Click here to hear Jane Lindholm interviewing Henry about Wobar on Vermont Public Radio’s Vermont Edition on December 27, 2012.
Wobar is a fantasy-adventure about a boy, a cougar and a quest. Wobar was found on a doorstep shortly after his birth with a full head of hair – and a mustache. A big mustache. It never fell out, causing him endless trouble at school with other kids. He also has the magical ability to communicate with animals. He gets in trouble at his new school for biting his teacher when she tried to yank off his mustache (thinking he pasted one on to be funny). So he runs away from home.
In the woods Wobar meets a cougar named Roxie, and they end up going on a big adventure trying to find a magic calumet (an Indian peace pipe) after meeting the ghost of a Revolutionary War soldier. The soldier was given the peace pipe and was to have delivered it to General George Washington, but it was stolen from him, and he was killed soon afterwards. Simon, the ghost, must remain in limbo until the pipe is found and delivered to the American president.
Wobar needs to get to New Orleans, so Wobar and Roxie hop a freight train, steal a small boat – and more. Disguises? You bet. A gypsy fortune teller helps them in their quest, which is full of exciting adventures.
What is fun about this book is that despite the improbability of the events, kids believe the story and plow through it – each chapter ends at a turning point. Despite the fact that my boy Josh was not a good reader, he read it all in a night or two when he was 8. He couldn’t put it down. A couple of years ago when fine tuning the manuscript I read it aloud in sessions to a third grade at Cornish Elementary school, and when I meet kids from the class at Farmers Market they still ask me about Wobar, and when it will be available. Their teacher said listening to Wobar was one of the high points of the year for them.
Wobar and the Quest for the Magic Calumet is a story I told in installments one summer when I was in college and running a summer recreation program in Saxton’s River, VT. That was 1966. Parents of my kids on the playground begged me to write the story as a book, so eventually I wrote it as a book in 1982. But I had not a clue how to sell a book to a publisher back then, so after a few rejection slips I put it away in a drawer. But I kept thinking about how much kids loved this book, and showed it to the publisher of my gardening books, Bunker Hill Publishing, and they agreed to publish it. I got my stepson, Josh Yunger, to illustrate it – he is an artist who has illustrated my 4 gardening books and several others.
So have a look at it. But don’t start reading it unless you have time to read it all.