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 the powers of their extraordinary willow tree.
ABOUT THE STORIES
This is a collection of 13 winter stories, for the 13 weeks of winter.
Give and Take
Clancy loves his mother's baking so much that one day he takes more than his share and hides it away in his room. He believes that his mother won't notice the missing treats. When the willow tree takes him to Borneo to meet some long-nosed monkeys and a mother orangutan, he learns the value of giving rather than taking.
It is winter vacation and Piper and Clancy are bickering. They can’t seem to agree on much — especially what games to play — and Little Ty, their younger brother, is tired of it. Later, when the willow tree takes them to the Rocky Mountains and they meet a bickering mountain lion couple, Little Ty and the mountain lion cub show the rest that bickering and arguing can become a distraction from much more important matters.
Sharing a Meal
The Willowbee children are resistant to attending a potluck party and sharing their mother’s delicious nutty cinnamon rolls.The willow tree takes them to Tasmania to meet a Tasmanian Devil, a Tasmanian Tiger, a few quolls, echidnas, and other curious animals that are happily sharing a bounty of local food — teaching the children that food is ever so much better when shared!
Feeding the Storm
Clancy is mad. His day has not gone well at all and instead of saying anything to anyone, he has only gotten more and more upset. Finally, the willow tree takes him to the coast of Newfoundland, Canada where a Newfoundland Wolf shows him how the storm inside needs to be expressed and fed in order to pass.
I Am Myself
Piper is discouraged because her friends at school want her to be like them. The sports kids want her to only play sports, the musical kids want her to only play the piano, and the artistic kids want her to be interested only in art. When the willow tree takes her to the Philippines and introduces her to a Kagwang, a Binterong, a Pilantok, and a Mawmag — she learns that being herself is the best thing to be.
Making New Friends
Clancy is feeling nervous about the school's "Winter Festival" and is worried that he might get lost in a group of people he doesn't know very well. When the willow tree takes him to Catahoula Lake in Louisiana, he meets a shy duck from Manitoba and helps her find new friends — and finds his own courage in the process.
Have Fun Finding
Everyone wants to know how Little Ty can always find anything lost. Whenever they ask, he only answers, "I just find it". But then the willow tree takes the Willowbee children to Loch Ness in Scotland and a fun-loving otter explains to everyone the best way (and Ty's way) to find something. And oh, what they find!
Taking Your Time
Piper, the oldest child, can be rather competitive with her friends and family. Sometimes she likes to finish first even if it means making mistakes or not doing her best work. When the willow tree takes them to the jungles of Ecuador, a three-toed sloth teaches her the value and power of moving slowly and taking her time.
Playing with Nothing
Piper and Clancy have a snow day from school, but instead of a day of snowy fun outdoors, they must stay indoors due to the wind and cold temperatures. They quickly get tired of their usual games and books, and they moan that they don't have anything to do. But then, the willow tree invites them to the barren Penguin Island off the coast of Namibia, and they learn from a group of penguins that one can have fun even when you are surrounded with what looks like nothing.
The Jewel Island
When the Willowbee Children receive a gift of coins and sparkly crystals from their aunt, Clancy immediately wants the "treasure" for his own collection. This turns into an argument between the three of them — and it is not until the willow tree takes them to Halong Bay in Vietnam, that they all learn what is truly treasure.
Piper and her friend Elise have so much in common — they both like sports, music, art and answering questions in school. When Piper learns that they will compete against each other in the obstacle course, she is hesitant to race. But then the willow tree takes them to the American prairies and she learns from a roadrunner and jackrabbit the best way to race your friends.
Listen to the Lights
Spring is coming and the Willowbee children are filled with excitement and energy. Unfortunately for their mother, this excitement is expressed with very loud voices. She encourages them to use their 'inside voices', but only after the willow tree takes them to the far north and a Moose shows them how to listen to the magical 'northern lights' do the children understand how to be both excited and quiet.
Through the Hedgerow
Piper comes home feeling tired of all the same things, both at school and at home. When the willow tree takes her and Clancy and Little Ty to a verdant land of grassy fields and beech hedgerows, she learns from the local cows that adventures abound in their neck of the woods — only the adventures are much quieter and more subtle than she was expecting.