Today we have a sneak peek from author Muirelle Cyr’s middle-grade children’s book, Culloo.
Tala can’t answer the door. The welfare officer is knocking and her father isn’t home again. She needs to find him before her and her young brother get placed in foster care. Their quest brings them to secluded woods where they discover bear poachers are responsible for their father’s disappearance.
Their adventures bring them in contact with the legendary woodland characters: the pipe-smoking frog-like people and the giant, ferocious black bird. Will they be able to survive the night alone with hungry bears and angry poachers and find their father before the hunters do?
Here is an excerpt from Culloo…
Tala groped in the bottom drawer of the electric stove where the kitchen utensils were stored and pulled out a small-framed picture. “Here you go. I knew I saw it in there.” She wiped her younger brother’s tears with the bottom edge of her T-shirt and handed him the picture.
Dason clutched it close to his chest. “I shut my eyes real tight and I still don’t see her face.” He wiped his nose on his sleeve and looked up at her. “Do you think Anjij still has a picture of us?”
“She doesn’t need one,” Tala said. “She’s everywhere around us, in the trees, the flowers, the earth, the wind. She sees us all the time.”
“Susan says she’s way up there in Heaven.”
“Like she knows everything,” Tala said.
Susan had been their mother’s good friend before the accident two years ago, and had made it her mission since then to always check up on them. Tala counted the days until her thirteenth birthday next month; no more nagging about being too young to stay by herself. It sure didn’t help that Susan’s kitchen window looked straight into theirs, and that her son Josh was Dason’s best friend. Car tires crunched the loose gravel on their driveway. Tala bolted for the front door. “Must be Tom,” she said.
She’d fallen asleep on the couch waiting for him to come home last night. When she checked his bedroom first thing this morning his blankets were still in the same heap on the floor. He hadn’t picked up any of her text messages; she was forever reminding him to charge that cell phone of his. Maybe he couldn’t use it in the woods, but he might pick up signals on higher ground.
She parted the slats in the Venetian blind to check if he had picked up a carton of milk, yanked her hand away, and dashed back to the kitchen to switch off the TV. Dason jumped up to protest but she signaled him to be quiet. “That woman’s back,” she said. “Don’t make any noise.”
A sharp rap on the front door; neither of them moved. Dason went to say something but Tala shook her head at him. The blinds were all closed but the front window was still open. All inside noises could be heard from the front porch.