September 2012

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workWith MeKathleen Ernst Writing history in a way a young audience enjoys Hidden behind the glow of a MacBook, Kathleen Ernst is hard at work at a cozy café—a modern setting for a woman who spends her days traveling back in time. Ernst is the author behind a trove of novels for American Girl, the Middleton- based company that became famous for its book series and accompanying dolls that bring historical time periods to life through the eyes of young female characters. A passionate learner and avid follower of history and literature, Ernst found a way to take nearly 12 years of experience as an educator and curator at Old World Wisconsin, and transform it into a writing career. "I started seeing little girls visit the historical sites with dolls in their hands, sometimes dressed up, and I could tell that these books were having a huge impact on getting them excited about reading and history," Ernst explains. Ernst A Writer's Work Habits Along with setting aside a solid four to six hours a day for writing, Ernst balances time for public presentations, correspond- ing with her fans, and historical research. For the Caroline Abbott series, Ernst even set sail to get a fi rst-hand look at what her sea- side character's life would have been like. of history into books for American Girl readers in 2000, penning stories about some of the most beloved characters to date, including Kit, Josefi na, Kirsten and Molly. While Ernst has also authored other popular books— including her adult mystery novels from the Chloe Ellefson series—today, she's seeing life through a young girl's eyes once again. Th is month, Ernst is set to release a six-book series cen- tered around Caroline Abbott, American Girl's newest character who is a young girl experiencing the began putting her knowledge War of 1812 in Sackets Harbor, N.Y.—a character Ernst developed herself. Her work centers on a simple message she wants young girls to take in: Be your best. Th rough her varying characters, Ernst hopes the message is felt. "I hope that all kids have that opportu- nity to fi nd someone they can relate to in a book," she says. Her new series is no different. "I hope Caroline helps show girls [that] everyone has the power to try to make the world a better place." —Jessica Fecteau September 2012 29 Photo by Shanna Wolf

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