Elizabeth, Alexis, Bailey, Sydney, Kate, and McKenzie come from different parts of the country and different backgrounds. But when they meet at Camp Discovery, they learn they all share one thing: an aptitude for intrigue! Soon they’re embroiled in a search for lost jewels…and that’s only the beginning! Whether it’s foiling terrorist plots or finding missing millionaires or rescuing sea lions, you’ll love joining the adventure with these precocious preteens, as they pitch in their personal skills to solve the mysteries and save the day! The perfect blend of mystery and mayhem—just for you!
About the Author
Jean Fischer has been writing for children for nearly three decades, and has served as an editor with Golden Books. She has written with Thomas Kinkade, John MacArthur, and “Adventures in Odyssey,” and is one of the authors for Barbour’s upcoming “Camp Club Girls” series. A nature lover, Jean lives in Racine, Wisconsin.
Read an Excerpt
Sydney and the Wisconsin Whispering Woods
By Jean Fischer, Jeanette Littleton
Barbour Publishing, Inc.Copyright © 2011 Barbour Publishing, Inc.
All rights reserved.
Things that Go Bump in the Night
"Look out!" Sydney Lincoln screamed. Screeeeeeech!
The wailing of tires sliding on concrete echoed in her ears. A chill raced down Sydney's spine as Aunt Dee pulled the SUV onto the shoulder of the road.
"You almost hit that thing," Sydney gasped. "What was it?"
Alexis Howell sat in the backseat. Her hands gripped Sydney's headrest.
"It ran so fast I didn't get a good look at it. I saw something big and brown. A bear, maybe?" she said.
"A deer," said Aunt Dee. "It was a huge buck. Is everyone all right?"
Alexis checked on Biscuit, also known as Biscuit the Wonder Dog. He stood in his kennel cage in the back of the SUV. "Biscuit looks a little scared, but he's fine," she said.
Aunt Dee took a deep breath and pulled back onto the narrow woodland road.
Sydney had never seen a darker summer night. The moon and the stars were trapped under clouds behind hundreds of towering pine trees. As the three—and Biscuit—traveled along, they saw animal eyes peering out at them from the forest, reflected in the beams of the headlights.
"I think we're lost," Aunt Dee announced.
"Wonderful!" Sydney sighed. "It's almost midnight, and we're lost in the middle of a national forest."
"We're not in the middle of the forest," said Aunt Dee. "We're barely on the edge of it. And we're not lost lost. I know the resort is on this road, but in the dark I'm not sure exactly where it is."
Sydney put her window down. "You can turn off the air conditioning. It's nice outside."
Aunt Dee flipped a switch on the dashboard, and the cool air stopped rushing from the vents. Just then, an awful smell filled the car.
"Skunk!" Sydney cried, quickly putting up the window.
"Eeeewwwww!" Alexis complained. "That's nasty. Did you see it?"
Sydney held her nose and flipped on the AC.
"I saw it lying dead on the road back there", said Aunt Dee.
"The poor little thing," Alexis said. "It died just trying to cross the street."
Sydney's aunt eased her foot off the accelerator, and the SUV slowed to a crawl. "Look for a long driveway to the right with a sign that says Miller's Resort. It leads to the cabins and the lake."
"I think we passed it," Sydney said in a muffled voice.
She still had her hands cupped over her face to block the skunk smell.
"What?" Aunt Dee said.
"About a half an hour ago," Sydney answered. "I saw a sign that said Miller's Resort with an arrow pointing to the right. I would have said something, but I didn't know we were going there."
Aunt Dee pulled the SUV to the side of the road. "How in the world did I miss it?" She made a U-turn and headed in the opposite direction. "I guess we're all tired."
The long trip was almost over. The day before, Aunt Dee and Sydney had driven eleven hours from Washington DC to Chicago, Illinois. They had dinner there with Bailey Chang and her family, who came from Peoria to see them.
Then they spent the night in a motel and, this morning, they went to the Chicago Airport to pick up Alexis. Her plane, due to arrive at one, was three hours late. They didn't leave Chicago until almost five, and for the last six hours, they had been on the road driving from Chicago to northern Wisconsin.
"I can't wait to climb into bed and go to sleep," said Sydney. "Yesterday morning, I thought a road trip was a cool idea. Now, I can't think of anything I'd like better than to get out of this SUV. "
"Biscuit agrees," said Alexis. "He's such a good boy. Aren't you, Biscuit?"
