Find the Pack at Four-Eyed Frog Books
Many thanks to Joel Crocket and all the folks at Four-Eyed Frog Books in Gualala, California - a community-owned bookstore packed with fantastic things, all overlooking the Pacific Ocean.
If you're staying in Sea Ranch or touring up the coast on Highway One, and your middlegrader needs a good book, you can stop there, browse, and now you can find "The Pack, The Dare and The Draugar." (Still working on the sequel...).
I learned about Four-Eyed Frog Books in this wonderful story from the Press Democrat, Sonoma County's daily newspaper. You can check it out here. Gualala, in addition to being fun to say, is where the redwood forest slopes down to meet the ocean. Redwoods and Douglas Fir and Alder and Tan Oak and other redwood forest trees don't like a lot of salt, so in Northern California, the foot of the coast-facing hills are covered in grass that's a bright green in the spring and gold the rest of the year. It's only the Monterey Pines and Cypress you'll find growing close to the sea.
Gualala is named for the river just south of the tiny town; the Gualala River is the dividing line between Mendocino and Sonoma Counties. Just south of the river is Sea Ranch, a fairly-famous town full of rich folk and houses clad in weathered boards designed to blend into the seaside hills. There's a hotel there and some vacation rentals that are a popular place for inland Californians to go in summer to get away from the punishing heat. The whole coast is full of rocky cliffs that give way to smooth half-circle beaches great for wading and rock and seashell hunting. Gualala, the word, is what the Spanish heard when the Kashiya Pomo first nation peoples told them the name of their village, Walaali. It was their quick way of saying Qh awála-li, meaning "where the water goes down." Today, there are Pomo tribal lands and homes at the top of the Coast Mountain Range ridge that runs behind Gualala and Sea Ranch; the Pomo land is full of beautiful redwoods and creeks and sun while the fog hangs over the coast below.
When we drove through the Pomo community on the way to the coast and back, I knew it had to be home to a few Sentinel Trees.
Driving the (incredibly) winding country roads between Highway 101 and the two tiny towns on the coast was a great field trip for me. I got to meet Four-Eyed Frogs Books manager Joel Crockett and talk books. He happily took five books to sell, and promised to read one.
"I think when you write the sequel, you should put an old man in it," he joked, before shelving my books. I told him he'd find an old man in the first book. "See what you think," I said.
And now you can find "The Pack, The Dare and The Draugar" too. If you're on vacation in Gualala or Sea Ranch or cruising up the coast on Highway One, and you find yourself desperately needing a book, be sure to stop at the Four-Eyed Frog.