Monthly Archives: June 2013

A Difficult Boy: Image Gallery

Photographs and indenture documents courtesy of Springfield History Museums. Engravings from the author’s collection.

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Mending Horses: Awards and Honors

mh cover final

Click on the cover to order your copy today

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Mending Horses

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Mending Horses
by M.P. Barker

(A sequel to A Difficult Boy)

Holiday House, 2014
ISBN: 978-0823429486

Get a sneak preview! Read the first two chapters here.

Click here to order your copy today!

Mending Horses

Daniel Linnehan is an indentured servant no more. He has his papers, his beloved horse, Ivy, and a new direction in life. But an Irish teenager, wearing fine clothes and riding an even finer horse, is asking for trouble.

After a terrible misunderstanding leaves Daniel beaten, the peddler Jonathan Stocking takes Daniel under his wing. But Billy, another Irish youngster traveling with Mr. Stocking, is not thrilled that the two must work together, first as peddlers on the road and then in a traveling circus where Daniel heals and trains the skittish circus ponies and Billy charms audiences with a singing voice from heaven.

All too soon, past secrets catch up with them, bringing danger and heartache.

This deeply moving sequel to A Difficult Boy weaves an indelible piece of historical fiction into a gripping adventure that explores themes of patience, courage, kindness, and the true meaning of family.

Click on the following links for more information:

Frequently Asked Questions
Awards and honors
Book group discussion guide
Educator’s Guide Based on Common Core Curriculum Standards
Helpful websites
Music from the book
Gallery of Images related to the book


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Images of America: Chicopee: Purchasing information

chicopee-cover-for-webYou can order Images of America: Chicopee from your local bookstore.

Or order online from the following retailers:

Click Shop Indie Bookstores to order online for delivery to your favorite independent bookstore.

Click here to order directly from the publisher.

Go union! Click here to order from Powell’s Bookstore.

Click here to order from Barnes & Noble.

Click here to order from Amazon.

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Images of America: Chicopee

chicopee-cover-for-webby Michele Plourde-Barker
Arcadia Publishing
ISBN: 978-0738590066
To purchase a copy, click here.
Click here to read an excerpt.

Introduced in celebration of the 150th anniversary of the town’s incorporation, Chicopee traces the history of this Western Massachusetts community from its first settlement in the 1660s to the growth spurt of the post-World War II era. From covered bridges over the Chicopee and Connecticut Rivers to early farms, readers will see much that has disappeared over time. The 200 vintage images displayed in this volume depict lost schools and churches, local businesses, shops, and factories, as well as factory workers, entrepreneurs, farmers, immigrants, and other residents. Longtime residents will find the book conjures up many memories, and newer ones will see Chicopee as they’ve never seen it before.


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140 Years of Providential Caring: Purchasing information

sis-prov-pic-for-webPriced at $21.25, copies can be picked up at:

Providence Place
5 Gamelin St.
Holyoke, Mass.
(ask for Nancy Arnold) and at:

Genesis Spiritual Life and Conference Center
53 Mill St.
Westfield, MA

Copies also may be obtained by mail for $25, which includes shipping and handling. Checks should be made payable to the Sisters of Providence and sent to:

Nancy Arnold
Providence Place
5 Gamelin Street
Holyoke, Mass., 01040

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A Difficult Boy: Book Group Discussion Guide


Click on the cover to order your copy.

1.         How does Mr. Lyman try to strip Daniel of his identity? What might his motives be? What tactics does Daniel use to try to retain his identity and humanity?

2.         Fathers play an important role in the story. Ethan must choose between obeying his father and becoming Daniel’s friend. Does he make the right choice? What might have happened if he’d chosen differently? How does Ethan’s relationship with his father differ from the relationship between Silas and Mr. Lyman? What can you learn about Daniel’s father from the hints provided in the story?

3.         How are Ethan and Daniel changed by their friendship? What other characters are changed because of the boys’ friendship? In what ways?

4.         Although the story takes place in the 1830s, Ethan and Daniel encounter many problems that people still face today. Compare the attitudes, prejudices, and values of the characters in the story with your own. How much have things changed in 170 years, and how much have they stayed the same?

5.         The concept of childhood was very different in the 1830s from today. Discuss how those differences are revealed in the story.

6.         Why doesn’t Ethan tell his parents about the way Mr. Lyman treats him and Daniel? What is he afraid will happen if he stops working for Mr. Lyman? Are his fears justified?

7.         Why is Ivy so important to Daniel? How does she bring Ethan and Daniel together?

8.         What role does Mr. Stocking play in changing Ethan’s and Daniel’s perceptions of themselves and each other? Why does Daniel lose the race to Mr. Stocking, and what does it say about both characters?

9.         Mr. Lyman seems like a villain to Ethan and Daniel, but he thinks of himself as a good and charitable person. How does he justify his actions to himself and others?

10,       How do you feel about the story’s resolution? Does Mr. Lyman get off too easily or is justice served? Are Silas’s reasons for keeping his father’s secret justified? What do you think Silas’s and Mr. Lyman’s lives will be like in the future?

11.       What do you think will happen to Daniel once he leaves Farmington?

To find out more about New England in the 1830s, go to the Old Sturbridge Village Web site – . You can find research articles and historic documents here: .

For a HUGE collection of resources on 19th-century America, go to:

If your book club wants to prepare some 19th-century dishes for your meeting, you can find some recipes on the Old Sturbridge Village website here: .

Or go to “Feeding America: the Historic American Cookbook Project” for a variety of 19th-century cookbooks:

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