When I was a kid, this is the book that made me realize I wanted to write–and that I wanted, someday, to write a book as good as this one.
“With the prophesied arrival of three children on Devil’s Mountain a gentle elderly woman, whom the villagers call a witch, unravels the old mystery of a local mine disaster.”
How could anyone resist such a jacket-blurb? And the totally cool illustrations that captured the stories-within-a-story world that author Mary Jo Stephens created–wow!
I think my oldest sister clued me in to the utter wonder of this book, and I used to check it out of our public library (the West Asheville branch on Haywood Road) several times a year. In fact, I got so worried that some other (careless/insensitive) child would check it out and lose it that I finally talked my mother into letting me keep it. (Yes, such was my mania for this book that I compelled my mother to fib to the library for me!)
We said it was lost, paid the library for it, and it’s had a place of honor on my bookshelf ever since.* I occasionally loan it to those who I think will sincerely enjoy it, but I watch the lender like a hawk until the book is safely home again with me.
I don’t know much about the author, and she apparently wrote only one other book (Zoe’s Zodiac), which I never read, for some reason. Hmm…maybe that’s an idea for my reading list?
*I still feel some major guilt about the library lie we told, but it was impossible to get books way back when, with no Amazon.com at your fingertips or Barnes & Noble on every corner. If a book got away from you in those days, you might never see it again…and I just wouldn’t risk it!