Storybirds takes place in the fictional setting of Gander, a once-idyllic land where something sinister is unfolding. Good stories are disappearing, while the bad stories are proliferating! Every night, when the children of Gander go to sleep, they ask their parents to read them a bedtime story. But the stories they hear are teaching them to delight in the misfortunes of others, among other unsavory things. As a result, all of the children of Gander are rotten!
…Well, almost all of the children are rotten. There are two children who have been insulated from the contaminating influences of the bad stories. One of them is Gavin, the new kid in Gander who moved there after spending his entire life (all 10 years of it) on a remote oceanic island where his father made up his own bedtime stories and his parents studied the world’s only population of the Chatterby Giant Mouse. The second kid is Rennet Maximilian Walter Paxton Stoddellmeyer III (better known as Mousey) whose father Mr. Stoddellmeyer–owner of Stoddellmeyer’s Stinky Cheeses–is too busy to read stories to his son.
Who is behind the disappearance of the stories? And what is their motivation? Will Gavin and Mousey discover the culprit? Will they successfully return the good stories and save the culture of Gander in this story of friendship, adventure, and danger?
Below is an excerpt from Chapter 3: Bedtime in Gander
Gavin sat up in bed, admiring his new bedroom. He had never had his own room before. On Chatterby Island, he and his parents lived together in a one-room wall tent full of scientific journals and boxes of research supplies. Gavin had used the wall tent mainly for sleep, not to mention shelter from the occasional storm.
His new bedroom, however, seemed like a place he could stay for hours at a time. It was clean and clutter-free. On the wall near the door hung a framed photo of Gavin and Pootsy, grinning with their arms around each other. Above his bed he had tacked an Island Rodents of the World poster. The animal sizes were drawn relative to each other, and of course the Chatterby Giant Mouse, located front and center, took up the most space. Muffin, who had had his likeness painted for the poster, had even “signed” it with a muddy paw print. There was rocking chair in the corner, a desk below the window, and a small bookshelf next to the desk. The bookshelf held Gavin’s yellow field notebooks, in addition to the six volume collection of Captain Chatterby’s journals.
Gavin looked at his bedside clock. His dad would arrive any moment to tell him a bedtime story. It was a ritual that went back in a long, unbroken chain of nights for as long as Gavin could remember. Gavin’s dad was at his most marvelous during story time. His eyes flashed and shone. His voice creaked like an old wooden door or BOOMED like thunder before dropping to the hush of a gentle rain. He would turn his back and, when he turned round again, he’d be a nine-foot giant or—in a flash—he’d be fleeing from the scorching breath of a pearly-eyed dragon.
Gavin’s dad told him stories of boys and girls exploring city sewers, of treasure hunts and shipwrecks and jungle adventures. Stories about vengeful wizards and potions that turned you to stone, about faraway lands where the skies were violet and the lightning came without warning. Stories about creatures so fantastic you’d be stunned, and others so terrifying you’d want to burrow under your covers and not come out until you heard the birds singing in the morning and you knew it was safe.
As Gavin listened to his dad’s stories, he learned about courage and cowardice, friendship and betrayal, about the choice between the easy path and the right path. The stories he heard didn’t really feel like stories to him, but rather experiences from his own life. Word by word, story by story, sitting up in bed but also worlds away, Gavin felt his inner self… growing.
Gavin heard a knock at his door.
“Come in!” Gavin shouted.