Hello, Kids and All Readers,
Anticipating the November 9 release of Walnut Street: Phantom Rider, I am continuing to share excerpts from two chapters every Thursday via my weekly News Blog (sherrilljoseph.com/news).
As a preview of coming attractions this fall, here are some scenes from Chapters 3 and 4:
From Chapter 3, “The Phantom Rider”
The Botanic Hill detectives were glad to finally know the details Moki had been keeping secret about the strange occurrences at the Mayfields’ mountain ranch. Ben’s additional revelation about a “Phantom Rider” certainly added more intrigue to their new mystery case.
“You said ‘him’ when referring to the Phantom Rider,” Lanny replied as the group huddled in Ben’s room. “How do you know it’s a guy?”
“Because of the way he sat in the saddle. And because he’s very tall and muscular.”
“Details, dude, details,” Moki added. “Give us the what, when, where, why, and how.”
“Please start with where and when you saw him,” Lexi said with her arms behind her back, resisting the urge to grab Ben’s forearm. She had a bad habit of squeezing skin when she was anxious or trying to pry information out of someone. It especially drove Lanny crazy.
“Well, the first time was about a month ago when my family and I were at the ranch house for the most recent saddle club session. I was woken late one night by the sound of a horse approaching. My room is on the second floor facing north, overlooking the side yard with a view of the barn and bunkhouse. I looked out the open window to investigate. The moon was full, so I could see him clear as day right below me.” Ben’s whole body shivered.
Rani said, “Ben, I know you’re nervous, but I need to ask. What exactly did you see? And why do you call him ‘the Phantom Rider’?” She felt her own heart beating faster as Ben spoke.
“I saw a man on a skittish white Arabian stallion between the barn and the ranch house. The guy sat tall in the saddle, the reins held high, leading the horse to rear up. Like something out of a corny old Western movie. As I said, the moon was full and bright, but the man was almost invisible. That’s why I call him a phantom.”
“Invisible?” Rani blurted. “Can you explain what you mean?”
From Chapter 4, “Off to Gold Mine Acres Ranch”
The large group, including the two Saddle Club kids Lionel and Catherine, and the detectives arrive with the Mayfields at Gold Mine Acres Ranch. After getting settled into the bunk house, they are escorted to the main house to meet the cook Aunt Maisie and have lunch.
Finally, the group walked toward the state-designated historic ranch house. It was an enormous two-story, brown wooden building with a covered porch. There was a bronze plaque near the front door commemorating the house being built by Papa Mayfield in 1875. Each generation of the proud family had carefully maintained the property and preserved its historical integrity.
A tall, older woman with short-cropped, curly gray hair and a chef’s apron around her narrow waist held open the front door. “Come in, come in,” she said brightly. She was introduced to the kids as Aunt Maisie. The woman smiled and shook hands with Lionel, Catherine, and the squad members, not forgetting to exchange hugs with Gracie and Ben. “Welcome to Gold Mine Acres Ranch. I bet you’re all hungry as bears after that long drive.” . . .
Aunt Maisie had excused herself and gone into the kitchen to get the platters and bowls of food. But instead of the meal emerging, the kitchen erupted with Aunt Maisie’s ear-splitting scream.
So, get a clue, Readers. Check for more excerpts on my blog every Thursday, or stay tuned for my end-of-month newsletters where I compile them for you. I hope you’re getting excited about the November 9 release. I am! And please don’t forget to check my website events page on September 9 for the Cover Reveal for Walnut Street: Phantom Rider at sherrilljoseph.com/events. I think you’ll like it!