By Annie Sliman and Mary Peterson
An Award-Winning Ride Through the 1950s
If you want to open the whole universe for your children, kid’s book author C. A. Hartnell has some advice for you. “I think reading makes kids smarter, increases their vocabularies and builds self-esteem. At the same time, it takes them to amazing real and imaginary places and introduces them to characters that help them learn through stories. It’s active recreation that engages kids on many levels.” Hartnell should know. She is the author of an award-winning series of historical fiction and is dedicated to sharing the past with her young readers.
Her four-book series, set in the 1950s, has earned a Mom’s Choice Silver Award. This award program evaluates products and services created for children and families. It’s globally recognized for establishing a benchmark of excellence in family-friendly media, products and services. Mom’s Choice is based in the United States and reviews thousands of entries from more than 40 countries each year.
Hartnell’s titles include “Scary Spring,” about the 1955 polio epidemic; “Sinister Summer,” which adds lots of adventure to summer vacation; “Ferocious Fall,” which deals with bullying and unpredictable weather and “Wild Winter,” a story that educates kids about the value of giving back.
One of the books in the series, “Scary Spring: Our Polio Fright of 1955,” was also awarded a prestigious Moonbeam Children’s Book Award in the preteen e-book fiction category. These awards honor the year’s best children’s books. The contest is open to all authors, illustrators and publishers of children’s books written in English or Spanish and intended for the North American market. “Scary Spring” shares critically important information about polio and the dramatic creation of a vaccine, which is a significant event in recent American history.
“Many school children know nothing about polio or its vaccine. In the book, I tell the story through the everyday lives of two all-American kids who lived through this watershed time in American medical history,” Hartnell said.
The kids, Carol Ann and Pete, are Hartnell’s engaging protagonists throughout the series. Through them, she tells about wholesome, exciting adventures about a period in history that is dear to her heart. Hartnell is a baby boomer who grew up in the 1950s, a time that she remembers as being fun and magical but often challenging. In fact, the polio epidemic that affected her family, including her aunt and uncle, who played a small role in the development of the vaccine. All of these experiences are incorporated into the adventures of her characters. Her stories are steeped with images of the era, including clothes, music and iconic places. Hartnell has even acquired an authentic 1950s hot rod. Dubbed Hawksride, the car is driven by a teenage character that rumbles and zooms through her stories.
It’s Hartnell’s hope that parents and grandparents will use her books as a way of connecting with children. Her engaging stories take the reader through the past during the middle of the 20th century while teaching them about courage, perseverance, friendship and fun.