Illinois State Library

Illinois Center for the Book

Individual Author Record

General Information

Name:  Harriette Gillem Robinet  

Pen Name: None


Audience: Young Adult; Children; Children;

Born: July 14, 1931 in Washington, D.C.

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-- Harriette Gillem Robinet on WorldCat --

Illinois Connection

Robinet moved to Chicago in 1960 and currently resides in Oak Park.

Biographical and Professional Information

Harriett Gillem Robinet was born and raised in Washington, D. C. She graduated from the College of New Rochelle, in New Rochelle, New York, and finished graduate degrees from Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C. in microbiology. She began writing after moving to Chicago and after the birth of a son with cerebral palsy. The main character of ''Jay and the Marigold'' suffers from cerebral palsy. Her first two books were influenced by meeting other handicapped children and adults, who "have shared some of their anger, dreams, and victories." Her later books are historical fiction based around American historical events, such as the Chicago fire, the Battle of 1812, the emancipation of the slaves during and after the U.S. Civil War, and the Montgomery, Alabama and the bus boycott of 1956. Her books "portray likeable children and adults, with their needs and struggles, against a pivotal time in American history."

Published Works Expand for more information

Titles At Your Library

Ride the Red Cycle
ISBN: 0395291836

Houghton Mifflin. 1980

Jerome, crippled since the age of two, struggles to realize his dream of riding a cycle.

Children of the Fire
ISBN: 1435264215

. 2008

Mississippi Chariot
ISBN: 0613014987

Topeka Bindery. 1997

If You Please, President Lincoln!
ISBN: 068931969X

Atheneum Books for Young Readers. 1995

When the Emancipation Proclamation fails to free slaves in the border states, Moses, a Maryland slave boy, runs away with a friend and is tricked into journeying with four hundred others to an inhabitable part of Haiti.

Washington City Is Burning
ISBN: 0689807732

Atheneum. 1996

Although Virginia lives a comfortable life as a slave of President Madison, she does not believe in the cruelty of slavery as a whole and so devises a plan that sets many slaves free when the White House catches fire during the War of 1812.

Twins, the Pirates, and the Battle of New Orleans
ISBN: 0606221433

Demco Media. 2002

Twelve-year-old African-American twins attempt to escape in the face of pirates, an American army, and the British forces during the Battle of New Orleans in 1815.

Forty Acres And Maybe A Mule (Turtleback School & Library Binding Edition) (Jean Karl Books (Prebound))
ISBN: 061322986X

Turtleback Books. 2000

FOR USE IN SCHOOLS AND LIBRARIES ONLY. Born with a withered leg and hand, Pascal, who is about twelve-years-old, joins other former slaves in a search for a farm and the freedom it promises.

Walking to the Bus-rider Blues
ISBN: 143526326X

Paw Prints 2008-04-25. 2008

It is June, 1956 in Montgomery, Alabama.

African-Americans are boycotting the bus company that had their neighbor, Mrs. Rosa Parks, arrested for refusing to give up her seat to a white man. Until they can sit wherever they wish on the bus, African-Americans are refusing to ride. They are walking.

For Alfa Merryfield, walking can be a problem. When he takes the bus he avoids the white boys who steal his pay for working in Mr. Greendale's grocery store. Losing the money is a disaster. He and his sister and his great-grandmother, who live together, need money to rent their two-room house. When Alfa loses his pay, they are short on the rent. To make matters worse, someone is stealing the money they save from where they hide it, and they, themselves, are accused of stealing two thousand dollars from a house where their grandmother is a cleaning woman.

Alfa wants to be a doctor and uses the scientific method to solve their theft problems. Alfa and his sister work hard to pay the rent and to find the thieves.

Alfa has learned, from the bus boycott and its leaders, including Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., to "walk the walk and talk the talk" in the spirit of nonviolence, and to respect himself and his dreams. As Alfa's own "Bus-Rider Blues" says about the world he knows: "It ain't never ever going to be the same."

Missing from Haymarket Square
ISBN: 061361643X

Turtleback Books: A Division of Sanval. 2003

Twelve Travelers, Twenty Horses
ISBN: 0689876076

Aladdin. 2005

On the way to California in 1860 with their kind new master, thirteen-year-old Jacob Israel Christmas, his mother, and other slaves are caught up in adventures that include trying to stop a plot to help the South secede from the Union. Reprint.


''Children of the Fire'' won the Award from Friends of American Writers in 1991 ''Washington City is Burning'' won the Carl Sandburg Award in 1997 ''The Twins, The Pirates, and the Battle of New Orleans'' won the Midland Authors Award in 1998 ''Forty Acres and Maybe a Mule'' won the Scott O’Dell Award for historical fiction for children in 1999 ''Walking to the Bus Rider Blues'' was a Jane Addams Award Honor book in 2001

a Rebecca Caudill Young Readers' Book Award finalist in 2003

a Willian Allen White Book Award finalist for 2003 in Kansas and a Texas Bluebonnet Award Master List finalist in 2003-2004. Harriette was honored at the 2004 Illinois Authors Book Fair sponsored by the Illinois Center for the Book and the Illinois State Library in Springfield, Illinois.

Speaking Engagements

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