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.

-- Website --
-- 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

Eleven-year-old Hallelujah is fascinated by the fires burning all over the city of Chicago. Little does she realize that her life will be changed forever by the flames that burn with such bright fascination for her.
The year is 1871 and this event will later be called the Great Chicago Fire. Hallelujah and her newfound friend Elizabeth are as different as night and day

but their shared solace will bind them as friends forever, as a major American city starts to rebuild itself.

Mississippi Chariot
ISBN: 0613014987

Topeka Bindery. 1997

In Depression-era Mississippi, 12-year-old Shortnin' Bread Jackson discovers his father may be lynched for a crime he didn't commit and decides that the only way to avoid this racially explosive dilemma is to move his family north to a new life in Chicago. Robinet blends arresting historical fiction with accessible situations to create an eye-opening look at life during this tumultuous period.

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

"Oh, I'm singing the bus-rider blues,

the Alabamy bus-rider blues.It ain't never ever gonna be the same."

During the Alabama bus boycott, six months after Rosa Parks made her famous bus protest, Alfa Merryfield and his family struggle to pay the rent. But someone keeps stealing their rent money -- and now someone is accusing them of stealing!

With only a few days left before rent is due, Alfa and his sister, Zinnia, know they don't have much time. To solve this mystery, they must "walk the walk and talk the talk of nonviolence" that Martin Luther King, Jr. and other leaders preach -- and what they discover may be more than they dreamed...

Missing from Haymarket Square
ISBN: 061361643X

Turtleback Books: A Division of Sanval. 2003

Her loving father's major concern is the struggle for better working conditions in factories and mills. Her mother thinks mostly of the terrible injury she has received in a sewing factory. Therefore Dinah Bell must care for herself. But not only herself. She and two other children, Austrian immigrants who do not mind that Dinah is the child of former slaves, not only work twelve-hour days to help support their families with the three dollars a week they each earn, but they do even more. All five families that depend on them for food live together in one rat-and-roach infested room in a Chicago tenement. The children steal, though they hate being thieves.

Other concerns vanish, however, when in the spring of 1886, Dinah's father is taken prisoner by the dreaded Pinkertons -- detectives who help factory owners get rid of unions and their organizers. Now, Dinah must find where her father is being held and free him. On May first there is a march of eighty thousand workers, demonstrating for an eight-hour day. The march is why Mr. Noah Bell has been taken prisoner, and the march and its aftermath, the Haymarket Riot, put Dinah in constant danger. Yet she is determined to succeed. Her father must be freed.

Once again Harriette Gillem Robinet portrays likeable children, with their needs and struggles, against a background of real events in American history. The result is an exciting story that reveals important truths about the American past.

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.

Availability for Public Speaking

Speaking Engagement Availability: (Yes)