Kentucky Girls Books - Reader comments

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Readers and reviewers praised our Shaker series.

first book cover

"Couldn't put it down."

Heidi Huyser (Ankeny, Iowa)
posted an review:

      "I was immediately bonded with the main character, Betsy, and could hardly put the book down wondering what was going to happen next. I loved Grace and wish I knew her in real life!

The storyline had a few twists and turns but at the end everything worked out. I am waiting for the next book in the series to continue the journey with Betsy!"

Gail Michalack (Fort Wright, Kentucky), retired hospital chaplain:

      "I truly enjoyed reading this book. Although it is written for 10 year-old girls, it is more than that. ... This is a book to give to anyone on your Christmas list."

Cindy Bell (Boone, Iowa) also posted on

      "The characters were delightful, the story heartwarming, the illustrations fabulous. Great read even for an adult, but my nieces, grandkids, and young friends will enjoy getting it as a gift even more."

second book cover

"Don't miss it!"

George Ella Lyon, author of Here & Then, Borrowed Children,
and 30 other children's books:

      "`Tis a Gift blends the timeless — a child's experience of not fitting in — and the historic.

      "Tad Johnson is an orphan placed with the Shakers at Pleasant Hill. Tad's gifts and the suffering necessary to become reconciled with them are at the heart of this adventuresome tale. Through his journey, we glimpse a time and community very different from ours, even as we learn that the issues of self-acceptance and belonging are always the same. "Tad's story offers much to learn from and discuss. Don't miss it!"

Kimberly Montavon, Library Media Specialist
Flemingsburg, Kentucky Elementary School:

      "`Tis a Gift has so many talking points-from bullying to fitting in, dealing with physical limitations to finding your own special gift. It's a great addition to a school or classroom library.

      "My students have enjoyed reading about historical Shaker society in both books. It's a unique part of Kentucky heritage and the novels make their studies come to life. The books have both been quite popular within my library and my students are anxiously awaiting the next adventure from Pleasant Hill!"

third book cover

Heroines from the past

T. Dixon (Dayton, Ohio)
posted an review:

      "Kind of a throwback to books we read when we were kids. An interesting and inspirational tale in the spirit of the "Little House on the Prairie" series."

Dr. Peggy Sullivan, former director,
American Library Association and children’s book author:

      "To find heroines who lived in the same places, saw the same hills and rivers, and walked the same paths enhances the thrill of reading for girls today. Kentucky’s long and rich history and its traditional respect for the past make it an ideal setting for a new group of heroines from the past.

Wonderful story and characters

Candace Moonshower, author of The Legend of Zoey

      "You have an idea that hasn’t been done to death! ... You’ve done a good job of characterizing Betsy — I had a good feel for her immediately. Your writing is clean, and your descriptions are lovely."

Dr. Mason Smith, literature professor at Eastern Kentucky University:

      "This book, which my 11-year-old daughter really enjoyed, has been carefully researched and beautifully illustrated. I always like offering my children books that they can enjoy, but that also teach them something along the way. The authors ... caught the feel for 19th century life ... made me feel like I was back in the 1830s."

Susan Hughes, Interpretation & education manager
Pleasant Hill Shaker Village:

      "The story is well-written and well-researched and does not fall into the trap that catches so many others who attempt to write Shaker fiction. ... The treatment of the Shakers is balanced, fair, non-judgmental and open."

Rae Strobel, program officer
Kentucky Foundation for Women:

      "The foundation is proud to support Northern Kentucky artists like Rebecca Mitchell Turney, who writes young adult historical fiction, set in Kentucky, with strong young heroines. Her work is a great example of how feminist art can build self-esteem in young girls. Reading about girls their own age in another time period living bold lives can shape youth’s perceptions of what is possible for women and girls today."

Historically accurate & great for class

Briolette (Amazon user name) also posted on

      "The authors' historical research creates an authentic account of living with the Shakers. Engaging illustrations add visual realism and emotion to the characters` actions. Experience the life and the community of Shakers through a young girl's eyes. All aboard for the stagecoach ride to Pleasant Hill!"

Pam Summe, fourth grade teacher at St. Agnes School (Fort Wright, Ky)

      "What a rare find this is! As a fellow Kentuckian and a fourth grade teacher, I know the difficulty in trying to locate children’s literature that incorporates a slice of life of Kentucky to accompany the social studies curriculum and Kentucky core requirements. It’s wonderful to read a story that reflects on the common wealth of our Commonwealth!"

Jennifer Green, fourth grade teacher at Berea Community School,
writing after her class's field trip to Shaker Village:

      "The kids were very anxious to visit the village and see first-hand where Betsy had lived. Many children commented on the buildings they saw and (related them to) scenes from the book. ... It was really neat to see them make this connection between a fictional story and a historical site."

Jason Howard, activist/author of We All Live Downstream:

      "Simply beautiful!"

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