For Ages
10 to 99

The legend of Bigfoot gets a bone-chilling update in this scary story about a young girl and her scout troop who are willing to brave the woods to find her missing friend when no one else will. Perfect for fans of Daka Hermon and Claribel A. Ortega!

The wilderness is in Jenna’s blood. Her Pap was the first Black park ranger at Sturbridge Reservation, and she practically knows the Owlet Survival Handbook by heart. But she’s never encountered a creature like the one that took her best friend Reese. Her parents don’t believe her; the police are worthless, following the wrong leads; and the media isn’t connecting the dots between Reese’s disappearance and a string of other attacks. Determined to save her friend, Jenna joins a new local scout troop, and ventures back into the woods.

When the troop stumbles across suspicious signs: huge human-like footprints near the camp, scratch marks on trees, and ominous sounds from the woods, Jenna worries that whatever took Reese is back to take her too. Can she trust her new scout leader? And will her new friend Norrie—who makes her laugh and reminds her so much of Reese—believe her?

After the unthinkable happens, the scouts, armed with their wits and toiletries, band together to fight the monster and survive the night.

An Excerpt fromIt Came from the Trees



Jenna winced as her palm connected with the side of her neck. Her fingers searched for the crawly thing that had tickled her skin, but when she drew her brown, sweat-­glazed palm toward her face, there was no flattened bug. Insects, especially the flying ones, always pulled tricky disappearing acts, and for a moment, Jenna envied the mosquito that had seemed to vanish into thin air. She, too, wished she could disappear. She would give her troop leader the biggest, itchiest bug bite imaginable and then poof—­she would flee to that secret other­world where insects went in the milliseconds between when they tickled a person’s neck and dodged the resultant slap of death.

It was the last leg of a three-­day summer camping trip through the sticky woods of Massachusetts, and Jenna was ready to go home. She yanked at her neckerchief and then hooked an index finger between the fabric and her flesh to loosen it a little. When she’d begged her mom to join Cottontail Scouts, she hadn’t known that the uniforms would be this uncomfortable. The khaki shorts were as stiff as cardboard, the required knee-­high wool socks made her legs itch, and she thought the neckerchief was totally unnecessary. She imagined herself bursting through the front door of her home the next morning, where she would peel off her grimy scout uniform and announce to her mom and grandpa that she would not be returning to Cottontail Scouts because the uniforms were stupid.

At least, that’s what she’d been telling herself all morning because the truth was much harder to swallow. She yanked at the fabric around her throat again and wondered if the necker­chief was too tight or if her throat was just getting ready for a good cry.

Jenna loved the outdoors and had always felt at ease in the woods . . . until two days ago. She wasn’t quite ready to say it out loud, but her desire to go home probably had less to do with the required uniform and more to do with her new troop and its leader. In a matter of two days, Troop Leader Heather Winslow—­a pale woman with stiff lips and a pinched face—­had managed to steal Jenna’s joy of the outdoors. The woman wasn’t warm or friendly. Her answers were short, and her face was made up of sharp angles that refused to curve into a smile whenever Jenna was in her presence. She had managed to make Jenna feel unwelcome in the great outdoors.

Jenna wiggled her shoulders, trying to shake off the bad energy from her troop leader, but that negative feeling was quickly replaced by another . . .

The unsettling feeling of being watched.

“It’s too quiet,” Jenna said. Silence had shrouded the woods ever since Cottontail Scouts Troop 3122 set out earlier that morning.

With bared teeth and curled fingers, her best friend, Reese, arched her thick, dark eyebrows and said, “That means a predator’s close.”

Ahead of them, their fellow scouts giggled and talked, completely unaware of potential danger nearby. During a rare moment of quiet from Reese, Jenna had picked up on the lack of outdoor noise, and now she couldn’t unhear the silence. It was like someone had put a muzzle on the natural world. It unnerved Jenna. But her best friend wasn’t bothered by the silence and filled the quiet with the sound of her own voice.

Reese’s nonstop chatter made Jenna think of the rude nickname that Reese’s two older sisters, Tiara and Candace, used regularly: Runny-­Mouth Reese. Jenna had never repeated the name out loud, but in her private thoughts, she was willing to admit this one truth about her very best friend: Sometimes . . . Reese really did talk too much.

