Children’s Book Title Suddenly Relevant

There has been an uptick of interest in southeast Ohio because of Heisman Trophy winner Joe Burrow’s viral speech. In his acceptance speech he mentioned his hometown and the poverty affecting that part of Ohio, where, as he mentioned, students often go to bed hungry.

Cloud of Witnesses recently released by Golden Alley Press is a middle-grade novel about an Athens, Ohio eighth grader struggling to find his place in school, his family, and the world outside his small-town. Author Jane Hertenstein has given talks and compiled a bibliography of books written about children growing up in rural areas of America. “There are very few resources that reflect these children and their particular struggles.” She gave a seminar at the Illinois Reading Council for teachers and librarians. She cited Dave Eggers’ new novel The Lifters as a book using a rural setting.

Appalachia and what is termed “fly-over country” has suddenly captured our nation’s imagination.

Cloud of Witnesses is set in a small town in southeastern Ohio in 1979. Tested as gifted, Roland Tanner is bused to the town school, where his new classmates only see him as a hillbilly. Self-conscious to a fault, Roland is ashamed of living in a trailer. He hopes someday to be able to go somewhere, maybe college, and forever leave behind his family, the sorriest characters he’s ever met: a sister who works at the Curl Up and Dye salon, a brother who takes motors apart in their front yard, a grandmother who flashes him the evil eye from her ragged vinyl armchair, and a father who keeps him at arm’s length.

Lists of Appalachian literature are scant, but have been widely received and honored. Missing May, Cynthia Rylant, Newbery Medal, Because of Winn Dixie, Kate DiCamillo, Newbery Honor, Shiloh, Phyllis Reynolds Naylor, Newbery Medal, and Casing Redbird, by Sharon Creech to name a few.

Published by Golden Alley Press, Cloud of Witnesses

Download press kit and reading guide for teachers, as well as other resources.



CONTACT: Nancy Sayre at Gold Alley Press

610-966-4440 for more information



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Blog at

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: