Monday, July 28, 2014

Middle Grade Non-Fiction Review

After being away so long, I have a lot of catching up to do, and it will be a while before my posts are completely back on schedule.  But I have finished a number of books in the last two months, so I'll be trying to get review up for those!  Here's the first, from a book I finished just before we left for Peru.

2155053Title: Amazing Girls of Arizona: True Stories of Young Pioneers
Author: Jan Cleere
Publisher: The Globe Pequot Press, 2008, 183 pages.
Source: Purchased from the  Visitors Center at Saguero National Monument

Summary:
The book is a collection of a dozen brief biographies of girls and women who lived (or live) in Arizona. Arranged chronologically, they range from Olive Ann Oatman, who survived  an Indian attack in 1851 and was a captive for many years, to Ruth Okimoto, who was born in San Diego but was sent to an internment camp in Arizona during WWII at the age of 5.

Review:
Books like this are a particular passion of mine, and that means that I can afford to be critical.  Granted that this one appears aimed at younger readers (something I decided while reading it; as far as I could tell in the shop it was in the adult section), it still was disappointingly shallow. One thing I look for in such books is text drawn from letters and diaries, and there was very little of that. There was also a great deal that felt reconstructed (thoughts and feelings), which is okay in one sense but not what I want. Finally, in the case of some of the girls, I felt that the 'amazing' part was a bit of a stretch. 

There were a couple of girls whose memoirs would be worth reading. Eva Antonia Wilbur-Cruce sounds like she was a real character all her life, and she did pen a book (A Beautiful, Cruel Country) which I may want to read. And I'd love to read more from Edith Jane Bass, who grew up guiding early tourists around the Grand Canyon (though she died suddenly at age 28 and I don't think wrote anything more than an occasional letter).

Overall, this book serves as a decent introduction to the many lives of girls and women in the 19th and early 20th Centuries in Arizona, a state that didn't move too quickly into the modern era. But to get a real feel for the lives of pioneers, there are more and better books, both for adults and younger readers.

Recommendation:
For kids who need something specific to Arizona, or for die-hards like me who read everything available on or by pioneer women and children.

Full Disclosure: I purchased Amazing Girls of Arizona with my own money and of my own volition, and received nothing from the writer or publisher in exchange for my honest review.  The opinions expressed are my own and those of no one else.  I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Home at last, and back to writing. . . soon

After five weeks in Peru, trekking and touring, we are home, and it sure does feel good!  here hasn't been time yet to sort and edit photos, or assess everything we did, but here's a quick and dirty summary:

This was a family trip--the four of us, plus 4 more of my husband's relatives (two of his brothers, one spouse, and a nephew). That worked surprisingly well.

On June 18, we flew to Lima, via Mexico City. Spent two days there, gathering the group (some flew from Seattle, we flew from San Francisco) and seeing a little bit of the city. Lima is large, crowded, and full of buses belching nasty fumes. At this time of year there is a vague fog blanketing the coast all the time, making for a white sky and a damp feel. I wasn't sorry to leave.

On the 20th, we caught the bus to Huaraz, an 8-hour ride north along the coast and then up into the mountains. We arrived at dinner time (dark) at 10,000'. Thanks to some motion-sickness pills and some generous young geologists from (I think) Holland who let me sit up front, I did not puke. This was something in the nature of a triumph, as I am the person who gets motion-sickness when I try to use the route simulator video on the torture bike at the gym (true story).

For the next three days we did dayhikes out of Huaraz to get acclimatized, then we headed out for trek #1:  the Cordillera Blanca circuit, also known as the Alpomayo Circuit after one of the signature peaks of the route. Our treks were fully catered--a novelty for us that soon proved to be a wise choice. With ages ranging from 15 up through the 50s, and ten long days of hiking over passes that were all higher than Mt. Rainier (heck, many of our camps were higher), we needed to be able to get to camp and lie down, not set up and fix meals! Scenery was spectacular, as advertised (I'll have  photos later. I also will go back and put the photos into my earlier post that didn't quite work).

At the end of that trek, we spent one day in Huaraz, another driving to the next trailhead, and began 9 more days of hiking, through (around) the Huayhuash range. That was the end of the trekking, and we bused to Lima again, from which two members of the party went home and the other six of us flew out to Cusco, to visit Machu Picchu.

