Susan VanHecke


Under the Freedom Tree
Taut free verse tells the little-known story of the brave contraband slaves of the Civil War, who launched the beginning of the end of slavery in America. 

Junior Library Guild Selection

CBC/NCSS Notable Social Studies Trade Book for Young People 

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Rock 'n' Roll Soldier
For teen soldier Dean Kohler, the best way to shield himself from the horrors of combat is to play some rock 'n' roll. So Dean and three of his fellow MPs form a touring rock band that entertains hundreds of US troops during the darkest moments of the Vietnam War. This is the true story of Dean's wartime experience, Vietnam as never before seen. One moment Dean and the band are patrolling and going toe to toe with the VC. The next they're trekking to Pleiku, traversing the deadly An Khe Pass, to play "We Gotta Get Outta This Place" for a throng of cheering GIs. Unbelievably, the band even cuts a record, crafting a makeshift sound studio on a war-zone mountainside. Dean and his bandmates create their own bit of order out of chaos, bringing a sense of normalcy to the surreal hell of jungle war. 

Cooperative Children's Book Center Choice, Best Autobiography/Biography

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Raggin' Jazzin' Rockin': A History of American Musical Instrument Makers
Take a behind-the-scenes tour of some of America's best-known musical instrument manufacturers, from Zildjian cymbals and Fender guitars to Ludwig drums, Steinway pianos, Moog synthesizers, and more.  Packed with exciting photos and fascinating info, Raggin' Jazzin' Rockin' offers readers a backstage-pass look at the enterprising individuals—many of whom weren't even musicians themselves—who became some of the greatest names in the business of making musical instruments. 

American Library Association Notable Children's Book

YALSA-ALA Award for Excellence in Young Adult Nonfiction Nominee

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An Apple Pie for Dinner
Granny Smith wants to bake a pie, but she only has plums. She sets off to find pie apples and winds up trading her plums for a bag of feathers, the feathers for a bouquet of flowers, the flowers for a gold chain, the chain for a puppy, and the puppy for apples. Through her generous giving to others, she finally finds the apples for her pie, which, of course, she shares with all those who helped her. This adaptation of an English folk tale includes a kid-friendly apple pie recipe. Yum! 

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Three Steps to Heaven: The Eddie Cochran Story
More than 50 years after the tragic car crash that killed him, Eddie Cochran remains one of rock 'n' roll's most lamented what ifs. A trailblazing guitarist, gifted vocalist, hit-making composer and arranger, and budding producer, Cochran quickly ascended from '50s Midwestern obscurity to become one of nascent rock 'n' roll's leading lights. He penned or recorded many of the most recognized songs in rock history—"Summertime Blues," "Nervous Breakdown," "Somethin' Else," "C'mon Everybody," "Twenty Flight Rock," "Sittin' in the Balcony"—songs whose distinctive sound and defiant, often wryly humorous lyrics have been eagerly digested and lovingly reinterpreted by generations of rockers after him, from the Beatles to the Sex Pistols, the Who to U2.
Coauthored by Cochran's nephew, a gifted musician in his own right, this is the first American biography of this uniquely American rock legend, who was among the first to be inducted into the Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame. 

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Roadwork: Rock & Roll Turned Inside Out
As a friend and cohort of some of rock music's biggest legends—the Who, Rod Stewart and the Faces, the Rolling Stones, the Eagles, Joe Walsh and the James Gang, and many others—photographer Tom Wright was given unparalleled access to almost every aspect of the musicians' lives, on- and offstage. Roadwork, with a foreword by the Who's Pete Townshend, is a compilation of Wright's groundbreaking photography and the true stories behind the captivating pictures that have earned him praise as "America's most important documenter of the 1960s and 1970s rock 'n' roll scene" (Northern Express). Gritty and realistic, poignant and beautiful, Wright's photos powerfully deconstruct the glamour of life on the road, capturing the true essence of rock 'n' roll: the musicians, the roadies, the fans, and the beautiful women who voraciously followed the bands. Over the years, Wright allowed almost no commercial access to his work; his photographs have been available to only the musicians he's worked with and a handful of record company executives... until now. Roadwork offers a rare glimpse into the extraordinary life and stunning art of Tom Wright. 
Raising Hell on the Rock 'n' Roll Highway
UK edition, with entirely different design, of Roadwork: Rock & Roll Turned Inside Out, which Barnes & Noble Booksellers CEO Steve Riggio hailed as "probably the best book on rock & roll ever published" and Don Carleton, director of the Center for American History, called "a major contribution to the literature of rock and roll." 
Race with the Devil: Gene Vincent's Life in the Fast Lane
Gene Vincent—most famous for his classic 1956 single "Be-Bop-A-Lula"—is one of the most influential rock 'n' roll artists of all time. Race with the Devil is the first American biography of this musical pioneer, and the most comprehensive survey ever written of Vincent's groundbreaking career and turbulent personal life. Penned with a novelistic intensity, the bio examines Vincent's breakneck life of heady extremes. Signed by Capitol Records as the next Elvis, the poor boy from Norfolk, Virginia, enjoyed meteoric success with "Be-Bop-A-Lula" and popular follow-up sides. Proto-punk Vincent's earthy, delinquent rocker posture ultimately proved unpalatable, however, to a middle-class America singing along with the sanitized likes of Fabian and Ricky Nelson, so in 1959 Vincent moved to England, finding his most enthusiastic audiences across Europe. His leather-clad, street-tough persona and raucous rockabilly stylings met with instant acclaim; Vincent quickly became a hero of teenaged England and the idol of aspiring musicians like John Lennon, Paul McCartney, and Jeff Beck. Race with the Devil digs deeply into the devastating personal struggles that darkened Vincent's life at nearly every turn, from the motorcycle accident that left the singer with a permanent, painful leg injury (remedied with a metal brace he would wear the rest of his life) and his lifelong struggle with alcoholism to the 1960 car crash that killed his dearest friend, fellow rocker Eddie Cochran, and from which he never psychologically recovered. Race with the Devil is a riveting look at an incredible life of rock 'n' roll triumph, torment, and tragedy.
Race with the Devil: The Gene Vincent Story
Updated and revised, featuring new information, interviews, and photographs, this ebook edition of the original is the most comprehensive survey ever written of Gene Vincent's groundbreaking career and turbulent personal life. 

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