Bailey Fish Adventures and Mudd Saves the Earth

Trouble in Contrary Woods

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2010 Silver Medal for Best Children's BookTied for second place, 2010 Silver Medal for Best Children's Fiction in the Florida Publishers Association's 2010 President's Book Award Contest.

Trouble in Contrary Woods


While Bailey, 11, is preoccupied with naming her new dog, she learns that her cousin Duck will be visiting for a few weeks. Duck is a city boy who hates bugs, minnows and country life. He’s also not interested in Bailey’s friends or activities. Troublesome mysteries come from the woods -- a bear, messages in Morse code on a stump, and stolen clothes. Duck’s talents as an inventor are put to use by the Keswick brothers as they enlist Duck’s assistance to design a trap to catch the monster. Meanwhile, Bailey learns about the inventive mind and food interests of President Thomas Jefferson.

When the trap works, everyone is surprised by what it catches, and who is responsible for the Morse code messages. And, Bailey shows courage when she rescues her dog.


Historical information includes President Thomas Jefferson, Lewis and Clark, and Monticello.

Here’s an excerpt from the book:
Don’t miss the excitement of the whole adventure:

By the time Bailey came back from the house with the string, the boys had suspended the large net from the branches of four trees near the Message Stump. They stuck leaves in the net to disguise it.
Then, following Duck’s directions, Fred stretched a rope across the path at ankle level. He attached another rope to it and tied it to the net. Duck said if something came along the path and tripped on the rope, the net would fall and catch the monster.

At the same time, the monster-detector would be activated when the rope fell. A string connected to it would tug on the alarm in Noah’s room. Noah would wake up Fred, and they would run outside to see what was in the trap.

“Perfect,” said Duck. “I know it’s going to work.”

Readers’ comments:

"I love how the start of the books are exciting! They drew my attention right away!" A fifth-grader in Minnesota

"I so enjoy your books . . . I feel like Bailey and I would be best friends because we think a like and have so much in common. I am eleven. I just moved to Virginia from Alabama. I totally understand all of Bailey's issue's. What I liked most about the book is the information given on about Virginia. It really helps me learn about Virginia.. I still like Alabama and the beach but I too have come to love Virginia." A fifth-grader in Haymarket, Virginia

Sample Discussion Question: Bailey knows she worries about many things, but she says Duck is the “king of worriers.” Do you agree? Can you list three things that worry Bailey? Can you name three things that worry Duck? Write about one thing that worries you.

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