The Powder Horn of Mackinac Island by Sandy Carlson
Genre: Middle Grade (8-12
year old reader) Science
Fiction, or for the
Word Count: 34,000
Arianna’s family now owns a souvenir shop on Mackinac Island, the perfect place to make money fo
Arianna’s family now owns a souvenir shop on Mackinac Island, the perfect place to make money for her paraplegic brother’s surgery. No motor vehicles are allowed but there are plenty of horses, making the island safe enough for Luc to have mobile freedom in his wheelchair all summer long.
When Arianna and Luc accidentally discover that a powder horn that’s been in their family for many generations can send them back in time to 1793, they meet their great-great-great-great-great-grandfather, the person who carved the treasure map on the powder horn. How can the siblings convince their ancestor to let them in on its secrets?
To complicate things, Luc finds he can walk there, in the past, and he doesn’t want to return to the present where his surgery is uncertain, and a wheelchair may be his life. Arianna must choose between discovering the treasure and bringing her brother back to the present.
The family plan was to head north, but my best friends Bella and Caitlyn were hopeful I would find options, alternatives, additional possibilities. I’d heard the reasons why I had to go with Mom and Dad and Luc to northern Michigan for the summer, and why my older sister got to stay home. I wouldn’t have minded so much if only it wasn’t sixteen million miles from Chicago, and for the entire summer. My protests about the unfairness of me having to go came up as empty as downtown Chicago during a blizzard.
“I could stay home with Melissa,” I suggested as I handed Mom a dirty supper plate for the dishwasher. “We’d almost never fight.”
“You know Melissa needs to earn money this summer for college,” Mom said. “And Delly’s Deli will pay her more than we could. It’s simple economics.”
Without consulting me, simple economics entailed dumping all our family money into purchasing a souv
Without consulting me, simple economics entailed dumping all our family money into purchasing a souvenir shop. They expected to make bundles of money to cover my brother Luc’s operation and have enough left over to be rich-rich-rich. Maybe enough for a family trip to Europe or a flight to the moon.
Worst part? They planned to turn Luc and me into store slaves for the summer.
No, the really worst part was I wouldn’t get to see my friends all summer long. What good is having a summer vacation without your friends? It was going to be torturously long. I did want Luc to get his operation, and I wasn’t out to make things difficult for Melissa. I just wanted to stay home, too. Be with my friends. That’s all.
Mom put on her teacher smile. “Staying here will be good preparation for Melissa being on her own. Besides, the Simons are next door, and Rachel Simons practically lives over here, anyway. Melissa won’t be lonely.”
“I could stay to make sure. Help chaperone them or something,” I said, putting on my most brilliant smile.
Mom shook her head no while putting the last of the silverware into the dishwasher.
“Maybe I could stay with Caitlyn’s family, or Bella’s?” As soon as the words fell from my mouth I wished them back. Too late. Mom had already rolled her eyes. I shouldn’t have included Bella’s p
“Maybe I could stay with Caitlyn’s family, or Bella’s?” As soon as the words fell from my mouth I wished them back. Too late. Mom had already rolled her eyes. I shouldn’t have included Bella’s parents in that plan.
“Arianna Jean Trebuche.” Her using my whole name was like turning the lock on a door. End of any back and forth discussion. “It’ll be a fun adventure,” she said.
Read that as Boring!
“There’s lots to do on Mackinac Island besides the store,” she continued. “Bikes and horses to ride. You might even dress up in some of those period costumes from the eighteenth century. Wouldn’t that be fun? Besides, Luc needs you.”
“Luc needs me like he needs a fifth wheel. You baby him way too much, Mom.” I turned and headed upstairs to my room.
Some people think people in wheelchairs are helpless. They don’t know our Luc. He’s smart, clever, funny, and wins races. He’s not treated differently because he’s stuck in a wheelchair, it’s because in our family, Luc, at ten, is the youngest. Melissa’s seventeen. Last April I officially became a teenager, a whopping thirteen. And we all know the babies of the family really are treated differently.
