Oaf in Bear River

Oaf in Bear River

by Daniel G Linsteadt


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The second Oaf adventure begins with Emory and Faye returning to Baba’s house days before school starts. Sorely missing their magical time with the Oaf, Baba takes them on a camping trip along the Bear River in hopes of lifting their spirits. The Oaf appears and another thrilling adventure of discovery ensues for them all.

Faye meets a dragonfly named Lokni on a log in the middle of the river, and they instantly become friends. With the Oaf’s help, Faye assists Lokni’s dragonfly cluster to escape the swarms of yellow jackets encroaching on their river home. Emory befriends a bear cub named Takoda, who wandered off and became separated from his mother and sister. Instead of searching for his family, Emory and Takoda delight in eating and playing until the Oaf provides a little nudge.

The Oaf juggles both Emory’s and Faye’s quest to experience challenges from another creature’s eyes. Avoiding the reporter Mr. Zolo and his journalistic pursuit to reveal the Oaf’s identity and magic, Baba is forced to lend a hand. Will Mr. Zolo outsmart the Oaf before Baba, Emory, and Faye can come to his aid?

Linsteadt brings you into a magical world of nature and imagination, helping us to appreciate and reconnect with animals and family. A refreshing and delightful read!

—Mary S. Gonzales, Teacher-Librarian,

Dolores Gonzales Elementary

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781504372909
Publisher: Balboa Press
Publication date: 01/12/2017
Pages: 112
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.23(d)

Read an Excerpt

Oaf In Bear River

By Daniel G Linsteadt

Balboa Press

Copyright © 2017 Daniel G Linsteadt
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-5043-7290-9


I Must Hurry

"I must hurry," Sunki said, huffing. She scrambled under a large moss-covered stick and then through a web of pine needles before stopping under a dapple of light. Sniffing the ripe blackberry aroma, she gazed at the maze of oak leaves, pine needles, and quartz stones between her and the heavily laden bramble. A looming shadow descended and pressed her thin skeleton body into the sand, leaves, and pine needles with a crunch and a snap. A pair of beetle eyes blinked next to her before the sunlight quickly returned, and she sprang up with fungi stuck to her tummy.

"Yuck!" she vented, peering up at the large sole of Mr. Zolo's shoe. "I heard that this might happen one day," she added, wiggling her six red legs to make sure they still worked.

"I must hurry," another ant said, scampering past her.

"I must hurry," Sunki joined in, antennas bent forward.

Mr. Zolo slipped past a forest-green tent, tiptoed around three blue folding chairs, then slid up against a Jeffery pine. The air was thick with vanilla scent, and large pine cones lay scattered about his feet as he listened to the babble of the stream behind him. An excited cheer accompanied by a splash prompted a large grin. Reaching into his royal-blue pants pocket, he pulled out a small black box with a dangling wire. Removing a paper tab from the back, he pressed the exposed sticky side onto the tree bark. Carefully, he hid the wire in the bark's deep cracks, then sprinkled a few pine needles over the box and stepped back to admire his work. Taking another small box from his green-and-yellow-plaid shirt pocket, he switched it on.

"Testing, testing," he repeated. Moving toward the chairs, he whispered, "I hear me."

Nodding approval, he treaded softly past the tent, careful not to leave footprints. Shuffling across the small parking lot, he stopped next to his vintage travel trailer and admired its bright metal exterior and white-walled tires with red rims. Casually looking back with a grin, he knew his covert work would pay off. Opening the smudged door, he stepped into the trailer and slid onto a creaky bench. He brushed aside a used paper plate and half-empty bag of chips before setting the receiver on the green-with-white-swirls Formica table. He popped a stale pretzel into his mouth, peered through the stained white curtains, and chewed with a smirk.

Shivering wet, Faye snuggled into Babas awaiting towel. Baba rubbed it robustly, causing her to giggle. "I bet that felt good."

"I'm hungry," Faye said as her lower lip shivered.

"I bet you and Emory are starving. I've never seen children have so much fun playing in the river. I have a yummy potato salad waiting for us back at our campsite."

"Emory!" Faye shouted.

