Jessie's Mountain
Kerry Madden
Wm Morrow, 1996
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Jessie's Mountain—an excerpt

Chapter One, Dear Grasshopper

The icicles crack together in the trees like giants’ swords, and the freezing rain pounds our tin roof. I hear the old clock chimes stutter midnight. Gong, wheeze, Gong, wheeze, Gong. I count all twelve. I wonder if our cow, Birdy-Sweetpea, is asleep in the barn. Wish we could bring her inside and warm her up a bit. It feels like we’re living in the last place on earth with the first winter storm blowing hard into the mountains. Can’t sleep a wink with thoughts crowding my brain. Do I go off to Nashville to audition or not? It would mean leaving Maggie Valley without telling a soul. It would also mean going off on the grandest adventure of my life. I’m due one, no doubt.

I get up and my feet hit the icy floor. I light the lantern by the bed and pull on Daddy’s old winter coat and heavy socks. All the kids are sound asleep, and nobody wakes up but Uncle Hazard who hops down out of Cyrus’s bed after me. His dog toenails click across the floor as if he’s asking, “Where to? Where to?�?

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