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Edition 23: The Guardian of the Mountain by Erin Gitchell

Hanza makes a little girl’s mistake on the mountain and pays for it with her life. Being a monster is a lonely life, and eventually even the adventurers forget her. A poignant exploration of the intertwining of nature and myth. SY

“One berry for you, two berries for me, three berries for the one nobody can see,” the little girl sang.

Plop, plop, plop, answered the plump, red berries as they landed in her pail.

“Four berries for Mama, five berries for Da, and six berries for Nana so she won’t be sad.”

Plop, plop, plop.

The little girl, called Hanza, brushed a long golden braid over her shoulder and wiped her brow with the back of her hand. It was a good day, with a warm, bright sun and a gentle breeze, and Hanza was happy to be in the forest picking juicy berries, since no one was there to stop her from putting a berry in her mouth for every three that went in her pail. By the time her pail was heavy, Hanza’s sweet mouth begged for a cool drink, so she searched for a stream.

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