2024 Compassionate Crossroads
The "Compassionate Crossroads" series is an engaging collection of pick-your-path stories crafted to empower young readers to shape the narrative and explore the incredible power of decision-making.
Each path reveals new challenges, friendships, and opportunities for learning, illustrating that every choice we make has a profound impact on our lives and the world around us.
Restless Winter: Isaac's Story
Fourteen-year-old Isaac's life takes an unexpected turn when his family relocates to a quaint town nestled in bear country. The town's harmony is shattered when Agnes, a locally beloved bear, is startled from her hibernation by New Year's fireworks. Disoriented and hungry, she begins foraging through garbage and inadvertently frightening the townspeople. Panic ensues, and despite assurances from wildlife officials that Agnes should soon return to her slumber, the community's fear escalates, with voices clamoring for her removal — permanently.
Beyond the Backyard: Gina's Story
In the quiet suburbs, 15-year-old Gina's world turns upside down when she rescues an orphaned baby squirrel tumbling from a tree. Despite her parents' stern disapproval, she secretly nurses the fragile creature, whom she dubs Scout. Embracing a fierce determination to see him thrive, an inner conflict brews: she knows Scout is destined for the wild, not a life within her walls.
Wings of Persistence: Crystal's Story
Thirteen-year-old Crystal's life has been upended since she lost the ability to walk in a traffic accident a little over a year ago. Unable to socialize with her friends as much, she finds solace in the company of her pet fish. One day, a routine trip to the pet store takes a drastic turn when she overhears an elderly lady recounting how she freed her aggressive parrot, unwilling to cope with its behavior. Knowing the domesticated bird won't survive in the wild, Crystal, moved by a sense of urgency and justice for the helpless creature, takes it upon herself to rescue it.
Ripples of Resistance: Althea's Story
In a picturesque riverside enclave, 12-year-old Althea's life is intertwined with the ebb and flow of the water that laps almost at her doorstep. Her tranquil existence is shattered when she learns of a development company's plans to erect an apartment complex, necessitating a dam that threatens to disturb the river's natural course. Althea realizes the dam would endanger the local duck populations, robbing them of safe nesting grounds and forcing them into the treacherous expanses of the wetlands.
Kittens in the Cradle: Journee's Story
After thirteen harmonious years as an only child, Journee's world is rocked by the arrival of a baby sister. Feeling neglected and replaced, her relationship with her mother becomes strained, leading to a chasm of misunderstandings and silent dinners. However, an unexpected discovery sets the stage for healing: Journee stumbles upon two helpless kittens in an alley, their plaintive mews tugging at her heartstrings.
Embers of Change: Trevor's Story
Sixteen-year-old Trevor is resentful of his new life in Colorado, a drastic shift from the vibrant chaos of NYC where his heroic firefighter father still resides. Following his parents' bitter divorce, Trevor's move with his mother leaves him feeling isolated and angry, leading to academic struggles and a mandatory, dreaded summer school stint.
One sultry summer day, as Trevor trudges home, his life takes an unexpected turn. He stumbles upon a baby deer pinned under brush with a swiftly approaching forest fire. Driven by an impulsive spark of bravery, he rescues the deer, narrowly escaping the encroaching flames. The incident rockets him to local stardom, but his heart still aches for recognition from his father.
Sweet Resolve: Nora's Story
Thirteen-year-old Nora, a fervent advocate for bees and their essential role in the ecosystem, is a key member of a local teen activist group. This passionate team has a grand vision: to secure funding for a community botanical garden designed not only to nourish local bee populations but also to educate the public on the critical importance of bees. Their innovative plan involves maintaining hives within the garden and funding the project through the sale of honey. However, their proposal is met with unexpected opposition as some community members express concerns that the bees will become a local nuisance.
Predators in Disguise: Joey's Story
Fourteen-year-old Joey's mundane summer is upended when he discovers a baby horned owl in his backyard, its wing tragically misshapen. The local wildlife refuge confirms the worst: the owl's wing is irreparably damaged, making it unfit for release into the wild. Struck by the owl's plight and a burgeoning sense of responsibility, Joey convinces his initially reluctant father to let him volunteer at the refuge, ensuring he stays connected to the resilient bird. Joey's days at the refuge unveil a world of wonder, but a darker undercurrent surfaces. He uncovers a disturbing operation where a duplicitous refuge employee is involved in smuggling animals, including rare and injured ones, to unlicensed handlers for exploitation in shoddy entertainment spectacles.
In the Eye of Hope: Ally's Story
Living in South Florida, 15-year-old Ally and her family are no strangers to hurricanes, but nothing could have prepared them for the irony of surviving Hurricane Hope. In the hurricane's chaotic aftermath, as the community grapples with loss and destruction, Ally stumbles upon three scared, stray dogs wandering her storm-torn neighborhood. She realizes they were likely separated from their families during the frenzied evacuation. With local shelters overwhelmed and resources strained, there's no obvious solution in sight. Refusing to leave the dogs' fates to chance, Ally gets permission from her father and transforms her home into a makeshift animal refuge. As she juggles the challenges of caring for the traumatized animals, she launches a determined quest to reunite them with their owners.
Whiskers in the Night: Cole's Story
On Halloween night, 13-year-old Cole's trick-or-treating adventure takes an unexpected turn. Egged on by a dare, Cole knocks on the door of a reclusive woman rumored to be a witch because of her seclusion and multitude of cats. When she answers, his friends flee in terror, but Cole is struck by the hurt expression on the woman's face. His apology is cut short when a cat darts out the door, vanishing into the darkness. Feeling responsible, Cole later embarks on a search and successfully locates the escaped cat. Returning it, he discovers the woman, Mrs. Ainsley, is a widow grappling with loneliness, her affection for her cats her only solace. However, she's clearly overwhelmed by their number and care. Moved by her situation, Cole commits to helping her.
A Feathered Frenzy: Laney's Story
Sixteen-year-old Laney is excited about spending Thanksgiving with her grandparents in Kentucky, expecting a tranquil holiday. However, upon arrival, she discovers chaos instead of calm. A large flock of wild turkeys is causing havoc in her grandparents' neighborhood, ruffling more than just feathers among the local residents. Intrigued and concerned, Laney asks her grandfather where the turkeys come from and finds that recent extensive logging in nearby woods may have forced these birds into the town. Time is of the essence, with the situation worsening and the community's patience thinning, Laney has only three days to come up with a solution and change the hearts of her Grandpa's neighbors.
A Tail of Holiday Spirit: Farah's Story
Twelve-year-old Farah feels like an outsider during the holiday season. While her friends are bustling with Christmas excitement, her Muslim family doesn't partake in the same festivities. She can't help but feel a pang of envy as she navigates the season's ubiquitous jingles, lights, and decorations. This year, while shopping with her mother amidst the holiday frenzy, Farah's feelings of exclusion peak. However, her focus dramatically shifts when she stumbles upon a tiny puppy, adorned with a festive red and green bow, evidently lost and separated from its intended owner.