Twelve-year-old naturalist Maggie Stone can’t escape the scandal that drove her crackpot scientist dad out of town, but she has a plan to bring him home. Everything hinges on her scientific find: a beautiful, bioluminescent fungus. But when it mutates and invades town, Dad’s zany ideas may hold the key to stopping Sporemageddon. If Maggie’s wrong, she’ll crater her reputation––even worse, everyone she loves will become spore-spewing fungus hosts.
This is one marvelous mutant. A bona fide scientific wonder.
The black and gold moth flutters to the overgrown honeysuckle bush. It’s the Hemaris diffinis, more commonly known as the bumblebee moth. But this is no ordinary specimen. This baby’s got a third antenna sprouting from the tip-top of its head––tall and skinny with a dusty bulb at the end.
I creep forward and focus the camera’s lens––it’s vintage 1998 and requires a little finessing. I’m milliseconds from snapping the picture of a lifetime when a door behind me bangs open. A yellow sneaker whirls past my nose toward the moth. The Hemaris diffinis dodges it, sailing high above my mobile home’s aluminum roof and well out of photographic range.
I whirl around. “Nate Fulton! Are you trying to ruin my life?”
“What?” Nate frowns, his splatter of freckles even redder in the blazing Texas heat. “I probably just saved your life, Mags. Remember what happened to my Uncle Tony last summer? Nearly died when that swarm of bees went up his shorts. Stung his butt like a hundred times. Got anna-flap-tick shock.”
“It’s anaphylactic, and that wasn’t a bee. It was an ultra-rare mutant moth. I needed that photo!”
“For that contest thing?”
“It’s more than a contest. It’s Vitaccino’s Junior Naturalist Merit Award. There’s five hundred big ones involved, plus a meeting with the head honchos.”