Melissa is waiting for the "new life" that her mother Sharlene has promised her since a fire devastated their family. But nothing ever seems to change. Melissa has difficulty making friends at school, they never have enough money and her little brother Cody is a brat. When Sharlene announces that they will be spending the month of August at a remote cabin on a wilderness lake, Melissa is less than thrilled. But there is more to do at the lake than she expected, and she is surprised to learn that her mother knows how to paddle a canoe, fish and make bannock and s'mores. On an island in the middle of the lake, Melissa meets Alice, a strange girl who is writing a fantasy novel. Alice shares her tree fort on the island with Melissa, and while at first Melissa is attracted to Alice's strong personality and her stories of her "perfect family," she becomes increasingly uneasy around Alice. As Melissa's relationship with her mother improves and her confidence increases, she is able to hold her own with Alice and start to appreciate her own imperfect family.
Abandoned by her father during the Depression, eleven-year-old Elsie lives in the garage behind her old house with her mother, grandmother Nan and out-of-work uncle. Elsie's friend Scoop accompanies her as she searches for her father in the city, encountering unfriendly hobos, food lines and shantytowns. After both her uncle and her mother disappear on mysterious errands, Elsie and Scoop eventually discover them competing in a dance marathon. Persuading them to abandon the contest, Elsie and Scoop lead the exhausted dancers home, where Nan has news of Elsie's father and his impending return to the family.
Unlike his perfect older sister, Jenna, Conner hates his piano lessons and gets bad grades in math. He's really good at bike tricks and he loves animals, but his parents have a no-pets rule and they don't take his bike-riding seriously. When the local animal shelter gets overcrowded, everybody in Conner's pet club agrees to take in a foster pet. Conner has to hide his rat, Oscar, from his family, who would never believe that Oscar is smart and cute and pretty lovable. Or would they?
In The White Horse Talisman, Chantel, Adam, Holly and Owen must help Equus, the great white horse, find his mate and foal and regain his magical talisman. But as the horse rises, so does the dragon. The age-old battle between good and evil threatens the bond between Chantel and Adam and endangers the quest. This is fantasy as its best, a story that raises hairs on the back of the neck and sends satisfying chills up and down the spine, a story that, while clearly drawn from the rich world of make believe, feels truer than true. The White Horse Talisman is the first of four books in The Summer of Magic Quartet. Book two is Dance of the Stones. Book three is Heart of the Hill. Book four is Behind the Sorcerer's Cloak.
The four volumes of Andrea Spalding's Summer of Magic Quartet are among her most exciting work. The White Horse Talisman was nominated for the Silver Birch, Hackmatack and Manitoba Readers' Choice Awards. Dance of the Stones was also a Silver Birch nominee. Heart of the Hill left one of her four characters in grave danger. Now, in Behind the Sorcerer's Cloak, as the Dark Being discovers our planet and takes one of the children hostage, the others must restore the balance between light and dark, but at what cost?
Arlo thinks his mother is crazy for taking a job in a small town, far away from his old home and his good friends. And to make matters worse, the students at his new school are crazyhockey crazy. Arlo has never laced up a pair of skates in his life, and he's not about to start. To avoid making a complete fool of himself in front of his classmates, Arlo joins a group of misfits called the Dumpster Dudes, who set him a series of wild initiation tests that unleash mayhem on the school. Broken windows in the classrooms, angry ants in the hallways, bicycles in the library and monsters in the air ductscan East Bend Elementary survive Arlo? And will Arlo survive East Bend?
Josh Johnson's mother wants him to run for class president. Josh just wants to run and hide. If only there were a club to help downtrodden eleven-year-olds escape their parents' ambitions! But since no such club exists, Josh has to invent one -- he calls it Dunces Anonymous, and before he knows it, the membership is up to three. Magnolia and Wang help Josh lose the school presidential election, but that's just the beginning of the club's activities. Magnolia, pressured by her mom into trying out for the role of Juliet in the school's play, finds herself fending off the advances of an overly amorous Romeo. Wang's father has forced him to join the school chess club, but Wang desperately wants to take fencing lessons instead. As the three friends try to free Magnolia from the school play, liberate Wang from the chess club and get rid of horrible Stacey Hogarth, who has vowed to become the new president of Dunces Anonymous, they realize that they all have talents -- if only their parents could see them.