by Winnie Anderson
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Crispin Books • February 2018
Juvenile Fiction / Historical /
Middle Grade / Birding & Conservation
Trade Softcover • 224 pages
$16.95 • ISBN 978-1-883953-91-1
$3.99 eBook edition
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Friendship • Exploration of Nature
Conservation Movement in Early 20th Century
Birding • Audubon Society
It is almost nightfall before I finally see the cabin. The horses snort. Their heads shake and droop with exhaustion. They are on their last tether. That’s no wonder. This final leg of our journey has been steep, twisty, and all uphill. A real climb. My nose crinkles at the sweet-sharp smell of horse sweat. Nurse Daisy doesn’t like it when I do that: she calls it my “rabbit-twitch,” but she isn’t looking at me.
We are silent, all of us, father in the front with the driver, and Mother, Daisy, Paulie, asleep in her lap, and me wedged in the back seat. Wide-eyed. The only noise is the rattle-creek of our straining stagecoach, the jingling of leather harnesses, and the horses slow plod. I pull my laprobe tighter around me. Our open stage with only a flat canopy top does nothing to keep out the wind and cold.
A minute later we are at the top. The rough road levels out. A sense of relief at having made it washes over me. Before the driver comes to a complete stop, Father hops down onto the ground. “Quick, Phoebs, I want to show you the cabin’s walls,” he says. I untangle myself from under the lap robes as fast as I can and jump into his embrace.
I love seeing Father so high-spirited and full of ginger. He’s been grim-faced for most of our trip. It’s because of Mother. She’s sick. That is why we are moving to the mountains. Her doctor says the cold, dry air will heal her lungs.
More than anything else I want Mother to get well. Father, Paulie, and I will do everything and then some to make that happen. And so will Nurse Daisy. I feel a little bad for thinking this, but I miss Denver, my best friend Lisbeth, and the way things were before Mother got sick. All of our lives have been turned upside down since we began planning this move to the mountains.
Trouble is I’ve come to expect that this overcast sky that is always above us these days will burst open and pour down a needle-hard rain. Nurse Daisy doesn’t stand for that way of thinking. She says the sun is stronger than any old buckshot-colored cloud. When its mind is set the sun can burn through even the darkest gloom.
Buy Phoebe’s Heron (trade paperback):
“An enchanting book full of forgotten history, the tension of friendship, a brave girl, and deeply overflowing with the love of wild nature.”
– Polly Carlson-Voiles, author of Summer of the Wolves
“Phoebe’s Heron not only sheds light on the early conservation movement but explores how adolescents develop their own identities and perspectives on issues. It emphasizes the importance of treating people fairly and kindly and of staying true to one’s values, even when it creates issues with family and friends. This is a sensitive and thoughtful juvenile historical novel that incorporates many themes in a delightful package.” – Foreword Magazine
“Beautifully written, Phoebe’s Heron illuminates the origins of the Audubon Society and the early days of American wildlife conservation. Young readers will be inspired to learn more about native species, and feel empowered to stand up to protect our vulnerable wildlife in these challenging times.” – Outdoors Nature Educator, Aldo Leopold Center
“Lyrical, sweet, and lush with its serene setting.”
– VOYA Magazine
ABOUT PHOEBE’S HERON
Set in Colorado in 1900, Phoebe’s Heron tells in a first-person narrative the story of 12-year-old Phoebe Greer. As the novel opens, Phoebe, her family, and Nurse Daisy, who believes the sun is stronger than any buckshot-colored cloud filled with a needle-hard rain, arrive at their new cliff-top cabin in the foothills of the Rockies. They have moved from Denver hoping that the fresh air will heal Phoebe’s mother’s tuberculosis.
While Phoebe wants nothing more than for her mother to get well, she misses city life in Denver and her best friend Lisbeth, whose parents own Denver’s finest millinery store, where the two girls have spent many hours in front of the looking-glass with fine feathered hats on their heads.
Phoebe loves to draw. Her father gives her a sketch- book, and she soon meets Jed, a local boy. One prob- lem: young Jed is a plume hunter, a commercial hunter of birds for their plumage, which is in great demand for women’s fashionable hats of the day. Still, the two youngsters become friends, and adventures and discoveries ensue.
Gradually Jed shows Phoebe the delights of the natural world in the Colorado Rockies, and their friendship deepens.
Then, on her own one day, Phoebe sees a magnificent great blue heron in the creek, which she sketches in her book. But she does not tell Jed about seeing this bird.
Then, Phoebe’s mother grows worse, and soon, all will change.
This is a lovely, lyrical story about discovery and friendship.
WINNIE ANDERSON is an educator and short-story author. This is her first novel. She lives in Baltimore, MD, and Evergreen, CO.