When we were younger, Luc and I shared everything, especially secrets in our treehouse. Luc would pull himself onto the swing seat and tug on the rope pulley Dad attached to the tree branch until he got himself through the Trebuche Tree door. It was our not-so-secret hideaway. No one else went up there, not even Caitlyn and Bella.
I used our upstairs hall landline and called Bella, the B member of our ABC club.
“No go,” I said when she answered.
“This stinks,” Bella sa
“This stinks,” Bella said. “How come they can’t see you’re responsible enough to stay?”
“I know,” I groaned.
“Did you mention the thing about staying at my house, or at Caitlyn’s?”
“Yes. I even tried staying with Melissa under the Simons’ watchful eye.”
“We’ve got parents living over here, right in the same house—real adults. Sort of.”
I snickered. A year ago, Bella’s parents went through some sort of mid-life crisis and learned to ride motorcycles. They’d gone hog-wild—that’s motorcycle talk—buying leather jackets and bike accessories and made the neighborhood noisier. Not the kind of adults my teacher-parents would trust to look after their little darling all summer.
“So, have you started your Summer Dreams essay for Mrs. Harrison’s class?”
“Ha!” I answered. “My summer will be a nightmare.”
“There’s still the Internet, Ari,” Bella said. “We’ll message every day, and don’t forget chats and video calling and cell phones.”
“More than every single day,” I replied.
Before I could say Hallelujah, school’s out, seventh grade ended. After that, Bella and Caitlyn and I had a moanful see-ya-later sleepover where we finally drifted off about three AM. The parents finished their teaching jobs. Then, earlier than we ever got up on a school day, we Trebuches squeezed all our summer essentials into the van, with three bikes hanging from the back. Luc rose on the van chair lift, and then I clamped his wheelchair firmly into place and climbed in the seat next to him.
“You have the treasured powder horn?” Melissa asked through the open van window. She pushed her wavy long brown hair away from her face.
“Of course, dear,” Mom said. “We’ll send you pictures as soon as we display it.”
“Put it someplace where everyone can see it,” Mel instructed. She was a lot like Mom—bossy. At least with the two of them separated, it would make a quieter summer for the rest of us.
The heirloom powder horn had passed from father to son through the generations of Trebuches from Jean Luc Trebuche, a fur-trading French ancestor. This Jean Luc is the
person Luc is named after, and me, too. Well, my middle and last name, anyway. Down through the generations, we’ve called it the Treasured Powder Horn. With capital letters. I don’t know why. Maybe it once held gold nuggets instead of gun powder. It could have been in a museum, but Mom and Dad both used it in their classes for math exercises or history-English lessons. Great-great-something-grandfather Jean Luc must have been drunk when he carved it. Although his name in fancy script across the top was obvious, squiggly lines went around the horn. There was also a random U or a C on it and a V or a <, depending on which way you held it, along with an X by a bitty tree.
“Now don’t you go worrying about us, sweetheart,” Dad said to Melissa as he adjusted the driver’s seat. “You just take care of yourself. We’re only a phone call away.”
As Dad pulled the van out, I waved to Melissa until we were out of sight. Luc slipped on his headphones and loaded up an action movie in his player. I got out my music.
“Can’t you kids at least wait until we’re on the interstate before playing those things?” Mom asked. “There’s so much to see.” She said those exact words at the start of every trip.
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Sandy Carlson was born in Michigan and has a long-standing connection with Mackinac Island. She first visited the island as a child, then as a young mother with her husband and two sons, and several times since. Every visit has vibrated with magic—from the fresh water sea breezes, to the history, to the wooded trails, and, of course, to the horses.
Sandy is first a storyteller. As a child, she loved telling stories to her siblings, cousins and friends, and later started writing them down. Besides a Family-Comes-First motto, Sandy is a former teacher who now does school and library author visits.
She may or may not have seen mythical creatures while alone in the woods.
Website & Blog: http://www.sandycarlson.com
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