Kickstarting Hugo the Huguenot*

Photo used by permission (Matt Kelly and Jennifer DuBois Bruntil)

Obsessively checking Kickstarter is something that I have tried not to do over the past week.  But I admit, it has been hard not to.  Ever since I launched the campaign to raise funds to publish the book, Hugo the Huguenot, I have wondered, how will it go?  Will I really get to make this book that I have been thinking about for ages?

Well, it looks like I might get a chance to do just that.  As of a few minutes ago the campaign had raised 94% of it’s $5,000 goal.  I am not there yet, but I am so close!  This book has been a journey…

It all started when I was trying to think of a way to relate the Huguenot story to kids.  As the School Programming Coordinator for Historic Huguenot Street, it is my job to make this story understandable to kids as young as four years old all the way through to high-schoolers.   For older students, it is easier to explain the story, however for younger students, the involved story of the Huguenots can present some challenges.  That’s when I starting thinking about writing a children’s book to tell the story in simple terms.  And the idea for “Hugo the Huguenot” was born.

As a former teacher, I am used to breaking things down to understandable and digestible portions.  So that is what I tried doing with this story of the Huguenots.  A story that included the Huguenots fleeing their homeland because of religious persecution, not once but twice, moving across the ocean, interacting with the Native Americans and finally finding a new home in New Paltz, NY.

The other thing that inspired me to write this book is the fact that this is my family’s story.  I am a descendant of the New Paltz Huguenots.  My ties go all the way back to one of the first Huguenots to ever lay eyes on what is now known as New Paltz.  I am the twelfth generation from Louis DuBois, one of the original twelve patentees of this town.  In some ways I think I felt an obligation to tell this story, and to make sure my children know it too; the thirteenth generation.

I was lucky enough to be introduced to local illustrator, Matthew Kelly, through our mutual friend, local author A.J. Schenkman.  After collaborating with Matt this book really started to come to life.  Matt has sketched out the entire book and it currently in the process of painting the pictures in watercolor.  All I can say about the pictures, is that he continues to amaze me with his historical depictions and beautiful illustrations.

I am beyond excited to think about the actuality of having this book printed and able to distribute in our little town and I’m also so thankful for the amount of support that Matt and I have received so far during this Kickstarter campaign.  We are so close to the goal and appreciate any additional support thrown our way.  You can check out more about Hugo the Huguenot and/or donate and pre-order the book on the Kickstarter site at

* This is a guest post by Jennifer DuBois Bruntil

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  • Blog Author

    AJ Schenkman

    A.J. Schenkman is the author of numerous books and articles. He is Consulting Historian for Historic Huguenot Street and Town of Gardiner Historian. Read Full

    Elizabeth Werlau

    Elizabeth Werlau is an English teacher in the Hudson Valley and is the historian for the Town of Plattekill in Ulster County. She has authored and contributed to several books on regional history, including her most recent publication, Murder and ... Read Full

    Debra Conway

    A former Features writer/Columnist for the Times Herald-Record and Director of Fort Delaware Museum of Colonial History in Narrowsburg, Debra Conway is currently the Executive Director of The Delaware Company, a nonprofit organization dedicated to ... Read Full

    Matthew Colon

    Matthew Colon enjoyed nearly a decade in public history working and volunteering for organizations including Washington’s Headquarters State Historic Site and the Historical Society of Newburgh Bay and the Highlands. Read Full

    Shannon Butler

    Shannon Butler is a Park Ranger of Interpretation and Education at Roosevelt-Vanderbilt National Historic Site in Hyde Park New York. She has also interpreted the Senate House State Historic Site in Kingston New York. Read Full
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