Emily Walters is a sharp, inquisitive fourteen-year-old north Florida girl who loves maps, her rusty old bike, and the forest behind her house. Sometimes her dreams tell her the future and sometimes her waking hours bring wise birds and other spirits into her life.
When her family vacations in the mountains in “High Country Painter,” a wise Pine Siskin tells her she must quickly learn how to paint dreams into reality to prevent an afternoon hike from becoming a tragedy.
In “Map Maker,” she’ll need her skills—and the help of a Chuck-will’s-widow—to a fight a developer’s plans for from bulldozing the sacred forest behind her house and replacing it with a subdivision.
In “Sweetbay Magnolia,” she’ll learn the secrets of her grandmother’s favorite tree, the crumbling almost forever house down on the river, and why some ghosts would rather visit than haunt.
An Amazon reviewer liked Emily’s positive attitude and the “Secret Garden” ambiance the stories, two of which are set in the Florida Panhandle. The other is set in the Montana Mountains. I hope parents and children will share the stories, either by listening to the audio version together or reading them at bedtime.
While Emily doesn’t solve crimes, I did have a Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew feeling in mind when I wrote them.
Excerpt from “High Country Painter”
Her dream was contained within the rough branches and prickly needles of an Engelmann spruce. She hung by her legs from a limb as though it were no higher up than the trapeze on her backyard swing set. An upside down pine siskin hung from the pointed tip of a cone, extracting a seed.
“I am Paiota,” he said.
“Good evening, Paiota. I am Emily.”
“Emily, would you care for a seed?” he asked.
“No, thank you,” said Emily.
“Wait here,” said the pine siskin as though Emily had a clue how to get out of the tree other than by the intervention of: (a) loggers, (b) wind, (c) lightning, or (d) tired legs.The bird returned while she was yawning without covering her mouth and, viewing her like a fledgling, poked a sweet-tasting red flower petal into her mouth. She swallowed it with the same lack of enthusiasm reserved for anything resembling salad.
“My goodness, what did I just eat?”
Paiota’s wings ruffled the moonlight as he flew back to the cone and regarded Emily with curious brown eyes that probably saw more than her brown eyes.
“What a pretty name.”
“You will find them while eating lunch at the small, icy lake tomorrow where you must paint your dreams into the world.”
“Paiota, I don’t know what that means.”
“For your father’s sake, you will learn,” said Paiota.
He dropped away from the cone into the river of night flowing between the spruce branches, leaving behind a goodbye chirp—or, possibly a warning.