In the backyard of an ordinary house on an ordinary street in an ordinary town, there was once a most extraordinary tree. It was an enormous willow tree. In the middle of its trunk there was a hole. And if you found yourself near that willow tree with a certain wonder stirring in your heart, you might notice a colorful sparkle coming from that hole. And what was that sparkle? An invitation to go somewhere long ago and far far away.
Follow the stories of Willowbee children – ordinary children who take some not-so-ordinary adventures through powers of their extraordinary willow tree..
ABOUT THE STORIES
This is a collection of 13 spring stories, for the 13 weeks of spring.
Sometimes Little Ty gets so excited about playing that he forgets to eat. He would rather do so many other things than eat — especially play tag or hide and seek. Then the willow tree takes them to Mexico and he learns a valuable lesson from thousands of Monarch Butterflies on why to eat peacefully before a big event.
A Stone with Wings
Clancy is a dreamy boy who has lots of "idea time". His family understands this and his teachers understand this, but sometimes the children in his class do not. They occasionally laugh at his ideas and think what he says is silly. But when the willow tree takes him to the foothills of the Himalayas to help the local animals find a mythical source of water, it is precisely those "silly" ideas that help him find it.
The Clay Pot
Piper is home sick from school and she doesn't like it. The previous day she did not listen to her mother or her teachers and was under-dressed for a class field trip. She got cold and wet and now has a fever. When the willow tree takes her to the Smoky Mountains to hear an old Buzzard's story, she learns the importance of listening to one's elders.
Dreams and Fancy
Like many three-year-olds, little Ty has an active imagination. His sister Piper sometimes doesn't appreciate his sense of wonder — especially when she is in a hurry. From the animals of the Amazon Rain forest, a place of abundant fancy, she learns how best to engage with her brother's imagination.
Clancy is nervous about performing in the first grade play. Although he has only one line, he worries about looking silly in front of everyone. When the willow tree transports the Willowbee children to a Tlingit elder in the Pacific Northwest of the United States, Clancy learns how to benefit from the wisdom of powerful "totem" animals, and he is given the courage, not only to perform, but to enjoy it!
When the Willowbee children visit the local park and see new children on the swings, they are at first frustrated because they wanted to swing. Then when they hear the children speak French they are further frustrated because clearly they aren't from the neighborhood. When the French children continue to swing and don't give the Willowbees a turn, Piper, Clancy and Little Ty leave in a huff. Only when the willow tree takes them to Southeast Australia where a group of Wombats hatch an unfair plot to scare a group of traveling Kangaroos, do the children realize why it is important to be welcoming to new faces rather than be judgmental.
Big Plans and Real Weather
The Willowbees are deeply disappointed when they learn the Spring Festival has been postponed due to heavy rain. How frustrating it is when the weather doesn't cooperate! Their spirits are lifted a bit when the willow tree offers to take them to a new land. They go to the northern plains of the United States, where they learn from several bison and prairie dogs how to accept and honor the weather — whether you like it or not.
Little Ty is very silly during dinnertime grace and Clancy doesn't like it. When the two brothers go through the hole in the magical willow tree, they are transported to the highlands of Scotland, long ago — where nothing is attempted without a lovely prayer of honor. A Scottish hare, two badger brothers, and a red kite inspire the boys to remember the importance of saying thanks.
What is No Longer Needed
It's the day of Piper's dentist appointment. Two of her baby teeth will be removed, and she is feeling nervous about it. The willow tree takes her to the Grand Canyon where she encounters Snake Woman, a powerful rattlesnake who is shedding her skin. Piper learns the value of letting go what is no longer needed to make room for what is to come.
The Bat Cave
The Willowbee children are to go to a "memorial service" for their Great Uncle Jack, a time to remember the kind old man who lived a long and exciting life. Clancy doesn't understand why they need to do such a thing — he remembers Uncle Jack just fine! But when the willow tree takes him to Bali and a special temple built around a mountain cave, he learns from a group of monkeys, a quiet tiger and a host of fruit bats that gathering together to remember our loved ones can be a very special time indeed.
The End of the Season
Clancy is lamenting the end of first grade and the prospect of starting a new grade. He likes the way things are, and doesn't want them to change. The willow tree takes the children to Tanzania for the migration of the wildebeests and zebras at the end of the wet season, where change is welcome. Although it's not always easy, the animals come home changed: a year older and stronger and wiser.
A Real Dragon
Ty is celebrating his three-and-a-half birthday, and he has a single wish: to see a real dragon. His parents and brother and sister are dumbfounded — how can they grant him this wish? But the willow tree knows — it takes the children to Komodo Island in Indonesia where they meet not only a real dragon but three of the real dragon's children. The dragons and the Willowbees learn a great deal about each other and realize that the stories don't always match up with the truth.
Waiting for Wings
Piper loves to read and is frustrated when her parents put a limit on what kinds of books are appropriate for her age. But when the willow tree takes her to the Barrier Islands in the Gulf of Mexico, she meets a young Whooping Crane who is determined to fly north earlier than her mother has planned. Both the crane and Piper learn a lesson about the value of waiting for the right time.