TITLE: Return to the Mountains
GENRE: Contemporary Middle Grade Fiction
Eleven-year-old Kate McAllister is tired of living in the shadow of her domineering older brother, Tyler. So when she sees a lynx (one that’s part of a controversial reintroduction program) on their Colorado ranch, she is determined to track it and get the recognition for protecting her family’s livestock. But when she realizes the lynx has kittens, and learns the reasons for the reintroduction program, she has a change of heart. Kate secretly watches the lynx until Tyler discovers them, forcing her to stand up to him to defend the feline family she feels she knows better than her own.
My brother is six feet tall, but his shadow seemed longer than a ponderosa pine’s. And no matter where I stood, his shadow fell on me. My dad looked to Tyler to do all sorts of things around the ranch, even though he was only 17. Me, I was almost 12, but dad and Tyler both treated me like a little girl.
Until the lynx.
It was an animal no one in our valley wanted back in Colorado because of the threat to livestock. The wildlife people released the lynx anyway, and spent all kinds of time and money monitoring them with a bunch of high-tech gadgets. Folks still grumbled about the program all the time, even though no one had actually seen a lynx, or had a problem with one, in the years since the reintroduction.
But as I stood in the shade of my brother on that first day of summer vacation, beside the empty chicken coop, I understood why ranchers hadn’t wanted the lynx back.
“Blasted cats,” Tyler snarled, sounding exactly like our dad. He stabbed the ground with his shovel.
“My chickens…” I started to say. But I had to stop so I could bite my tongue to keep from crying in front of Tyler.
“Kate!” He turned his whole body toward me and replanted the shovel. “This is exactly why the lynx don’t belong here.” Tyler stomped off. His boots pounded into the dry earth leaving a cloud of dust hovering over his path.