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Fiction: The Exotics Book 1: The Floating Menagerie

Posted by on December 19, 2011

Adventure.  Spies.  Magic.

New chapter book/middle-grade fantasy series inspired by…my daughter.  Bored with reading the chapter books available and with a mother who wasn’t going to take it anymore, she’s read the first three books in the series with relish, jumping up and down, and yelling about what was and wasn’t fair.

The main character is eight in book 1 and gets older as the series progresses (thus, the chapter book/middle-grade definition).

Purchase at SmashwordsAmazon.comBarnes & Noble–other online bookstores coming soon.  Amazon and B&N are set up to be able to give ebooks as gifts; contact me personally if you want to send an gift book via Smashwords.

Nobody knows what really happened when second-grader Rachael Baptiste’s mom disappeared a week ago–not her dad, not the police, and not even the members of her hobby group, the Animal Lovers’ Club. So when Rachael’s classmate Raul tries to break into her mom’s computer only to be chased away by giant talking dogs, she follows him into the night and discovers that he–and everyone in the ALC, including her mom–have caught a magical sickness that lets them turn into animals. The ALC is a group of spies that works to defend these people, or Exotics, and Rachael’s mom helps lead them in her secret identity as the Queen Bee. As for Raul, Rachael discovers that he can turn into a wolf as they try to escape a rival group of Exotics, the Shadow Dogs. However, the Shadow Dogs capture them and kidnap them to a mysterious ship, The Floating Menagerie, where a group of Exotic kids waits to be sold into slavery…or do they?

The Exotics Series follows Rachael’s adventures with the Exotics from second to fourth grade as she tries to protect the people she loves in the face of hate, betrayal, and overwhelming magic.

Chapter 1

Rachael, who had just brushed her teeth and changed into green spotted pajamas and fuzzy pink slippers, was almost ready to kill the final wave of zombies on her video game when the doorbell rang.

From the kitchen where he was washing dishes after supper, her dad yelled, “Rachael! Will you check the door?”

“I’m on the last wave, dad!” she yelled back.

“Just push the pause button.”

“Please?”

“It’s your turn!”

That was true. Rachael pushed pause on the game, annoyed because it was never the same when you had to push pause all the time. Meanwhile, the person at the front door had started pushing the doorbell button over and over again and pounding on the door.

Rachael peeked out of the glass beside the door. Even though it was dark out and he should have been getting ready for bed, Raul was outside their door. He looked mad and scared at the same time.

“Open the door!” he yelled.

Rachael liked Raul, but he wouldn’t talk to her at school. They were both in Mrs. Sorensen’s second-grade class. Sometimes they played tag at recess, and she’d let him catch her. He was part of a club, the Animal Lovers’ Club, that met with Rachael’s mom at their house once a week (Tuesdays). Sometimes he would talk to her after the meeting, but mostly not.
Rachael unlocked the door. Raul rushed in, slammed the door behind him, and locked it.

“Your mom—” he said, too out of breath to say anything else.

“Nobody’s found her yet,” Rachael said. Rachael’s mom had disappeared a week ago, but Rachael was an ordinary girl who couldn’t do anything about it. So she tried not to think about it too much.

“Your mom’s computer. Hurry.”

Rachael said, “Why?”

“Just come on.” Raul led her upstairs to her mom’s office.

“What’s the matter?”

Raul still had his uniform on from school, and it was dirty, with bits of leaves stuck to his back. “Nothing,” he said.
Somebody banged into the front door like they had run right into it. Raul said a bad word and ran up the stairs really fast, leaving Rachael behind.

“Rachael,” her dad called. “Would you get that? Please?”

“Don’t open the door,” Raul said. He went inside the office.

The front door thudded again, and Rachael heard a cracking sound as the wood started to break.

“Rachael,” her dad whined.

She ignored her dad and followed Raul into her mom’s office; she really didn’t want to open the door.

Raul was sitting at the computer desk, jiggling the mouse and saying more bad words. Rachael knew her mom’s password (she’d looked over her shoulder), but she wasn’t sure that she should give it to Raul.

Then the front door broke open and slammed against the wall. Rachael started to scream, but clapped her hands over her mouth to stop herself.

Raul jumped out of the chair. “I have to get out of here.”

“I’m coming, too,” Rachael said.

Raul almost growled at her. “Stay here. Hide in the closet, and they’ll leave you alone.”

“I said I’m coming too.”

Something barked loudly from downstairs like a really, really big dog.

Rachael’s dad said, “What is going on, Rachael? Are you messing around again?” Then he said, “Who broke the door? What are these dogs doing in here? Out! Out!”

Rachael opened the window into the back yard, where their gigantic dog, Ox, was barking and growling. “Go down the trellis,” she said. “Dad made it really strong in case of storms. Then jump onto the shed. There’s a big trash can on the other side.”

Rachael pulled out the window screen, and Raul slid out the window. She started to follow him.

“Go back,” he yelled.

Rachael stuck her slippers in the trellis, reached up, and slid the window shut the rest of the way, as quietly as she could. “Shh,” she said. “They’ll hear you.”

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