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 summer stories, for the 13 weeks of summer.
In the Dark
Piper doesn't want to go to sleep because she is afraid of what might be hiding in the dark corners of her room. One night, the willow tree takes her to Madagasar where it is a very dark night. Hidden in the darkness are a fun-loving bunch of lemurs that teach Piper that the dark holds many happy creatures that wish her well.
It is summertime, and the Willowbee children are enjoying a visit from their cousins. Piper and Little Ty love how their cousins like to play rowdy, noisy games — but Clancy does not. He tries to be more like the others, but it is difficult and tiring. When the willow tree takes him to the Galapagos Islands and introduces him to the many strange and unique animals there, Clancy learns the value of being himself.
Seeing the Magic
When Mrs. Willowbee invites her new friend and her friend's daughter Darlene to come over, Piper is hesitant. Darlene is quiet and Piper doesn’t think they will get along. When the willow tree takes her to Patagonia, a magical llama shows her how to see new things in places that you least expect.
Twixt the Cracks
It is the middle of summer vacation, and Piper is getting tired of the same old things — same yard, same room, same street, and same park. When the hole in the willow tree starts to glow, she hopes for an exciting adventure but is disappointed when they step out onto the rocky landscape of the Burren in Ireland. But then a lark leads them through an meditative exercise that shows them the hidden magic between the cracks.
The Fire Within
Piper has a lot of energy. She is determined, excited, adventurous, and sometimes a little opinionated. Sometimes her friends and siblings think she can be a little bossy and this makes Piper sad. When the willow tree takes her to the desert cliffs of Wadi Rum, she learns from a snake, a spider, and a scorpion that fire inside is good — so long as you can see the different kinds of fire in others.
Butting Heads and Lying Down
Clancy and Little Ty have are not agreeing. They are both stubborn as well and this creates several stand-stills in their day. When the willow tree takes them to the Bighorn Mountains in Wyoming, they meet two equally stubborn bighorn sheep who find a creative solution to their own impasse.
The Smell of Fire
Little Ty did not enjoy a recent camping trip with the rest of his family. He complained the whole time about the different sounds, and tastes and especially the smells. When the willow tree takes him to the mud pools of New Zealand, Ty and a feisty Kea bird learn what amazing things one can see once you accept the intense smell for what it is: the smell of fire.
The Perfect Pet
Mr. Willowbee announces that the children can finally have a pet! Piper and Clancy know exactly what they want, but Little Ty has trouble deciding. He loves all the animals. If he could, he would have a house full of monkeys, goats, lions, buffalo and lemurs! When the willow tree takes him to the "Fairy Chimneys" of central Turkey, he meets an animal that he soon decides would make the perfect pet.
The Right Spot
At the local nursery, Piper discovers a beautiful blueberry plant, covered in perfect little berries. She begs her mother to let her bring it home. Her mother agrees but gives her the responsibility of finding the 'right spot' to plant the bush. She and her brothers search over the entire yard, troubling over the decision — but then the willow tree takes them to the Valley of Mexico to meet the many animals there that are also troubling over finding the 'right spot' to gather. Piper and the animals are surprised when they find that the right spot turns out to be right under their noses.
The Rarest Fruit
Clancy loves fruit - all kinds of fruit. What he wants more than anything is to taste rare fruits he has never tasted before. When the willow tree takes the children to Assam India, Clancy encounters something particularly special — the very first lemon tree.
Clancy loves fairy tales, and wonders if there are real fairy tale castles, knights and magical swords. When the willow tree takes him to Neuschwanstein Castle in Germany, he has a chance to become a brave knight with a magical sword — just like the ones in his favorite stories.
Ready to Swim
It is back to school time for Piper and Clancy, the two older Willowbee children. Clancy will now be attending first grade. He is sad about leaving Kindergarten and worried about what first grade will bring. The willow tree seems to understand this and takes the Willowbees to an island in the American south where an alligator, a white ibis and several ghost crabs show them something miraculous: the moment when a little loggerhead turtle crawls the difficult and courageous journey to the sea.
Stuck in the Stable
Little Ty is feeling left out. His older brother and sister have both gone back to school, leaving him at home by himself. He wants to have his own adventure, and when the willow tree takes him to old Chippewah lake country, he learns the value of staying home until he is just the right age.