The little dog perked up his ears and stuck one front paw through the bars of his kennel. Alexis reached back and held it. "It's probably not safe to walk in the forest at night. I mean, with bears and stuff around here."
After they backtracked several miles, Aunt Dee slowed down to make sure they wouldn't miss the sign again. "It should be on the left," she said.
"Oh my goodness!" Aunt Dee slammed on the brakes sending the girls flying against their seatbelts.
Sydney gasped. "A wolf!"
"No. That's a coyote," Aunt Dee said.
A large dog-like animal stood in the road in front of the SUV. It had big pointed ears, long legs, and a silver-brown coat. Frozen like a statue, it stared at them.
Ruff! Ruff! Ar-roof! Ruff! Ruff! Ar-roof! Biscuit barked wildly.
When the coyote heard Biscuit bark, the corners of its mouth turned up in a sneer. It showed its fangs, daring the SUV to come any closer.
"Biscuit, be quiet!" both girls exclaimed.
"Are all the windows shut?" Aunt Dee asked.
"They are," said Alexis, double-checking. She reached back and made sure Biscuit's kennel was latched.
"Look!" said Sydney, pointing to the side of the road.
Three coyote pups came out of the woods. Their mother yipped at them, and they quickly ran to her side. With a firm nudge of her nose, she sent them running. Then she trotted after them across the road.
"I've seen more wild animals in the last half hour than I have in my whole entire life," said Alexis.
"Isn't it cool?" Sydney asked.
"Way cool," her friend answered. "But, as much as I like animals, I'm afraid of bears. That's about the only thing we haven't seen so far, and I hope we don't run into any."
A soft, little Ruff! came from inside the kennel cage.
They drove another quarter of a mile before they saw the sign:
Miller's Resort Lakeside Cabins Open All Year
"We're here," said Aunt Dee. She turned the SUV onto the long, winding driveway. "I can't wait to get some sleep. I have to be at the ranger's station at nine tomorrow morning."
Sydney's aunt was a forest ranger with the National Park Service in Washington DC. For as long as Sydney could remember, Aunt Dee had worked at the many landmarks and memorials in Washington. But now she wanted to try something new. She planned to interview for a ranger job at the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest in Wisconsin, and she had invited Sydney and her friend, Alexis, to come along and spend a week with her in the Northwoods.
Though Sydney was from Washington DC and Alexis was from California, the two girls had met at camp. The six girls in their cabin had solved a mystery together. Dubbing themselves the Camp Club Girls, though all of the six lived in different parts of the country and were different ages, they were all great friends. And they all worked together to solve mysteries.
"We need to check in at the resort office," said Aunt Dee. "Mrs. Miller promised to stay there until we arrive." She parked the SUV in front of a two-story, white cottage and shut off the engine. A red fluorescent sign above the door flickered OFFICE, and several bright outdoor lights lit the grounds. When they opened the car doors, they felt a blast of cool, woodland air.
"I'll let Biscuit out," said Sydney.
"Wait," Aunt Dee told her. "It's not safe for him to run around here in the dark."
Biscuit lay down in his cage and sighed.
"It'll only take a minute," said Aunt Dee as they walked up the steps and onto the wide front porch. A ragged, old note was taped above the doorbell. RING AFTER 9 PM. Aunt Dee pressed the button and waited.
After a few seconds, the door swung open. A short, round lady greeted them with a smile. She wore faded blue jeans, a white tee shirt, and a yellow baseball cap that said Green Bay Packers. "Miss Powers?" she asked.
"Yes," Aunt Dee agreed, stepping inside. "We're so glad to finally be here."
"You had a long drive," said Mrs. Miller. She walked toward the registration desk. "Come inside, girls, and shut the door behind you."
Sydney and Alexis entered the office and closed the door. A small television on a shelf behind the desk was tuned to a home shopping station.
"This is my niece, Sydney Lincoln," said Aunt Dee, wrapping her arm around Sydney's shoulder. "And her friend, Alexis Howell, from Sacramento, California."
Alexis smiled shyly.
"Goodness, all the way from Sacramento, are you?" Mrs. Miller said. "So, what do you think of the Northwoods?"
