Once Upon a Tree

This is a draft of the first chapters of a book series I'm working on called "Once Upon a Tree". The very cool thing about this is that I get my ideas from watching the characters, my own children, play on a real tree, which is where we're headed now. I live near the historic district in Downtown Orlando, and this tree is in a park within walking distance from my home. (Sofia picked a flower for me but wouldn't let me smell it)

From my days in business I remember someone telling me to find someone who has what you want, do what they did, and you'll get what they got. C.S. Lewis, the author of the "Chronicles of Narnia" books, is one of these people for me.

Doing research, I found out that "During the Second World War, when children from London were being evacuated to the country, four youngsters were billeted at Jack's home, the Kilns. Surprised to find how few imaginative stories his young guests seemed to know, he decided to write one for them and scribbled down the opening sentences of a story about four children -- then named Ann, Martin, Rose and Peter -- who were sent away from London because of the air raids, and went to stay with a very old professor who lived by himself in the country.

That's all he wrote at the time (he was 41 years old), but, several years later (at age 51), he returned to the story. The children (now named Peter, Susan, Edmund and Lucy) found their way into another world -- a land he would eventually call Narnia

I got the idea for my own series based on teaching inner-city children who were two and three grades below grade level, hoping to bridge the learning gap for them. But the chances of anyone writing something so great for its readers that it becomes as world-famous as The Chronicles aren't great. The C.S. Lewis' and J.K. Rowlings' (Harry Potter), Shakespeare's, Twain's and Poe's come once in a lifetime.

But so what if the chances aren't great. All we need is one. And that one chance for me comes every time I open my eyes in the morning and realize I've been given one more day to live.

They were/are everyday people just like you and me, only with non-everyday dreams. If they could do it, so can I. Whatever you do, do it big; loving, dreaming, playing, learning, and writing. It was in teaching these inner city children that my "Dream Big, Do Big, Be Big" class motto came to me four years ago.

The most important thing is that together my children and I are creating something that will last forever in our lives, and it is being created out of my children's personalities and their father's imagination. Enjoy reading the story they've given me so far, while we go play and write some more. (I think I had to give her a kiss before she let me smell the flower)

Bella just sent Sofia up to tell me we had to go to the tree. After reading what I wrote for the first time, Bella told me in no uncertain terms that she isn't bossy; so now she's ordered Sofia to come and get me. Here she's practicing martial arts with her older sister's jujitsu belt. I think my own daughter is sending a warning to be careful what I write in the future about her.

Chapter One

“Where’s Drozden?”

“Bella, where’s Drozden?” Sofia asked. Her older sister smiled. She didn’t expect her four-year-old little sister to call her by her full name, which was Iszabella-Esperanza. In fact, nobody did. Everyone just called her Bella. Sofia couldn’t even say her brother’s name yet, which was “Brosden”, with a “b”. How in the world could she be expected to pronounce “Iszabella-Esperanza”?

“He’s up in the tree, Sofia” Bella said impatiently to her younger sister.

“No he’s naught”, Sofia responded, drawing out the vowel in the last word, which Bella, age eight, found annoying.

Sofia, he’s right there!” pointing at the branches above their heads without looking. Her little sister annoyed Bella a lot and this was beginning to be one of those times.

Looking up and slowly turning her head in all directions, Sofia finally looked back at her sister and said, “No he’s naughtttttttt”.

Bella looked up, expecting to see her brother hanging upside down from a branch, covering his mouth to control his laughter. Her brother, age ten, lived to play and laugh, and was always up to something. But this time he wasn’t there…..

Chapter Two

“Just a Big Old Tree”

Now the tree the girls were talking about wasn’t any ordinary tree. True, it was an old and big tree in a park just down the street from their father’s house. But it was more than “just a big old tree Dad wants to show us”, as Brosden said to Sofia, helping put on her shoes to see the tree for the first time. Little did they know the surprise they were in for, as this turned out to be a really, Really, REALLY OLD and BIG tree....with a magical and mysterious secret.

