Saturday, 5 March 2016

#FaunaParkTales #Friends An #AfricanAdventure Book 2 Excerpt from @MarethMBotha #RPBP #Childrens #Bookboost @SarahJaneWrites

Welcome To another edition of 
Fauna Park Tales
Friends: An African Adventure 
(Fauna Park Tales Book 2)
Available in eBook & Paperback Formats
About The Book
"Friends: An African Adventure" is the second book of the series called "Fauna Park Tales" based on "African Adventures of Flame, Family, Furry and Feathered Friends", a GOLD MEDAL WINNER on Authonomy, supported by HarperCollins.
The following is an excerpt from the HarperCollins Children's Editor Review:
"A vivid and engaging world of animal characters . . . the use of cleverly animalised verbs is very creative – Dolly Cat's 'whispurr'. The exploration of interrelationships between animals is a very successful topic in the children's literature genre, and you have created some great personalities – the stubborn goat 'Plump-Grump' and the conceited 'His Handsomeness, King Rat' being some of my favourites . . ."

Life takes strange turns for Flame, a puppy born in the African desert. Adopted by a free-range cattle farmer, the pup faces the challenge of proving himself to more than one of his new family.

As Flame grows into a strong and brave dog, he finds friendship with many loyal furry and feathered friends who teach him to keep The Promise – protecting the helpless ones in Fauna Park, a secret sanctuary within the boundaries of the farm. This ordinary desert dog becomes a hero when, to keep his promise, he saves a zebra foal from a fire.

These stories are perfect to be read before bedtime to younger children. Preteens will enjoy escaping into an imaginary world where many bush creatures always have hope that everything ends well when the sun goes down.
In this picture: The larger flames reach the baobabs, described at the opening to this excerpt.
Excerpt from Chapter 3: “Fighting Fires”On a certain morning, I woke earlier than usual and felt uneasy. The pleasant, crisp air slipped over my feathers, but I couldn’t relax. From afar, the slight breeze carried the barking and yapping sounds of Piper’s dogs. A slight shimmer in the sky forced my good eye to look towards the north-west. Shivers ran down my feathers, because the grassland was on fire! Flames licked at the grass and shrub along the boundary walls. To make matters worse, a westerly breeze chased larger flames towards the baobabs, fanning smaller fires burning at their roots.

I whistled shrilly and heard Rocksy the rabbit’s special danger thump-thump-thumping signals – for the first time in months – bumping against the doggy trapdoor.

Cook Katie was making coffee in the kitchen and shouted at him, but he seemed disobedient and continued making an awful noise. Flame also began barking and scratching at the kitchen door. The whole porch came alive with all sorts of extra sounds: cats meowing and RatX’s exercise wheel whirring. Smaller birds that always perched on the porch also flew back and forth, trying to escape.

By the time Cook Katie opened the kitchen door, the glow from the fires had lit up the porch. It looked as if someone had forgotten to switch off the lights.

She had no time to scold the animals and just screamed, ‘Fire! The grass around the giant baobabs is burning, licking around their trunks. Come quickly. Flames near the windmill are moving towards us. Oh, no! The outer fences are also aflame.’

Bigger fires were at least as high as a tall man. Not only were the dry grass and shrub burning, but smaller trees also caught alight. It was a scary sight. The baobabs’ leafless winter branches looked as if they were already giving way to the frightening fires. Birds were flying to and fro among their black shadows in the brightly lit sky.

Everyone thought the baobabs were doomed unless the way of the fires could be changed. Chestnut, with John James in the saddle, galloped straight to the windmill and loosened its brake completely. The family, Cook Katie and Clement grabbed anything that could hold water and ran to the water troughs. They filled their buckets and emptied them in front of smaller fires.

I used to think there were few humans in the valley, but suddenly they came running from all over to help, bringing more buckets and spades. So, clearing fire breaks became easier. A few men cut away grass and shrub near the outbuildings, using sickles. Others ran back and forth, carrying large pails of water and putting out grass fires.

Samuel, an elderly villager, and Clement were pounding smaller fires around the baobabs with wet, hessian sacks. As they smothered the flames, large columns of smoke began to whirl amongst the baobabs. Goats and donkeys ran everywhere, bleating and braying in fright.

The stables were safe, but the horses continued to kick wildly against their stable doors. Dust, smoke and the stench of burning trees filled the morning air. My tree was safe, but I felt sad when I saw what was happening down below. With nostrils flaring, the cattle bellowed wildly.

It also seemed as if Flame had forgotten about his fear of fires, because he herded the cattle to safety, behaving like a real sheepdog. Thinking about all the possibilities, I was amazed – a sheepdog after all? Then, he stopped suddenly, listening to something. His left ear was standing up just as if Cook Katie had starched it like one of her linen serviettes.

What else could he possibly have heard amidst all the commotion? I thought, but then I also heard far-off sad cries.

