I'm so thrilled that I Am Defiance has been nominated for the 2022-2023 Junior Tome It List! To see the full list, please click here.
Sybil Ludington believes in the legend of fireflies—they appear when you need them most. But it's not until her family is thrust into the dangers of the Revolutionary War, and into George Washington's spy ring, that Sybil fully experiences firefly magic for herself—guiding her through the darkness, empowering her to figure out who she's supposed to be and how strong she really is—as she delivers her imperative message and warns against a British attack.
By the Light of Fireflies is the captivating tale of a young girl's journey as a daughter, a sister, a friend, a spy, and eventually a war hero, completing a midnight ride that cements her place in history as the "female Paul Revere."
Purchase By the Light of Fireflies
Inspiration Behind By the Light of Fireflies
It was truly an honor to write this novel about Sybil Ludington, a little known Revolutionary War heroine. She's often known as the "female Paul Revere" but she rode twice as far, was half Paul Revere's age, and completed her own midnight ride all by herself. *Mic drop*
This feat was so spectacular and unbelievable that some people believe her ride was nothing more than a story. But I believe that Sybil accomplished something magical, just like the Sybil in my story believes in the magic of fireflies, and that on April 26, 1777 she truly made a daring ride to warn of an attack by the British.
I also had the opportunity to expand on Sybil's story. She was more than the "female Paul Revere." Sybil was a spy (yes, for George Washington!), a sister (sooo many siblings), a daughter, a friend, and someone who broke the mold for young girls of her time. I hope you enjoy Sybil's story as much as I enjoyed writing it!
I'm very excited to announce that Over and Out has been chosen as a Spring 2022 Junior Library Guild Gold Standard Selection!
The Junior Library Guild has a reputation for a keen literary sense; and for selecting books that go on to become award-winners. Find out more about JLG on their website, www.juniorlibraryguild.com.
Middle grade fiction readers will find By the Light of the Fireflies a fine historical novel based on the life of Colonial girl Sybil Ludington, following Sybil and her family's struggle during the Revolutionary War.
The story opens with the Loyalists to the British Crown coming for her father. They are accusing him of being a traitor to England.
Sybil believes in her father, and in the magic light of fireflies which (legend has it) appear when you need them most. But can they help her family when war swirls around them and they all are endangered?
As Sybil steps into a role she'd never envisioned, young readers receive an action-packed story that captures the environment and atmosphere of the times: "I used my musket to point into the dark forest, my own gaze following the long barrel. I heard Rebecca’s gasp. My gun felt heavy in my hands. I should fire it. It was what Papa told us to do. Fire it and he’d come running. He’d handle the situation, in this case: his capturers. Or worse: his assassins. I quivered. I wouldn’t fire my gun. That felt like hand-delivering a worm to a bird’s nest to be gobbled."
Forced to be assertive and proactive beyond her years and experience, Sybil becomes an inadvertent heroine as she struggles to protect everything she loves from the Loyalists and the evolving battle that engulfs her home.
Revolutionary War history and motivations on all sides come to life in the course of a survey that does an outstanding job of capturing the political and social sentiments of the times.
Jenni L. Walsh is especially adept at capturing the Sybil's first-person observations and emotions: "I pushed us north, toward the hamlet of Stormville. That’d be the point where I turned us south again. I yearned for Stormville. I wanted nothing more than to see that strip of homes. My hands were red. They burned from the cold, from where I gripped the reins and my stick. My jawline hurt, where my teeth had clenched for so long. My legs and back and torso ached from keeping beat with Star. My stomach felt hollow and grumbled for food. My eyeballs even felt as if they’d been rattled to the point of pain."
These drive a story line that personalizes the history in a manner that makes it understandable, realistic, and quite accessible.
Middle grade readers who normally eschew fact-laden historical fiction will find the emotional driving force particularly strong in By the Light of the Fireflies. This approach strengthens the compelling story of a young girl's trials, which forces her into the unexpected role of becoming a female war hero in times where girls and women normally are staid.
A concluding note from the author reinforces the real historical events that receive such evocative, personalized attention in the plot.
--Midwest Book Review
Reviewed June 2021
Author of I AM DEFIANCE Jenni L. Walsh’s OVER AND OUT, set in Cold War Germany, in which a science-loving girl is forced to become a Stasi spy and risks everything for a better future on the other side of the Berlin Wall, to Olivia Valcarce at Scholastic, for publication in spring 2022, by Shannon Hassan at Marsal Lyon Literary Agency (world).
More information coming soon!
Author of I AM DEFIANCE Jenni L. Walsh’s BY THE LIGHT OF FIREFLIES, based on the true story of a hidden Revolutionary War hero, Sybil Ludington, dubbed the “female Paul Revere,” and following a teen girl who braves a perilous midnight ride to warn the troops, with the believed magic of the fireflies to light her way, to Nancy Cleary at Wyatt-MacKenzie, for publication in early November 2021, by Shannon Hassan at Marsal Lyon Literary Agency (world English).
More information coming soon!
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🎉 Book news! 🎉
I'm such a nerd for research and outlining so it's with immense pleasure that I get to say I've begun researching a new middle grade book and that I'll be contributing to Capstone Publishing's Girls Survive series!
The Girls Survive series is for kiddos 8 and up that tells amazing stories of survival during events like the sinking of the Titanic, the San Francisco Earthquake, the bombing of Pearl Harbor and stories about the underground railroad, spying during the civil war and the Night of Broken Glass.
My book -- which is coming Spring 2021 -- is about the London Blitz. It occurred during WWII when Hitler turned his attention away from bombing military targets and instead terrorized civilians in London night after night. For 57 days!
I am very excited to be writing and sharing a young girl's story of survival during this time. Thank you to Capstone for the opportunity to contribute to this awesome series!
I'm very excited to announce a new middle grade novel with Scholastic, inspired by a real-life resistance group in Nazi Germany! Stay tuned for updates. This beauty is planned to hit shelves in early 2021!
While my writing career so far has included historical novels (and I'll have more to come!), I'm so thrilled to be adding children's books to my repertoire and I'm very excited to announce the launch of my new middle grade biography series with Scholastic, featuring true stories from heroic women who, at a young age, accomplished daring feats of perseverance and bravery.
As a mama in the process of raising brave tiny humans, it's been so rewarding to bring to life these stories. With every word written I had my kiddos in mind. What would be appropriate? What would engage them? What would incite inspiration? I'm so excited for these books to release today as we kick off a brand new year -- and I hope the series will be an inspiration to your own tiny humans.
About the books
Do you've have a kiddo in your life who you think may enjoy these books? They're available online, in store, and look for them at upcoming Scholastic book fairs!
I'm very excited to be joining forces with Scholastic to bring true stories, featuring young women who accomplished daring feats of perseverance and bravery, to our kiddos!