Jenny Murray


There’s no doubt about it. The animals of Pine Mountain are acting weird.

Eleven-year-old Maisie Rose is stalked by squirrels, birds, and snakes—all the animals of Pine Mountain—everywhere she goes. They run behind her, swarm her bike, and dart through windows and doors. It’s a family curse, the reason she doesn’t have friends, and why she’s always been homeschooled.

When, Delray visits her family store, Last Chance Supplies and Stuffing, he’s different from other kids. He’s not bothered by the taxidermized animals that top the store’s shelves, and he doesn’t run away when a bird flies through an open door, crashes, and dies. He even brings a bouquet of corn when he returns for the bird’s memorial service.

Delray is the friend Maisie Rose has always wanted. Together, they set out to investigate why the animals plague Maisie Rose. If they find the answer, they’ll both start sixth grade in town at the end of the summer.

But when Maisie Rose discovers that her new friend’s father is a real estate developer who plans to cover her mountain in condos, her dreams become as lifeless as her mother’s stuffed animals. She must choose between her friend, her desire to go to school, and the animals who live on the mountain.

As the director of Duke Middle School, I spend my days with 200 heart-on-their-sleeves, moody, and completely fabulous middle graders. THE EIGHTH WONDER OF PINE MOUNTAIN won the ninth annual SCBWI-Carolinas Novel Writing Contest.

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