Not worrying about himself, Flame dashed through the burned-out stubble in a westerly direction. He touched the ground just here and there as he ran towards the Llokodi Hills. It was as if his Kalughari[1] heritage gave him speed to run faster, and courage not to look back or feel the heat under his paws.

The hills were burning brightly and huge flames were everywhere. Even the early morning sun was hidden by thick black smoke, making breathing difficult. Flame came closer to the spot from where the sounds had come and saw a chilling sight. A young female zebra and her two newborn foals were trapped! When the rest of their herd had moved to safety, she had lingered too long while waiting for the foals to become stronger. Fires on one side and a small cliff on the other prevented her from escaping. The flames were about to surround them.

Flame had no time to bark instructions to the zebras, so he scrambled up the side of the rock cliff. With a great leap, he landed next to the zebras. Unfortunately, the mother was so spooked that she kicked him in the ribs. He fell to the ground, winded. Fear gave her wings and she jumped up and over the flames. Flame got up, grabbed one of the foals by the back of its neck and dragged him to safety. The mother nudged and licked the little one at once and he stood up.

Despite the pain in his side, Flame crawled back into the danger zone. Dense smoke was everywhere. He coughed and battled to breathe. Still, he tried to drag the second one out of the fire’s reach, but he fell down. It looked as if he and the foal were doomed. Flame heard a loud kleeou-kleeou somewhere in the sky, but he couldn’t see a lone martial eagle flying above them. The clouds of smoke were too thick. 

Mars the Martial Eagle calling for help.

This martial eagle kept circling lower, just staying out of the fire’s reach, chanting on and on, ‘Kleeou-kleeou! Remue-toi! (Get a move on!) Flame, don’t pass out. I’ll get help for you.’ 

He circled over them a few times. When he saw that neither was reacting, he continued flying towards the giant baobabs. He had to find someone to help Flame and the newborn zebra.

Just before the martial eagle reached the baobabs, a flash of lightning lit up the skies and heavy sounds of thunder followed. The long-awaited rains came; starting slowly at first. Large, heavy drops pounded the parched, burnt ground; which sizzled as little pillars of charred dust chased up-up towards the clouds, giving the place an eerie look.

Meanwhile, Flame and the zebra foal lay next to one another, not moving once. Soon large water puddles drenched them. They were in great danger. On several occasions in the past, during heavy downpours, the streams feeding Molapo Lake had become strong torrents, flooding the winding dirt road and both bridges, preventing anybody from getting in or out of the valley.

Moments after the storm broke, the fires started to die down. The rain made such a noise that no one listened to the calls of the martial eagle in the sky or the zebra mother and her foal trotting by. Everyone who saw the bird thought that he had most likely lost his way during the storm, but he continued circling and whistling.

Far from the farmhouse things looked bad for the two trapped animals. Poor Flame. Neither he nor the young zebra foal heard the martial eagle’s anxious calls any longer. It seemed as if they had been left to die among the embers.

[1] Kalughari = a fictitious name for a semi-desert in this story.

The zebra family together again.

Black-and-white illustrated paperback

Kindle in colour

About The Author
Maretha is a South African Italian, born in a small town called Montague. She grew up in nearby Worcester in the Western Cape – a town reminiscent of living in Switzerland among the snow-capped mountains. Worcester had a small library. Young Maretha’s visits were limited to three times a week, because the librarian told her, “You spend too much time with your nose in a book and neglect your school work.” Nothing much has changed, because she's still a confirmed bookworm who constantly strives to raise more bookworms who enjoy reading, not just as a pleasant past-time, but as an excellent tool to be used when grown-up. Before immigrating to the UK to settle in Lancashire, Maretha worked as an assistant librarian in a private school in Botswana, where one of her tasks was to encourage children to enjoy reading. That was a labour of love for this bookworm, providing valuable help in carving her own career as a children's author/illustrator. It brought her face to face with the literary industry’s toughest critics – children and preteens. She saw that many students also enjoyed reading about birds and animals, their care, habitats and general well-being, especially when a few added catchy rhymes here and there made reading sessions interesting and alive. In 2012 her job was localised and as things often happen, this unforeseen occurrence led to a new chapter in her life. To remain motivated, she wrote down everything she could remember about her family's pets – their little habits and characteristics. For example, the character of the working-dog hero in Fauna Park Tales is based on the different traits of every single dog her family ever owned. Researching habits, habitats and interesting titbits about martial eagles and eagle owls, as well as many smaller birds such as crimson-breasted shrikes and hoopoes,made it easier to illustrate them and tell a believable story. Her illustrations appear throughout Fauna Park Tales. Maretha Botha admits to being a chocoholic and unreformed coffee addict, a keen gardener and bird watcher, who likes to walk on the moors where the stiff breeze coming in from the sea, quickly clears her head, making way for more inspiration.
Follow Maretha Botha Fauna Park Tales – the Series Fauna Park Tales – the Series Maretha Botha Author Page Public page

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