Emory hurried through the willow thicket and stopped behind Faye's empty chair. Setting his blue fish net and bucket on the ground, he looked for Baba and his sister. They jumped out from behind a boulder growling and giggling, making Emory laugh. Their river shoes squeaking with each step, the three walked the dusty trail back to their campsite, careful not to touch the poison oak. The two hungry children flopped into their chairs as Baba pulled out a large container from the ice chest. She dished up three bowls of potato salad thick with dill pickles and heavy on the mustard, the way they liked it, and handed one bowl to each, with a spoon sticking out of the delicious mound. Baba stopped at her chair, sensing something different. She squinted, looking around. Leaning back in her chair with care, she smiled at Emory and Faye as they made munching and purring sounds with each bite.

Baba saw Emory making faces while in deep thought. "What is it, little man?" she asked.

"Why is Bapa called an oaf? I looked up this word, and it means someone that's slow, clumsy, and dumb. He isn't any of those things."

"That is true, but did you know the word oaf comes from an Old English word elf?" Baba replied.

"I like that," Emory said, lifting his eyebrows. "He is a big wood elf," he added, nodding his approval.

"I think he likes being described as an oaf. It's his cover, like being a secret agent. No one knows he's really a large elf. People tend to avoid those that are different."

"A magical elf," Emory repeated, eyes glazing over in a blissful daydream.

Faye stretched and yawned with a loud sigh. Baba took the bowl and spoon from her lap before they fell to the ground. "Ready for a nap?" she asked.

"I'm too old for naps, Baba," Faye whined, sitting forward with a grunt.

"Of course you are, but I'm not. If I were to take a nap, will you two stay close and not wander away?" She examined Emory, who was now peering into his bucket of snails and pollywogs. "Emory, did you hear me?"

"Yes, Baba," he said, glancing up. "I'll stay here."

"Will you watch Faye?"

"You know how hard that is?" he answered as his forehead creased. Glancing at Faye, he asked, "Do you want to see what I caught?"

Baba ambled toward the tent door.

"I want to play with the Oaf!" Faye shouted.

Baba quickly turned, a finger pressed to her lips.

Mr. Zolo's ears perked up. He dropped his baloney and Wonder Bread sandwich with a plop onto a paper plate, scattering potato chips in every direction. He turned up the volume on the receiver. Yes please, talk about the Oaf.

Uneasiness churned in Baba's gut. "Shhh," she blew from puckered lips.

Faye frowned.

Emory's eyes grew wide as he sat the bucket next to his chair. "What is it?" he whispered, looking into Baba's roaming eyes.

"I'm not sure, but something doesn't feel right," she answered.

Oaf in Bear River She stepped behind the tent and slowly walked the perimeter of the camp. The two children stood huddled close, silently watching her. She stopped at the large Jeffery pine and smiled. A large knot in the tree winked at her. She pressed her hand against the thick bark folded around the knot and blew a kiss. Two thin folds of bark shifted to the right, twice. She glanced to the left and nodded.

"Okay children, time for a short walk."

"Ahhh," they both whined. "I want a nap," Faye said, rolling her eyes away from Baba.

"Really!" Baba said with a gleeful chuckle. She knelt next to them, whispering, "We need to talk about the Oaf away from our campsite."

"You're scaring me," Faye said with big eyes.

"It's okay, my dear, I have fun news," Baba replied, urging them to follow her with nudges in their ribs. "Come! This is only a short walk. We can have blackberries for dessert."

"Darn!" Mr. Zolo cried, listening to Baba's conversation. He knew she must have somehow seen his audio box. Stuffing his mouth with a large bite of sandwich, he scratched his head, hoping to come up with a plan B. "I've got it!" he cried, licking mayonnaise from his fingers. Pushing the empty paper plate to the floor, he stood reaching into the overhead cabin and grabbed his hip waders, tackle box, and fishing pole.


Magic of Nature

Emory and Faye walked behind Baba like ducklings. Baba stopped next to the stream where ripe blackberries hung heavy over the large river boulders, and Emory and Faye almost ran into her. "Sorry to be so cautious, but after you were here last time, the interest in discovering the Oaf has grown," Baba explained. "Journalists coming by for interviews, strangers examining the stream looking for clues. It's all been wearisome for me." She joyfully smiled at the two worried faces. "I brought you here to be away from all that, but I'm afraid the eager Oaf seekers are still following me in hopes of a clue."

"I want to see the Oaf," Faye said, frowning.

"I know you do, my dear." She patted her head. "And you will, when he feels it's safe."

"I want my magic back," Faye continued. "I cant move anything anymore."

