living here." Nevertheless, Grandpa keeps on building. Good thing, too, because along comes the Vermont flood of 1927 and the new house is on high ground. Neighbors with their animals—chickens, horses, pigs—all fit in, but Grandpa is nowhere to be found. Wren and her grandma take the boat and struggle through water filled with everything from furniture to dead animals. They find him in a tree along with a cow wedged in the crook of it, the floating cow having saved him. Three days later, the water goes down, but the hoofprints from all the animals stay on the floor of the new house, which Grandpa dubs an ark. Watercolors enliven a well-told adventure with a sense of the period and terrific characterizations of the people and animals. An author's note describes the historical flood. (Picture book. 6-9)Read full book review >
A CHRISTMAS LIKE HELEN’S by Natalie Kinsey-Warnock
CHILDREN'S
Released: Sept. 27, 2004

Kinsey-Warnock's poetic, understated text proves to be well-suited to Caldecott Medalist Azarian's subtle, hand-colored woodcut illustrations, in this second collaborative effort set in the Vermont farm country that both know from experience. This story describes a little girl's life during the Christmas season around 1900, using the repeating structure of "To have a Christmas like Helen's, you'll have to . . . " as a means of introducing all the different activities, types of work, and special experiences in her young life. Helen is the youngest of seven children, and her family's tender love for their little girl is evident in their many caring ways, especially in the closing pages when Helen's father takes her to the barn to see a newborn foal on Christmas Eve. Azarian is a master at capturing New England life in her woodcuts, showing the farmhouse, barn, one-room schoolhouse, and wintry white fields of Helen's world. Her beautifully composed and carefully researched illustrations draw the reader into Helen's era, into a quieter time of candlelight, sleigh bells, and family stories shared around the woodstove. (Picture book. 4-8)Read full book review >
GIFTS FROM THE SEA by Natalie Kinsey-Warnock
CHILDREN'S
Released: June 10, 2003

A gently predictable story about a mid-19th-century girl living in a lighthouse. Quila is 12 when her mother dies, leaving her and her father alone off the Maine coast in the lighthouse that he tends. A shipwreck washes ashore a small bundle made of two mattresses, and there's a baby in it. They name her Celia, and Quila's grief at missing her mother becomes bound up in the endless care a baby takes. When a plucky Irish immigrant named Margaret comes looking for some information on her sister lost at sea, it's discovered that her sister may be Celia's mother. Margaret spends six months at the lighthouse, learning to love the place while Quila frets over the coming loss of Celia to Margaret. Predictably, Margaret and Quila's father fall in love and decide to marry, with promises of trips to the mainland for Quila to see all the things her mother promised her. Much atmospheric description of the flora and fauna—but not much to challenge the imagination. (Fiction. 10-12)Read full book review >
FROM DAWN TILL DUSK by Natalie Kinsey-Warnock
CHILDREN'S
Released: Oct. 28, 2002

Rooted in the Vermont countryside, Caldecott-artist Azarian's (Snowflake Bentley, 1998, etc.) signature woodcuts brighten Kinsey-Warnock's (Lumber Camp Library, p. 572, etc.) pedestrian account of growing up on a Vermont farm. After hearing their mother's stories of Scottish ancestors, the children wonder why their forebears moved to the land (Vermont) that demanded much hard work. Through the seasons, from dawn till dusk, reminisces of difficult work, as well as the storytelling, eating sweet maple candy, and fishing are enumerated. The idyllic childhood routine: long-hot days of summer, sugaring time in the spring, mud-filled afternoons, Sunday drives; building fences, picking stones from the fields, mowing grass, baling hay, making apple cider in the autumn; and a myriad of other activities helps to build a family narrative. The sturdy woodcuts complement the text, despite the fact that a few, particularly the night scenes, seem too dark and somewhat uninspired. Selected photographs from the author's and illustrator's family albums, appended at the end, reinforce the notion that this is a very personal story of the simple pleasures of a rural life gone by. While not Azarian's best work the illustrations are nonetheless a significant factor in making this unexciting but comfortable tale one that readers will enjoy reading. (Picture book. 6-9)Read full book review >
A DOCTOR LIKE PAPA by Natalie Kinsey-Warnock
CHILDREN'S
Released: May 1, 2002

