Most writers have written a piece at some point in their lives that is special to them; I am no different. My piece has become a series, one that I will probably continue to write until my ideas no longer flow anymore. I always think of this piece as my mother’s book since I originally wrote it for her. Growing up in England, she loved the fairies, collected them and told me fairy stories for years. When diagnosed with a terminal illness, I wrote her a fairy story, Mischief in the Mushroom Patch. She never read the book in print but did read the first seven chapters. I told her the ending before she died. She made me promise to finish it and send it in. I had no idea that story would change my course from writer to author or how many people it would touch.
That book, my mother’s book, led to the creation of a character called Pearle. Based on the likeness of real live person I had never met, Jeni, requested by Beverly Hutton, whom I had never met. She had purchased my book Mischief in the Mushroom Patch and took the time to write me an email to tell me that she had enjoyed it. She also made a request, a suggestion, asking if I would consider creating a character with a disability since she thought her daughter would have loved Mischief in the Mushroom Patch. She said her daughter always asked, “Where were the books for me?”
After reading that email, I contacted her back and asked her to give me a minute to think. After a while, I created a beautiful little character by the name of Pearle. Placing her in a chariot, created by the elders, Pearle whizzes around the mushroom patch. However, though she can not walk, she can fly with ease. Pearle will forever remain in the Mischief Series. We have done much work with this series, Beverly Hutton and I. We visited the Shriner Hospital and donated books and made fairy wings with the children. Her daughter had fifty-three surgeries at that hospital; we also spent time with the children at the Texas Lions Camp, Jeni’s favorite. We spent all day with all of the children teaching them about writing and creating stories.
When you create a story, that is special to you, it is inevitable, it will touch others. I love this series. I do! The characters are sweet, loyal and it teaches kids and adults alike how to be kind. Kind is rare these days it seems.
Each book is written to stand alone, so it is not necessary to read them in order. My favorite so far is the third book in the series, Spider Web Scramble, because it focuses on the characters working together to help Pearle achieve her goals. It won a Gold Mom’s Choice Awards® Recipient in its category and received multiple five-star Readers’ Favorite Reviews. I hope you enjoy this excerpt.
Chapter 3 – Preparation
The mist was thick early the next morning. They were leaving the mushroom patch and meeting at the meadow. From there they’d fly across the tall grass to the forest edge; the final destination was the forest itself. Lilly’s hair, though perfectly combed when she left, was now a matted mess. Pearle, eager to fly, sat patiently in her chariot, waiting for the others to arrive. Free fly days were her favorite; a time when despite her usual confinement to her chariot she was felt uninhibited and free. The hall monitors checked their pocket watches as the fairies breezed past them; it was early, even for fairies with so much energy to burn.
“Pearle, I couldn’t find you this morning,” Lilly giggled. “It was then that I knew you’d already be here.”
Pearle beamed and hovered out of her chair. She flew with ease as her tiny legs dangled below her. Her body felt as light as a feather. Darting in between her friends, giggling as she flew, she hummed her favorite fairy tune. Boris reached above his head and tugged playfully on the hem of her lilac dress. Laughing, she darted away from him and slipped through his fingers. He chuckled. Pearle, having so much fun, was always a joy for everyone to see. Her cheeks were flushed with the crisp cool air and her eyes sparkled as she flew in circles around them.
“Pearle, do slow down. If you continue to fly so fast, you shall tire yourself too early, will you not?” Lilly asked.
Boris gently tugged Lilly’s beautiful curls. “You’re not Mademoiselle,” he said. “Pearle can fly as fast or as high as she wants—after all, it’s our free fly day!”
Lilly’s lips puckered up. She knew Boris was right, but that didn’t stop her from worrying about Pearle. Everyone was protective of little Pearle, including Boris.
Boris lowered himself downward, hovered a perfect two inches off the ground, and nailed his landing perfectly. He was pleased that Lilly had not only noticed, but also complimented him.
“Well done, Boris. Mademoiselle would be pleased with such a fine hover and landing.”
Jack was waiting for them at the edge of the meadow.
He patted Boris on his back. “What took you so long?” he joked.
“As soon as we get to the forest we’ll find our web, then we should ask permission to scramble.” Jack sounded serious. “Something tells me scrambling as a group and helping Pearle—no offense Pearle—will be harder than just jumping from web to web.”
“None taken, Jack,” Pearle said softly. “You can have my fairy-twists for a fairy month if you like.” She then pulled out a handful of fairy dust and asked, “Did everyone bring dust with them?”
Boris and Jack shook their heads.
“Why?” Boris asked.
“Because I think we’re supposed to gift the spiders if we borrow their webs. Remember, the elders will not have gifted on our behalf this time,” Pearle said.
“That’s right,” Lilly agreed.
Rosie, Ivy, Pearle, and Lilly had all been to the dusting parlor to receive their allotted amount of dust from the dust monitor.
“It is possible we won’t need fairy dust today,” Lilly stated. “But if we do, we’ll share.”
“On the count of three then?” Jack hollered.
“Count of three,” the fairies replied.
“One a-fairy, two a-fairy, three a-fairy, go!”
