Nine-year-old Stella Sullivan loves animals, from cuddly kittens to the wild inhabitants of Gateway National Park near her home Montana. Luckily, her aunt's a veterinarian who's happy to have Stella's help in saving a badly wounded duckling, a guide dog that needs CPR...and a spirited mother otter prepared to defend her young at all costs. And if that's not enough, Stella's whole family is worried about wolves meant to live in Gateway National Park. Someone want to keep them out-- and the wolves may die if the problem isn't solved quickly!
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Emily Costello is a journalist and the author of many books for young readers, including books in the Nancy Drew, Sweet Valley Twins, and Sweet Valley Kids series, as well as her own series on ballet school and girls soccer. She writes about science for Scholastic's classroom publications. She lives in Boston, MA.Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:
Stella knelt down in front of the boy, so they were eye-to-eye. "What's your spider's name?"
"Charlotte." He sniffled, and wiped one cheek against his shoulder. "But she's sick."
"What happened to her?"
Fresh tears welled up in Kyle's brown eyes. "My little sister Margie ran over her with a Big Wheel."
"How about if I take a look?" Stella asked.
Wordlessly, Kyle held the jar out to her.
Stella took it. Standing up, she placed the jar on the examining table. The jar was empty except for a furry black spider about the size of Stella's hand. The tops of the spider's legs had brilliant yellowish orange patches.
"What a beauty," Stella said.
"She's a Mexican redknee," Kyle said proudly.
"A big Mexican redknee."
Kyle stood up a little taller. "Almost four inches across," he said. "I've had her for two months already. My cousin raised her from a spiderling. Charlotte is the same age as me. Five."
Stella took a moment to think back on what she'd read about tarantulas. They bite, she reminded herself. The bites weren't any big deal -- as long as you weren't allergic. Unfortunately, the only way to find out if you were allergic was to get bitten.
No thanks, Stella thought with a shudder. She remembered the book said you should never pick up a tarantula unless you knew it was calm. And how calm could Charlotte be feeling with a squished leg?
Another fact suddenly popped into Stella's mind. Tarantulas were fragile. Falling even a few feet could kill them. She moved the jar to the floor.
Kyle knelt down next to her.
Stella unscrewed the top of the jar. They waited a few moments, but Charlotte didn't budge. Stella lifted the jar's bottom about half an inch. The spider was now standing on a slight slope. She moved downhill and climbed onto the floor. Now Stella could see that one of Charlotte's back legs was crushed. A clear, slightly bluish fluid was leaking out of the squashed leg and onto the dark fur that covered it. Tarantula blood.
"One of Charlotte's legs is hurt," Stella told Kyle.
Kyle took a deep quivery breath. "You can fix it, can't you?"
"Well . . ." Stella wanted to tell Kyle everything would be okay. But Charlotte's leg looked like a furry pancake. "I think I should cut the leg off."
"No!" Kyle dropped his head and started to sob.
"I'm not going to hurt Charlotte." Stella put a hand gently on Kyle's back. "Listen, it's not that bad. Charlotte is still going to have a bunch of legs left."
Kyle looked up. "Only seven."
"Seven's plenty," Stella said with a smile. "Now I want you to hold the jar in front of Charlotte so that she doesn't get away."
"Okay . . ." Kyle carefully positioned the jar and focused on his pet. "This is going to sting a little," he told her.
Stella glanced back at her aunt.
Anya gave her an supportive smile. "Why don't you try pulling the leg off?" she suggested. "Most spiders can shed legs if they have to. Give the leg a firm yank, and I bet it will break off."
"Okay." Stella got up and opened one of the instrument drawers. She found a large tweezers and then knelt beside Charlotte and Kyle. Taking a deep breath, she grabbed the spider's injured leg. Charlotte crawled away, and the leg broke off near where it joined the body.
"It worked!" Stella reported.
Charlotte quickly turned around. Startled, Stella scooted back a little and dropped the tweezers. Charlotte crawled closer and picked at her injured leg.
"Oh, yuck," Kyle said. "She's eating it!"
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Book Description HarperCollins, 1999. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Never used!. Bookseller Inventory # P110380797542
Book Description HarperCollins, 1999. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Bookseller Inventory # DADAX0380797542