Alison Hart

   Alison Hart, a Virginia author of over twenty mysteries and historical fiction novels for children, loves “writing books that keep young readers glued to the pages.” At the age of seven she wrote, illustrated and self-published The Wild Dog, a book which she shows to young readers to make the point that it is never too early to be an author. Alison has a masters degree in Communicative Disorders from Johns Hopkins University. She taught elementary school and is currently an adjunct college instructor specializing in improving reading and writing skills.

   Alison honed her craft writing Nancy Drew mysteries and quickly developed a love of strong characters who are thrown into suspenseful situations. Research is another passion for her. She loves old journals, letters and memoirs because they provide her with an amazing connection to the past. She believes that “well-researched historical fiction should bring to life the people, events and struggles of the past and make them relevant and real for today’s young readers.”

   Her “Racing to Freedom” series, Gabriel’s Horses, Gabriel’s Triumph, and Gabriel’s Journey are all Junior Library Guild picks. Under the name of Alice Leonhardt she has written books for younger ages. Among these books are: Turtles; Tide Pool Creatures; Mystery at the White House; and Why the Ocean is Salty. This award winning author has written books for American Girl/Pleasant Co. Publications in addition to her other novels for grades three and up.

Selected Reviews of Alison Hart’s Books

Dive Right In
Alison Hart
   It is not fun to be the girl that always seems to fall in the shadows of her best friend. How she deals with this will all depend on the girl herself. With this American Girl book, another addition to the “Innerstar University” series, readers will get to decide for themselves how they will handle their friend’s success. Readers of this book will get to jump into the story as the main character who is the best diver on the swim team; that is until Megan, a close friend, decides to join the team. It does not take long for Megan to learn some of the more challenging dives and earn the respect of the other members of the team. Readers will have to decide if they are going to let their feelings of jealousy get the best of them. With more than twenty different endings, the reader will be able to read this story over and over again, making different choices each time. This middle reader will attract many young girls with its bright, colorful illustrations, alternate endings, and access code to 2011, American Girl Publishing, $8.95. Ages 8 to 12. Reviewer: Justina Engebretson (Children’s Literature).

Emma’s River
Alison Hart
   As Emma boards the steamboat Sally May with her mama, she is grateful and relieved to have another member of the party: her pony, Twist. Emma convinced her mother to allow the pony to come along as they travel to join her papa on the frontier. While on the steamboat, Emma worries about her mother, who keeps having fainting spells and feeling ill. She also worries about Twist, who must stay below for the entire journey. Though Emma makes friends with the captain and finds the boat to be exciting, she cannot stop worrying about Twist. Finally, she sneaks down to see him and is stunned to find a boy sleeping in the stall. Emma makes a deal with Patrick, a stowaway, to care for Twist in exchange for her bringing him food and keeping his secret. But her friendship with Patrick is not the only surprise in store for Emma. Her worries for her mother change into something else when she learns why her mother must rest so often and is so dizzy all the time. But even the coming of a brother or sister is nothing compared to the terrifying moment when the Sally May explodes and all the passengers must find a way to survive. A fast-paced, compelling tale. Reviewer: Carol Ann Lloyd-Stanger (Children’s Literature).

Alison Hart
   Jasmine Schuler is in foster care because she attacked Hugh Robicheaux with a hoof pick. But Robicheaux had just accused Jas’s grandfather of killing Whirlwind, a valuable mare, by giving her yew to munch on. After her grandfather suffers a heart attack, Jasmine is left with nowhere to go. And Jasmine is certain of the truth about the horse’s death–Hugh is the culprit. She is relieved to discover that Whirlwind is not dead and that a look-a-like but less-valuable horse was poisoned instead for the insurance money. At first, Jas is not keen on being in foster care, but when she ends up at a horse rescue farm run by the no-nonsense Miss Hahn, things begin to look up. She still has to wear a tracking anklet because she attacked her nemesis, but she does have some freedom. The insurance company decides to prosecute the evil Robicheaux and needs Jasmine’s help to find the real Whirlwind. In addition, the good-looking Chase seems to have an interest in her and her problems. This sequel to Shadow Horse is fast paced, with death threats and intrigue plus a little romance thrown in for good measure. Horse lovers will enjoy all the horse talk, and other readers will enjoy the mystery and romance. 2010, Laurel Leaf/Random House Children’s Books/Random House, $7.99. Ages 12 up. Reviewer: Sarah Maury Swan (Children’s Literature).

Program Details

   Alison would love to develop a program specifically for your school or group. All presentations are interactive and designed to get kids (and adults!) excited about reading and writing. Topics have included, but are not limited to the following:

Bringing History to Life: The author’s love of history shines through in all her presentations whether it’s Readers Theatre, Writing Historical Fiction (ages 9 and up), Historical Fiction in the Classroom (professionals), or Take a Field Trip Back in Time (all ages).

The Case of the Missing Necklace: Mysteries are a sure-fire way to get kids engaged in reading and writing. A variety of interactive presentations are offered for young through adult mystery lovers.

Creating a Book: From Idea to Cover: The author’s work is used to demonstrate how a novel is crafted from the idea to the cover. By the end of the presentation, students will realize that all writers — from second graders to (gasp!) J.K.Rowling — use the same process to create a story.

A Basketful of Ideas: Authors are always on the hunt for new ideas and-guess what-they’re everywhere! Young (and old) writers will discover the secrets of collecting a basketful of ideas and then spicing them up with imagination for the start of a great story or essay.

Boost Those Writing Scores: For schools/teachers who are grappling with SOL’s and Writing Literacy Test Scores. This is a two-day to three-day workshop (depending on number of classes and grades) involving teachers and students. Advanced planning to meet the needs of each school is necessary.

The Writing Life: Writing careers from technical writing to journalism as well as the importance of strong writing skills for all careers is explored. In addition, the reality of “the writing life” of an author is discussed. Designed for older students/adults.

The Magic of Writing: No rabbits appear, but students use their imaginations and ‘five senses’ to create fantastical characters, settings and plots and in the process realize that writing is truly magic!

Writing 911: Workshop for writers designed to pinpoint areas that need strengthening as well as remedies/ideas to help them on the path to publishing. Interactive and informative.

Alison will conduct up to 5 or 6 presentations in one day, with 2 to 3 classes at a time. She does NOT do auditorium-sized groups.

Costs: School presentations $660 per day. Travel and lodging costs to be covered by the booking organization. Costs are negotiable for conferences and multiple day bookings, and for local schools and libraries.

Additional Information

   To learn more about Alison Hart and her publications please visit