Elvia and the Gift of Passion
by Ruthy Ballard
GENRE: Middle grade science fantasy
Adventurous ten-year-old Elvia is sick of her dull-as-dishwater existence, suffocating under the stifling watch her overprotective parents. She longs for a different life, with more freedom and fun. But she gets more than she bargains for when she discovers an alarming family secret and is swept away on an adventure 64,000 light years from Earth. Tanzanian witch doctors, child-eating lions, and submarine exploration on a two-mooned planet enliven this science fiction fantasy adventure, the third in Ballard’s award-winning Tales by Moons-light series.
Issi was late. He was supposed to meet the Hills at nine o’clock the morning after their arrival and deliver them to Tembo National Park by noon. Instead, he appeared around eleven, without apology, grinning from ear to ear. Earl was worried and threatened to complain to Issi’s boss. Punctuality was important to him on this trip; it portended smooth sailing. But Sally laid a restraining hand on his arm.
“There’s nothing we can do,” she reminded him. “Remember what Mama Eddie said? Issi is a one-man show. There’s no one higher up in his ‘organization’ to complain to. And anyway, he has no idea what you’re saying.”
Issi, it turned out, knew exactly nine English words: lion, leopard, elephant, giraffe, hyena, cheetah, hotel, yes, and fix. He used “fix” most often. The jeep broke down every twenty miles or so, and, each time the engine died or a tire blew, he leapt from the driver’s seat and disappeared. Then, a couple of minutes later, he hopped back in, cried “Feeks!” (with a smile and a big “thumbs up”) and continued driving, until the jeep broke down again not long after.
There was no traffic. They were alone on the washed-out, boulder-strewn “road.” The merciless sun beat down. The dust kicked up by the jeep made visibility poor. A band of nasty tsetse flies joined them on their journey, nipping their exposed flesh. Everyone, even excited Elvia, was uncomfortable. Only Issi was unfazed, which was odd, because he was the only one who knew that the insects might carry African sleeping sickness, a rare tropical illness, but well worth avoiding.
The expedition was worth it, though. The view from the open-air dining patio at Tembo Safari Lodge was stunning. The hotel sprawled across the top of a ridge that overlooked Tembo National Park. There were dozens of elephants grazing beside the Tembo River, so far below that they looked like toys.
“Tembo means elephant in Swahili,” Earl remarked, peering into Tanzania for Tourists.
“Tembo Safari Lodge is a good name for this place.” Sally sighed dreamily. “I’m so glad we came,” she said, drawing Elvia close to her.
“Me, too. I’m glad we all came,” Earl agreed, leaning in to join the family hug.
For Earl and Sally Hill, it was a perfect moment in a day that would soon go terribly wrong.
AUTHOR Bio and Links:
Children’s book author Dr. Ruth (Ruthy) Ballard is a scientist by trade who never thought she’d be one. Intimidated by science as a kid, she almost gave up on pursuing it as a career though she found it fascinating. Fortunately, a mentor stepped in and showed her the way. Now, she’s passionate about doing the same for the next generation of science shy, but creative, smart and capable kids. Her award-winning science fantasy adventures lure children in with compelling characters and entertaining, twisty plots that incorporate science in fun, accessible ways.
When Ruthy isn’t writing, she is “Dr. Ruth Ballard,” a forensic DNA consultant and a professor at Sacramento State, where she runs a forensic biology research and training program while consulting with attorneys across the country on criminal cases involving DNA evidence. She’s also a folk artist who loves to draw, illustrates her own books, and enjoys hiking and camping with her husband and their four dogs near their home on the Oregon coast.
Amazon author page: https://www.amazon.com/stores/Ruthy-Ballard/author/B06Y6KVX5D
Buy Link: The Book is on sale for $0.99 during the tour
The author will be awarding a $25 Amazon/BN GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.