Val is a young boy living with his mother; his father is gone. In the woods near his home, he meets a giant spruce tree. Spruce, the giant Sitka spruce tree is steadfast; his roots are planted deep in the earth just as his values are planted deep in his spirit. Their friendship matures and endures until the time of Spruce’s death. The story combines real life intertwining with the fantasy world that takes place in Wonder Woods. In the fantasy world, a near-fatal rafting trip happens where they are rescued by an Indian chief. Big Chief Yellow Bird is like an angel unaware who appears when Val and his cousins are in danger or in need of guidance in Wonder Woods. Adventure, danger, death, grief, disappointment, victory and heroism are portrayed in this tale. There are real-life explanations for the fantasies that occur in the woods. Throughout the story, signs of Val’s father slowly returning home are emerging.
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Carol Christina Smith was born in Grass Valley, CA in 1948. This small historical gold mining town is located in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. Her maternal grandfather, Sylvester Nugent, worked in the Empire Mine in the early 1930’s and 40’s when gold was still busting. One of her fondest childhood memories was going with her maternal grandmother to drop her grandfather off at the mine during the wee hours of the morning. He would ride a cart into the mountain and disappear. Her grandmother would explain that he was far down under the earth digging for gold.
As a young girl, she romped through the woods with her two brothers. They enjoyed play on a fallen tree which they named the “monkey tree”. The woods created the setting for her children’s fiction “Tales of Wonder Woods”. A deep love and appreciation for the wonder and beauty of nature began to grow deep in her spirit.
At the age of ten, her father found employment in Rocklin, CA, a small town not far from California’s state capitol, Sacramento. With tears and a broken heart she left her childhood paradise and began a new life.
After graduation from high school, she attended a local community college for one year. The first month of college found her dancing in the arms of a young man, Ken Smith, who she married 10 months later.
There were four children born in her marriage and later, eight grandchildren. Her marriage ended in tragedy when her husband suffered a mental breakdown. She became a single mother raising her children alone and working in government jobs.
She loves travel and adventure. She has enjoyed a hike into the Grand Canyon camping at an Indian reservation. The hike up and out of the canyon was endured on a wild mustang trained by the Indians. In 1989 she ventured into a back packing trip in a dormant volcano “Haleakala”, “House of the Sun”. She enjoyed the 10,000 feet descent to the bottom only to come face-to-face with the tail-end of a hurricane. A few years back she enjoyed a camping trip into the wilds of Alaska, and a tour of Alberta Canada along the journey to Banf, Jasper, and the fascinating Waterton Lakes National Peace Park.
In 2005, her five-year old grandson Val, was in her care. He enjoyed listening to a story about an adventure in the woods with a talking tree and other fantasies. He was so enthralled with the story, he would add his own ideas.
In 2009, she began to write “Tales of Wonder Woods”. The book was completed in 2019. She is hoping to complete another children’s fiction based upon historical facts involving a family living during the Civil War.
I feel strongly that my book is good reading for kids in this particular era of time. So many families are separated, and this story offers hope. It is based on fact, Val’s mother and father were separated for a few years and then reunited.
This story wraps knowledge and education into the real world and the fantasy world. It teaches family values, friendship, knowledge, the value of education, and so much more.
Music was her first love. On a trip to San Francisco in Golden Gate Park, she enjoyed the opportunity to listen to an orchestra playing “Stars and Stripes Forever”. She asked her father, “what is that beautiful horn” playing that music. He answered, “it is a trumpet”. She replied with the promise, “someday I am going to play the trumpet”.
In Rocklin she joined the school band playing trumpet. Her love for piano developed while visiting her maternal grandparent’s home in Grass Valley. At the age of three she would sit on the bench of the Baldwin player piano and push the keys. She learned to play piano by practicing on an imaginary keyboard on the kitchen table. After the death of her maternal grandfather, the Baldwin player was gifted to her, and she began to play on a “real” piano.
Her life was filled with making friends with the “Rocklin kids”. Together, they romped the hillsides enjoying the natural beauty surrounding them.
In school she was an active cheerleader, Vice-President of Health, a choir member, active in Campfire Girls. In high school her interests wrapped around modern dance, choir, and acquatic arts.
Her love for style and design emerged into a fashion career at the age of 16. Her most aggressive hobby involved designing and sewing her own clothes. Proudly, she walked the halls of high school wearing beautiful outfits. Design and sewing continued through most of her adult life.