Kathleen’s Books


The Heirloom Murders
Midnight Ink, coming September, 2011






Old World Murder

Midnight Ink, 2010; Adult
1982.  Chloe Ellefson’s new job as Collections Curator at a famous open-air historic site brings her face to face with a murder, a stolen artifact, a boss who seems to know little about running a living history museum, and an intriguing new relationship that just might help her banish the difficult memories she’s running from.  And that’s only her first day.


Hearts of Stone

Dutton Children’s Books, 2006; Fifth grade & up
Tennessee, 1863-64.  With her father gone to join the Yankee troops and her best friend, Ben, sympathizing with the Confederates, fifteen-year-old Hannah finds her world torn apart by the Civil War.  Then her mother suddenly dies.  Now responsible for keeping the young family together, Hannah makes the difficult decision to leave her beloved Cumberland Mountain with her brother and sisters and set out on the long and dangerous journey to Nashville, in search of their only living relative.  Their quest to reclaim their family leads them into the very heart of the Civil War–and could cost them their lives.

White Mane Kids, 2003; Fourth grade & up
Mississippi, 1863.  Jamie Carswell, a young soldier with the 14th Wisconsin Infantry Regiment, is haunted by the civilian suffering he witnesses while campaigning in Mississippi.  His favorite cousin, Althea, is already tormented by a past mistake when she finds herself trapped inside Vicksburg during the Union Army’s siege of that Confederate city. Ghosts of Vicksburg is the compelling story of two young people struggling to find their way during one of the most dramatic campaigns of the Civil War.

White Mane Kids, 2000; Fourth grade & up
Maryland, 1863.  Young Chigger O’Malley is glad when General Lee’s battered Confederate Army is trapped nearby while retreating from their defeat at Gettysburg.  Chigger’s father and three older brothers had been killed serving in the famed Irish Brigade, and he hopes the Union Army will attack, crush the rebels, and end the war.  But when he and his mother are forced to care for a wounded rebel, the questions of right and wrong–of friend and enemy–become much more difficult to answer.

White Mane Kids, 1997; Fourth grade & up
Maryland, 1862.  The daring adventures of best friends Teresa Kretzer and Savilla Miller have earned them the title of “the bravest girls in Sharpsburg” and the respect of Teresa’s shy sister Bethie, but as the American Civil War looms, they become political enemies.  When the fighting comes to Sharpsburg, each girl finds new meanings of courage, friendship, loss, and love amidst the Battle of Antietam.  Based on actual persons and incidents.

White Mane Kids, 1996; Fourth grade & up
West Virginia & Maryland, 1862.  During the weeks before the capture of Harpers Ferry by General Stonewall Jackson’s Confederate troops, young Solomon Hargreave struggles to adapt to being a soldier in the newly-formed 8th New York Cavalry.  As the noose tightens around Harper’s Ferry he rescues and befriends Mahalia Sutter, the daughter of a lockkeeper on the C&O Canal.  But when Solomon is ordered to spy on her family he has to learn to trust his instincts–in friendship and in war.  Based on a true story.


Cricket Books, 2006; Fourth grade & up
North Carolina, present day.  Fifteen year old Tanya, reeling from her parents’ divorce, is far from ready to embrace her Scottish heritage at North Carolina’s Cross Creek Highland Games. She should be back in Green Bay, Wisconsin, doing what she was born to do: make documentaries.  But during the course of an eventful weekend, Tanya learns that to go forward means turning to confront the past–her own past and that of her Scots forebears.


American Girl, 2009; Third – fifth grade
Illinois, 1945.  Molly still does her patriotic duty to help America win World War Two, but she’s weary and troubled.  Dad is home safe…but he seems different now.  Her favorite Red Cross leader abruptly quits.  Her archrival, Ronnie Vanko, is driving her crazy.  And now someone is sneaking into the backyard shed and messing with the scrap she’s collecting for the latest wartime drive.  Who is the intruder:  Ronnie, her own brother Ricky–or a prowler she spied in the night?

American Girl, 2008; Third – fifth grade
Minnesota, 1854.  Kirsten has been living on the Minnesota frontier for only a few weeks when her neighbor and friend, Erik Sandahl, disappears.  Erik had promised to help the Larsons at harvest time, and he owes Uncle Olav money.  Has he run out on his promises?  Everyone seems to think so–except Kirsten.  Can she figure out what’s happened to her friend?

American Girl, 2007; Third – fifth grade
Kentucky, 1934.  Kit is visiting Aunt Millie in Mountain Hollow. When a professor arrives to study Kentucky mountain traditions, Kit is thrilled to help with her research–until it becomes clear that somebody doesn’t want “outsiders” nosing around. Kit decides to find out who’s making trouble…even if it means venturing into Lonesome Hollow in the dark of night.

American Girl, 2006; Third – fifth grade
New Mexico, 1826.  Josefina has heard tales and legends all her life: rumors of gold and silver buried in the hills, and even tales of a ghostly Weeping Woman who haunts the countryside. But she never imagined that such stories might be true–until one day a mysterious stranger arrives at her rancho.

Danger at the Zoo:  A Kit Mystery

American Girl, 2005; Third – fifth grade
Ohio, 1935.  Kit lands a summer job with her local newspaper.  As she noses around the zoo gathering facts for a kids’ column, Kit stumbles into some strange monkey business.  Her reporter’s instincts tell her that she’s onto something worth investigating–and she’s determined to get the story!


Betrayal at Cross Creek

Pleasant Company, 2004; Fourth grade & up
North Carolina, 1775-76.   Elspeth Monroe, newly come from Scotland, is just beginning to feel at home in North Carolina, with a new friend and a weaving apprenticeship she loves.  To Elspeth, the brewing Revolution feels very far away–until someone starts to threaten her own family, trying to force them to join the rebels.  When her grandfather marches off to fight with the British, Elspeth is left alone to protect her grandmother–and to figure out who is putting her family in danger!

Note:  This book is out of print.  If you’d like a copy, contact me at k.ernst<at>kathleenernst.com.

Pleasant Company, 2002; republished by Skyview Books, 2009; Fourth grade & up
Colorado, 1867.  Twelve-year-old Emma Henderson is mortified when her Mother takes to wearing a Reform Dress—hideous bloomers!  Worse, Mother has accepted a newspaper job in wild, far-off Colorado Territory.  But even Emma can’t imagine just how badly things will go in Twin Pines.  From the moment she and Mother step off the horse-drawn stagecoach, it’s clear that someone doesn’t want them there.

Trouble At Fort La Pointe

Pleasant Company, 2000; republished by Skyview Books, 2009; Fourth grade & up
Wisconsin, 1732.  Suzette Choudoir has spent each of her twelve summers at La Pointe Island on Lake Superior, where Ojibwe people camp by the French fur-trade fort.  If her papa wins the trappers’ competition, the prize will let him stay with his Ojibwe family year-round instead of wintering in far-off Montréal with the other French voyageurs.  But a troublemaker sabotages the competition, and Papa.  Only someone who’s both Ojibwe and French can figure out what’s going on–someone like Suzette.


Too Afraid to Cry:  Maryland Civilians in the Antietam Campaign

Stackpole Books, 1999 (hardcover), 2007 (paperback); Middle school – adult
Maryland, 1860-1865.  This non-fiction book examines the experiences of the children, women, and men who inadvertently found themselves in the war’s path during the weeks in September, 1862, which included the Battle of South Mountain and culminated in the Battle of Antietam Creek at Sharpsburg, Washington County–the single bloodiest day in American history. Their experiences reflect, in microcosm, the story of a nation torn apart by civil war.

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