Machu Picchu requires a lot of logistics! Plane to Cusco, bus (in this case private, so we could visit some cool places on the way) to Ollantaytambo, train to Aquas Calientes, and a 1200' climb to the ruins (you can take a bus, and on the second day I did, but hiking up isn't bad at all when you've just finished 23 days of hiking at higher altitudes, and the bus ride was terrifying). The big thing I wasn't prepared for was the jungle atmosphere--i.e., humidity! As a West-coast person, I have simply never had to cope with heat and humidity. For the record, for some irrational reason the body can react to dehydration by throwing up. Makes no sense to me, since that removes still more water from the system, but there it is. Drink up and avoid this!

Finally, the trip home--left the ruins at 2 p.m., caught the train at 4, were met by our van at Ollantaytambo at 5:45, and arrived in Cusco after 8. Next day flew to Lima, and the next day after that had a 7 a.m. flight home. Spent nearly 8 hours in Mexico City (we took the subway to the city center, returning at rush hour. That was an experience) and arrived home at 11 p.m. local time, July 23.

That's the nutshell version of our trip!  For today, how about a few photos of the dayhikes around Huaraz?  I have a lot of work to do, with over 2700 photos to sort, edit and process.  I'd like to get back to writing, too!

Bus ride from Lima to Huaraz.

Local home with cross on roof.

A grain similar to quinoa (which is from the area and grown a lot here too).

Lake Churup
Hiking to Lake 69.  Huascaran behind--Peru's highest mountain.

Los Tres Muchachos soon discovered that being faster meant lots of waiting.  Sometimes in a cold wind.

The imaginatively named Lake 69 (the 69th recorded in a survey of all the lakes in the Peruvian Andes).


Monday, July 21, 2014

Non-fiction Review: The World Until Yesterday

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Title: The World Until Yesterday: What Can We Learn from Traditional Societies?
Author: Jared Diamond
Publisher: Penguin Books, 2012.  512 pages
Source: I bought it for my brother and then kept it, as he'd already gotten it.  Some people are impossible to buy for!

Review:
I like non-fiction, if it's well-written and engaging, and I particularly like history.  You've probably noticed I like books about adventures and adventurers.  And so far, I've mostly liked Jared Diamond's thought-provoking works that delve into history in search of better understanding of how societies work (and don't work).  But I have to admit that The World Until Yesterday, while containing much that was of interest, just didn't grip me (note that it sat on my "currently reading" shelf for months).

The book is a study of traditional societies and what we can learn from them in several key areas: War (and peaceful relations), treatment of young and old (think child-rearing issues), understanding and responding to danger, and a final section on Religion, Language and Health.  The idea is good, but for me, the execution was somehow lacking.  The book lacked the compelling narrative force that I found in, for example, Guns, Germs, and Steel or Collapse.

 As I considered why I felt that way, I realized that I had very different reactions to different parts of the book, so that was one clue: the book doesn't feel as unified as his other books.  It seems like it lacks a clear destination, as it were.  But maybe I also found some areas more relevant than others.

The opening section on War took a long time to get through, in large part because I felt like there was less to learn there.  That might not be fair--Diamond talks about the societies that have strong forces for mediation and negotiation, just because they understand that the consequences of carrying even minor disputes to their extremes can be year or generations of blood feuds.  We can definitely learn from that, though it has to be approached very differently in a modern society.

I was more interested in the section on child-rearing, because I'm pretty sure that our standard 21st-Century US approach isn't very good (this includes my own, by the way, though I have tried to replicate some of the feral childhood I enjoyed).  The discussion of treatment of the elderly, on the other hand, was more of an explanation of why some societies reject and even kill their old people while others treasure and revere them.  Of course we can't help noticing that we're created a society that doesn't have much room for the old, especially the old and poor or those too old to do much of anything.

Tied closely to both war/violence and treatment of the young and old is the section on responses to danger.  Again, there are good points here, and the anecdotes Diamond uses to support them make for interesting reading.  Many of us are very aware that our US society has a lot of trouble recognizing real danger, so that we take no end of precautions to prevent our children from being snatched from the street by strangers (highly unlikely), then feed them snacks loaded with sugar, fat, and salt (risk factors for diseases that are really horrible and very real dangers). 

