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The second novel in the trilogy, Finding Christmasville, was released in December of 2012 while the third, tenatively entitled Saving Christmasville, is slated for publication in 2015.
Table of Contents
Prologue: She Bites into a Cookie, Swallows a Mouthful of Milk and Begins
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Linden Park Publishers, Ltd
Linden Park Publishers, Ltd
Mary Jane Higgins suspects that there is more to Christmasville than what meets the eye. What the reader discovers at the end of chapter one is that Mary Jane lives in a Christmas village, situated on a 4 x 8 model train platform.
The remaining eleven chapters reveal Mary Jane's illuminations and discoveries as she attempts to resolve the enigma of Christmasville, culminating in an unexpected result.
The dickens of a tale! -
Christmasville was written for a readership of young adult through adult. Additional excerpts and reviews are available at the Linden Park Publishers website. For the "Group Study Guide" and the "Ten Fun Facts" about Christmasville, please see the articles section.
Kriss Kringle in the North Pole Gazette.
The novel was awarded a finalist status in the Indie Book, the Mom's Choice and the Eric Hoffer Awards.
Chapter 1: Christmasville
Chapter 2: A Snowman from China
Chapter 3: Faith
Chapter 4: The Perennial Shade of Trees
Chapter 5: A Game of Checkers
Chapter 6: The Eve of St. Nick
Chapter 7: First Night
Chapter 8: Maiden Journey
Chapter 9: Thirty-Two Degrees of Illumination
Chapter 10: What the Iceman Said
Chapter 11: The House at the End of the World
Chapter 12: Elastic Plastic
Epilogue: A Remarkable Discovery
From Chapter 6: "The Eve of St. Nick"
It's the two fire engines next. With sirens blaring every few minutes or so, the bright red and silver trucks are decorated with garland and strings of lights that make the chrome and steel gleam and sparkle. On top of the first truck, the fire chief waves to the crowd as Tucker, with a red elf's hat tied to his head, barks until the chief gives him a treat.
For the hospital float, it's as if doctors and nurses are performing a serious operation. They're wearing their white smocks, but have red, furry boots and floppy hats with white pompons on them. You can't see who it is on the operating table because the patient is covered with a white sheet that has a hole in it - that's where two of the doctors are doing the surgery.
"Sponge," the one doctor calls out.
A nurse passes him the sponge.
"Forceps," shouts the other doctor.
Another nurse passes him the forceps.
"Nose," cries the first doctor.
The nurse looks horrified.
"Nose???" she shrieks, holding her hands up to her face in a panic.
Suddenly all of the doctors and nurses scramble across the float, looking for the lost nose.
"Ah-ha!" says a nurse, pulling a red something or other out of a plastic barrel that's labeled, "Sour Pickles."
Running as fast as she can, she hands the "nose" to the doctor, who carefully inserts it into the hole in the sheet. They all step back from the patient. Nothing happens. They look at each other with silly, stupid, dumb expressions on their faces before the first doctor scratches his head and then taps the patient with his hand. Nothing happens. The second doctor scratches his head, taps the patient with a bit more force than the first doctor had. Again, nothing happens. The two doctors look at each other and then, simultaneously, begin shaking the living daylights out of the patient, trying to wake him up. And now there's movement beneath the sheet as the patient stretches before slowly rising up, the sheet slipping from his body.
It's two people in a costume of Rudolph, of course. But, still, something is not quite right. It's not until the nurse - the one who had found Rudolph's nose in the pickle barrel - reaches up and gives the reindeer's nose a firm twist, causing it to glow brightly, that the operation can be deemed successful.
Everyone laughs and applauds. The doctors and nurses and "Rudolph" bow to the crowd before scrambling back to their original positions so they can perform the operation all over again.
The next float, sponsored by the Department of Education ...
From Chapter 8: "Maiden Journey"
"Mary Jane?" Brett calls from behind.
"Come on," I reply with vexation because I'm anxious to keep moving.
I stop and turn around, scanning the fog, finding his red coat in the gray fabric that swarms around him.
"What is it?" I ask, marching back.
"Look! Over there!" he says, though keeping his voice so low that I can barely hear him. He points at something off to his left. I squint my eyes, trying to find a pattern in the fog, in the first snowflakes that are beginning to fall - big, wet asterisks of snowflakes that immediately spark the same fear that Mrs. Gabriel and Caroline must have experienced when they realized...
