Students at Livermore, Red Feather and Stove Prairie Elementary Schools are in for a rare treat. It’s not often that they have a chance to meet the author of a book set in their neighborhood.
Marianne Mitchell’s family has owned property in Poudre Canyon since the late 1950s and although she grew up in Arizona, she spent many summers near Rustic in Poudre Canyon. This year her 12th and newest book for children, The Ghost in the Wood, for ages 8 and up, takes place in and around an old cabin near Rustic and is filled with details and experiences from her past and from her imagination.
Mitchell has been an elementary school teacher and writing instructor and was a member of Northern Colorado Writers during a time when she and her husband lived in Fort Collins. In 2008, the Fort Collins Rotary Club sponsored her visits to the mountain schools where she spoke about her book, A Promise Made, about a runaway girl who finds adventure and a new kind of family in the Colorado mining town of Silver Plume in 1884.
The Ghost in the Wood is told in the voice of Zeke, a 12-year-old boy whose mother has died and whose father finds himself out of a job and forced to take Zeke and his 6-year-old sister, Robbyn, to live in an uncared for old mountain cabin with a spigot on the front porch for water, an outhouse, and no Internet connection.
Zeke isn’t too happy. He thinks he will be bored without his friends, computer and the comforts of home he’s accustomed to. Soon enough he discovers that there’s plenty of excitement around, unlike anything he could ever have imagined.
He loses no time finding an old bike in the garage and using it to explore the area. In the same spot he finds a stash of lightning-struck wood, charred and very old. One strange thing after another happens until Zeke is convinced that someone or something is after his sister, and he has no idea why.
From his Aunt Sara, who has kindly loaned his family her cabin for as long as they need a place to stay, he hears the story of a boy who was killed 50-years ago by lightning that struck a tree down by the river where the boy was stranded in a tree house high in its branches.
One thing leads to another until finally, after some scary happenings, Zeke is able to understand the ghostly figure he keeps running into, solve the mystery and end the danger his sister is in. In the course of doing so, he makes some good friends in the small community and comes to appreciate the joys of mountain living.
The book is fast-paced and suspenseful and will keep young readers turning the pages to find out what happens next.
Mitchell will be at Livermore and Red Feather Lakes Schools on May 6 and Stove Prairie School on May 9. “I’m excited to be coming back to Colorado,” she said.
Both books are available from Amazon.com. Read more about Marianne Mitchell at MarianneMitchell.net. An extra treat is a sneak peek at the first two chapters of Mitchell’s next book,The Ghost in the Convent, to be published soon.