Hello. Fats here.
For today’s post, allow me to introduce another lovable character who goes by the name Magpie Gabbard. Written by Sally M. Keehn, Magpie Gabbard and the Quest for the Buried Moon was published in 2007. In the back jacket flap of the book, it was revealed that when Sally was visiting her relatives in Maine, she saw a magpie and thought that “Magpie” would be a good name for a girl. When Sally was up on Kentucky’s Brush Mountain several years later, she decided that Magpie’s story would take place there.
[When I was born] I’m told I spat in Grandpa’s face and Grandpa laughed and said, “Margaret Gabbard, I like your fighting spirit. On account of it, I’m passing on to you my legacy – that being a righteous ire and downright indignation against them lying, cheating, cattle-killing Sizemores. Along with it, I pass on to you a cussedness to carry on the fight with them forever.”
If I’d had my birth certificate drawn up on the spot, it would have simply read:
Born OCTOBER 2, 1859
On GABBARD MOUNTAIN, KENTUCKY
AND NOT IN SQUABBLE TOWN WITH ITS
WHICH MARGARET WILL TAKE CARE OF
IN HER OWN GOOD TIME.
Now, who would not be drawn to characters like that? Set in the mid-1800s and told in the perspective of Magpie, readers will have so much fun learning about life in Gabbard Mountain.
When I saw this book, I was worried that the moon would not play an active part in the story. I’m glad that Sally Keehn proved me wrong. The “moon faerie” in the book was inspired by a little-known English tale that Sally Keehn read a few years after she saw a magpie in Maine and before her trip to Kentucky. In the tale, the moon came down to earth as a beautiful woman. These details were all mentioned in the back jacket flap of the book.
The moon – who, Sweet Daddy says, watches over all us Gabbard Mountain folk because she loves us dearly – whispered into my Sweet Daddy’s ear, “Name the baby Magpie. A magpie’s a beautiful black and white bird… If Magpie can rise above her grandpa’s fighting legacy and put her cussedness to good use, one day she could save us all.”
The passage above explains the moon’s role in Magpie’s life and vice versa. I see Magpie and the moon as kindred spirits, and their connection to each other goes beyond Magpie’s naming and the white, crescent-like streak on her hair.
When the moon was buried – because it says so in the title – the earth was left with a hollow spot that only the moon herself could fill. There was also the threat of being enveloped in darkness forever, and those vicious Goblins could do as they please and spread terror across the land.
It don’t help that Cheerful Creek, named for the happy sound its water makes as it courses downhill, ain’t running cheerful today. It runs as sluggish as I feel. If that creek weren’t heading downhill, I reckon it wouldn’t run at all. And no wonder. It don’t have the moon’s glowing fingertips to pull it along. Everyone knows her fingertips pull all the waters on this earth – causing them to ebb and flow and sing and dance all a-sparkle and glad to be alive.
The story of Magpie Gabbard does not only come with a buried moon. There’s also an age-old prophecy that must be fulfilled, a missing foot, a bucket of honey, a magical hog named Wild Bill, and a whole lot of sparkles. Oh, I almost forgot about the pernicious and despicable Sizemores that Magpie had to deal with. Of course, I leave all these for you to discover. Grab this book and prepare to be charmed by Margaret Magpie Gabbard!