Books by Peter W. Hassinger

Released: April 1, 2004

A lively fictional account of Susanna, the eldest child of Will Shakespeare. Blessed with her father's wit and a pure soprano, 14-year-old Susanna longs to sing, and the choir at Stratford allows her little. When her adorable small brother Hamnet dies, she resolves to go to London to experience her father's life, and to find a place where her voice might be heard. She is also captivated by Tom Cole, a chorister who practices his Catholic faith in secret. Hassinger plays intriguingly with what is known about this time and place: Shakespeare is uneasy with his family and distracted; the dark lady Emilia plays an important role; Susanna's mother Anne is a tightly wound woman tied to her home place. The musician William Byrd and the persecution of Catholics fuel a dénouement that finds Susanna and her Tom going off to Italy, where both can sing freely. There's spirited talk about language, theater, and most especially about music, and the plot elopes with ease. (Historical fiction. 10+)Read full book review >
Released: June 1, 2002

Eleven-year old Sander, who has just moved to the country with his family, sets off to explore his new surroundings. On a trail near his house he spies a strange-looking boy in a red baseball cap who disappears into the brush. It turns out to be not a boy, but 200-year-old Alfar, reluctant heir of his grandfather, Dwerg, who rules the Black Dwarfs. Sander also encounters a Hessian soldier trapped in a time warp and forced to play out a doomed love affair with a Native American girl and his tragic death over and over again in a misguided attempt at revenge by Dwerg. The Indians who chase the Hessian through the woods turn into allies in Sander's and Alfar's bid to defeat Dwerg. What with shape-shifting, a magical cloak, a silver belt that renders its wearer invisible, and menacing owls, one is reminded of the books about you-know-who of the scarred forehead. But the plot meanders, with Sander and Alfar hatching a plan to steal Dwerg's magic cloak in order to free Mini (Sander's friend and a descendant of the Indian girl who was betrothed to the Hessian) from an endless reenactment of her fantasy that her ancestor's love affair ended in marriage, not death. The urgency of their mission is diminished by its vagueness. Hassinger relies on long passages of simile-laden narrative, which can be lyrical when describing the Hudson River area, the story's setting, but fails to inject the necessary dramatic force. (Fiction. 9-12)Read full book review >