"Can you see it?" he says. "He's right there, looking at us. I thought it was a horse. But it's a donkey!"
As I come up to Brett, I see the body and then the head and the eyes of the animal, standing motionless ten yards away.
"Can you believe it?" he says, slowly pulling the straps of his backpack down, carefully putting it down in the snow. "We could use a good donkey," he says, stepping towards it.
"What are you..."
Before I realize what's happening, Brett charges toward the donkey, chasing it through the woods.
"Brett!" I shout after him. "Brett! Come back!"
Trotting after him, I watch him scramble into a grove of trees before veering toward the crest of the ridge, toward the sound of the wind as it scurries over the crest.
"Brett!" I cry again. "Come back!"
I can't keep up with him, the flash of his coat disappearing in the fog and the flurry of snowfall. Slipping, and nearly falling, I decide to stand perfectly still so I can listen while I catch my breath. There's a strong burst of wind as it swings over the crest and shoots through the trees, making them sway and creak.
"Ah ha! I've got..." I hear him say ahead of me, the rest of his sentence lost in the wind or...
The sound of his scream is so loud and chilling that an icicle, shaped like a bolt of lightning, rockets down my spine.
"Brett!" I shout, running in the direction of his scream as fast as my legs can carry me.
When I arrive at the crest, I notice immediately the startling change in the topography of the landscape. The slope on the other side drops down sharply. There aren't any trees. It's more like ice than snow, encasing the rocks and boulders that populate the strange terrain, spotting the ground like the patches of dirty white that you might see on a roan cow. And the wind! I can hear it - maybe fifty feet down the slope - a fierce, continuous whoosh that rakes the side of the slope or splinters off to shoot up and over the crest.
"Brett! Where are you?" I call.
It's as if the wind grabbed my words like slips of paper, crumbled them up into tightly compressed knots, and hurled them back at me.
I raise my hands up to cup them around my mouth. "Brett!" I shout as loud as I can.
Edging down the slope, I carefully choose each foothold because the ground is just as slippery as the ice, having been first blanketed by the moisture of the fog and then frozen by the wind as it scurried across it. It is so desolate here that you can actually feel the...the desolation as it oozes through your skin, as it becomes a dark stone that lodges itself in the pit of your stomach, making you feel empty and useless.
Off to my left...'What was that sound? Was it the wind playing tricks? Or was it the trees behind me, cracking and groaning in the windy onslaught? There! There it is again - that same sound!'
Rather than moving directly across the face of the slope, I decide to make my way back up to the crest and then cross over.
"Brett!" I call out.
"Help!" he answers. "Help me, Mary Jane!"
"I'm coming, Brett! I'm just trying to..."
I hear him groan, utter words without meaning.
There! I see a patch of red about twenty feet down the slope. It looks like he slid all the way down, over a group of small, pointed rocks before slamming into two boulders.
I get down on my backside and inch my way toward him.
"I'm almost there, Brett," I say, slowly making my way down. "Just a bit more...almost there...almost there..."
He's covered in dirt and grime and breathing heavily.
"I can't...I can't move...I can't move my leg," he says, trying to raise his head up to see it, but shuddering in pain in the attempt.
"Don't move!" I exclaim, putting my hand on his chest to prevent him from trying. "Just try and relax for a minute and catch your breath. Which leg is it?"
"My...my right...my right one," he says between groans.
When I look down the length of his leg, I can't see his right foot because it's lodged at the ankle between the two boulders.
"It looks like it's stuck, Brett," I remark, jockeying myself around so I can get a better view. "If I can just..."
He lets out a piercing scream because I had cradled my hands beneath his leg and lifted, trying to dislodge his foot.
"It's okay. It's okay," I repeat, feeling a deepening sense of helplessness.
My gloves are covered in blood. When I look back at his leg, I see an odd, white thing, jutting out from the side of it, just below his kneecap. I think that maybe he got jabbed with a stick but...
"Oh my God!" I say, realizing, with an overwhelming sense of revulsion, that it's his...it's his bone!
"What? What is it?" Brett says, trying to twist himself around so he can see.
He lets out another scream.
"No! No, don't move, Brett!" I say, pressing him down. "You'll make it worse!"
His outburst is enough to distract me from the nausea that's churning around in my stomach.
