Title: RULES OF RODENTIA
Genre: MG Fantasy
Word Count: 35,000
It’s no mistake Tobin won Top Seed-Finder for Junior Mice two seasons in a row. After all, he knows the Rules of Rodentia like the back of his paw. But after a thunderstorm wreaks havoc on the Great Burrow and exposes his friends and family, Tobin’s routine forest life crumbles like last autumn’s leaves.
When a scavenging spider pilfers the damaged burrow, Tobin spies the eight-legged monster scuttle away with a newborn pinkling mouse in its clutches. The web-wrapped pinkling squeaks and Tobin recognizes his own baby brother. Even though the Rules clearly state to run from predators — never, ever after them — Tobin knows he’s his brother’s only chance.
Along with his best friend Wiley and little sister Talia, Tobin plunges into the dark woods. After crossing paths with a potentially dangerous ally, a serpent named Hess, Tobin learns he’s not the only animal with a grudge against this nasty breed of spider. Tobin must save his brother before a horde of enraged predators descends upon the spider lair. But once Tobin sees the horrors inside, saving one pinkling will only be the beginning. Sometimes a mouse just has to break the Rules.
Crouched in perfect stillness beneath a toadstool, Tobin recalled his training. He knew the Rules like the back of his paw. It was no accident he was top Seed-finder for Junior Mice two seasons in a row. So traveling this familiar patch of forest was simple as scratching a flea.
Tobin concentrated on the final leg of his journey home. The Great Burrow loomed just ahead. Shaped like a giant tortoise shell, the burrow possessed dozens of hidden entrances. It was very important to use different paths and different entrances back inside.
Rule #7- A predictable path provides easy pickings for a predator.
Tobin spied a route he hadn’t taken in a while.
Next, his mind ticked through the age-old checklist taught to all young mice, the second-most important rule in all of Rodentia:
Rule #2- Always survey your surroundings before setting a paw in the open.
Scan for hawks.
Done. Clear skies.
Scan for ground predators.
No trembling grass. The smells in the air are safe; clover and honeysuckle.
The muscles in his hind legs twitched.
Tobin burst from beneath the toadstool, darting a zig, then zag— enough to throw off a pouncing bobcat or swooping bird. With a giant leap he dived inside the safe confines of the Great Burrow.
He blinked, waiting for his eyes to adjust to the dark tunnels. Only then did he tread home on slow paws. Nothing but chaos waited at his family’s den. Well, nothing but chaos and a new sibling.