When she released the short companion story, "Leslie and the Lion," I was convinced to spend the whopping 99 cents on it, to check it out. And I fell in love with the Green Meadow series, even without reading an entire novel.
"Leslie and the Lion" appears to take place between Bubba Goes National and Bubba to the Rescue. Leslie's father is not yet remarried and Lucky is injury-free. It may actually be a side trail from the first book: a story that didn't fit into the novel, yet needed to be told.
Alex is Leslie's boyfriend and Holly is her best friend. On this particular day, the three of them decide to saddle up and go for a ride in the woods. The adults are nowhere to be found, so they tell no one of their plans. As they make their way along the trail, they start to notice gashes in the tree trunks. The horses start to get nervous. And then they find the telltale tracks of a mountain lion.
When the mountain lion appears, the three friends quickly take off down the trail to protect themselves. When they feel that they are safe, they realize that they are completely lost. As they take turns reaching for their cell phones to either call for help or to use GPS to navigate their way back to Green Meadows, they find that none of them remembered a phone. They are lost and have no contact with the outer world. They could turn around, but may encounter the mountain lion again. What are they going to do?
I am not usually a fan of short stories, but this one completely held my attention. It sucked me into the lives of the three friends and convinced me to go ahead and purchase the two novels in the series. Even just based on this short story, I recommended the series to one of my friends from elementary school. She and I spent many hours devouring books in the book corner at school. Horse stories were among our favorites.
This story has enough action and adventure to hold the interest of the reader, while also providing a great lesson to kids. Having read more of Jennifer Walker's works now, I can see a pattern of life lessons within her stories. They are not glaringly obvious all of the time, but not so subtle that they pass the reader by. This one in particular would be a great one to read to a class and then follow up with a discussion on safety.
While I am hoping for more full-length books in the Green Meadow series, more of these short stories would be lovely, as well.
I purchased a copy of "Leslie and the Lion" for my Kindle apps. It is currently only available as an e-book. Perhaps some day, if more of these short stories appear, they will all be available in one large collection.