January 2014,

By far the TOP presenter we’ve had in my ten years.

October 25, 2011

Mr. Shoulders,

WOW!! What an amazing day was had today at Lawndale Elementary!! You did an AMAZING job! I can’t tell you how many of the teachers stopped me in the hall to tell me how much they enjoyed listening to your programs during the morning.  I know you must hear this frequently, but you were everything that I hoped you would be times 1000!!!

You are an inspiration.

Ragan M.

(Parent Volunteer)

Lawndale Elem.

Tupelo, MS

USA Best Book Award Finalist

St. Francis of Assisi - Memphis, TN

You can purchase autographed books by clicking the Blue Book Guy.

Eureka Silver Medalist

NAPPA Honor Award

November 2015,

The faculty is raving to our principal, who was not there for your visit, that you were AMAZING. She has emailed thanking me and asking, “what next?” I told her I’m hoping to bring you back next year, but only if she promises to make a Parent Night happen! That’s a critical piece.


The students can’t stop talking about their encounters with you! You do know how to connect. They’re asking to hear your books again and again. Brittney D., liberian extraordinaire, has shared a great video compilation of you with the students with the staff and they kids will do anything to be rewarded with another viewing.


Thanks for making me look good in the eyes of my students and peers. All I can say is that I knew from the moment I saw you (over and over) at the East TN Title I conference(s), you would make a difference in the literary lives of our students. You did!!

When Stephen's father passes away in 1861, he and his mother and brother are left at the mercy of a cruel uncle. As the Civil War intensifies, Stephen's brother enlists to fight for the Union and help support the family. The war drags on and Stephen, an accomplished bugler in the town band, witnesses the sad consequences of slavery. The opportunity to enlist as Colonel Eli Lilly's personal bugler arises. After surviving the Battle of Sulphur Branch Trestle in AL, Stephen is sent to a Confederate prison. The trials of prison life are severe but at war's end Stephen is sent home aboard the steamboat Sultana. However, disaster strikes and the ship becomes America's worst maritime disaster with 200 more lives lost than on the Titanic.

Click the cover to hear the author read the prologue.


October 2016