All twelve-year-old Ellie Emerson wants to do is make some friends. Problem is, that’s kinda hard when nobody wants a science-geek around.
But when Ellie discovers Arborites, elf-like beings born from the seed of a tree, living in the woods behind her house, they’re actually glad to see her. Trees and Arborites all over the forest are mysteriously becoming sick, and they think Quercus Supreme, leader of the Oak Arborites, is to blame. The Arborites need to find out what’s going on and come up with a way to stop it, but they can’t do it on their own. Ellie has been drawn into a mystical world where she finally has a chance to show just what makes her special.
Ellie’s favorite tree was lying on the forest floor in a tangled heap. The only branch covered with any of the yellow leaves of autumn waved in the breeze like it was signaling for help.
Everything’s fine, Ellie thought. Just don’t look.
“Hey Cassie, wanna read?” she said to the old chestnut tree. “How about another chapter of Gulliver’s Travels? Or I’ve got a new book called Remarkable Trees of the World. There’s a whole section on giants and another on trees in peril!” She pulled away from the tree and felt around for her backpack, opening one eye just enough to find the zipper. As she reached inside for the books, she noticed ants crawling on her sleeve. “Eww,” she said, her eyes opening wide. She flicked the ants off and ran her hands all over her body just to be sure there weren’t any more. She glanced down her front and around to her back. And that’s when she saw the massive army of black ants marching along the fallen trunk. No, no, no, no, no.
“Shoo, get off,” she yelled. “Leave my friend alone!” She pulled off her sneaker and beat at them like trying to stop a wildfire. But for every ant squished, many more came to take its place. I can’t let them do this to her. Ellie tossed the shoe aside and grabbed a large pine branch off the ground. Holding it with both hands in front of her, she dragged the needles back and forth across the tree, flinging ants in every direction.