M.P. Barker

M. P. BARKER is a writer, historian, and archivist. When she worked as a costumed historical interpreter at Old Sturbridge Village (a living history museum of early 19th-century New England), she learned firsthand about her characters' world: the things they saw, heard, smelled, the food they ate, the work they did. As an archivist at the Connecticut Valley Historical Museum, Barker visits a different time and place with every diary, letter, and photograph she catalogs. And she brings the past to life with exhibits on architectural and social history.

She is the author of Images of America: Chicopee (Arcadia, 1998), a pictorial history of the city of Chicopee, Massachusetts. Other writing credits include exhibits, scripts for historical dramatizations, nominations to the National Register of Historic Places, fundraising materials, and planning studies.


A Difficult Boy
Reading level - Upper Middle Grade, Young Adult, and Adult readers (ages 10 and up)

Riveting historical fiction from a debut novelist about the friendship that grows between two young indentured servants, one of them Irish, as they struggle to survive their harsh master in nineteenth century New England. It is 1839, Nine-year-old Ethan does not want to work for Mr. Lyman, the wealthy shopkeeper in their small Massachusetts' town. But Ethan has no choice--it is the only way to pay off his family's debt to the man. Ethan tries to befriend the Lymans' other indentured servant, but Daniel, as everyone says, is a difficult boy. Sixteen years old, Irish, and moody, Daniel brushes off Ethan as if he were a pesky gnat. Ethan resolves to ignore the brusque older boy, but is then shocked to see how cruelly Mr. Lyman's blows, and the two boys have only each other. Will Ethan be able to save his friend? And will others finally have the courage to do what is right for this not-so-difficult boy?

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