The discussion of religion was interesting, because I never thought of religion in quite those terms before (the evolutionary advantage of religion?  How did irrational mystical beliefs ever come into being?).  I could recommend this section for anyone who sometimes thinks about things like that.

Finally, the section on heath and nutrition felt obvious and superficial.  We know that stuff about diet, and while I was interested in the added understanding for why traditional people are so subject obesity and related diseases when exposed to a Western lifestyle, the discussion of nutrition and healthy eating would probably better be left to an expert in that field.

Ultimately, I thought that Diamond made some good points, shared some interesting history and anthropological insights, but that the point of the book could well have been conveyed in a more concise fashion.  It almost felt at times as though the author had some really cool bits of history and stories that he wanted to share, and had to hunt for a framework to hang them on.  I still think it's a useful book, and Diamond writes well.  But it does not measure up to the others of his books that I've read.

Recommendation:
For those who really like Diamond's work, or who have a special interest in traditional societies.  For others, I'd recommend rooting around in it for the parts that interest you, and not sweating reading the whole thing. 

Full Disclosure: I purchased my copy of The World Until Yesterday, and received nothing from the writer or publisher in exchange for my honest review.  The opinions expressed are my own and those of no one else.  I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising." 

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Middle Grade Classic: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe

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This is a MUCH more modern-looking cover than my copy has!




Title: The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe
Author: C. S. Lewis
Publisher:  The Macmillan Co., 1950, 154 pages
Source: My Dad bought this one in 1968 and I somehow sorta made off with it. . .

I'm not doing a summary on this one--it's too well-known!  I will say that I re-read it because it was the June pick for the Great Middle Grade Reads group at Goodreads.com, and if you are a reader of middle grade lit, you should check out that group!

Review:
This children's classic was hard for me to review.  It was an absolute favorite of mine for many years, and I read it at least once a year until after I got out of college (and never MIND how long ago THAT was!). During my college years I think I paid too much attention to the allegorical side of it, and kind of ruined it for myself, so I have trouble reading it as just a great story.

But I still love many elements of the story, which is a true fantasy as well as a Christian allegory (well, it is, and there's no getting away from that completely). Mr. and Mrs. Beaver make my day. I also enjoyed the writing style, but it will strike many as outdated.  Lewis often breaks the 'fourth wall' and addresses the reader directly, which I rather enjoyed but may annoy some--I get the feeling that is a no-no nowadays.

Recommendation:
I think the whole Narnia series is worth a read (or a re-read), especially for anyone who reads and writes fantasy (know your roots!). I admit I never much liked The Last Battle, even as a kid, but that's me. Maybe. The end of the world is tough. Whether you're a kid reading it for the first time, or you haven't read it in 30 years, take a look at Narnia for some fun stories and a better understanding of fantasy literature.

Full Disclosure: I stole my Dad's copy of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe back in about 1981, and received nothing from the writer or publisher in exchange for my honest review.  The opinions expressed are my own and those of no one else.  I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

Just in case I get the chance to add this to the hop!

Friday, July 11, 2014

Friday Flash Fiction: Haunted House

This one was sparked by a Wendig Challenge from a few weeks back.  Because I'm traveling, I couldn't do it on schedule.  But I'll shared it anyway.  It's supposed to be a sub-genre mash-up of a haunted house and a cozy mystery--not really much of a stretch, and an obvious chance for JJ MacGregor and the Pismawallops PTA.  If you enjoy the story, please consider checking out JJ's book!

I apologize for any weirdness.  I am publishing from my iPad and from a B&B in Peru. . . Neither is guaranteed to work.


Haunted House


"Kitty, have you heard the rumors about the LeMoine house?" I asked my best friend the question over our weekly binge at the Have-a-Bite bakery.

"Rumors like what?"  Kitty's response was not so much an inquiry as a caution.  I wasn't sure just how to answer, now I'd brought the matter up. The kids hadn't known I was listening.  Maybe that was all the more reason to share what I'd heard.

"I gathered from something Brian and Kat were saying that kids are daring one another to spend the night there.  That something might get them if they do."  Presumably the ghost of Letitia LeMoine, I didn't need to add. "In any case, they expect something scary to happen."

"As a parent," Kitty said with a dryness I would have been proud to own, "it sounds like something scary all right."