In a brief episode exploring the theme of challenging gender roles that is loosely based on local history, the devastating flu epidemic of 1918 tests a Vermont child's resolution to become a country doctor like her father. Resisting her mother's insistence that it's no job for a woman, Margaret cajoles her father at last into allowing her to accompany him on house calls. She proves an able assistant—but needs all her skills and stomach later that winter when, on the way to a remote relative's with her little brother, she comes upon a farmhouse with a nearly dead dog outside, and inside only a small child shivering among the bodies of her stricken family. In a quick final chapter, Margaret grows up to achieve her heart's desire, and even to see her own little daughter show early signs of continuing the family profession. Kinsey-Warnock (Lumber Camp Library, below, etc.) folds in a subplot involving a beloved uncle who comes back from the war deeply depressed and minus an arm, slips in a snippet about Elizabeth Blackwell for further role-modeling, and closes with a historical note. Young readers will be engrossed, following this plucky but vulnerable child through a time of hardship and widespread tragedy. Illustrations not seen. (Fiction. 9-11)Read full book review >
LUMBER CAMP LIBRARY by Natalie Kinsey-Warnock
CHILDREN'S
Released: May 1, 2001

Kinsey-Warnock (A Doctor Like Papa, above, etc.) highlights love of reading and the desire to learn in this short, wholesome tale of hardship and friendship, set in early 20th-century Vermont. Ruby leaves her beloved lumberjack father to ride into town to school each day then returns to "school" her ten younger siblings. But after his death, she has to drop out to help the now-struggling family make ends meet. Fortunately, not only do the lumberjacks hire Ruby's Ma to cook for them, but a group asks Ruby herself to teach them to read—and better yet, the family is befriended by Aurora Graham, a retired nurse with a large house full of books. In a quick but satisfying conclusion, the author sends Ruby on to become a teacher in later life, and after her retirement to found a town library for future generations of avid readers. Like Lucy Whipple, Ruby may take an occasional wrong turn, but she meets challenges squarely, and finds her vocation with the help of a rough community that recognizes and supports her talents. Illustrations not seen. (Fiction. 9-11)Read full book review >
IF WISHES WERE HORSES by Natalie Kinsey-Warnock
ANIMALS
Released: Oct. 1, 2000

In this lovely, haunting novel, Kinsey-Warnock (In the Language of Loons, 1998, etc.) explores the adage about being careful what one wishes for. In Vermont in 1932, 12-year-old Lily Randall wishes that just once her family would favor her over older sister Emily, with whom she fights constantly. Emily always seems to get her way and, in Lily's eyes, seems to be the more loved of the two girls. Lily longs to be far away from Emily and wants dreadful things to happen to her. Lily also dreams of having a horse of her own but recognizes wistfully that this wish too will most likely remain unfulfilled. Enter feisty Great-aunt Nell, a missionary visiting from India. Nell turns out to be the catalyst by which Lily acquires her horse, one she adores and trains to dive like the one in a circus act that mesmerized her. Then a terrible thing really does happen to Emily: she contracts polio and is confined to an iron lung. Lily is consumed with guilt, believing that she made her sister ill. The painful growing up that Lily is subsequently forced to do and the sacrifices she makes to try to atone are truly heart-wrenching. Readers will be hard-pressed to remain dry-eyed as the novel draws to its sad, but never maudlin, conclusion. The author writes with sureness and clarity, and the characters are memorable. (Fiction. 8-12)Read full book review >
IN THE LANGUAGE OF LOONS by Natalie Kinsey-Warnock
ANIMALS
Released: March 1, 1998

