Author Rita Monette shared a little peak at Ghost Dog Island a couple months back, but now (drum roll please) it’s finally been released!!!! This spooky middle grade book is loaded with mystery and perfect for this time of year. Read the school scene provided for our “Back to School” theme and scroll on down to get your copy today. And feel free to leave a comment. My guest authors love that.
"Behind Every Legend Lies the Truth."
Moving is nothing new for ten-year-old Nikki Landry. Her father relocates their raggedy old houseboat several times a year in search of better crabbing spots. However, their latest move has brought her to a mysterious bayou where she feels something is watching her from a nearby island.
Nikki learns of a local legend about something sinister inhabiting those swamps, stealing the souls of dogs...which would explain the strange howling sounds. Papa reassures her there’s nothing on the island but gators and snakes. He should know. He’s spent his whole life trapping and fishing those bayous and swamps…But maybe there’s something Papa doesn’t know.
Nikki and her new friends begin to uncover strange happenings from years ago that may have started the old legend…and town folks aren’t talking. Then her beloved beagle goes missing.
Join Nikki as she seeks to discover the real truth behind the legend of Ghost Dog Island…before it’s too late.
Excerpt: Nikki Landry lives in 1956. But, starting a new school is hard no matter what year it is. In this scene, Nikki has changed schools with only three weeks left of the school year.
I stepped into the school building while noisy kids pushed past me. My stomach grumbled. The piece of biscuit I ate earlier felt like it was going to come back up. The strong smell of ink from the ditto copier met me at the door of the office. I took a deep breath.
A gray-haired lady watched me as I walked across the room. “Can I help you?”
“Yes ma’am.” I handed her my papers.
“Changing schools this late in the year?”
While the secretary made clicking noises on her typewriter, I glanced around the room. A large calendar on the wall behind the desk showed a picture of a girl scout, smiling in her green uniform. All of the days had a big red X on them through May 9. June 1 was circled, with "school out" written across it. Three weeks of school left. What could I possibly learn in three weeks?
The woman began flipping through some cards in a box.
I thought about telling her I didn’t feel well and needed to go to the sick room. I was pretty sure I had a fever. I was lost in my daydream when the lady said my name out loud.
“Nicole Elizabeth Landry.”
I nearly dropped my bag. “Most people call me Nikki, ma’am,” I said in the most polite voice I could manage.
She scribbled something on a slip of paper and handed it to me. “Take this to Mr. Brown’s room. Just turn right when you get in the hall.” She motioned with her hand. “Then go to Room Five. It’s on the left.”
I walked out of the office trying to read what she’d written. A loud bell went off above my head. The sound triggered a stampede of kids running past me. I backed into the doorway to get out of their way. After the ruckus died down, I looked both ways, stepped into the hallway, and followed the lady’s directions. My throat tightened. I needed an escape plan in the worst way. I pondered on hiding outside until the bus was ready to leave for the day and then hopping back on it.
By the time I had it all planned out, I found myself standing in front of an open door with the number five above it. A man with gray hair and wearing a brown vest stared back at me. I swallowed my breath. He sat on the edge of a big desk, an open book in his hand, and smiled. I breathed out real slow so no one would hear it.
“Can I help you?” He laid the book on the cluttered desk.
“Yes sir.” I stepped into the classroom and handed him the piece of paper. He smelled like vanilla pipe tobacco. My Grandpa Quebedeaux used to keep a pouch of that in his shirt pocket. I loved snuggling up to him just to get a whiff of it.
I kept my eyes on the tip of my big toe poking through my old shoe. I felt a million eyes drilling holes in my skin.
“Class, welcome Nikki Landry to our school. She has transferred here from Pierre Part.”
“Hey Nikki,” all of the strange kids said at the same time.
Without looking up, I quickly sat down in the seat Mr. Brown pointed to in the front row.
“Push your desk next to Patti’s and share her books until tomorrow when I can get yours,” he said.
I looked to my left and saw the girl from the bus. She had a big old smile on her face. I scooted my chair next to hers. I tried hard to smile back, but my lips felt tighter than one of Mama’s canning jars.
“Hi.” Patti pulled out a large brown book with the corners worn off.
I fidgeted with my pencil and notebook. “I hope I get my own books soon.”
“Oh, that’s okay. I don’t mind sharing.” She looked at my clothes. “If you don’t have any dresses, you can borrow some of mine. We’re about the same size.”
“No thank you.” I rubbed my hand across the front of my baggy overalls. “I have dresses. I don’t like wearing ’em is all.”
“I love your hair. Mine won’t ever grow long enough to braid,” she said.
I fought back a smirk. Her hair did look like a couple of thistle blooms, but she was friendly. And she sure did love to talk. Chatty Patti, I’d call her.
Mr. Brown drew his long gray eyebrows together and glared at us. We stopped talking.
Later on, I was busy trying to figure out an arithmetic problem about a boy named John who bought twelve bags of apples for fifty cents a bag, and wondering how he could carry all that home, when somebody kicked the back of my chair. I turned around to see that rude Tommy Lopez sitting right behind me.
“What do you want?” he asked.
I quickly turned back to face the blackboard. I felt my teeth grind together.
Finally, the bell rang for recess. As I tried to pull my desk aside to sneak out quiet like, I caught my foot on the leg of Patti’s desk.
Blam, clunk, clatter! I landed on the floor, with books, tablets, and pencils. A boy’s muddy boot stood inches from my face. I looked up at him. It was Tommy again. He laughed loudly. Some of the other kids snickered. My skin felt hot as July sunshine.
Why was he picking on me? I wondered lying there on my belly. Was his real name Tommy the Terrible Lopez? If he hated me so much, he’d mor’n likely never answer any questions I had about his trip to Ghost Dog Island and what he saw there. I needed to find another way.
Where can you get a copy of The Legend of Ghost Dog Island?
Mirror World (publisher)
Rita Monette was born and raised in Southwest Louisiana. She loves to write stories set in the beautiful, yet mysterious, bayous and swamps of her home state.
Her middle grade series, The Nikki Landry Swamp Legends, is based on tales told by her father--who made his living in those bayous--of reasons to stay out of the swamp.
She currently lives with her husband, four lap dogs, and one lap cat, in the mountains of Tennessee. Besides writing and illustrating, she loves watching the many birds that make their habitat on the Cumberland Plateau.
D. G. Driver
Author of Young Adult books Cry of the Sea and Passing Notes.