We considered teens for a moment while consuming espresso brownies a nibble at a time.  I only allow myself one a month, so I wasn't going to miss any taste of this one.

The LeMoine house had stood empty since Kat's daughter and my son and their best friends had found the owner strangled where the Pismawallops PTA usually stored ice cream bars. To the best of my knowledge, the house was empty because the ownership was under dispute, not because no one would live there. Letitia's daughter had gone to the mainland to live with her mother's aunt,and she couldn't even rent it out because no one knew if it a was hers.

"You don't suppose someone is squatting there?" Kitty finally suggested. "That might lead to lights in the windows or whatever started the stories.  And once they get started, you know how stories like that grow."

"And getting a story like that going might allow someone to stay a long time, if they make it convincing enough," I agreed.

"You should tell Ron." To my annoyance, Kitty winked when she said it.  As if I needed reminding that I had--something--going with the Pismawallops Island chief of police. I refused to rise to the bait or satisfy her curiosity about how things were with us.

"I'm sure he already knows."

In the end, we shrugged it off. Kids like a scary story, and an empty house belonging to a murdered woman offered good material.  Our job was to make sure Brian and Kat were not among those who tested the ghost story. I wasn't too worried.

A week later I was less sanguine.  Not about the kids, who were behaving well, but about the LeMoine house.

"I drove by there again, and someone is definitely changing the curtains around and stuff."

"Maybe a real estate agent, trying to keep it from looking empty?"

"Nice try, Kitty. But everyone on the Island knows about it, so what's the point?" I took another bite of my low-fat blueberry scone and tried to convince myself it was as good as the brownie had been the week before.

Kitty shrugged. "Then we're back to squatters."

"Do you think we should have a look? If someone's broken in, we should do something.  Chantal LeMoine may be a piece of work, but the house may be her only inheritance."

"The police, JJ.  Talk to Ron."
***
I'm not an idiot  despite some evidence to the contrary, and I was on good terms with Ron that week, so I did what Kitty suggested. I did it at the Station, though. Neither of us could be trusted in private just then, and I didn't know what I wanted from the relationship. Ron knew all too well what he wanted. At the Station he couldn't very well make a play for it.

"I've heard the rumors, JJ, but when one of us drives by, there's no sign of anything."

His department consisted of himself and a worse-than-useless deputy.  Leave it to a pair of guys to miss the changes in the curtains.

"So can't I take you to dinner?"

That was the trouble with Ron. He didn't care if the world knew how he felt about me. He'd have kissed me in front of the whole Island, so long as he wasn't in uniform.

"No." Until I resolved some of my existing issues, I wasn't taking on any more.
***
Really, Ron left me only one option. I'd have to investigate the LeMoine ghost myself.  Or rather, with Kitty, because I wasn't going there alone.

"Oh, come on, Kitty," I wheedled.  "It'll be a lark."

She reminded me of a couple of other things I'd talked her into that hadn't worked so well, and I winced.  "We won't go at night.  We can just stop in for a minute, look in the windows, and see if it looks like anyone is living there."

Kitty was still reluctant.  "Your ideas always sound good," she began.

"Because they are," I insisted.  We exchanged looks, her dubious, mine stubborn.  At last she gave in.

"Oh, fine. I'll go."

"After dinner tonight."

"That's not broad daylight."

"It's light until late, this time of year. It won't be later than 7:30."

"Fine." Odd. She sounded a lot like Brian at his most teenaged.
**
In fact it was a little later than 7:30, and a little duskier than I'd expected, when we approached the "haunted house." We hadn't told anyone--my son or her family--where we were going for fear of being laughed at. Suddenly, I wished we had. I ignored the unworthy thought.

I parked boldly in front of the house, and we stepped up on the porch with pointless caution.  I peered in the front window and let slip a word I don't let Brian use.

"What?" Kitty squeaked.  She seemed oddly jumpy.

"I can't see anything. Too dark." I moved to the door before she could say "I told you so," and laid a hand on the knob. The door swung open with a small squeak, just like in the horror movies.

We exchanged looks. Then I went in, before Kitty could get reasonable and drag me away.

The front room was neat, and what I could see of it looked much as I'd last seen it.

Too much so. I realized that once again someone was sitting on the couch in he dusk  just as they had that day. . . I screamed. I'm not proud of it, but the memory was too strong, and I'd nearly died that day.