"I feel the same way," Emory added. "I feel heavy inside."

"What do you think has changed?" Baba asked.

"The city," Emory replied. "Without frogs and fish and...."

"And the Oaf," Faye interrupted.

"So there isn't magic in the city without nature around you?" Baba asked.

"Yeahhh," they both moaned.

"Well, the Oaf would say you need to hold nature inside you," Baba suggested.

"I can't without all these trees, the stream" — he held his arms out — "and all this."

"And deer and rabbits," Faye added.

"Your dad said you two have been moping around since coming back home," Baba confessed. "That's why he brought you back here before school started. He hoped a camping trip would help lift your spirits, but I see it s more.

"I want to live like the Oaf," Emory claimed. "I don't want to be at a school with a paved playground. I read nature books and watch outdoor shows, but it's not the same. There's so much here to explore and see and catch. I can dream and play without someone looking over my shoulder, except for you, Baba."

Baba nodded with a slight grin. "I do wish the classroom could be outdoors among the plants and animals, but I'm not sure how practical that is these days. I'm afraid you have to learn to live in both worlds."

"When do I get to see the Oaf?" Faye asked, teary-eyed.

Baba glanced at a few pine trees, hoping the Oaf was listening. "I'm sure it'll be very soon. He enjoyed being with you more than you know."

They sat in silence listening to the gurgle of the stream and chatter of mountain jays. Emory watched two lizards bob up and down on the warm rocks while Faye gazed at dragonflies darting through the air and repeatedly coming to a rest on the water's surface. She wandered over to the stream. Baba followed with a chair and sat it next to the stream's edge, where a grove of young willows provided shade. Faye smiled at her and sat in the chair. She stirred the wet pebbles with her toes, scaring away the tiny fish.

Emory skirted to the opposite side of the willow grove and waded into the stream above his ankles. He bent down to inspect the black fly larvae and mayfly nymphs anchored to the rocks. Baba handed him his bucket and net.

Faye watched tiny blue and brown damselflies come to a rest in a warm pool next to her chair, their wings folded up. They gently moved their delicate wings up and down, catching the sunlight, before taking off again. Large orange dragonflies zipped overhead, then hovered close to the willow leaves, looking like humming birds, before disappearing. Medium-size brown dragonflies flew close to the constant lapping of water against the shoreline. The large, dazzling blue dragonflies charmed her the most. Instead of flying alone like the others, they traveled in groups of three or four. They didn't flutter as if puffs of wind were pushing them off course, but flew straight and strong. After carefully watching them, she noticed many flew to the opposite side of the river. She stood, shading her eyes from the sun, searching, curious as to what might be on the opposite bank that interested them.

Wading to the middle of the stream up to her waist, she rested on a smooth, bleached log with her legs dangling in the lazy current. A yellow jacket buzzed around her head, and she swatted it away. Long strands of green algae dangled from the dead branches and flowed out like hair in the bubbling current. The sunlight caused the rippling liquid to sparkle silver. She reached down to lift the bright green strands, when she saw a flash of rainbow light. Peering into the stream, hoping to see the rainbow again, she daydreamed about being a dragonfly and landing on water that glittered all the colors in her crayon box. The sun warmed her back and neck, so she sank into the cold, refreshing water. Leaning back against the log, she stretched out her legs and enjoyed the water pulsing against her shins and calves.

"Ahhh!" she sang with delight.

A flash of blue, green, and red reflected off the stream bed. She leaned forward and reached past her feet, hoping to grasp the shifting colors. Searching for the source, but only seeing the blur of rocks beneath the current, she grabbed a blue-green rock. Holding the smooth, oval stone toward the sun, she concluded that it was much prettier in the water. Tossing the rock back with a splash, she frowned at Baba's voice calling her name. She stood studying the far bank, even more curious to explore it, and waded back to the shore.

Stepping out of the stream, Faye sat back in her chair, dripping wet.

Baba laughed, "I didn't see you huddled down in the stream behind that tree trunk. Having fun?"

"Yes, Baba. My heart is happy here."

"Good. I'm going to check on your brother."

Faye looked up at the willow branches that stretched out over her head. Green leaves fluttered on thin brown stems, causing dots of light to flicker on her legs and feet. She focused on the closest branch with a playful grin. "Move," she demanded.



