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American History, spirit of adventure combine in Messner's new book

PLATTSBURGH North Country author Kate Messner has completed her latest historical fiction novel. Champlain and the Silent One, Messners second published work, recently went on sale, prompting her to tour the area for book signings and special appearances. I really wanted to write another book set in the North Country because the reaction to Spitfire was just overwhelming and people have been so appreciative, Messner said, referring to her first novel. Champlain and the Silent One, she said, revolves around a young Innu boy known as Silent One who hasnt spoken since his uncle died fighting the Iroquois. He learns of a new language and new culture when Samuel de Champlain and his compatriots arrive in the New World. Silent One travels with Samuel de Champlain on his journey from Quebec to encounter the Iroquois in 1609 and forms a bond with Champlain, who promises to help the Innu people fight their enemies. Silent One must join the war party, journey far from home, and find his voice to save his brother and his own spirit. The ideology of Champlain and the Silent One, which is geared toward readers in grades 4 and above, is that one must have the courage and strength to speak for peace in a world consumed by violence, said Messner. [Silent Ones] tribe and others nearby were entrenched in cyclical violence with the Iroquois to the south seasonal raids on villages that had been going on since long before my main character was born, explained Messner. It was a habit something that was seemingly never questioned. When she was conducting research for her book, Messner said she spent a lot of time thinking about the patterns of violence that existed in Silent Ones society and those that exist in our own, which helped her to shape the story. That idea of speaking for peace, even when it requires courage, is one that I hope young readers will take from this book, said Messner. Our world desperately needs strong voices right now. The overall process to develop Champlain and the Silent One took more than a year, said Messner. She began by reading about the voyages of Samuel de Champlain, as well as his journals and the journals of Jesuits who spent time with the Huron tribe during the same time period. Those writers seemed to pay more attention to the details of Native American life and culture, Messner explained. The research also involved studying the time period and learning about nautical exploration from places like the Lake Champlain Maritime Museum in Vergennes, Vt. Once the research was conducted, Messner spent approximately eight months writing, working diligently to have the book ready in time for the 400th anniversary of Champlains exploration of the region, which will be celebrated in 2009. While both Champlain and the Silent One and Spitfire create fictional adventures from actual events, Messners first book is set several years ahead of Champlains exploits, in October 1776. Spitfire follows the life of 12-year-old Abigail Smith, who risks her life to find her uncle after her father and brother have died of smallpox since fighting at Ile aux Noix in Quebec. The book received the 2007 Adirondack Literary Award for Childrens Literature from the Adirondack Center for Writing at Paul Smiths College. While Champlain and the Silent One is Messners second published work, its certainly not her last. Most recently, she signed with a literary agent who has already sold her next four books to national publishers. One of the pieces Messner is working on is a contemporary middle grade novel coming out next fall with Walker Books for Young Readers. That book, which doesnt have a formal title yet, aims to be a funny story about a Vermont girl, her quirky family and the school leaf collection project thats ruining her life. Champlain and the Silent One and Spitfire, are both available for $9.95 each at Borders and Corner-Stone Bookshop in Plattsburgh and on-line at www.amazon.com. The latest information about Messner and her works can be found on her Web site, www.katemessner.com or her blog, http://kmessner.livejournal.com.

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