Secrets of the UnderWhere: Welcome to the UnderWhere 004

SotUcoverWednesday nodded companionably, understanding perfectly that the child didn’t actually want to converse with him so much as he simply wanted someone to listen and make affirming grunts in all the right places.

Well did he know the feeling.

But as they walked along, Wednesday’s tooth started to tingle. Not the one that told the story of his tribe, nor the one that gave a brief history of the UnderWhere itself. No, it was his own personal tooth that was jangling in such a way as to make the fur on his face and arms stand up.

The child was completely foreign, and yet somehow familiar. And why had the Lord Mayor, out of all the UnderWherians he might have chosen, chosen him?

Beneath their feet, the path unwound in a litter of peculiar goldenrod-colored bricks and stones. At first, he’d been so preoccupied with the child that he hadn’t noticed, but now he squinted suspiciously down at the path.

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Mira Morganstein: The Pink Lemonade Club 004

Old Woman

MMCoverMira hugged her book of fairy tales to her chest, willing herself to fall between the pages into a land where fairies were real and goose girls could become princesses. Where fifth graders could be out doing heroic and magical things instead of being forced to endure fractions, decimals, and figuring out where Timbuktu lived on a map.

“Deep in the forest,” she whispered to herself, “lived two sisters. One as fair as the morning, the other dark as night. They lived with their mother in a forest glen, these two sisters: Rose Red and Snow White.”

Her backpack bumped comfortably against her as her stride and the story weaving itself through her mind and across her tongue all fell into rhythm. Her favorite time of the day, besides that silver hour when the world held its breath in between day and night, was the walk home from school.

It was then when she could be any princess she chose to, fall into any fairy tale she fancied, with no one to look over her shoulder or eye her disapprovingly from the front of the classroom. There were no chores for her to do—not yet—and her homework could wait.

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The Curious Leaf: Voyage to the Moon 003

TCL Cover“The moon is a mirror, as it has ever been. What is below, must be above. And what is above, must shine down below.” He glanced at the sky and stiffened. “Already I have lingered longer than I ought. The night is nearly gone. Eat the cheese or not, it is your choice. Only remember that what is promised must be given, one way or another.” With one last quiver of his whiskers, the mouse scampered off, his silken robes flapping behind him.

“The stories my keeper used to read to me,” Kya said, eyeing the bit of cheese that was beginning to melt in her hand, “were filled with dire warnings against eating food from Faerie.”

Hearthorne brightened at the mention of her home. “Really?”

Kya let her nervousness seep out in a small laugh. “Yes. They said that eating the food of the Folk would steal your soul, bind you to the Realm, and empty you instead of filling you. Of course, I’m not sure how that works with plants.” Kya furrowed her brow. At her heart, she was still a small flower of only three seasons who was not content to stand upon the windowsill. And yet, there was something else. Something small and foreign nibbling at the corners of her heart. Different and strange and . . . lovely.

But the stories had things to say about that too.

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Secrets of the UnderWhere: Welcome to the UnderWhere 002

sotu002The Crown Prince’s eyes widened, for they were of equal height, and both had a mop of unruly curls that hadn’t yet decided if they were going to be brown or gold.

“Bring the creature to me,” the Crown Prince ordered, raising his miniature scepter before he turned and scrambled back into his litter. The golems stood as one, and began the long run back to the Castle Under, while the Lord Mayor looked on with envy.

Now that was power.

“Well, you heard the Crown Prince,” the Lord Regent said, grinning. His teeth were every bit as yellow as his eyes. “See that the creature is delivered safely to the castle in a timely manner.”

Mutely, the Lord Mayor nodded. He was going to have to round up a committee to deal with the human child. The crowd, meanwhile, shifted restlessly and were already edging away.

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Mira Morganstein: The Pink Lemonade Club 002

mm001The box crouching behind the Danish pastries could only mean one thing: the Pink Lemonade Brigade was back in town.

Mira’s mother hadn’t finished setting the table yet, but the box covered with yellow paper and a gauzy white and bold pink ribbon was all the proof she needed. It wouldn’t be long before the table would be filled with cucumber sandwiches, fancy cakes, and a tall glass pitcher of pink lemonade.

“Mom,” Mira called, gripping the strap of her backpack. “I think I’m going to stop at the library on the way home. There’s, uh, a thing I want to—” She glared at the lacy white tablecloth. No matter how hard she tried to lie, she could never stretch the truth beyond trailing off vaguely and hoping the other person followed what she couldn’t say.

“Is it due soon?” her mother asked, polishing a teacup as she entered the dining room. “Because I’m going to need you home right after school otherwise.”

Mira rubbed the back of her leg with her foot, then shifted her weight from side to side as she tried to come up with a plausible excuse that didn’t fall under lying. Even if she’d had the constitutional ability to speak a lie, her mother’s intense gray stare would burn anything but the complete truth to smoldering ash. There was a reason the sales people at the kiosks in the mall gave them a wide berth.

“The leaves are turning and I want to add to my collection.” She gave her mother a wan smile, promising herself that she’d scour the entire forest behind their house if it got her out of meeting with the Pink Lemonade Brigade this year.

Her mother placed the teacup—another oddity out of the plethora of weird the Pink Lemonade Brigade always inspired—she’d been polishing on the table and pulled another out of her pocket.

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