14-year-old Adiaphoran refugees Baggy and Abigail are a bit cynical, as they are alone in a new country. Rounded up with other refugee kids, they live in Transition House at the Plumkettle Learning Center until they are placed with guardians. Photographer Baggy moves into a berm house containing a WWII periscope with the secretive Captain Sodpeg. Abigail, who is losing her sight, gets a guide dog and is finally invited to live in the carriage house behind Mrs. Plumkettle’s on Old Applebutter Hill Rd.
Join Baggy, Abigail and Curly Connor as they fly the Cloud Scooper, sneak around Bar Gundoom Castle and row across an underground lake. Their lives change instantly, when they uncover a secret. The powerful and dangerous Heartstone of Arden-Goth, a heart-shaped sapphire, is hidden in Applebutter Hill, and corporate giants place a spy at their school to find it. They are determined to unmask the spy, but can they trust anyone?
Summer school is mandatory, and the friends have two classes together – Survival 101 with everybody’s favorite teacher Luther Kohl and Writers’ Roundtable with the dreaded Professor Thornhammer. All Plumkettle students, including the blind ones, study driving.
With access to the off-limits dark room, the state-of-the-art auto center and carpentry workshop, Baggy is in his glory. Abigail, a budding songwriter, is enlisted to write music for the children’s summer puppet theater. What she really wants, though, is to be an apprentice on the newspaper staff. Prejudice, however, is standing in her way.
As summer heats up, their troubled friend Christopher is viciously bullied, Abigail and Baggy are terrorized by an armed stranger and jealousy over pottery-contest winners gets out of hand. The friends argue about the spy’s identity, but agree it’s a teacher. When a desperate Christopher arrives at Abby’s one night with the school cat, the mysteries begin to unravel. In the end, though, it may just be Abby’s guide dog Curly Connor who makes the most significant discovery of all.
Read an excerpt from the book:
“Abigail stirred in her recliner and stopped her magazine. She knew she’d had the dream again. Her eyes unfocused, she tried to remember. The details, however, were just out of reach. They seemed to be retreating into the carriage house itself.
The late morning sun was streaming in through the dormer windows. She examined its design on the carpet. It had been split into diagonal shafts by the balustrade framing the balcony, which extended from the loft above her to the front of the carriage house. She sighed in frustration.
“How am I supposed to help you,” she grumbled into the brightness, “if you won’t ever let me remember anything?
Curly Connor was in his favorite spot near the piano. He had been resting his chin on his crossed paws, staring at Abigail, waiting for her to realize what a great idea it would be to go for a walk. At her words, he cocked his head, and his twinkling brown-eyed smile faltered.
Half Labrador and half Golden Retriever, Curly Connor had a gleaming black coat that arched over his body in thick waves. The fur on either side of his neck stood up in banana-curl ridges, big enough to hide a grown man’s hand. He also had a job. As a guide dog, it was his responsibility to escort Abigail wherever she wanted to go.
The Fluffer-Noodle, as she often called him, was over two years old and had long since developed specific ideas about how things should be. When something was not to his liking, Abigail and her best friend Baggy Brichaz would say that it had “offended his delicate sensibilities,” and the prospect of spending a splendid May afternoon indoors was threatening to do just that.
He was longing for Abigail to get up, shake his harness at him and allow him to take her for a walk to the park, or the cheese shop, or even the bank, for he knew how to find all of these places and many others. To him, every outing was a joyful adventure, and if it looked as though he were waiting patiently, well, looks can be deceiving.
As the clock on the mantel chimed eleven, Abigail twitched. Mrs. Plumkettle would be arriving at noon. Yawning, she rewound her magazine. She twisted her long blonde hair around her hand and tossed it over the back of the chair. She could probably finish several articles before lunch.
Curly Connor sighed. He would rather have Abigail do just about anything than read. He would not have been nearly as bored, for instance, if she had decided to play the guitar. He might have forgotten about going for a walk entirely, if she had gone to the kitchen for something to eat. But no, she was reading.”
Proceeds from the sale of this eBook are being used to provide Braille books to young blind writers.
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