Posted by: Kathy Temean | July 1, 2021


I contacted Trinka Hakes Noble to see if she would share her journey with THE SCARLET STOCKING SPY that was published by Sleeping Bear Press in 2004. I thought this wonderful story was a perfect book giveaway for this coming Fourth of July holiday. It is so good, it just went into its 25th printing.

Trinka has agreed to send a signed copy of the book to one lucky winner living in the US. All you have to do to get in the running is to leave a comment. Reblog, tweet, or talk about it on Facebook with a link and you will get additional chances to win. Just let me know if you shared on Facebook, Twitter, or rebloged, so I can put in the right amount of tickets in my basket for you.

If you are a Kindle Unlimited Member on Amazon, you can start reading the book, right now.


Philadelphia 1777 is no place for the faint of heart. The rumble of war with the British grows louder each day, and spies for and against the Patriots are everywhere. No one is above suspicion. Still, everyday life must go on and young Maddy Rose must help her mother, especially since her father’s death at the Battle of Princeton and now with her beloved brother Jonathan off with Washington’s army. But when childhood games become life-and-death actions, Maddy Rose is drawn ever deeper into events that will explode beyond her imagining. As young America stands on the very brink of its fight for freedom, it becomes clear that even the smallest of citizens can play the largest of parts, and that the role of a patriot has nothing to do with age and everything to do with heart. In The Scarlet Stockings Spy, Trinka Hakes Noble melds a suspenseful tale of devotion, sacrifice, and patriotism with the stark realities of our country’s birth.Noted picture book author and illustrator Trinka Hakes Noble has pursued the study of children’s book writing and illustrating in New York City at Parsons School of Design, the New School University, Caldecott medalist Uri Shulevitz’s Greenwich Village Workshop, and New York University. She has authored and illustrated numerous books including the popular Jimmy’s Boa series, which has been translated into six languages. Trinka lives in Berrnardsville, New Jersey. The Scarlet Stockings Spy is her first book with Sleeping Bear Press. Because Robert Papp’s childhood drawings of his favorite superheros were such a pleasure, it was only natural that he would wind up an illustrator. Nowadays, his award-winning artwork appears on book covers and in magazines instead of on the refrigerator. He has produced hundreds of cover illustrations for major publishers across the United States. Robert lives in historic Bucks County, Pennsylvania.


Trinka Hakes Noble Searching for Story In Historical Fiction

 My ancestral roots run deep throughout American history, so it has always been a passion of mine.  Some years ago, when Sleeping Bear Press asked me to write the first historical fiction story to launch their new series, Tales of Young Americans, I was thrilled, but hesitant, because I had never written historical fiction before!  But how could I ever turn down such an opportunity?

And so the journey of my first historical fiction book, The Scarlet Stockings Spy began.  My editor at Sleeping Bear Press had two stipulations; that the time period could be whatever I wanted in American history, but the setting had to be in Pennsylvania.  Oh, and one more thing.  It was due in six weeks!

And so I chose the American Revolution since I had a direct ancestor who fought with General Washington, and of course the setting had to be Philadelphia.  I started my research by reading many books about the American Revolution.  I learned a lot of history, but there was no story there.  I wanted a really strong story.  Meanwhile, two weeks had gone by, and I’m down to four weeks, and I haven’t written a word.  No plot, no characters, no title…nothing!

I decided I needed to go to the place where the story would happen.  So I went to Philadelphia by myself, rented a hotel room in the historical district and did the touristy things for a couple days, but there was no story there.  Remember, I wanted a really strong story.  Meanwhile, a few more days have gone by and I am getting very nervous.

That night I was standing in my hotel room when something said Go for a walk!   When a writer gets an inner directive like that, you do it!  It was early March with a light mist falling and the old-fashioned street lamps were just coming on.  I kept walking along the cobblestone streets, waiting for something, but what?  Then, suddenly, something said STOP! LOOK down this narrow, cobblestone alley!  One street lamp was softly glowing on the wet cobblestones and just then an alley cat slinked through that pool of light.  And right then, right there I knew my main character would be a spy and she would have to come out into the dark streets of Philadelphia in 1777 when our country was at war.  That night my main character, Maddy Rose, began to tell me who she was, what she needed and what she wanted.

