About K.D. Hays and Meg Weidman
K.D. Hays and Meg Weidman are a mother-daughter team who aspire to be professional roller coaster riders and who can tell you exactly what not to put in your pockets when you ride El Toro at Six Flags. Meg is studying art in a middle school magnet program. For fun, she jumps on a precision jump rope team and reads anything not associated with school work. K.D. Hays, who writes historical fiction under the name Kate Dolan, has been writing professionally since 1992. She holds a law degree from the University of Richmond and consequently hopes that her children will pursue studies in more prestigious fields such as plumbing or waste management. They live in a suburb of Baltimore where the weather is ideally suited for the four major seasons: riding roller coasters in the spring and fall, waterslides in the summer and snow tubes in the winter. Although Meg resents the fact that her mother has dragged her to every historical site within a 200-mile radius, she will consent to dress in colonial garb and participate in living history demonstrations if she is allowed to be a laundry thief.
Their latest collaboration is a wonderful book titled Toto’s Tale.
You can visit their website at www.totostale.com.
About Toto’s Tale
Toto the terrier and his pet girl Dorothy have their world turned upside down by a cyclone that rips their house from ground and spins it into the land of Oz. In this strange place, cats grow way bigger than they should and they speak the same language as Dorothy. So now Dorothy spends her time talking to a giant cat, a walking scarecrow, and a hollow man made of metal.
The five of them follow a brick road to see the Great Lizard who is supposed to give them something. Although Toto is hoping for a pork chop, he will settle for a trip back to Kansas. But when they reach the Great Lizard (who turns out to be a big human head), instead of helping them, he sends them out to kill a witch.
Toto enables them to survive attacks by killer bees and mad wolves, but the annoying monkeys with wings prove too much even for him, and the monkeys are able to carry him and Dorothy to the witch’s castle.
Once there, he realizes the witch is after the shoes that Dorothy picked up when they first landed in Oz. He also realizes that the witch can be destroyed with water. It becomes a race to see if the witch can trick Dorothy into giving up the shoes before Toto figures out how to melt her.
But even if he destroys the witch, they still have to figure out how to get home…
Read the Excerpt!
I’d smelled fear on the humans all morning, and the stink was really getting on my nerves. I mean, we all knew a windstorm was coming, and it was going to be rough; but the humans didn’t have anything to worry about. They’d just go down into The Hole and wait till it was all over.
It was the chickens who should have been worried. Their house was so flimsy it was likely to take off and fly away in the next windstorm. But chickens are too stupid to think about these things, so they weren’t worried yet. Meanwhile, Auntem gave off enough worry scent to cover every living thing in the entire state of Kansas, and as I said, the smell was pretty annoying.
So, yeah, I knew I wasn’t supposed to chase the chickens, but I couldn’t help myself. When those lamebrained layers started bragging about which one of them could fly fastest, I decided to let them prove it. I took off after Eggy, baring my teeth like I was going to rip all the feathers out of her tail. It felt really good to run. It also felt good to get some revenge on the chickens. Ever since yesterday, when the nasty old neighbor tried to stab me with a pitchfork just for digging a little hole in her garden, everyone here had teased me for running home with my tail between my legs. They would have done the same thing—it was a big sharp pitchfork, and the neighbor is as mean as a wet cat. The chickens, in particular, had acted like I was the only one who had ever shown fear in the history of forever. Now I decided I’d put a little fear in the chickens so they could demonstrate why their name means being a coward.
“Squahhhhh!” Eggy yelled as she ran across the farmyard with me right on her tail. “That giant rodent is going to eat me!” Her big fat feathered body bounced ridiculously from side to side as she dashed around on long spindly legs.
“I thought you could fly,” I barked. “And you know I’m not a rodent.” I chased her into a corner between the water trough and the barn.
“I can’t fly in this wind, you fool,” she squawked.
“Excuses, excuses.” I got ready to pounce on her, but she turned fast and hopped out of the way. Then she ran straight for the henhouse.
“Oh, no, you don’t,” I muttered as I shot after her. She would have to pay for that rodent remark.
The other animals always make rude comments about my size, but I think they’re just jealous because I get to sleep in the house with the people. I’m small, yeah, but I’m a lot bigger than a rat. And I have a much nicer tail.
“He’s coming this—squaaah!—way,” one of the other chickens shrieked.
