Fans of Jerry Spinelli's Maniac Magee and Louis Sachar's Holes will enjoy this story about a boy and the ancient secrets that hide deep in the heart of the Florida everglades near a place called Muck City.
When Charlie moves to the small town of Taper, Florida, he discovers a different world. Pinned between the everglades and the swampy banks of Lake Okeechobee, the small town produces sugar cane . . . and the fastest runners in the country. Kids chase muck rabbits in the fields while the cane is being burned and harvested. Dodging flames and blades and breathing smoke, they run down the rabbits for three dollars a skin. And when they can do that, running a football is easy.
But there are things in the swamp, roaming the cane at night, that cannot be explained, and they seem connected to sprawling mounds older than the swamps. Together with his step-second cousin "Cotton" Mack, the fastest boy on the muck, Charlie hunts secrets in the glades and on the muck flats where the cane grows secrets as old as the soft earth, secrets that haunted, tripped, and trapped the original native tribes, ensnared conquistadors, and buried runaway slaves. Secrets only the muck knows.
About N. D. Wilson
My name is Nathan David Wilson, and I do not write fantasy. Sure, my stories are full of magic doors, insecure wizards, ghostly ballrooms, fat faeries named Frank, and proud raggants. Yeah, there’s a blind undying witch who sees out of the eyes of her cat. And yep, things go really crazy for Henry York when he touches a dandelion. Sounds like realism to me.
As a kid, when I read fantasy (especially Tolkien or Lewis), it was terribly easy for me to become bored with my life. I would look through my window at my relatively small backyard (small when compared to Narnia or Middle Earth) and wish that my world could be more interesting. It needed to be magical. Why couldn’t wardrobes really lead you into Narnia? I lived in Idaho. I’d never even seen a wardrobe, let alone a magic one made from a tree grown from an apple brought from another world. But eventually, and in part thanks to Lewis and Tolkien, I began to open my eyes. This world is magical. It is magical in its past (ask Beowulf or Hercules or Moses). And it is magical right now. All around us, magic is overflowing and running down the streets.
Do you really live on a ball spinning in circles through the stars? Does the heat from the closest star really make trees and grass and moss out of the carbon dioxide in the air? Have our wizards really pulled black ooze up from beneath the earth’s skin, mixed it in their lairs into something that explodes, and made us magical metal boxes than can race around on roads, riding on those explosions? Are you bored with that, yawning in your seat belt? Is lightning real? Tornados? Does the big spinning ball beneath us always suck us down, and are we really talented enough to constantly balance on our feet? What kind of creatures are we?
Sit Moses and Beowulf down, and listen to their stories. Sit Bilbo down and listen to his. Do you disbelieve their tales? Are they made up? Are they fantasy? Now tell them your stories. Have you flown through the sky in a giant metal tube? Do we have boats that can sail to the very bottom of the sea? Have we thrown men all the way to the moon?
A hobbit would laugh at you. To him, your world could not be real. Your stories would be fun to read, beneath a blanket on a rainy day. He might look out of his window and sigh, wishing for a more magical world of his own.
In my stories, this world is a magical place, and not because I wish it was. Because it is. Henry York discovers that magic, he discovers it in Kansas, and it is hidden right in front of him, inside his bedroom wall.