When I first heard of Patrick Carman, it was years ago. I was at an internal presentation that Scholastic does twice a year, where editors introduce other folks in the company to the books that they’re working on. That year, one of those books was The Dark Hills Divide, the first in Patrick Carman’s series The Land of Elyon.
As you can imagine, I always leave those presentations absolutely dying to get my hands on all the books I’ve just learned about. That year, The Dark Hills Divide topped my must-have list — the next time I was working at a conference for Scholastic, I waited until about one nano-second after our booth had cleared of actual customers and then literally raced over to snatch up a copy for myself!
I think what got me most interested in reading The Dark Hills Divide was what the editor said about its origins: the story started as a bedtime tale that Patrick Carman made up for his daughters! I figured that someone’s own kids must be the toughest crowd to please — and Carman wasn’t even a professional writer at that point! I just had to see what he had come up with, and I zipped through the whole book on my plane ride back from the conference.
Since then, I’ve been amazed at how much Carman is capable of writing. It seems like every time I turn around, he has a new book out! Doesn’t the guy ever get tired or run out of ideas? The best part for me is that I always remember that he started as a father who just had a really good story that he wanted to tell his kids. Now the whole world benefits!
What’s next from Patrick Carman? More adventures for Alexa Daley, the heroine of the Elyon books! Stargazer, the next book in the Elyon series is out in stores this month — and we’ve got an exclusive excerpt just for you (below). Enjoy!
— Karen, STACKS Staffer
From Stargazer, The Land of Elyon Book 4:
A long voyage includes days without wind or waves. The boat sits
still on deep water, waiting for a push. The morning sun shines
through the surface of the Lonely Sea into unknown depths of blue
water, and I often leaned over the side of the Warwick Beacon
in search of the murky outline of a fish. A shadow the size and shape
of my forearm would drift past my line of sight and disappear under the
boat. Then I would race to the other side and look down, waiting until
the shadow reemerged and slowly disappeared out into the sea. On a
calm day, it was not uncommon for me to spend an hour or more at this
entirely useless undertaking.
But this morning, as I leaned out over the edge of the rail, my heart caught in my throat at the thought of what I might see.
To begin with, we’d found the Five Stone Pillars, a mysterious place
hidden far away from The Land of Elyon. We could see the pillars
clearly, less than a nautical mile away, rising out of the sea. From
all I’d been told, I knew this was an especially secret place, where
Sir Alistair Wakefield hid the lost children so that no danger could
But danger had found the lost children. And what’s worse, we were
the ones who’d brought the danger to them. Something had been
following our ship since the very beginning of our long journey away
from The Land of Elyon. It was something unseen and sinister, watching
our every move from the depths of the sea.
I’d been standing at the rail for a while, looking into the camlest
water I’d never seen, wishing that the wind would kick up and send us
on our way. There was a terrible chill in the air as I scanned the
glassy surface, hoping not to spot anything larger than my own boot.
“Captain?” asked Yipes, my tiny, ever-present companion. “Why is
everything so still?” I chanced a fleeting look away from the smooth
surface of the water and saw that he was standing very near our
captain, Roland Warvold, questioning him.
Yipes tapped Roland in the leg with his finger. “Pardon me, sir.”
The captain didn’t respond. We had come within sight of our
long-awaited destination, but it felt as if we were anchored in place,
and Roland was busy reviewing his charts and maps at the wheel of the
boat. Yipes is the sort of person who has a hard time being ignored,
so he kept at it, tap tap tapping at the knee in front of his face
until finally Roland could stand it no more.
“Can’t you find something useful to do?” Roland replied. He knelt
down so that he was at eye level with Yipes, and the two began to talk
as I returned to watching the Lonely Sea.
The water was so smooth and still I couldn’t stand looking at it any
longer without dropping something in and breaking the glass surface. I
swung around, searching the deck for something to throw, and my eyes
lit on the remains of a breakfast that had yet to be cleaned up. It
was only a few steps away, and when I arrived there I found several
things to choose from that would suit my purpose. I picked up a string
of fish bones by its crispy tail and walked back toward the rail of the