"From what I could see in the dark, it's very nice," Alexis said politely.
"So, there will be three of you, then, staying in Cabin One?" asked Mrs. Miller getting out the guest register.
"Right. Three of us," Aunt Dee said.
"We have a little dog, too," Sydney added. "Is that okay? We're taking care of him while our friend Kate is on vacation."
"We thought he'd enjoy spending time near the lake and the woods," Alexis added. "We found him when we were at Discovery Lake Summer Camp, and Kate adopted him."
Mrs. Miller opened the big registration book and asked Aunt Dee to sign her name. "Your aunt told me about the dog when she made the reservations. It's okay, as long as you don't let him run around and bother the other visitors."
"We'll keep an eye on him," Sydney promised.
"And be sure to put him on a leash after dark, and stay with him when you let him out to do his business at night," Mrs. Miller warned. "Some of the wild animals around here would hurt a friendly little dog."
"Are there bears?" Alexis asked.
"Oh yeah," said Mrs. Miller. "We have black bears here. Sometimes, they wander over by the cabins at night. But, if you don't bother them, they won't bother you. And make sure you don't leave any food outside. That's how most problems between people and bears start."
Mrs. Miller took a set of keys from a wall behind the desk. "Here are your keys," she said. "Go to the end of the driveway. It's the first log cabin on your left, the one with the big front porch. You can park behind it to unload. Then move your car back here to the parking lot. Try to be quiet. Cabin Two is occupied, and the folks are asleep."
"We will," said Aunt Dee. "And thanks for staying up for us."
"No problem," said Mrs. Miller. "Enjoy your stay. My husband and I are here if you need anything. Good night, girls. Sleep tight."
"Good night," Sydney and Alexis answered.
"Oh," said Mrs. Miller, remembering something. "And do you have a flashlight?" "I do," Aunt Dee replied.
"You'll need it, then, to find your way. I put a couple more in the cabin on the table."
"Thanks," said Aunt Dee. She closed the door, and they got back in the SUV and headed down the driveway.
"We're almost there, Biscuit," said Alexis, reaching into the kennel. Out of the coal-black night, the headlights shone on a log cabin with a screened porch all along its front. A sign near the door said CABIN ONE.
"Oh, Biscuit will love the porch," Sydney said. "He can hang out there all day long and not have to worry about wild animals."
"Like skunks," said Alexis.
Aunt Dee parked the SUV behind the cabin and shut off the engine. While the girls unloaded the suitcases, Sydney's aunt used her flashlight to find the lock on the door. She unlocked it, pushed the door open, and fumbled for a light switch.
When she flipped it, thankfully, the light came on. The door opened into a quaint, little kitchen that had ruffled curtains on the windows and a flowered plastic tablecloth on the small, round table. Two flashlights lay on the table with a brochure that said Miller's Resort—Rest and Recreation. Gratefully, Sydney and Alexis plopped their bags onto the floor.
"I'll let Biscuit out," said Sydney.
"Remember the leash," Alexis reminded her.
Sydney found Biscuit's leash near his kennel. Carefully, she opened the kennel door and snapped the leash onto his collar. The happy little dog came bounding out of his cage and ran circles around Sydney. Then he stopped. He put his head up and sniffed the air. He sniffed it again and let out a little "Ruff"
"What's the matter, boy? Do you see something?" Sydney asked. She looked toward the lake, but in the darkness, she couldn't see a thing.
Biscuit pulled hard on the leash and started to pant. He reared up on his hind legs. Ruff! Ruff! Ar-roof! Ruff! Ruff! Ar-roof!
"Quiet!" Sydney whispered. She thought she heard a bump. Something's out there in the darkness, she thought. I'm almost sure of it.
Just the idea that something or someone might be watching made Sydney nervous. "Come on, boy," she said, leading Biscuit back toward the cabin. "Do your business, so we can go inside."
Biscuit stood for a few seconds, anxiously staring into the darkness. Then, obediently, he did what Sydney asked and followed her to the cabin's back door.
"Why was Biscuit barking?" Aunt Dee asked when Sydney brought him inside.
Sydney shut the back door and flipped the deadbolt lock. "I think he saw something by the lake," she said. "I couldn't see anything. Do you know how dark it is out there? At Discovery Lake, the paths are lit at night, and we sort of know what animals are around. But this is way different—and spooky."
