Meet the Author
When she writes historical fiction, Ann Turner tries to imagine herself as a child, alive in a particular time and place. She asks herself, "What would I do then? How would I feel and react?"
The story for Katie's Trunk came from a conversation between Turner and her aunt about an old trunk that used to be in her grandmother's basement. "'One of our ancestors hid in it when the Revolutionary soldiers came,' she told me one day. I was astonished. `You mean we were Tories?' I had to write a story about it, and the character of Katie came to mind - a rebellious, spirited girl (as I was) who would have wanted to protect her family's things from the rebels." Turner's other books include Dakota Dugout, Dust for Dinner, Red Flower Goes West, and Mississippi Mud: Three Prairie Journals.
Meet the Illustrator
As a child in Cleveland, Ohio, Ron Himler spent many hours each week drawing at his grandmother's house. Since then, in a career that spans three decades, he has illustrated more than eighty books.
Himler lives in the American Southwest, where his special interest is researching and painting the ceremonies of Native Americans.
To find out more about Ann Turner and Ron Himler, visit Education Place. www.eduplace.com/kids
by Ann Turner
illustrations by Ron Himler
What would it be tike to be a Tory if your neighbors were Patriots? When you read, summarize the conflict between Katie's family and their neighbors.
When I'd been bad all day long,
hiding Hattie's doll under the sofa
and never telling where it went,
Mama sighed and said, "I should sit you down
to sew long seams all day
and get the goodness straight inside,
Katie. What is wrong with you?"
I couldn't tell it with a name,
though I felt it inside,
the way a horse knows a storm is near.
I could feel the itchiness in the air,
the wind bringing cold,
the clouds tumbling over the trees
bringing rain - a sour rain.
"Must be," Mama sighed and sat down to tea,
"must be all this trouble and fighting.
Why, it makes me skittish as a newborn calf,
all this marching and talking,
these letters your Papa speaks of,
that tea they dumped in the harbor."
Mama's hand shook.
"Tea! In the harbor! Wasting God's good food."
Brother Walter said, "That's not the least of it.
It will get worse."
She peered at him.
"How could it be worse, Walter?"
Then she shut her lips on the words.
Already we had lost friends, neighbors,
families we had played with on the green
and helped with building their new barns.
Celia Warren no longer spoke to me.
Her brother, Ralph, no longer spoke to Walter.
Sometimes I heard that word hissed, "Tory!"
like a snake about to bite.
The rebels were arming, brother told me,
marching and drilling beyond the meadows.
I'll never forget the day they came.
The sun was hot on the mill pond
and Walter, Hattie, and I watched the dragonflies
peel their skins off on the long grass
and fly away.
Something like smoke rose over the road
and out of it Papa came running. "Get your mother!
Hide in the woods. The rebels are coming!"
We ran to the house,
Mama's face like a white handkerchief.
She shoved a piece of pork pie in our hands
and ran us out to the thick woods
where we could hide. Crouched in the underbrush,
I felt like an animal in a trap. And suddenly
I was so mad I could not still myself.
I raced for the house,
Mama's fierce whisper trying to call me back.
I would not let John Warren and Reuben Otis
hurt our house and things. It was not right,
it was not just, it was not fair.
Inside our parlor, I touched each thing
I loved: Mama's pineapple teapot,
the silver tray, shining like a moon,
the pictures of all our kin
ranged across the wall - home.
Then I heard voices by the door,
Reuben Otis, John Warren, Harold Smith
and others, not our neighbors.
"This'll be fine pickings!"
They paused on the front step
and ripped the knocker off the wood.
I ran into Mama and Papa's room,
looking for a place to hide.
If they could steal, they could hurt as well.
There was Mama's wedding trunk,
big and black and domed.
I pulled up the trunk lid and hid under the dresses.
In the shut down darkness everything
was muffled and faraway. The door slamming.
Their footsteps next door in the parlor.
"English goods!" someone spat
and something hit the floor and broke.
My breath stuck in my throat.
I heard Reuben say,
"Mr. Gray has money here. Look hard for it."
John Warren spoke of arms they would buy.
The air closed around my mouth
like a black cloth.
I bit my hand and prayed,
though I was never much good at that.
I thought my words might go up to God
like bubbles in a pond to the silver top
where they would burst. "Please, God,
don't let them find me, don't let them hurt us,
let me breathe."
The footsteps came closer, someone leaned against
the trunk. My breath got caught somewhere midst
my stomach and chest, and I could not
get it back. There wasn't enough air.
John Warren said, "Fine dresses and silver here."
He pulled up the lid and the sweet air rushed in.
I sucked in a breath as a dress was snatched out.
The rustlings drowned their words,
another dress went, and a hand touched me.
I wanted to bite it, to make him jump and shout,
but I stilled myself Maybe he didn't know.
Suddenly, he shouted, "Out! The Tories
are coming. Back to the road! Hurry!"
He did not close the lid, and footsteps sounded
out the door.
Sudden quiet. My heart beat loud
as the horses galloping down the road.
Quiet as quiet, I crept
to the window and looked out. No one.
Puffs of smoke far down on the green.
A horse thudding past, riderless;
someone's hat blowing by in the gusty wind.
Would I ever play with Celia again?
Would I always wear this name, Tory, as if
it were written on my chest?
I sat down, hugged my knees
and began to cry.
Walter ran inside and hugged
me so tight
my nose stuck to his shirt.
Mama, Papa, and Hattie came next,
white as the moon and as silent.
Only Mama scolded, "Katie! Leaving us
that way. . ." Her voice broke
and she sat beside me and stroked my hair.
Papa looked out the window. "It's not bad,
dear ones, just a skirmish.
No one's hurt that I can see."
Walter's mouth snapped open and then
shut tight. I wiped my eyes on his sleeve.
A sudden thread like a song
ran through my head. When Mama asked me
to sew straight seams to get the goodness straight
I knew I couldn't do it.
But John Warren had. When I hid
in the black stuffy trunk,
when my breath got lost in Mama's dresses,
he left the trunk lid up to let me breathe
and called the others away.
He'd left one seam of goodness there,
and we were all tied to it:
Papa, Mama, Walter, Hattie