A swashbuckler set in the West Indies of the early 19th Century, THE WITCH FROM THE SEA is a love story, a coming-of-age adventure and an eccentric comedy of manners about a woman who runs with the pirates to free herself from the conventional "rules" of gender, race and class.

Tory Lightfoot, an orphan of mixed white and Mohawk blood, flees the stifling gentility of 1823 Boston for the freedom of the open sea. But the merchant ship on which she stows away is boarded by pirates off the coast of Cuba, and Tory is forced to join the pirate crew to save her life. Making herself useful as both log-keeper and spy, she begins to earn a measure of the independence she craves. But fate, fever and the relentless U. S. Navy West Indian Squadron close in, and Tory must risk her hard-won freedom to save the man she loves.
"I highly recommend this book to any lover of historical fiction."
— The Historical Novel Society Review
"The Witch From The Sea is that rare creation, an historical romance with guts as well as glamour. Wild-spirited Tory is an irresistible character."
— Nautical historian Joan Druett (She-Captains; Hen Frigates)
"I am in love with this book. A+."
Reading Rocks / YA Fiction Review

Friday, September 14, 2012


Right here, in my own back yard in Santa Cruz, California, I discovered this wonderful cradleboard collection!

The exhibit is called Santa Cruz Collects, now open to the public at the SC Museum of Art and History (MAH) through November 25 of this year. The Native American artifacts on this wall are called "baby baskets," but I know a cradleboard when I see one!

The collector is Dean Silvers, a longtime Santa Cruz  elementary school teacher and self-taught historian who has produced two books and a 14-hour video on the history of Santa Cruz County. He is also an avid collector of California Indian baskets, Latin American crafts, and Native North American art.

I assume these are all California Indian basket cradles, although they are not described individually in the exhibit. But all look entirely too functional to be merely "art," although they may be reproductions of vintage designs. (Maybe the tiniest ones are for dolls?) All have the head protectors, foot rests, and straps or lace-up snuggies to hold the baby in place.

The workmanship on these pieces is amazing. These are all baskets, of course, not wood, so there would be no carvings on the back, as Tory's cradleboard was carved. But there is nothing like seeing  such beautiful artifacts in person to make history come alive!