They had been pecking in the yard, trying to eat up all the loose bits of corn before they were blown away by the storm coming across the plains. Now, instead of eating, they scrambled frantically to get away from me, squawking and flapping and looking about as ruffled as they could possibly get. I loved it. I ran in circles, snapping occasionally to keep them moving. Then I saw one obnoxious old hen who had pecked at Dorothy’s ankle last week. I really did want to bite her. So, I opened my mouth extra-wide and headed straight for her big fat chicken butt.
I had to stop when I heard that voice. It was Dorothy, my pet girl.
“Stop something chickens, Toto,” she said.
With her flat face and small mouth, she can’t really talk properly, but I still love her. Auntem and Unclehenry, the other people, are always making her work when what she really wants to do is roam the fields with me, chasing grasshoppers and digging for shiny beetles. She needs me to protect her from work. If you do too much work, you end up dull and sad like Auntem, or pinched and mean like the mean neighbor with the pitchfork.
I want to protect my girl and keep her just the way she is. I love everything about my Dorothy, from the smell of her shoes to her sloppy habit of throwing things everywhere. She throws a stick or ball, and I have to go pick it up for her. Then, instead of putting it away, she just throws it someplace else, and I have to pick it up again. It makes no sense at all, and sometimes I get tired of cleaning up after her. Still, I love her, and I’ll do anything she asks.
When I know what she’s asking, that is. I have to pay attention really hard to understand human speech, and usually, I don’t bother. Right now, though, even if she didn’t use many real words, I could pretty much tell what she wanted me to do just from the tone of her voice and the way
she looked at me, as if she wanted to tie me up like a shock of wheat and throw me into the barn loft. She was annoyed, and I could smell a little anger on her, too. But underneath it all, there seemed to be more fear than anything else. Fear of the storm, probably.
With one last look at the fat old hen, I turned and trotted over to Dorothy. I wagged my tail and hoped she would pet me for a minute and that I could help her forget her fears about the increasing wind and the dark clouds growing like mountains in the sky. Maybe she would also forget I’d been trying to scare the chickens and that I’d chewed on one of her shoes this morning before breakfast. She would forget it all, and we’d just…
It didn’t happen.
She looked at me for a bit, like maybe she was going to pet me, but when she bent down, it was just so she could tuck a loose flap of leather back into her shoe. That piece of leather is always coming loose and tripping her, so she really should let me chew it off for her, but whenever I try, someone always stops me.
“Dorothy!” Auntem barked as she stepped out of the back door of the house, “Something up something chickens.”
She can’t talk any better than Dorothy. They practice a lot—it seems like they’re always barking about something—but their language is so different it’s difficult to translate into real words.
Anyway, I guess Auntem had just told Dorothy to round up the hens, because that’s what she did. She ran around waving her arms, herding them all into the henhouse. I could have helped, but somehow I didn’t think she wanted me to run around after them again.
So, instead, I trotted over to the barn to watch Unclehenry bring the cows and the horses inside. He was having a hard time holding the door open because the wind blew it closed. He kept turning to look over his shoulder, as if there were a monster behind him. But it was just dark clouds and grass bent low under the weight of the coming storm. The wind moaned almost like a voice as it gusted along the eaves of the barn.
That sound made me shiver, and I had to admit I couldn’t wait until it was time to go into The Hole. The Hole is, well, a hole—dug out under the
house—and since the house is very small, The Hole is even smaller. It’s not much bigger than the ones I dig out in the yard to bury my pork chop bones. But it’s deep and smells of worms and roots, a rich aroma that reminds me of underwear. It’s a damp, comforting place much more interesting than the hard dry ground above. So, I never mind the wind and storms, because I know they mean a visit to The Hole.
With a loud thud, Unclehenry slammed the barn door shut and started toward the house with a lantern and pail of water. Maybe it was time already! I hurried to get Dorothy so we could go down into The Hole together.
I couldn’t find her. The henhouse was closed up tight and sounded and smelled full of hens. I could tell Dorothy wasn’t in there. She couldn’t have gone into the barn, or I would have seen her. So, she must be in the people house. I pushed through the hole in the screen door, ran inside and headed straight for the door in the kitchen floor, expecting to see she was on her way down into The Hole.
Here’s what critics are saying about Toto’s Tale!
“This tale is also filled with rich descriptions of Oz from a doggie’s point of view. The wicked witch shoes smell like burnt dandruff and frog water. Interesting combos. But above all this story shows a faithful, brave dog companion who helps save the day.”
– YA Books Central