A Tale Magnolious: The Adventures of an Orphan, Her Elephant, and Some Rather Unusual Seeds


The sign painted along the wagon’s side read THE MERRYTHOUGHT WINDOWSHOP.

Nitty stepped closer, and again a glitter of green flashed. She traced it to a small open pouch full of the strangest objects she’d ever seen. Shaped like question marks no bigger than a fingernail, they were the greenest sight in town. Maybe in the whole county—or state, for that matter. Their bright hue was so cheerful, so incandescent, that Nitty had the urge to climb into the pouch with them.

Her heart reached out to them, rising snugly and pleasantly into her throat. Being inside that pouch would be like being in a proper jungle—a jungle so full up with trees and plants that she could wrap herself in hammocks of leaves and weave herself a home of vines. Nothing would be brown in that jungle. Even dirt and rocks would grow lovely, fuzzy moss.

“I know that look, girl.” The tinker—mostly hidden by a threadbare cloak—leaned out over the window. Nitty couldn’t see the eyes appraising her, but she felt them spinning her stomach like a whirligig. The voice inside the hood echoed like water over stones. “That’s a hungry look,” it continued. A knotted hand passed over the pouch. “If it’s food you’re after, I have none to offer.”

“I don’t want food,” Nitty blurted. She had wanted it, badly, only a minute before, but now . . . She couldn’t take her eyes from the green glow of the pouch. “That there in the pouch—”

“These?” The tinker’s eyes glittered from the cloak’s shadows. “These are seeds. They came from the very first garden on earth. The one that grew before anything else. Before people or animals.” The tinker leaned closer. “Before hate and cruelty, before kindness was forgotten. Back when there was only love. And hope. Before time itself.”

“There wasn’t any such garden,” Nitty scoffed.

The tinker smiled, a smile that despite its toothlessness was strangely buoyant. “Oh, but there was, and it was greener than spring grass after a rain, so green that being in the garden was like sitting inside an emerald. It held every dream and every promise of what could be, of what the world wanted to become.” The tinker’s voice was lullaby soft now, and Nitty felt it again, the urge to be sitting in the midst of that green.

“How much? For the seeds?”

The tinker huffed. “You can’t afford them. Few people can.”

“But . . . what do they grow?” She couldn’t stop staring at the shimmering pods. The longer she stared, the more they looked like they were quivering in the pouch, wanting to be free.

With a crooked finger, the tinker beckoned her closer. “That, girl, depends on the farmer. What do you need them to grow?”

….Nitty felt the tinker’s hooded gaze, and wanted to be out from under it. She lifted her chin and fixed the tinker with a glare. “I don’t need anything.”

The tinker straightened with a crowlike cackle. “Ah, but you do. More than you know.”


A Tale Magnolious: The Adventures of an Orphan, Her Elephant, and Some Rather Unusual Seeds

By Suzanne Nelson

Published by Random House Children's Books

ISBN 978-1-9848-3174-3

Ages 8-12

Nitty Luce is an orphan–and a thief. Magnolious is an elephant–and a fugitive. When the two misfits come face to face in the middle of a blinding dust storm, they form an immediate bond.

But with Nitty hiding a stolen pouch of gleaming green seeds and Mag mere moments from being hanged, the two don’t have much time to get to know each other. Escaping into the storm, they end up on a barren farm in Fortune’s Bluff, a town withered by a decade of dust storms. While most would be deterred by the farm’s curmudgeonly owner, Windle Homes, Nitty sees past his harsh exterior. She promises to bring the farm back to life–with the help of Mag and those little green seeds.

Soon enough, Nitty and Mag are harvesting their first crop, and they’re quickly the talk of the town. But as the townspeople become hopeful, the Mayor Neezer Snollygost becomes suspicious.

Will Nitty and Mag be able to save Fortune’s Bluff and make a new, safe home for themselves? Doing so might just take a miracle…

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Suzanne Nelson believes in magic and mystery, especially since the "magic" of creativity helped her become a children's book author. A house she once lived in was haunted by the ghosts of an 18th-century farmer and his dog. Her children called them "The Gray Man and the Gray Dog." Luckily, the ghosts were friendly, although they liked to make the lights flicker out in the basement when they were feeling mischievous. Suzanne is the author of over a dozen books for middle-grade readers, including A Tale Magnolious: The Adventures of an Orphan, Her Elephant, and Some Rather Unusual Seeds, as well as the Cake Pop Crush foodie series. She haunts the town of Ridgefield, CT, along with her ghoulish family and weredog, Sadie. You can learn more about her at Follow her on Facebook or Instagram @suzannenelsonbooks, or on Twitter @snelsonbooks.