Genre: MG adventure
Word count: 34,000
Eleven-year-old Thelma Bee might turn red as cherries when she’s embarrassed, but she’s no wallflower. Thelma has adventure in her blood. There’s not a whole lot of opportunity for exploration in her hometown of Riverfish, Massachusetts, though, so she and her best friend Alexander Oldtree are often left to their own devices--with mixed results. The full-scale Viking Longship, for example, was a magnificent flop.
But one October night, Thelma’s sixth grade year takes a turn for the peculiar. A ghostly visitor kidnaps her father, leaving her alone and scared to death. Her only clue is a centuries-old jewelry box and one cryptic word the ghost whispered into her ear: “Return.”
That one word draws this adventurer-in-training into a world where her family tree unfolds a mystery that’s more extraordinary than anything her imagination could concoct. With her team of amateur ghost hunters, Thelma delves deep into the New England woods, where the lines between folklore and reality become dangerously blurry. It’s there, where the creaking trees have long memories, that she comes face to face with the devious Mr. Understone, who has been stalking her bloodline for centuries. Thelma has something he wants, and he’ll keep her dad until he gets it.
To save her father, she must find the bravery to overcome a dark magic…and discover just what she’s made of.
Thelma Bee had short, confident bangs, a heavy red backpack, and no idea that a very strange thing was about to find her. When the final bell rang that Wednesday afternoon, she closed her eyes and the sound transformed into a celebration of mariachi trumpets. Just one more school day until the long-long weekend. She busted out of the front door with the excitement that only 2:30 p.m. can bring, and navigating a path through a weird-smelling ocean of middle-schoolers, Thelma set a course for her dad’s antique shop.
Mr. Henry Bee was the proud proprietor of Bee’s Very Unusual Antiques--which was, in Thelma’s opinion, a bit of false advertising. Sometimes they sold items that were quite ordinary, like an old chipped mug, and sometimes they sold things that were not antique at all, like Mrs. Edelstein’s homemade cookies. Maybe, she thought, the shop should be named something more like Bee’s Very Unusual Antiques and Also Some Very Normal Antiques and Also Cookies. Not very catchy, but honest.
“Hey, Dad!” She threw down her backpack and plopped herself on an overstuffed avocado-and-orange-colored chair from the 1970s.
“Hey, kiddo!” hollered Henry. He emerged from his workshop in a worn-out brown apron.
Henry Bee sported the kind of thick eyeglasses that had been fashionable in the 1950s, as he had a passion for the old and unique. Once a journalist for the American Post, Henry had traveled the globe reporting on strange occurrences from Albany to Antarctica. In fact, it was there in