It was so old and big that Sofia said it looked like it grew all the way to the sky. Brosden ran from where the branches spread out on one end all the way to where they stopped on the other end, gasping for breath. And Bella sat back in amazement as the tree’s branches looked like giant fingers reaching all the way back to the ground.

“Dad, are we allowed to climb on this tree?” Bella asked.

“What else is a tree for?” her father said smiling as he watched his three children race from where they were and begin scrambling up the welcoming fingers of the branches. This is a sight he would often see as he would sit underneath the tree working on his stories while his children played above his head.

Chapter Three

“The First Scroll”

“Brosden! Where are you?” Bella called out, shielding her eyes from the glare of the sun as she scanned the branches for signs of her brother.

“Drozden, wear are yooh?” Sofia repeated, and covering her eyes completely while starting to count, thinking they were playing hide-and-seek.

“It’s Brosden, 'bah..bah'...Brosden, Sofia, with a 'B', not a 'D', and stop counting. Brosden, come out right now!” Although younger than her brother, Bella tended to be a little bossy.

“Drozden, wear are yooh??? Come out white now!” Sofia said imitating her sister.

Sofia it’s….oh forget it.” Bella said exasperated. “Come on, let’s go find him. Give me your hand.”

As Bella carefully walked her little sister up one of the huge branches, they could see the dirty tennis shoe of their older brother. “Brosden, why didn’t you answer us?”, Bella demanded. Her brother didn’t answer, but just sat there reading an ancient looking piece of paper. This alarmed Bella more than thinking her brother might have fallen out of the tree, because her brother never read unless Dad made him.

“Brosden, what are you reading?”

“I’m not sure” her brother replied. “I was hiding from you guys when I reached in this hole I’ve never seen before. I felt this rolled up inside.”

“Let me see!” Bella said as she snatched the piece of paper from her brother’s hands. “It’s a scroll!” she declared excitedly.

“A what?” asked Brosden.

“It’s a droll Drozden” Sofia tried to explain to her brother. “Bella, what’s a droll?”

“A scroll Sofia, ‘sc’..roll. It's a very old piece of writing.”

“What does it say?” asked Sofia innocently.

Chapter 4

"The Riddle of Curses and Traps"

Even though his sister had the piece of paper, Brosden answered Sofia’s question by repeating the writing on the scroll word-for-word. He was very bright when he focused and applied himself. What he read had made him totally focused:

This tomb is protected
With curses and traps

Are your only map

Step with care
If you dare

similar shapes
Be very aware

The floor will hold
Only those
smart and bold

Avoid congruent shapes
And your path will be gold

“What does that mean?” Bella thought out loud.

“What’s a domb?” Sofia asked.

“Tomb, tah..tah..tomb Sofia” both Brosden and Bella responded in unison.

“It’s a …..” but before Bella could finish, the mysterious hole in the tree above her brother’s head was widening, getting larger and larger. Before the three children could move, the branch they were on lifted them up and slid them into the hole……


Anonymous said...

Wow...Very cool. I want to read more!

Jan from SD

Adam Stuart said...

Thank you Jan. I really appreciate that.

Stacie said...

Wiating.........What took place in the tree Adam? Will be anxious to read!

Adam Stuart said...

I'm glad to hear that. In my draft of the next chapter the kids end up in Ancient Egypt, stuck in "The Temple of Curses and Traps". They have to use their knowledge of geometric shapes to escape.

It's led to another book called "Creative Lesson Plans" for teachers. This is a series of "mission statements" students must complete to help the kids solve their problems.

Both books are set to be finished by May. I spent yesterday working on the first few (half dozen) drafts of the third "My Name is Jack" books I write for my godson.

I was up late working on it and Sofia had to wake me up this morning. Comments like yours and Jan's are a writer's cup-o-joe! I feel energized to keep on writing.
A sincere Thank You!!