Alexis hauled her suitcase into the girls' bedroom. "By tomorrow night, we'll be getting used to the darkness and all the weird noises."
"You're probably right," said Sydney, picking up her suitcase and following Alexis into their room.
Alexis found a lamp on the nightstand next to the bunk beds. She turned the switch, and the room lit up. On one wall hung a brightly colored Indian trading blanket. Above the closet door, a mounted deer's head stared down at them.
"Oh, gross! I hate it when hunters display the heads of animals they've killed," said Alexis. She put her suitcase on the lower bunk and opened it.
"Get used to it," Sydney grinned. "There's a moose head in the bathroom."
"No there isn't!" Alexis exclaimed.
"There is," Sydney insisted. "Hey, which bunk do you want?"
"I'll take the top one," said Alexis. She took her pajamas and toothbrush out of her suitcase and headed for the bathroom.
"You just don't want to sleep next to the window," Sydney said, "in case a big bear comes along and peeks in at you."
"You're right," Alexis agreed. "I don't like bears."
Aunt Dee had parked the SUV in the lot and settled in to her room on the other side of the cabin. Before long, the girls snuggled into their beds, too.
"Lights out?" Sydney asked.
"Prayers first," said Alexis, pulling the cool sheet up under her chin.
"Okay. Say 'amen' when you're done," Sydney told her. The girls prayed silently for a few minutes.
"And amen," Sydney echoed. Then she reached over and turned off the lamp.
The girls were almost asleep when the bedroom door swung open. A rush of air swept through the room as Biscuit scurried in and leaped onto the lower bunk, landing on Sydney's chest.
"Get down!" said Sydney.
Biscuit didn't move.
"Biscuit, don't stand on me. Lie down."
He pretended not to hear.
"Oh, I know what's wrong," Alexis said from the top bunk. "He wants his doll. He has that rag doll that he sleeps with. It's in the car."
Sydney sighed. "I forgot," she said. "I guess I'll have to go get it." She climbed out from under the covers and put on her shoes.
"Don't forget the flashlight," Alexis reminded her. "And watch out for bears."
"Okay," Sydney said as she left the bedroom. She took one of the flashlights and the car keys from the kitchen table. Then she unlocked the back door and bravely walked up the driveway to the parking lot. She got Biscuit's doll from his kennel and headed back to the cabin.
When Sydney was almost there, she shined the flashlight toward the lake. The beam landed on a picnic table. She saw the gentle waves lapping on the shore, and then—a shadow. A mysterious hulking figure dashed from the beach and disappeared into the forest. Sydney heard whatever it was running through the edge of the woods.
Every ounce of courage drained from her body.
Something was watching her!CHAPTER 2
"Alex, are you awake?" Sydney asked, hurrying into their bedroom. "I think something is out there."
"Huh?" Alexis answered sleepily.
Biscuit grabbed his doll from Sydney's hand and wrestled it on the floor.
"I just saw someone, or something, hurry into the woods. I could only make out its shadow, but it looked tall and kind of hunched over. I could feel it watching me."
Alexis rubbed her eyes and sat with her feet dangling over the edge of her bed. "Now I'm afraid to go to sleep," she said. "Bears don't walk upright and hunched over, right?"
Sydney lay on her bed on her stomach and looked out the window. "Circus bears walk on their hind legs," she said. "And I've seen people throw marshmallows to bears at the National Zoo—when the bears stand up to catch them, they look sort of hunched over."
"Are marshmallows good for bears?" Alexis asked.
"I don't know," Sydney said. "But they like them."
Biscuit hopped onto the bed and wiggled next to
Sydney. He stuck his nose against the window screen and sniffed. "He smells something," Sydney whispered. "What is it, boy?"
Alexis and Sydney both sniffed the air.
"I don't smell anything, do you?" Alexis asked.
"Just fresh air," Sydney said. She reached over to pet Biscuit, and she noticed that his muscles were stiff. He stood at attention, focusing everything on his sense of smell. Then, he let out a low, soft growl. "Something is out there," said Sydney. "I'm sure of it."
Excerpted from Sydney and the Wisconsin Whispering Woods by Jean Fischer, Jeanette Littleton. Copyright © 2011 Barbour Publishing, Inc.. Excerpted by permission of Barbour Publishing, Inc..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
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