From Kinsey-Warnock (As Long as There Are Mountains, p. 875, etc.), a short novel about growing up that opens at the end of the school year in 1969 and closes the next spring. Arlis, 12, is relieved to be away from home, where, during a field trip, he stripped to his underwear to wallow in mud like a pig, was urinated on by classmates, and tricked into eating a worm sandwich. At his grandparents' Vermont farm for the summer, Arlis warms to his grandfather, who teaches Arlis about the call of the loons during a fishing trip. Arlis's carelessness with a fishing line leads to a loon's death; when the elderly man encourages Arlis to take up running, he tries, quits, tries again, then easily makes the cross-country team, turns a tormentor into a friend, reconciles with his father, who goes in a few pages from an overworked lawyer to a runner who sings in the choir. In a final contrivance from which Arlis emerges a hero, he drives his mother through snowstorm to the hospital where she gives birth. Kinsey-Warnock trivializes life-and-death events with more prosaic material; in the meantime, pieces of plot remain undeveloped, e.g., an essay, mentioned only when Arlis is assigned it, and when he turns it in, is greeted with ``This is good, Arlis. Very good. I didn't know you could write like this.'' Every chapter contains emotional scenes or rhapsodic passages on nature, but they are glued on rather than transpiring naturally in the story. (Fiction. 10-12) Read full book review >
AS LONG AS THERE ARE MOUNTAINS by Natalie Kinsey-Warnock
CHILDREN'S
Released: Sept. 1, 1997

The profound pleasure of living on a farm, in constant contact with the natural world, pervades this story of a Vermont farm family whose luck turns, then turns again. Unlike her older brother, Lucien, who wants to be a writer, Iris, 13, can't imagine being anything but a farmer. After a year that begins with her grandfather's death and culminates in double disaster when the barn burns down and her father, Hazen, loses a leg cutting lumber for the new barn, Iris is ready to soldier on, but Hazen isn't; he angrily announces that he's calling it quits and puts the machinery and livestock up for auction. Kinsey- Warnock (The Summer of Stanley, p. 723, etc.) draws characters and conflicts simply and strongly, balancing a Pollyanna-ish subplot about a classmate who lives in a house made of hay bales with a hilarious comeuppance of bossy Aunt Lurdine; also figuring in the story are Iris's inner struggle when she learns that a cousin caused the barn fire and her sharp, almost fierce appreciation for the land and its gifts. Hazen conquers his depression, and Sturgis, his businessman brother-in-law who is a farmer at heart, comes in as co-owner to save the farm. The Christmas scene that caps this is almost overkill, but there's plenty of appeal in this sometimes surprising story. (Fiction. 10-12) Read full book review >
THE SUMMER OF STANLEY by Natalie Kinsey-Warnock
ANIMALS
Released: May 1, 1997

Kinsey-Warnock (Sweet Memories Still, 1997, etc.) sets her story in 1945 when Molly's father is off fighting in the war and she, her mother, brother Tyler, and grandfather keep the home fires burning and the Victory Garden growing. Grandpa gives Molly an unwelcome pet for her birthday—a goat whom, predictably, only Tyler loves. Molly had wanted a bicycle like her best friend Annie's, not a noisy eating machine. Stanley proves his worth one day when Molly is in charge of Tyler, who decides to go swimming against Molly's orders. Annie and Molly are shocked to discover Tyler in very deep water and in danger of drowning, until Molly sends Stanley to the rescue. The goat saves the boy but injures himself in the swift current. The real star of this competent but predictable book is Gates's marvelously detailed and luminous art; it hardly evokes 1945, but does bring to glowing, bucolic life a gentler—though war-torn—time. (Picture book. 4-8) Read full book review >
SWEET MEMORIES STILL by Natalie Kinsey-Warnock
FAMILY AND GROWING UP
Released: Feb. 1, 1997