They flew as fast as they could above the tips of the tall grass, over the meadow, to the other side of the forest. They knew the largest spider clan lived deep there among the large oak trees; their webs shouldn’t be too hard to find. Lilly had envisioned small groupings of webs to practice upon as a group for their first few times. If they could complete a small course, they could practice a larger course later. They still had the power of the dust once the actual race took place. Fairy dust would increase the springiness of the webs. Boris and Jack were already excited about that part. The extra power was rumored to throw fairies so high into the air that they hadn’t come down for hours, though it was just a rumor. It didn’t take long to find a group of webs. Boris and Jack inspected them for holes. They didn’t look too shabby; not brand new, but the webs certainly hadn’t been neglected.
“These are in pretty decent shape,” Jack said, checking them out. He landed on one of them, jumped up and down, and flipped over. Landing on his rear he yelled, “Is anybody there?”
No answer. Jack hollered again.
“Hello. Is anybody there?”
Jack’s voice echoed through the forest, bounced off the trees, and returned to him. He shrugged his shoulders, winked at Lilly, and flew high into the treetops. He didn’t see any signs of a single spider.
“I think it’s safe to say we can use the webs,” he said. “No one’s home.”
Boris clasped his hands and yelled, “If these are your webs, could we please talk to you?” Nothing.
“Lilly, do you think we can jump?” Jack asked.
Lilly thought for a moment. “Since we can’t ask for permission, if we gift the spiders, it should be fine to use the webs.” She stuck her hand in her pocket and pulled out a handful of beautiful sparkling dust. “Dust. We must leave fairy dust. It’s the polite and right thing to do.”
Boris had a worried look on his face. Time spent in the dust factory for wasting fairy dust still on his mind, he had to ask. “What if they’re not in the forest, Lilly? Wouldn’t we be wasting the dust? You know the penalty for wasting fairy dust.”
Lilly shook her head. “Boris, if the spiders aren’t coming out because they’re afraid, we must make it right by offering a gift.” She put her hand on Boris’ shoulder. “If they truly aren’t here, maybe someone else can benefit from the dust. I think Mademoiselle would tell us to leave the gift.” She placed the dust at the bottom of the webs. “We’d like to be able to come back and practice. If we gift the spiders, we’ll be able to do that, so the dust stays!”
The fairies would gift the spiders, then scramble the webs or at least try. Boris and Jack excluded, the fairies placed dust at the foot of the web. They knew how to jump the webs and scramble the course individually. But the challenging part was figuring out how to scramble from web to web with Pearle. That would take lots of practice and they didn’t have much time. Jumping was one thing, but scrambling meant jumping from web to web with no wings, and the actual race would be timed. If they could get Pearle through the course and to the last web, she could fly on her own from there, and at least have a shot to reach her star. But how were they going to make that happen? They were about to figure that out.
Boris jumped onto the web first. No flying allowed, Jack reminded him. He sprung into the air, arms waving and legs flailing. Jack followed. Ivy jumped onto the web next, followed by Rosie. Lilly lowered herself onto the sticky web. Pearle, sitting on the web, was being bounced up and down as the others jumped on the web. There has to be a way to assist Pearle or Mademoiselle wouldn’t have shared such beautiful words with her, thought Lilly. Your physical size, my little one, is not an issue; it’s your strength from within that will determine a win, a strong heart that will set you apart. Lilly asked everyone to stop bouncing for a moment.
“I think I have a plan that just might work,” Lilly announced.
Everyone stopped and waited for Lilly to explain. The gleam in her eyes indicated she’d figured something out. But before she could announce what it was, Boris made an announcement of his own.
“I have an idea,” blurted out Boris.
“What is it, Boris?” Lilly asked, genuinely wondering about his plan.
“We could fairy bomb Pearle. You know, like we do off the lily pads into the brook when we swim. But now we’d bomb Pearle from one web to the next web.” Boris waited to see what everyone, specifically Lilly, would say.
To his surprise, Lilly was smiling.
“Boris, as odd as that sounds, you may be onto something. I like your plan better than mine!” Lilly announced, surprising everyone. “In fact, I think we could fairy bomb Pearle quite nicely from one web to the next web and scramble the whole course if we all work together.” She smiled and added, “Well done, Boris. Nice one!”
Jack chimed in as well. “Don’t forget that on the day of the actual scramble, the webs will be covered in dust. Extra bouncy. Pearle could spring from web to web on her fairy rear.” He pointed to the branches above and at a web located to the left of where they stood. “It just might work. We should try it and see.”
Pearle giggled at the very thought of it. “I’m willing to try.”
“Oh my!” Lilly squealed. “It’s going to work. I just know it. Boris, we have a plan!”
They had a plan all right. A fairy-bombing, web-scrambling, plan!
Copyright © 2016 Amanda M. Thrasher
Spider Web Scramble Mom’s Choice Awards® Gold Recipient
The Mom’s Choice Awards® (MCA) evaluates products and services created for children, families and educators. The program is globally recognized for establishing the benchmark of excellence in family-friendly media, products and services. The organization is based in the United States and has reviewed thousands of entries from more than 55 countries. Around the world, parents, educators, retailers and members of the media look for the MCA mother-and-child Honoring Excellence seal of approval when selecting quality products and services for children and families.