Slocum City Kansas, 1875.
The year after the grasshoppers.
Twelve-year-old Cabby Potts is an outdoors kind of girl with an "intemperate tongue," as her Ma puts it. When she's forced to work as a housemaid at grand Ashford Manor, it seems like a miserable fate. Desperate to get away, and equally desperate to save her family's struggling homestead, Cabby plays matchmaker between the young lord of Ashford Manor and her romantic older sister, Emmeline. If there are a few lies involved, well, it's for a good cause.
When her reckless scheme backfires, Cabby must use her voice to stand up for her family, a new friend, and her entire community.
Based on the true story of a settlement of British aristocrats on the plains of Kansas, Cabby Potts, Duchess of Dirt is a funny and poignant story with an unforgettable heroine.
DUCHESS OF DIRT
Blue Bronco Books
Library of Congress
"Great Reads from Great Places" 2023
Kansas Notable Book 2023
"Great historical detail and wonderful, appealing characters in this delightful story told by the clever Cabby Potts, a kindhearted Kansas prairie girl who's filled with gumption and grit."
--Anne O'Brien Carelli, author of Skylark & Wallcreeper
"A rousing read."
"Cabby Potts, Duchess of Dirt is a delight! Cabby herself all but hums with warmth, wit, and humor, and her desire to help her family and willingness to learn from her mistakes will win your heart. If you like engaging, fast-paced historical fiction, Cabby Potts, Duchess of Dirt should be on your radar!"
-- J. Anderson Coats, author of The Night Ride and Spindle and Dagger
". . .When she's not scrubbing laundry and emptying chamber pots, Cabby cooks up a matchmaking scheme to save her family's failing homestead--and then finds out the adult world is much more complicated than she ever could have guessed. This fierce and funny book grabbed me from its first few pages and didn't let up until the end."
--Cathy Carr, author of 365 Days to Alaska
" . . . Readers will enjoy Cabby’s antics and feisty demeanor as she navigates the unfamiliar world of the wealthy. A highly recommended debut."
--Darlene Beck Jacobson, author of Wheels of Change and Wishes, Dares, and How to Stand up to a Bully
"Wilford manages heavy topics with a light and engaging touch that had my 10-year-old and me enthralled. An adventurous and history-packed story perfect for middle-grade readers."
--Historical Novel Society
Excerpt from Cabby Potts, Duchess of Dirt
Why did the grasshoppers have to come? Why did we have to worry about money? And what if Pa really did give up our claim? Where would we go this time? America was a big country—I pictured the Potts family blowing across it like tumbleweeds, snagging here and there but never settling anywhere. Even worse, I pictured another family moving onto our claim, our 160 acres of prairie with its brave little patch of corn. Our own land, abandoned to strangers. My first real home, gone. These months of housemaiding, for nothing.
I had a great time visiting Kansas!
Looking forward to school visits including:
Chatham Day School, Chatham, NJ
KATHLEEN WILFORD BIO
Growing up without TV (weird, right?) . . .
I spent whole days reading. I decided to be an author in fourth grade, inspired by "classics" like Miss Osborne the Mop. I studied literature (naturally) at Cornell University and taught language arts for several years. I moved on to teaching writing at Rutgers University in New Jersey, something I still do.
I love teaching, reading, and learning about the world (as well as anything chocolate chip). I believe that to understand where we ARE, we need to understand where we've BEEN, which is why I love historical fiction.
Cabby Potts, Duchess of Dirt is my debut novel, and I can't wait to share it with kids!