When Shelby has to postpone her birthday party to go care for her ailing grandmother, she is angry and pouty, and even more annoyed when the elderly woman gives her an old-fashioned camera. In spite of her bad temper, Shelby is captivated by her grandmother's old photo albums and stories about long-dead relatives. When the house burns, along with the photos and all of her other possessions, Grandma comes to live with Shelby's family, and Shelby tries to make up for her loss by drawing pictures based on some of the old photographs. From Kinsey- Warnock (Wilderness Cat, 1992, etc.), an unusually facile set of characters and plotting. It's a wholesome story, but devoid of suspense and unsatisfying. Shelby's swings between affectionate behavior and petulance will make it hard for readers to like her, or even know her; they'll cringe when she starts yelling in the church parking lot about how shy she is. Once Grandma's house burns down, everybody learns a lesson: Shelby gets over her fears, becomes less selfish, and grows closer to her grandmother; the townspeople rebuild Grandma's house; and Shelby's father resolves to stop smoking. (b&w illustrations, not seen) (Fiction. 9+) Read full book review >
THE BEAR THAT HEARD CRYING by Natalie Kinsey-Warnock
ADVENTURE
Released: Sept. 1, 1993

In 1783, three-year-old Sarah Whitcher (the authors' great- great-great-great-great-aunt) wandered into the woods near Warren, New Hampshire; four days later, she was found by a man who had dreamed that she under a particular pine, guarded by a bear. Some of the searchers—who found Sarah surrounded by bear tracks—recorded this experience, as did Sarah herself, years later. Alternating between Sarah's journey (unafraid of the endearingly gentle animal because she thinks it's a ``big black dog,'' she curls up next to it and goes to sleep) and the family and neighbors' search, the authors re-create the incident in a simple, direct narrative enlivened with dialogue and authentic detail. Rand's settings—especially the darkening forest, in luminous shades of gray-green, and the soft, furry bear—are beautifully painted; his humans are a bit trite and over-pretty, but that's a small flaw in an unusually appealing slice of Americana. (Picture book. 4-8) Read full book review >
WILDERNESS CAT by Natalie Kinsey-Warnock
ANIMALS
Released: Sept. 1, 1992

When they move 50 miles north into Canada, Papa decrees that Moses, Hannah's beloved cat, must stay behind: he ``would only jump out [of the cart] and run away.'' But next winter, with Papa off earning food and Mama and the younger children at the end of their provisions, Moses proves himself in the classic tradition by showing up with a snowshoe rabbit. Kinsey-Warnock (The Canada Geese Quilt, 1989, ALA Notable) brings authentic, well-selected details to her simple, graceful account, while, in the spirit of Renoir, Graham's lush, impressionistic paintings idealize the woodland frontier and winsome children. He's not always literally accurate (snowshoe rabbits aren't white in summer; some of these primeval trees are incredibly huge), but the art suits the warmly appealing story. (Picture book. 4-8) Read full book review >
THE NIGHT THE BELLS RANG by Natalie Kinsey-Warnock
CHILDREN'S
Released: Sept. 1, 1991

Long plagued by Aden, a relentless bully, Mason is so taken aback when the older boy suddenly retrieves a drawing that Mason has made for his father (it has blown onto dangerously thin ice) that he doesn't even thank him. Mason's father is a wise, kind man who has explained to Mason that Aden's character is a response to his own abusive father; Aden's single generous act is motivated by his observation that Mason's father is ``real gentle with [horses]. Didn't beat `em or anything.'' Before Mason can follow up his new insights, Aden goes off to WWI. News of his death and of the Armistice arrive together, leaving Mason to make peace with himself by taking a more charitable attitude toward Ira, his little brother. It's unusual for an author to follow an ordinary beginning with such a strong conclusion. The circumstances here—the bullied boy passing on the contempt he endures, the conscientiously described period details of farm life in Vermont, are clearly presented but predictable. Still, they serve their purpose well, setting the scene for the dramatic incident on the ice, Mason's subsequent confusion and grief, a touching encounter with Aden's mother, and his eventual reconciliation with little Ira. A fine early chapter book by the author of The Canada Geese Quilt (1989). Illustrations not seen. (Fiction. 7-11)*justify no* Read full book review >