Dutton Children's Books

hearts of stone, civil war stories

Children's Fiction Award Winner
— Society of Midland Authors

"The prose is lively, the action dramatic. Historical details never overwhelm the story, and readers will be hooked from the start."
Kirkus Reviews

"Lessons of endurance, survival, and fierce family love linger long after the story..."
Children's Literature

Pa ripped our family apart just as spring began whispering sweet promises up on Cumberland Mountain. Serviceberry buds swelled fuzzy and silver. A red fox birthed five kits in an old woodchuck burrow near the meadow. Fiddlehead ferns uncurled by the springhouse. At dawn and twilight, wrens sang their pretty come-to-me, come-to-me song from the fence rails. And the frost wriggled out of our corn patch, bringing a new crop of stones to light as it went.

Thus begins the multiple award-winning tenth published books by bestselling author Kathleen Ernst. It is written for readers age 11 to adult who enjoy historical fiction without sex, gore or explicit violence.

This page offers a mix of background information about the people, places, and the past that went into making Hearts of Stone.

Story Description

The book starts in the spring of 1861 as the American Civil War begins, and is set on Cumberland Mountain in eastern Tennessee, in the war-torn city of Nashville, and on the wagon trails between them. 

With her father gone to join the Yankee troops and her best friend, Ben, sympathizing with the Confederates, fifteen year-old Hannah finds her world torn apart by the Civil War. Then her mother dies.

Now responsible for holding the young family together, Hannah makes the difficult decision to leave her beloved Cumberland Mountain with her brother and sisters and set out on the long and dangerous journey to Nashville, in search of their only relative.

Their quest to reclaim their family leads them into the very heart of the American Civil War, and could cost them their lives.

Originally released as a 248-page hardcover (but currently out of print), it is now available as an electronic book that can be read on the iPad, Kobo, Nook, Sony, and Kindle.

What Others Are Saying


Image of Council for Wisconsin Writers Award logo.  Tofte/Wright Children's Literature Award
Council for Wisconsin Writers 2006

The Council is a community of writers, poets and educators dedicated to recognizing oustanding work by Wisconsin authors.  more>> 

Image of the Historical Novel Society Review logo. Editor's Choice
Historical Novel Review
Review by Eileen Charbonneau

"Like an old-time ballad, Hearts of Stone transports readers into a lyrical, essential world brimming with life and spirit. It succeeds in that rarest of objectives – to both wrench and warm the heart. Highly recommended."  more>>
Image of the Christian Library Journal logo. Christian Library Journal
Review by Sherri Myers

"Hearts of Stone is a fantastic coming of age novel for young readers. Historically accurate and completely engaging, this dramatic book has won numerous awards. Kathleen Ernst used her knowledge and love of the Civil War era to write this remarkable novel, taking ten years to complete the task... Prejudice, hatred, forgiveness, and strong love for family combine to make Hearts of Stone a novel not soon forgotten."  more>>

About the Author

Bestselling author Kathleen Ernst writes award-winning mysteries, historical fiction, and non-fiction for adults and young readers.

Her work has earned numerous honors, including two lifetime writing achievement awards, an Emmy for educational television, and an Edgar Allan Poe and multiple Agatha Christie mystery award nominations.

To date nearly 1.8 million audio, ebook, and print copies of Kathleen's thirty-eight published books have been purchased. more>>

Related Blog Posts

Enjoy the author's insights about the story, characters, and settings.

Partial image of the book cover of Hearts of Stone by author Kathleen Ernst. The Story Behind The Story

"I’m often asked where my interest in the American Civil War comes from. Growing up in Maryland, I had lots of opportunities to visit Civil War battlefields. Since Maryland was a border state..." more>>
hearts of stone, civil war stories

Reenacting For Writers

"My husband, daughter Meg, and I reached Spring Hill, TN, in a driving rain. The temperature was dropping. The parking lot—a field intended to hold the vehicles of 10,000 or so Civil War reenactors and their gear..." more>>

Available From

Kobo books logo. KOBO eBOOK
Apple iTunes Store logo. iBOOKS eBOOK
Buy from Barnes & Noble NOOK eBOOK
Google Play logo. eBOOK
Buy from Amazon.com KINDLE eBOOK
Image of the World Library Catalogue (WorldCat) logo. Find this book at public libraries
near you!

Author's Note

I was involved in Civil War reenacting for many years. The inspiration for this book came from a wonderful event held at Spring Hill, Tennessee.

There I participated with a group of reenactors who recreated a refugee camp. Our goal was to help visitors think about the many Southern people who became homeless during the terrible war years.

People often ask me to name my favorite among the books I've written. That's hard! But I must admit, Hearts of Stone has a special place in my heart—and based on letters and email I've received, it resonates with readers and reviewers too. 

Book Goodies

Partial image of the book cover of Hearts Of Stone written by Kathleen Ernst PREVIEW
Get a sneak peak
inside this book 
books, educator TEACHER'S GUIDE
For teachers and

Click to Enlarge

Railroad Yards - Nashville Tennessee - 1864

Click to Enlarge

Newly Arrived Union Refugees

And More






  • The Twentieth American Girl Book by Kathleen Ernst
  • The Ninth Caroline American Girl Book by Kathleen Ernst
  • The Eighth Caroline American Girl Book by Kathleen Ernst
  • A Compilation of Three Original Caroline American Girl Books
  • A Compilation of Three Original Caroline American Girl Books
  • Kathleen Ernst, Traitor in the Shipyard book
  • Kathleen Ernst, Changes for Caroline book
  • Kathleen Ernst, Caroline's Battle book
  • Kathleen Ernst, Caroline Takes a Chance book
  • Kathleen Ernst, Surprise for Caroline book
  • Kathleen Ernst, Caroline's Secret Message book
  • Kathleen Ernst, Meet Caroline Abbott book
  • Kathleen Ernst, Clues in the Shadows book
  • Kathleen Ernst, The Runaway Friend book
  • Kathleen Ernst, Midnight in Lonesome Hollow book
  • Kathleen Ernst, Secrets in the Hills book
  • Kathleen Ernst, Danger at the Zoo book
  • Kathleen Ernst, Betrayal at Cross Creek book
  • Kathleen Ernst, Whistler in the Dark book
  • Kathleen Ernst, Trouble at Fort La Pointe book
  • Kathleen Ernst, Hearts of Stone book
  • Kathleen Ernst, Ghosts of Vicksburg book
  • Kathleen Ernst, Retreat from Gettysburg book
  • Kathleen Ernst, Too Afraid to Cry book
  • Kathleen Ernst, The Bravest Girl in Sharpsburg book
  • Kathleen Ernst, The Night Riders of Harper's Ferry book
  • Available at Amazon
  • Available at Amazon
  • Available at Amazon
  • Available at Amazon
  • Available for Pre-Order Now
  • Kathleen Ernst, A Memory of Muskets book
  • Kathleen Ernst, Death on the Prairie book
  • Kathleen Ernst, Tradition of Deceit book
  • Kathleen Ernst, Heritage of Darkness book
  • Kathleen Ernst, The Light Keeper's Legacy book
  • Kathleen Ernst, The Heirloom Murders book
  • Kathleen Ernst, Old World Murder book