The figure on the couch jumped up and turned into a teenaged girl. "Oh, god,I'm sorry!"

I thought I knew who it was, and reached for the light, but of course the power was off.

"Hang on," said Chantal LeMoine, and a moment later a flashlight came on.

I glared at the dead woman's daughter. "You have some explaining to do."

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Where is Rebecca?

While many of my compatriots are at Camp NaNo this month, writing vast amounts (or not), I am trekking in Peru.  I just thought I'd share a few photos, though they are taken on the iPad and really don't meet my standards.  The scenery does, though!  These are from the Cordillera Blanca.  And this fool device won't let me edit on down the page, so they'll have to stand on their own without commentary.








I also apologize to those whose blogs I haven't been visiting.  I'll be back!  Don't hate me and go away mad :)

Monday, July 7, 2014

Book Review: The Wind is Not A River

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Title: The Wind is Not a River
Author: Brian Payton
Publisher: Harper Colllins, 2014, 305 pages
Source: I won and uncorrected proof of this book in a Goodreads.com giveaway
My apologies to Mr. Payton and his publisher for taking so long to get to this review!  I know that there is no requirement to review (let alone in a timely fashion) when one wins a giveaway, but I prefer to be a bit more on top of things.  As an author myself, I know how much these reviews can mean.

Summary:
John Easley is a journalist.  In 1943, after the death of his younger brother over Normandy, he follows a nearly obsessive desire to learn what is happening in the Aleutian Islands and leaves his wife in Seattle.  He fakes his way onto a flight over Attu--and is shot down.  What he endures to get home, and what his wife does to try to find him, make up the story, but it is also the story of the natives and the soldiers in that forgotten part of the war.  In a way, this book is the story John Easley was hoping to tell.


Review:
In general, I was very favorably impressed by this book.  I'm a fan of WWII literature, fiction and fact, and that was why I entered the Giveaway.  The book wasn't quite what I expected, but it did not disappoint.  The story was gripping, and once I got started I sped through the book, unwilling to put it down.  This is not a shiny-eyed tale of heroics and super-human feats.  Easley is a civilian, unprepared physically or mentally for what happens to him, and if he is not always heroic, he nonetheless holds on for an amazingly long time, even as he starves, freezes, and hallucinates his way through some six or eight weeks of hiding from the Japanese.

His wife, Helen, also finds she can do more than she imagines.  I liked her depiction as both sheltered and amazingly strong, pulling herself far beyond her comfort zone to try to find the husband who walked out after a fight and didn't return. That hiccup in their happy marriage becomes huge in light of what follows, and Payton uses it in a way that felt very real to me.  She is both smart and naive, and the combination takes her a long way.

My main issue with the book was stylistic (and thus totally a matter of personal taste): the author chose to write in the present tense, which never feels quite natural to me.  On the other hand, it gave the narrative both a sort of immediacy and an almost dream-like quality at times.  The ending was more realistic than completely satisfying, but again, I don't fault the book or the author for this.  Some part of me wants a fairy-tale ending, but it wouldn't be right for this book.

I was given an unedited proof copy, so I will assume that the few typos and errors I spotted will have been corrected before publication.  In most respects, the editing and quality were excellent.

Recommendation:
For those who like realistic historical fiction and fans of WWII literature.  Not so much for those looking for romance in either sense of the word, though this is definitely a love story as well as an adventure. It just isn't a starry-eyed version of either.

Full Disclosure: I won The Wind is Not a River in a Goodreads giveaway, with no expectations on the part of the Author or publisher other than a hope for my honest review, which I have given.  The opinions expressed are my own and those of no one else.  I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

Friday, July 4, 2014

Friday Flash Fiction: The Dogs of War?

Battle Dogs

George, Sally, Steve and Hadrian peered around the stone wall and considered the field before them.  Behind them, their mounts sniffed around, checking for signs of the enemy, or anything that could be eaten.  Their short legs and long hair made them look like oversized caterpillars.
“Dogapillars,” George insisted.  “Not any kind of cats.”  He spat out the word as though it tasted of filth.  The enemy mounted themselves on cats.