"It'll make...It'll make what worse?" he asks after settling down a bit.
"It's your leg," I reply, electing to tell him the truth because...because what else could I possibly tell him? "Your leg's broken, Brett."
"Broken?" he says, biting his lip. "How am I going to get out of here with a broken leg?"
He turns his head away because he doesn't want me to see his face. He doesn't want me to see the tears brimming at the corners of his eyes and spilling down his cheeks.
"It's okay. It's okay," I offer sympathetically.
"How can it be okay?" he says angrily. "How can it be okay when my leg's all busted up, Mary Jane?"
"I'll figure something out," I reply. "I have to figure something out."
Honestly, I don't know how. Even if I could manage to dislodge Brett's foot from the boulders and to somehow drag him back up the slope, I don't know how I would get him all the way back to Christmasville. I could put him on the sled and pull him until every ounce of energy was exhausted from my body. But then how would I get him past the train tracks? How would I get him up the embankment on the other side of the cabin? But if I could get him to the cabin, I could start a fire and make him nice and comfortable while I went back for help. But then, there's the train tracks again unless...unless I could manage to stop the train.
"You have to leave me here, Mary Jane," Brett suggests. "You have to leave me here so you can go for help."
"No! I won't leave you here all by yourself, Brett! It'll take too much time - besides, you wouldn't..."
"I wouldn't what, Mary Jane?"
His teeth are chattering and his face is turning a horrible blue color.
"I wouldn't what, Mary Jane?" he repeats.
"I'm not going to leave you!" I say sternly. "There isn't enough time to go all the way back and get help!"
"Then what are we going to do?"
"Just give me a minute to think, Brett!"
For a moment I start to feel guilty because, after all, this is my fault. I'm the one in charge and I should have been more...more cautious and...and responsible. 'But you haven't the time,' I say to myself, 'to start feeling sorry for yourself, Mary Jane.'
"Listen," I say to Brett, "I'm going to climb back up to the top and get the rope from the backpack on the sled. Then I can wrap it around you and pull you up. Okay?"
"You'll never be able to pull me up. You're not strong enough."
"I'm plenty strong, Brett Tolliver. If I can carry Christmas trees and train platforms with my dad, then I'll be able to pull you up. So don't tell me that I'm not strong enough. Besides, the ground is covered in ice so that'll help. And your arms aren't broken, are they? You'll be able to help too."
I turn to start for the top of the slope.
"What is it, Brett?" I reply.
He bites his lip, turns away. "Never mind."
"I won't leave you, Brett," I say, moving off. "I'll never leave without you."
From Chapter 10: "What the Iceman Said"
If you were awake and you stood on the front porch and listened very carefully, you could hear him in the wee hours as he led his horses from stable. You would hear him swing the gates of the paddock closed and clasp them shut just as surely as Dawn rolled from her sleep at the edge of the world, moments afterward, rising to seal the night away. It would be the hoofs of his horses clopping on the road; the long, metal runners of his empty hauling-sleigh, gliding light as a feather across the white ice; the occasional bark of his dog, Blink, a spotted mongrel and smart as a whip.
Rising from my bed, I peel the curtain back and look through the window at the frozen stillness of Pine Street that is broken only by the passing of the iceman.
Prince of the sleepy town, Stark is known by many things: his wide-brimmed hat, ragged at the edges and pulled down along the bridge of his forehead; his beard, curled like strands of fine silver wire; his wild woolly clothes that are patched at the elbows of his long overcoat and, more often than not, at the knees of his baggy trousers as well. But what strikes you most of all about Stark - and what you remember long after he's led his horses and dog away - is the sound of his voice in that pure and simple silence of the wee hours. It is deep and hoarse, but always calm and tender as he speaks to his horses in the language that they know, prodding them along with the satin of his words rather than with the leather of his whip.
The larger horse, Courier, is pine cone brown and has a long golden mane that splashes down in front of his eyes when he moves. He got his name from the newspaper that Stark's grandfather started - the Christmasville Courier. The smaller horse, Ives, has the speckled complexion of eggnog after you sprinkle it with nutmeg. He's younger than Courier, and more rambunctious, and got his name because he was born on the feast day of St. Ives. When the two horses move together, pulling the hauling-sleigh across the road and down to the lake, Courier and Ives look so graceful that you would think that they stepped right off the page of a picture book.