SNATCH A STORY
The next morning, Juniper and Toby, along with a few other early risers, trekked over to inspect the animal enclosures.
Yesterday, the brand-new fence had stood upright; today it bulged grotesquely inward, limp branches teetering in loose soil. The ground inside the horses’ enclosure was fully torn up and trampled. Inside, five horses nervously pawed the ground, eyes darting from side to side. Five horses, where there should have been fourteen.
“What’s happened?” Juniper asked. “Where have they gone?”
Toby just shook his head. “I’ve had a quick scout all around—they’re nowhere nearby. The prints lead out from here and get lost on the hard rock trails.”
“It’s as though the fence was sat on by something really big,” said Tippy, “what stretched it out beyond repair. That’s just not nice at all.” Toby vaulted the fence, a bag of feed in hand, heading for the remaining horses. Juniper was gratified to realize that Thunderstar was one of those still in the paddock.
“What’ll we do without horses?” came Sussi’s thin wail from among the group. “We’re trapped here in the mountains, then, aren’t we? With no horses to ride back?”
“We’re no such thing,” Alta said firmly.
Erick was squatting a few paces up, near the broken fence. “Look at this,” he said.
“Everyone else, stay back,” Juniper called. She didn’t want to lose the chance—however slim—of finding identifiable tracks. “Give us a few minutes to inspect things.”
Alta got busy yelling the watchers out of the way, while Tippy darted here and there with feather-light tread, making a great show of her own pint-sized investigation. All the hoofprints in and around the paddock crisscrossed over each other so that it was hard to pull anything else from the scene.
“This here,” said Erick, pointing to a slight rise just above the enclosure, away from the muddle of hoofprints, “is where we found her sniffyness.” He flushed and quickly corrected himself. “That is, Lady Jessamyn. See how the ground is all trampled by our feet? But down here . . . look.”
Juniper leaned in. Much of the ground in this part of the paddock was dry and graveled and showed no clear marks. But right at the enclosure’s edge, the ground was softer. Quite separate from the hoofprints, she could clearly see some very distinct, oddly large prints.
The prints were large—nearly twice the size of the nearby horses’ hoofprints. The precise shape was hard to make out in the dry, trampled earth. But these could have been made by no ordinary beast.
“What do you think then?”
“Truthfully?” Erick shook his head. “I’ve not the faintest idea. The shape’s like no animal I’ve ever seen. They seem almost . . . unreal somehow.”
THE WICKED READ
By Ammi-Joan Paquette Published by Penguin Young Readers Group Age Range: 7 – 10 Years
In this royal adventure, Princess Juniper learns what it means to rule a kingdom–at least for the summer.
For her thirteenth nameday all Princess Juniper wants is a country of her own. So when rumblings of unrest start in his kingdom, Juniper’s father decides to grant his daughter’s wish and sends her to a small, idyllic corner of the Hourglass Mountains until trouble blows over. Once there, Juniper discovers that ruling a small country–even just for the summer–is a bit harder than she’d expected, especially when cousin Cyril challenges her rule. Still, the most difficult part is to come. Juniper and her friends discover that her father’s kingdom is at war. The only way to stay safe is to remain in the Hourglass Mountains much longer than planned. Juniper may have her own country after all . . . but what will that mean for the kingdom of Torr?
This book is perfect for fans of Frozen and Brave, who like their princess strong and smart as well as sparkly.
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FREE & FREAKY
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THE CREEPY CREATOR
Ammi-Joan Paquette haunts the bookshelves of schools, libraries and bookstores with her frightful and fanciful tales from Ghost in the House (ages 3-7) to The Tiptoe Guide to Tracking Fairies (ages 3-8) to The Rules for Ghosting (ages 8-12)!