The Cave of Healing: Adventures in the Worlds of In and Out (Paperback)
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Kirkus Reviews calls this book for 8-to-12 year-olds "A charming tale . . .with a strong dose of humor." Henry, a grandfather with PTSD from combat decades earlier, is startled to find a strange boy, Squiggly Squires, standing beside him in the woods behind his country home. Squiggly says he came to Henry's world of Out from his world of In and points to a small hole in the hillside with water trickling from it. Henry is sure he is hallucinating again. But unlike other episodes, this one quickly proves to be pleasant. Squiggly tries to explain to a skeptical Henry that by entering that hole he will enter the cave world of In. Why is Squiggly here, Henry asks. Because, Squiggly says, he has been chosen to find The Gift and bring it back to In to be replicated. Squiggly likes Henry and pleads with him to come along on the trip. And how can Henry do that? Simple, says Squiggly. Just say the magic words, believe, and then say "Unform." This begins fabulous cave adventures for Henry and Peggy his granddaughter as they visit the Squires family who live in the troglobite (entirely dark) zone of caves. All cave forms are scientifically accurate, as are the strange animals the characters encounter such as pseudoscorpions--all blind and depigmented. Creatures are greatly magnified from their actual size and are either likeable or ferocious. The Gift turns out to be at first a heartbreaker, and then a delight in disguise. Although those who enter In initially are stressed, by courageous and inventive action they survive to return to Out much for the better.
About the Author
About Bill, the author As a farm kid I loved reading and writing, devouring books about cowboys, Indians, frontiersmen, and of course The Royal Canadian Mounted Police. Oh, to be a Mountie!--Red tunic with leather belt around my waist, blue riding breeches, broad-brimmed hat! All kinds of ideas raced through my head. When I was about 12, for some reason long forgotten I wrote an anecdote about an owl and sent it to Open Road for Boys. Miracle of miracles, it was published! I became not a writer, but a career soldier, and on my first tour on the faculty at West Point the kids who played with our daughter wanted stories, so I made them up, inserting her and her friends into them as I went along. One day a little girl came to the back door and asked my wife if her "boy" could come out and play. When my wife said, "Not now, he's taking a nap," wide-eyed, the child responded, "You mean you make him take a nap?" I've always loved kids, and I made up all kinds of stories for them and my daughter, but my professional writings were for adults, most lately the Vietnam War. I finally turned to what I love best--writing for children. Somehow the characters pop into my head, and I write until I founder for a day or two, and then suddenly one of them will show me the way forward. Those kids of my stories are my great friends. Among them I feel young again. And Mary, the illustrator People always ask me how long I've been drawing, and I never know how to respond. I have no clear memory of when I first picked up a pencil and set it down on paper to draw my first picture. I've just always been doing it. Growing up, I was always in competition with my other brother to be the better artist. This drove me to improve my skill as often as I could at a young age. Most children, as soon as they're old enough to hold a crayon will attempt to draw a picture. This was the same for me, except, unlike most people, I never stopped. Working on this book has been interesting because it's one of the first chapter books I've ever illustrated, something I've wanted to do since I started this illustrating journey, but haven't really had the opportunity to do until now. Also, I've always been somewhat fascinated with caves, so it was fun to be able to illustrate them and the children in them for this story. I've really enjoyed working on this project, and I hope you find as much enjoyment reading the story as I had drawing the pictures for it.