A well-researched and well-imagined historical novel.” ―Booklist
A good mix of history and mystery enlivened with interesting, likable characters.” ―Kirkus
Please tell us about your book.
Did you know America’s deadliest fire happened in Peshtigo, Wisconsin on the same exact day as the Great Chicago Fire? It’s true! And this is a story about a brother and sister who survived that fire and all they went through in order to build a new life and family.
What inspired you to write this story?
Why did Peshtigo – a massive fire with over 2,400 casualties, get little help and zero attention? If it’s America’s deadliest fire, why isn’t it in our history books? Those questions haunted me. What determines who gets help and who doesn’t? Chicago was going through a mayoral election and that allowed for a lot of attention – the candidates fought over how much help and rebuilding they would provide. Peshtigo was a poor lumber town with no representation. I just had to write about their story.
Could you share with readers how you conducted your research or share a few interesting tidbits you learned while researching?
Researching this novel was hard! Much of what I needed to document the story was burned in both fires. The hardest thing I ran into was when my editor asked me to prove Chicago’s sewers were built tall enough for a grown man to walk in (that is part of the story). And yet – all of those documents were destroyed in the fire. I had to find the application sketches that Chicago sent to Washington DC. Digging through piles and piles of government documents to find just the right proof was a massive undertaking!
What are some special challenges associated with writing historical fiction?
Historical fiction never feels challenging to me. All stories are about connection. About people and relationships and overcoming challenges. That is Ailis and Quinn’s journey – and it is our individual journey as well. Besides, I feel like those characters are whispering to me from the past….tell our story….it matters.
What topics does your book touch upon that would make it a perfect fit for the classroom?
Thanks for asking! Part of my Adopt a Chicken! Campaign includes a free discussion guide that addresses many points including: the media and its influence (good and bad), prejudice, perseverance, why some people are able to overcome great obstacles and others choose not to even try, where friendships come from, the qualities in a perfect pet, what makes a family and utilizing our talents.
Here’s more about my campaign:
Join our Adopt a Chicken! classroom campaign!! Any class – anywhere – anytime! If you choose to read Cinnamon Moon in your classroom or homeschool group, Tess Hilmo will provide an author’s care package that includes: signed bookmarks for every student, a helpful discussion guide with worksheets and activities, a letter written specifically to your classroom and a 4 inch resin chicken to be used in a fun friendship/service game. As you read the novel, place the chicken on a student’s desk. Once they have completed an act of friendship for another student they can move the chicken and the game continues. Send Tess pictures of your class enjoying the novel and she will post it on her website and blog. If you’re a parent, consider giving Cinnamon Moon as a holiday gift to your teacher. What teacher wouldn’t love an opportunity to interact with an author on a whole new level?