I ran back to my hotel room and wrote the whole middle section of The Scarlet Stockings Spy that night in Philadelphia! 

So I believe that if you can, go to the place where your historical fiction story happens, and walk where your characters may have walked and see and feel what they might have felt. This gives originality and authenticity to historical fiction, and makes young readers feel that the story just might be true.

But did I make the six-week deadline, you might ask?  No.  I got an extra two weeks.  But those extra two weeks really paid off because The Scarlet Stockings Spy just went into its 25th printing.

I went on to write three more historical fiction books for The Tales of Young Americans Series.  Next came The Last Brother, a Civil War Tale that takes place on the Gettysburg Battlefield.  Rettie and the Ragamuffin Parade followed, which takes place during the 1918 Influenza Pandemic on the Lower East Side of New York.  My latest title is A Fist for Joe Louis and Me, which takes place in Detroit in 1938.  This summer I am starting my fifth historical fiction book for the series.  And the good news is that I have longer than six weeks to write it!


Ms. Noble wrote the popular Jimmy’s Boa series, illustrated by Steven Kellogg. The series has been translated into seven languages and featured on the PBS children’s program Reading Rainbow and in Newsweek.  Her first book with Penguin USA was The King’s Tea,  along with Apple Tree Christmas and  Hansy’s Mermaid and  Meanwhile Back At The Ranch.

The Scarlet Stockings Spy 
(2004) was awarded an IRA Teacher’s Choice (2005), followed by The Last Brother (2006). Apple Tree Christmas (2005) was reissued by Sleeping Bear Press in a Holiday Classic edition. The Orange Shoes was also awarded an IRA Teacher’s Choice (2008).

Trinka graduated from Michigan State University in 1967 with a BA in Fine Arts, then taught art in Michigan, Virginia and Rhode Island. After moving to New Jersey in 1972, she studied children’s book writing and illustrating in New York City at Parsons School of Design, the New School University, Caldecott medalist Uri Shulevitz’s Greenwich Village Workshop, and most recently at New York University.

Trinka is on the board of The New Jersey Center for the Book and a member of the Rutgers University Council on Children’s Literature.  In 2002 she was awarded Outstanding Woman in Arts and Letters in New Jersey for her lifetime of work in children’s books, along with citations from the United States Congress, House of Representatives and the Senate.  In 2016,  Ms. Noble received the Author of the Year Award from the New Jersey Association of School Librarians. She lives in a circa 1780 house in historic northern New Jersey.

Trinka, thank you for sharing your book and journey with us. It’s amazing that Sleeping Bear Press wanted it written in six weeks and you made that happen. I hope everyone reads it and The Scarlet Stocking spy goes on and gets reprinted at least 25 more times.

Below are a few additional covers of Book’s Trinka has written and also has been talked about over the years on Writing and

You can learn more about Trinka and her books on her website at

Talk tomorrow,



  1. Absolutely fascinating! 😃Moving it to the top of my TBR list. Shared on FB and I’m a blog follower. Be well all.


    • Thank you Donna! And thanks for sharing!


  2. I love the concept! This is definitely a book that I’d love to share with my students about point of view. Congratulations!


    • Thank you Brenda Panella! So happy you want to share my book with your students!


  3. Wonderful important books—thanks for highlighting THN❣️


  4. […] an author wrote her first historical fiction book for children—oh, and there’s a book giveaway […]


  5. Wow to the artwork! I can’t wait to read this book. I’m an email subscriber and shared on social:


    • Thanks Cathy Bonnell! I’m most appreciative!


    • Thanks Danielle Hammelef for sharing! Most kind of you!

      Liked by 1 person

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