Books by Sally M. Keehn

Released: March 1, 2007

At birth, 13-year-old Margaret "Magpie" Gabbard is given two names, a legacy and a prophecy by "the moon herself—hidden within her long black cloak." Magpie will one day rise above her grandfather's fighting legacy with the rival Sizemores, put her "cussedness to good use" and save everyone in Squabble Town and on Gabbard Mountain, Ky. How this comes about is Magpie's story, part tall tale, part coming-of-age narrative told in a quirky first-person, Appalachian-style voice. Magpie's plight to unearth the moon from where the Goblins have buried her involves all sorts of magical characters, such as a decapitated floating Head, a fast-galloping boar and evil man-sucking night Goblins. Keehn employs symbolism and humor to create excitement, hilarity and a touching ending with the power of love providing a young girl the means to break the curse of prejudice and orchestrate reconciliation between feuding families. This tall-tale novel, mixed with a dash of the reality of a girl "passing through the gate of womanhood," will provoke some laughs and some pondering. Imaginative storytelling with a regional drawl. (Fiction. 10-13)Read full book review >
Released: April 1, 2005

Love conquers all in this post-Civil War Appalachian tall tale fueled by the supernatural energy of 12-year-old Gnat Stokes, who lives with her grandfather and who "ain't scairt of nothing," not even the evil swamp queen Zelda. Based on the Scottish ballad Tam Lin, this farcical swamp romp drips with superstition and magic, Warrior Bogies and rusty Swamp Knights, all described matter-of-factly by Gnat in a funny, folksy first-person narrative. Her quest begins when a talking cat falls from the night sky into her arms, bearing an enchanted golden locket that belongs to the beautiful Penelope, fated true love of the long-missing boy Goodlow Pryce. Determined to transform herself from "no-good bastard child" to hero in one fell swoop, Gnat vows to rescue Goodlow from Zelda's evil clutches. In the process, she learns a thing or two about who she is—and the power of love. Gnat's fierce desire to learn the true nature of life and love burns bright throughout this warm, suspenseful, over-the-top adventure that bubbles up with swamp wisdom. (Fiction. 9-12)Read full book review >
ANNA SUNDAY by Sally M. Keehn
Released: May 1, 2001

Twelve-year-old Anna and her nine-year-old brother Jed set off from their Pennsylvania farm in 1863 to find their soldier father, who has been wounded in the first Battle of Winchester, Virginia. They've received word that he's not expected to survive, but they must risk danger crossing Rebel lines to take him some herbal medicines, their love, and foods that Anna knows will restore him. Anna is in special peril because she is female, but she cuts her hair and wears boy's clothing. One of the most interesting characters is the "Bible horse," Samson, who obeys only biblical verse commands and is especially encouraged when people sing "The Battle Hymn of the Republic." The children meet good people and bad and have many adventures (possibly too many) as they travel from their Pennsylvania home, near Gettysburg, through Maryland, and into Virginia, where they find their father being tended by the Confederate Mrs. McDowell. Anna and Jed must discard some long-held notions about the character of people—bad if Rebels, good if Unionists—and especially Southern women, whom they believe are she-devils. The children find that stereotypes don't hold true even when they are prisoners of war in Virginia, some Confederate soldiers are cruel and some are not. Even Mrs. McDowell, good person that she is when she ministers to her patient and shelters the children, is not to be fully trusted. Facts about the war are interwoven and the often-fraught-with-peril journey concludes in a satisfying manner. (map, author's note, selected bibliography) (Fiction. 10-14)Read full book review >
Released: Sept. 12, 1995

A powerful and haunting story full of spirits, bones, and dreams. As the Revolutionary War begins, the friendship of Daniel and Coshmoo is being torn apart. Coshmoo is a Delaware Indian boy, part of a tribe striving to remain neutral in the face of fierce pressure to join the British. Daniel is a settler and on the Patriot side. Their shared belief in dreams and stories is the origin of their efforts to hold on to friendship and prevent their people from destroying each other in war. The foreboding, mystical atmosphere is set up by the narrator, Coshmoo, who is dead. His spirit whispers the storyfilled with portents and metaphorical visionson the wind in the branches of an ash tree. Pervaded by a sense of urgency and impending disaster, as the age-old cycle of revenge and hatred begins to replay along the Susquehanna River, this compelling novel flows ever faster to an inevitable, tragic conclusion. (bibliography) (Fiction. 10-14) Read full book review >
I AM REGINA by Sally M. Keehn
Released: May 1, 1991

Basing her dramatic first-person, present-tense narrative on historical accounts of a German-American girl who was an Indian captive for the nine years of the French and Indian War, Keehn has written a first novel that rivals Hudson's Sweetgrass (1989) in its compelling evocation of Native Americans in transition. After killing and scalping Regina's father and brother, Tiger Claws relentlessly persecutes her on the march from eastern Pennsylvania to his Ohio village. Regina's plucky sister is threatened with being burned alive before being taken away by another Indian; Regina's new ``sister'' is a child she carried on the grueling journey. After such a beginning, making the reasons for the white man's fear of the Indians palpably clear (without sensationalizing), it's a tribute to Keehn's skill that she makes Regina's ultimate sympathy for her captors entirely believable. Although Tiger Claws remains brutal and his mother Woelfin stern and unforgiving, Regina makes close friends among the other Indians and comes to understand the magnitude of their tragic losses and the whites' betrayals. Rescue, when it comes, is almost as bitter as captivity; unlike others of the 200 freed at the war's end, Regina loses neither husband nor child, but she's forced to abandon the aging Woelfin, for whom she has finally learned affection as well as responsibility, to certain death. In a poignant conclusion, Regina is among those reunited with their families; a historical afterword adds tantalizingly little. A profoundly moving evocation of a terrible experience mitigated by faith, courage, and humanity, told with simplicity, compassion and admirable restraint. Bibliography. (Fiction. 11+) Read full book review >