Steve was having trouble with his pointed hat.  "Why do we wear these things, anyway?" he grumbled as he centered the thing on his head once again.  “They’re just in the way.  And my corgi doesn’t like it, especially when it falls off and pokes him.”

"We're garden gnomes," Sally answered.  "If we didn't have the pointy colorful hats, we might be taken for mountain gnomes, or even, heaven help us, dwarves."

"They do make us awfully visible to the pixies, though," Steve pointed out.  “It’s hard to hide and peek when your hat sticks up a foot above your head.  And they fall off whenever we charge the enemy.”

“Well, the cats don’t like them either,” Sally said.  “That has to help.”

"Hush!" said Hadrian, who was the only one actually doing any scouting.  The others were letting him manage that part, while they sharpened their spades and grumbled about the hats.  "I see one!  They're out there.”  He backed away from the wall and turned, waving an arm toward the corgis clustered behind the next hedge.  “Sound the signal to mount up!"

Steve gave a loud, squawking squeeze on his concertina, and an army if gnomes burst from the shrubbery and ran for the corgis.  Grabbing the long hair, the gnomes swarmed to the backs of their eager mounts.  Tongues lolling from open mouths, the stubby-legged dogs charged forward almost without waiting for the gnomes, each of whom clutched corgi-fur with one hand and a garden tool-come-weapon with the other.

On the other side of the meadow a phalanx of Persian cats bounded through the tall grass, each with an evil-faced pixie astride.  Shrieking like a flock of banshees, they charged forward.

Corgis barked.  Persians yowled.  Disaster appeared inevitable.

Then the truly inevitable happened.  A squirrel darted up a tree, and many of the corgis veered off in pursuit.  Then first one, then another, of the cats stopped.  They sniffed about, and several sat down to wash their bottoms, dumping the pixies onto the ground.  Chaos reigned, but battle was not joined.  After several minutes, Hadrian sounded the retreat, as did the leader of the pixies.

Back in the garden, Hadrian dismounted and sat with his head in his hand.  His pointed hat had fallen to the ground but he ignored it.  His corgi sniffed at him, and he patted it absently before the dog flopped down to take a nap.

"It could have been worse," Sally attempted consolation.  "At least the pixies didn't do any better, with their Persian cats.  Only an idiot would ride into battle on a cat!  Everyone knows they don’t take orders."

“Neither, apparently, do corgis,” Hadrian pointed out.

"No one got hurt," Steve tried a different consolation.

"But the pixies got away!" Hadrian shouted.  "We can't keep doing this.  We're supposed to be an army, for dog's sake!"  He looked up.  A half-circle of pointed noses and lolling tongues in smiling corgi mouths lay flopped on the ground, attached to the napping corgis.  "Okay, he sighed.  "One more chance." He looked at the corgis, then at his fellow garden gnomes, and raised his voice to rouse the sleepers.  "Send those cats running and the pixies flying, and there'll be treats for everyone!”

At the word "treats" the corgis roused themselves, climbing to their feet and smiling eagerly.  So did the gnomes. Or, rather, they stopped scowling and grew more interested.  Several even began planning with Hadrian how best to mount their attack.

***
Once again, the gnomes were mounted and ready.  The corgis sniffed the air, and Hadrian's mount raised his head and barked the signal.  Tawny fur flew across the meadow, stubby white legs barely visible under the shag.  A squirrel ran up a tree, but Hadrian shouted "Focus!  Treat!" and the fur-covered steeds hesitated only almost imperceptibly before continuing their charge across the meadow toward the grey fuzz-balls. 

Hadrian gave the command to deploy their most powerful weapon.  “Maximum shed rate!”
Dogs and cats met in a cloud of flying fur as corgi hair filled the air.  Moments later the cats turned tail, unable to see or breathe.  The furballs dumped the pixies to the ground as they fled.  In danger of being trampled by the flashing paws of the eager corgis or choked by lungsful of dog hair, the pixies saved themselves by dematerializing.  Once gone, they could only return to their own land.   It was a total victory for the gnomes and their mounts.

The gnomes encouraged their mounts to halt, and the sharp-nosed smiles turned to Hadrian.  He waved them back to camp.  "Cake all around!"  The victory cheers were nearly drowned by the ecstatic barking, as the fur settled slowly to the ground.

©Rebecca M. Douglass, 2014
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Corgis, ready for battle