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By Award Winning Author Elle Jacklee-B.R.A.G. Medallion Honoree
Writing for the middle grade/YA audience is like my own fountain of youth! Getting into my characters’ heads means thinking like they would, which is truly a gift. As we get older, some of the whimsy that we enjoy as kids and teens can become a little (or a lot!) tarnished if we let it, if we forget to look for the wonder that’s all around us. That’s one of the themes in The Tree of Mindala, the first in my Wunderwood series: that there truly is magic in the world if you open yourself to see it. And even though most of the story takes place in a different world, the themes I chose to weave into it are ones that mirror truths about our own world.
Nature in our world has a way of maintaining a delicate balance. For example, droughts are followed by rains, and some species hibernate when conditions are undesirable. Balance in Wunderwood is also naturally maintained. That means, among other things, that whatever is needed–like food and shelter–is always provided. But it also means that justice has a way of being done, one way or another. Rewards are bestowed according to deeds, both bad and good. And of course, magic adds a dramatic flair to keeping the balance. Though, there is an argument to be made (at least by me!) that our own natural balance in all its fascinating glory is nothing short of magic.
Miranda Moon, the main character in The Tree of Mindala, has a deep connection with the plant life in Wunderwood. I think it’s safe to say that none of us have the unique connection that Miranda has, but there’s no doubt that we are all connected to nature, which is why I chose to subtly weave that theme with the other two. We all know that we depend upon nature for food and that nature is significantly affected by pollution. And who hasn’t felt a little blue on rainy days or been energized by sunny ones?
We’re connected in other ways, too, that we may or may not always remember or even realize. Plants clean toxins from the air, among many other benefits they provide, which gives us a good reason to do our part to help them survive. And just looking at the ocean has a calming effect, according to a number of scientific studies. Research has found, as well, that flowers–both the sight and smell of them–have significant effects on our brains. A quick internet search will provide you with lots of interesting information: from the effects of flowers on patients in hospital rooms to the effects of different colors and fragrances of the blooms on our states of creativity and relaxation, etc. But most of us probably don’t need to do research to know that flowers, plants, and sunshine just seem to make us feel better. That’s our undeniable connection to nature. That’s balance. And that’s magic!
Miranda Moon’s vivid imagination has gotten her into trouble more times than she can count. This time, she’s been suspended from school. So her straight-laced younger brother, Marcus, blames her when they’re relegated to their late grandparents’ old cabin over Halloween weekend. But when Miranda finds a curious trinket, they’re mysteriously whisked away to Wunderwood, where magic flows through the trees and everyone already knows their family name. A place even Miranda never imagined.
Just as they arrive, a sinister warlock, Thornton Crow, is freed from a long banishment. He resumes his deadly agenda to find The Tree of Mindala, the source of all the realm’s magic. As Miranda and Marcus discover branches of their own family tree that they hadn’t even known existed, they learn that Thornton has a score to settle with anyone in their bloodline. Especially them… Though justice has always had a way of being naturally restored in Wunderwood, Thornton’s latest evil deed just may be the tipping point.
When Miranda discovers her own role in Thornton’s release, she knows it’s up to her to stop him from stealing not just magic, but also hope. With travel companions that could as easily be foes as friends, and only the cryptic words of a prophecy to guide her, Miranda must decide if she can carry out the task that will either save Wunderwood… or doom it forever.
Learn more about Elle Jacklee here