Life has always been a little lonely for twelve-year-old Casey Parker, an obsessive reader who makes up for her lack of friends with her books. The only attention she gets in school is unwanted, given a bit too enthusiastically by the school bully. But, when Casey's great uncle Walter moves back to town and takes over a mysterious little bookshop called Moonglow's, things begin to get interesting.
He gives her an old iron key and tells her to come back to read at night when the moonlight is shining in, because something truly magical happens. But there are three rules she must follow: the books must remain in the shop at night, she must keep the key with her at all times, and, above all, she must be out by midnight.
She discovers that she can physically enter the story of any book she reads. But, if she's not out by midnight, or if she forgets her key, she will be trapped inside the book forever. Casey spends the summer between grammar school and junior high leaping into different stories and learning about herself in the process. As the first day of junior high approaches, Casey knows she will have to face the bully again; disappearing into her favorite novel forever is beginning to sound like a great idea.
Midnight at Moonglow's received an honorable mention in the 2011-2012 Los Angeles Book Festival.
Winner of the bronze medal for best book series in the Moonbeam Children's Book Awards.
Casey let out a gasp. They were standing at the edge of a cliff. A massive waterfall crashed down over the rocks into a large pool below. The water in the pool was a clear turquoise and looked very inviting. The pool stretched out quite far from the bottom of the waterfall, so the water was considerably calm throughout most of it, with only a few small ripples lapping at the rocks on its farthest edge. On the other side of the waterfall was more lush, green jungle. Directly in front of them, in the cliff they were standing on, a set of stairs had been carved into the rock. They led down to several ledges in the side of the cliff at varying heights above the pool.
“Are you ready to go for a swim?” Kamari asked.
“Let me guess—we’re jumping from one of those ledges, aren’t we?”
Kamari grinned and started descending the stony steps.
“Geez Louise. Can we at least go to the lowest one?”
Casey’s heart started to pound as she followed him down the stairs. They zigzagged down the side of the cliff. The wind whipped her hair and the thunder of the waterfall roared in her ear. She was beginning to panic as they reached the lowest ledge, which was still a good twenty-five feet above the water. They stood on the ledge together and looked down. Casey grabbed Kamari’s hand.
“Kamari, I can’t do this.”
She was squeezing his hand so tight that it must have hurt him. He looked into her face, and she couldn’t hide the panic in her eyes.
“Yes you can, suhuba. Do not fear. You won’t get hurt. Your fear is all in your mind. I will show you what to do, and then I will go first. You can do it. I know you can. You are braver than you think you are.”
He stepped to the edge of the rock and folded his arms across his chest, putting his palms flat against each shoulder.
“Hold your arms against your chest like this, then jump out away from the rock and keep your legs straight and together on the way down. Ready? Watch me.”
Casey nodded as he faced forward and bent his knees. Then, he leaped out into the air and was gone. She watched him go down. He entered the water with a small splash. When he resurfaced, he looked up with a big smile and waved for Casey to join him. The drop only took a matter of seconds. Less than three, she guessed. At least if I die, it’ll be over quickly. She took her socks and sneakers off and removed her watch. She wrapped up her watch in her socks and shoved it into the toe of one of her sneakers and then dropped them to the rocks below. She checked her pocket to make sure the key was zipped up tight. Okay, I guess I’m ready. But she sure didn’t feel ready.
She stood at the edge and panic completely washed over her. Her legs were shaking involuntarily and her stomach held a colony of butterflies, all poking at the sides trying to get out. She looked at Kamari down below, floating on his back and watching her, waiting for her to jump. She raised her head and closed her eyes. She took several deep breaths and cleared her mind of everything. You can do this. You can do this.
She opened her eyes and was ready. She crossed her arms like Kamari had showed her and bent her knees. Then, she launched herself off the cliff. Her stomach leaped into her chest while her body was pulled down like a magnet attracted to its polar opposite. She tried her hardest to keep her arms crossed and her legs straight as she fell. She wanted to reach out and grab the air for something to hold on to, but even the thought was futile. She was completely helpless. Those three seconds felt like forever. When she finally hit the water, her insides were pushed up with some force, but then the water engulfed her. It was quiet and cool and she was glad to be able to feel something around her, to be able to move her arms and legs, and have control again. She kicked and paddled her way back up to the surface. When her head broke through, she greedily inhaled a breath and looked around for Kamari.
“You did it, suhuba! I knew you could. I am proud of you.”
“Thanks!” she replied, as she looked back up at the ledge she had just been standing on seconds before. “I can’t believe I did it! What a rush that was. It was totally scary, but you know what? Now I think I wanna do it again!”
They both broke out into laughter.
“I thought you might say that. After they get past the first time, most people love it.”
“Come on, let’s go again!” Casey started swimming toward the edge of the pool. “How do we get back up there anyway?”
Kamari pointed to the right, a little farther down the cliffs where they sloped down lower to the pool. Another set of stairs led back up to the top.
“Hmm….I see,” Casey teased. “You couldn’t have shown me that before, huh?”
Kamari giggled. “Then you wouldn’t have found out how much fun jumping is suhuba!”
They got out of the pool, raced up the stairs, and walked back over to the first set of stairs. Kamari tried to convince her to try jumping from one of the higher ledges on their way down, but she wasn’t quite ready for that. They jumped several more times; Kamari even showed off a little with a few headfirst dives. Each time she jumped, Casey felt a little tingle in her stomach right before she leapt off the edge, but the total freedom of the fall was like nothing she had ever experienced. She had never done anything daring like this in her life.