Excerpt from Harry's Trees by Jon Cohen, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

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Harry's Trees

by Jon Cohen

Harry's Trees by Jon Cohen X
Harry's Trees by Jon Cohen
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    Jun 2018, 432 pages

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Norah Piehl
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Print Excerpt

"That's not what I was going to say. But that's correct, you should not steal food."

"It's not stealing. It's giving my portion away."

"You're not giving it away. You're wasting it. You're throwing away my money."

They circled.

"And that's not what I'm angry about," said Amanda.

"That I lost the library book? I told you I'd find it."

"Did you find it?"

"Not yet."

"Well, that's not what I'm angry about," said Amanda, in a very careful tone.

"So being late for my homework? It's just some math problems. They're easy."

Amanda shook her head. "That's not it. That's not what I'm angry about, Oriana."

Uh-oh. Oriana looked at her mother's face. Amanda's cheeks were flushed. Mom was always under control. But at the moment, she looked dangerous. Oriana held her ground. "Then what terrible, horrible thing did I do exactly?"

The world around them seemed to go suddenly still. The trees held their breath.

Amanda erupted. "It's not one thing, it's everything! It's all of it, Oriana! I'm sick of this forest. That you think something big is going to happen out here. Some big, huge magical Daddy event. I'm sick of it!"

"I didn't say what size it was."

"Don't you mess with me! It's not the size. It's the magic. It's your brain twenty-four hours a day on a nonstop diet of hidden candy and fairy tale crap and forests."

Oriana said nothing. They continued to circle—two warriors fighting an ancient battle—but Amanda was slowly narrowing the circle. She was poised to strike.

"Look around you," she said. "Okay? Look, Oriana. With your two eyes, look. You know what's in these woods? In this enchanted forest of yours? Trees. That's it. Ordinary animals, ordinary bushes and ordinary damn trees!"

Oriana muttered something under her breath. Not muttered. Incanted.

The rising red in Amanda's cheeks matched the red of Oriana's jacket. "What did you just say?" But she knew. They both knew. Exactly the words Oriana had said.

Oriana repeated them. "Persevere. See. Believe."

Words to piss off her mother. The little chant, as if Oriana was casting a spell. Words that were a magical defiance.

And, unbelievably, Oriana suddenly said one more word. The one that was absolutely guaranteed to explode her mother's brain. The one with two syllables.

"Wingèd," whispered Oriana. But not to Amanda. To the sky. Because Oriana was looking up.

Amanda was about to pounce, to sweep up her child and carry her forcibly out of the forest and back to the house, where there would be a time-out to end all time-outs. But before she could move a muscle, a large red-tailed hawk swooped low over their heads. Wing shadow, a thumping feathery whoosh of air. Amanda ducked.

But Oriana took off after it. The hawk disappeared into the woods.

Amanda stood and turned as Oriana crossed the clearing—and stopped suddenly at the edge of the woods.

Somebody in the woods cried out. A tree limb snapped.

Amanda ran up behind Oriana, drew her close and peered into a dense stand of sugar maples. She took in details…

…a section of old stone wall with a broken tree branch draped over it.

…an old sugar maple beginning to drip clear sap from a large scar.

…from the other side of the wall—a heavy rustling in the dry leaves.

Amanda stepped protectively in front of her daughter. "Hello?" she called out. Her eyes went to an object lying on the ground. A wallet. She picked it up.

Oriana saw something, too, fluttering in the leaves. She reached down and picked up a small, white rectangle of paper.

Excerpted from Harry's Trees by Jon Cohen. Copyright © 2018 by Jon Cohen. Excerpted by permission of Mira. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

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