Mr. Zolo wobbled like a robot in his waders as he stepped into the stream. Holding his tackle box and fishing pole, he made his way to a group of rocks in the middle. Emory looked up at the professional fisherman with wide eyes. Mr. Zolo placed his tackle box on an exposed rock and glanced back at Emory, grinning. He took his time attaching a fly hook made of thread, wire, one red bead, and a feather to his fishing line. He peeked at Emory as he pulled some of the bright red line out from his rod. "Hi there, young man."

"What are you hoping to catch?" Emory excitedly asked.

"Well, I hear there are some ..." — he hadn't thought of this in his plan — "... trout. Yes, rainbow trout."

"Really!" Emory sat his bucket down on the shore and waded closer.

"Not too close, young man," Mr. Zolo said.

Emory stopped, stretching his neck forward to see in the tackle box.

"Oh, you can come a few steps closer. I can show you how fly fishing is done. I'll be careful not to hook you," he added, chuckling. He let out more line, just like he watched on a short video, then cast the fly up the stream. The hook landed six feet from his outstretched pole.

Emory frowned.

"Just warming up," he quickly explained. "What's your name?


"Well, Emory, you only want to throw it out a short distance on your first cast. You know, make sure the pole and reel are working properly."

Emory nodded, thinking this wise advice.

"You don't want to cast this beautiful fly into the trees," he said, snickering.

"Can I see the fly?"

"Sure." He held it out.

"That's not real!" Emory exclaimed, disappointed.

"Of course not," he answered. "Real flies don't have enough weight for tossing, I mean, casting. You also want a bright color to attract the fish instead of a drab gray. See how this fly has gold thread, a red bead, and a small spotted feather? This will attract a fish much better than a real fly."

"Yeah, that should attract a big fish."

"Yep, a big fish is what I'm after." He allowed Emory to have a good long look. "Go ahead, you can touch it, but be careful of the hook."

Emory stroked the feather.

"A real fly would be messy, you know, getting it on the hook and all."

Emory nodded. "But a grasshopper would work. Want me to find you one?"

"No thanks, not today. This is fly fishing, not grasshopper fishing. Big difference there, you know."

Emory folded his arms against his chest and looked at the shore, wondering if he could make his own fishing pole.

Mr. Zolo propped his rod against the large rock and opened his tackle box. "Come see what I got," he urged Emory.

Emory returned his gaze and attention.

Mr. Zolo lifted out a small yellow and silver fly with two orange feathers that looked like wings. It had a gold bead for a head. "I just got this one. You can have it."

"Really!" Emory yelped, inching closer.

"Keep it in its case until you use it," Mr. Zolo suggested, handing the small see-through plastic box to Emory. "Don't want it to get damaged."

"No I don't," Emory replied, staring at the case in his palm as if it contained a precious jewel. He slipped it into his swimsuit pocket and zipped it closed. "Thanks."

"You're most welcome," he said with a sly smile. "So, want to try fishing?" Mr. Zolo asked, picking up the fishing pole.

"Can I?"

"Sure." He pulled the rod back from Emory's outstretched hand. "I hear there's an oaf around these parts, scaring the fish away." He eyed Emory carefully. "Never seen an oaf before, have you?"

Emory ignored the question, staring at the fishing reel.

"Might not catch anything if that oaf is close by." He inched the pole a little closer to him. "Might just be a fish tale, though."

Emory touched the pole with extended fingertips.

"Tell you what. You help me find this oaf, and then we'll catch some big rainbow trout together. What do you say?"

"Emory!" Baba shouted.

Emory jerked his hand back. "Hi, Baba. He's showing me how to fish!"

Baba studied Mr. Zolo, mumbling, "He couldn't catch a fish in a grocery store." She reached for Emory. "Come here. It's time you get out of the sun for a while."


Excerpted from Oaf In Bear River by Daniel G Linsteadt. Copyright © 2017 Daniel G Linsteadt. Excerpted by permission of Balboa Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents


Chapter 1 I Must Hurry, 1,
Chapter 2 Magic of Nature, 9,
Chapter 3 Fishing, 16,
Chapter 4 Dragonflies, 22,
Chapter 5 Friends, 31,
Chapter 6 Dragonfly Home, 39,
Chapter 7 Swimming Hole, 46,
Chapter 8 Pointing Tree, 57,
Chapter 9 Council, 66,
Chapter 10 Safe Passage, 76,
Chapter 11 The Interview, 89,

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