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The Riddle of 

Penncroft Farm


Young Lars Olafson moves from Minnesota with his parents to the old family farm near Valley Forge, Pennsylvania. Lars is miserable, until he meets Geordie, a boy whose stories of the Revolutionary War are as exciting as those of an eyewitness.


Then Lars is faced with a crucial modern day mystery, and Geordie’s ghostly tales may be his only chance of solving it.




Free Downloadable

Curriculum Guide


A 20th century curriculum guide for The Riddle of Penncroft Farm now beamed into the 21st century!



Teachers' Choices List

International Reading Association

(Now the International Literacy Association)


1st place 

Historical Fiction

2014 Purple Dragonfly Children's Book Awards.



Jeannette Fair Award

Best children's book by a Minnesota Woman

Delta Kappa Gamma

(Women Teachers' Organization)


 First Place

Middle Grade

Children's Literature Competition

The Loft, Minneapolis, MN

Master List Selection

One of the top ten nominees for

six state awards voted on by children: 


Sunshine State Young Reader's Award



Rebecca Caudill Young Readers Book Award



Young Hoosier Book Award



William Allen White Award



Mark Twain Award



South Carolina Children's Book Award

(South Carolina)

In Times Past (An Encyclopedia for Integrating US History with Literature in Grades 3-8 by Carol Otis Hurst and Rebecca Otis) includes The Riddle of Penncroft Farm in its list of fiction about the Revolutionary War recommended for classroom use.

The Riddle of Penncroft Farm is on the "Best History Books for Kids to Read" list on the Grateful American Kids website!

(My other historical novel for young readers,

A Buss from Lafayette is on this list, too!)


A Delightful Romp into History!

"Jensen has combined the two different time periods into an intriguing book that will appeal to every history buff, and help those who are not so enthusiastic to gain a better understanding of this time period... a delightful romp into history!" —Children's Book Review

History Comes Alive

" ...history comes alive... Dorothea Jensen has written a wonderful book that melds both past and present together... This novel is a perfect example of historical fiction."–Monroe County Library System, Rochester, NY

Brings the Past to Life

" ...the author's careful linking of present and past by using descendants of the 18th-century characters for their 20th-century counterparts, as well as by parallels in the plot, should intrigue readers. The well-researched historical episodes involving the Battle of Brandywine and the winter of 1777 at Valley Forge... move quickly; present-day events hold attention with the gradual unraveling of several mysteries...brings the past to life while thoughtfully presenting the division between Tory and Patriot in what Jensen fairly describes as 'The First American Civil War'."–Kirkus Children's/Young Adult

A Great Merging of Fact and Fiction

". . .This enjoyable little novel focuses on Lars Olafson, who moves back to the old family farm near Valley Forge, Pa., learning a valuable lesson about what truly happened at that historical site - from a ghost. . .This is a great merging of fact and fiction." —The Pilot, Southern Pines, NC

A Fascinating Merge of Contemporary Concerns and Historical Fact

"...a fascinating merge of contemporary concerns (new school, bullies) and historical fact. Having Geordie tell in his own words about such experiences as meeting George Washington will make those events come alive for readers. A good read-aloud choice when children study the American Revolution." —American Library Association Booklist

Fine Historical Novel

"Fine historical novels include The Riddle of Penncroft Farm." —The Young Reader

A Real Treat

"This is an entertaining mystery involving a missing will that could stand alone, but combined with Geordie's enthralling tales of Valley Forge during the American Revolution, Jensen gives readers two terrific stories that are intertwined nicely and come together in a satisfying conclusion. Not only is the history presented in an interesting and painless manner, but also readers should come away eager to read more about this period. Middle graders are in store for a real treat with this offering."—Elizabeth Mellett, Brookline Public Library, MA, School Library Journal

Takes the Young Reader on a Journey

"Jensen...has found a way to make history personal and takes the young reader on a journey where they experience the revolutionary period of America from the perspective of the ordinary people living through these times. No longer is the American Revolution a series of events involving Samuel Adams, Thomas Jefferson, George Washington, and some tea in the Boston Harbor. Jensen's story invites students to think about these historical times as if they were living through them and is an excellent selection for integrating social studies and language arts in the fifth grade classroom."—Lisa Hatfield's Blog


Exactly What is Needed

"With historical and geographical literacy a priority in many schools now, historical fiction like Dorothea Jensen's novel may be exactly what is needed."–The Five Owls


Love this book!



The 4th grade gifted classes in my school district read The Riddle of Penncroft Farm every year. As a result I have read this book 18 times and it never gets old! Every single student I've ever taught has also loved it, and learned so much while reading it. The story is so interesting and well crafted. I appreciate, and the students definitely notice, all of the complex word play throughout the story and the story itself touches my heart, as well as amuses me, every time. It really is an amazing book!! 5 Stars —Sue S., Amazon

I enjoyed it as a Fifth Grade Teacher


"It's a very fun, easy chance to learn a bit of history while being entertained. I enjoyed it as a Fifth Grade teacher and I think the fifth grade class also had fun listening to it as a read aloud. Highly recommended." 5 Stars—Dixie Goode, Amazon

Their Favorite Novel of the Year


I have been teaching this novel to my 5th grade students for 17 years and this by far, is their favorite novel of the year! The characters of Lars, Geordie, Will, and Sandy come alive for my students. This is a great teaching novel, because there are so many different reading strategies that go very well with this book. Foreshadowing, flashbacks, inferencing, and character development to name a few. 5 Stars —Sara Shaiman, Amazon



It is one of the best books I've ever read



My Class read this in 5th grade, and it is one of the best books I've ever read. It was so good, I would secretly read ahead, because I couldn't wait to read it! 5 Stars —Daniel J Parmet, Amazon