As Jenna ran a hand across the back of her neck to chase away the prickling feeling, she was actually glad that Reese talked too much and would rescue them from the eerie silence.

“Oh! I forgot to tell you,” Reese shouted. “Tiara and Candace said if we get stuck with lockers on the bottom floor near the gym, we should try to switch with someone else.”

Jenna edged around a partially fallen log that blocked the trail, accidentally bumping shoulders with Reese. “Why?” Jenna asked.

Reese’s eyebrows shot up as if the answer were obvious. “Uhhh, because all the bottom-­floor lockers end up smelling like cafeteria food,” Reese said. She wrinkled her nose in disgust as she hopped over a tangle of branches. “Tiara’s coat always used to smell like chicken nuggets when she came home from school,” she added.

Tiara and Candace were now in high school, but all summer they had been sharing their laundry list of Sturbridge Middle School dos and don’ts with Reese, who then passed the vital information along to Jenna. Of course, Jenna was glad for the sacred knowledge, but Tiara and Candace had made middle school sound scary and impossible. She wondered how easy it would really be to swap lockers, especially on the first day, when their new school was double the size of what she and Reese were used to.

Reese squealed and threw her hands in the air as she skirted a trio of green leaves. Sure that Reese was overreacting to a bug, Jenna grabbed hold of the leaves to inspect them.

“No! Don’t touch it!” Reese shouted.

Jenna let go of the leaves in a panic and bounced on her toes. “What? What?!” she screamed.

“Hold your hands out!” Reese said.

A few of their fellow scouts turned to look at them, but Jenna didn’t have time to explain what was wrong. She didn’t even know what was wrong, but she trusted her best friend completely and positioned her hands under Reese’s thermos to catch its droplets of lukewarm water.

As Reese struggled to shake more water from the bottle, Jenna’s stomach tightened. The look on her best friend’s face confirmed her fear: She’d touched something poisonous, and water wasn’t going to cure it.

“This isn’t gonna help, is it?” Jenna asked.

Reese shook her head. “I don’t think so.”

“Which one did I touch?”

Reese’s lips tightened as she tried not to look worried. Then she mumbled something that sounded a lot like poison ivy.

Jenna’s shoulders stiffened. “Are you sure?”

But Jenna knew it was a stupid question. Reese might not know when to be quiet, but she could spot plants and trees faster than a professional horticulturist.

Jenna didn’t wait for Reese to answer. She tightened her fists and kicked at the air. “Cool!” she yelled. Even though her situation was very uncool. When most people touch poison ivy, they develop an irritating red rash. But not Jenna. Her poison ivy usually turned into blisters that eventually required a trip to the hospital. The thought of returning home with poison ivy that left her scratching at her brown skin until it was pink and raw irritated her whole soul.

Jenna adjusted her hat. A lukewarm whisper of air dried the sweat that had collected near her hairline. She gently patted her braids and then pulled her hat back onto her head. It was early, but the day was already warm and sticky, and the heat would only get worse. Jenna looked up at the sky searching for clouds through the spaces in the canopy of trees. She could use a downpour right about now. She’d rather be wet than have poison ivy. But there wasn’t a single cloud in sight. Just a steady stream of warm, stubborn sunshine.

“It’ll be okay,” Reese said. “When we get to camp, we’ll wash your hands and it will be fine. And maybe we’ll stumble across some jewelweed.”

“What is that? Will it help?” Jenna asked.

Reese shrugged. “Some people think it helps,” she said. “Be on the lookout for orange flowers.”

Jenna inhaled and tried to calm her irritation, but she choked midway through her deep breath. She covered her mouth and nose with the hand that wasn’t slowly festering with poison ivy. “What’s that smell?” she asked.

Reese turned her nose up to the wind and sniffed a few times. Her nose crinkled. “I don’t know. Rain?” she asked. But the scent that hung in the air did not smell like any rain that Jenna had ever smelled. The scent was sour—­like sweat and unwashed hair. It was strong and Jenna was sure she could taste it on her tongue.

The sharp sound of a whistle punctured the air. Troop Leader Winslow’s voice barely reached them, but Jenna heard the words “Keep up.” She and Reese rolled their eyes at each other and continued walking behind their fellow scouts.

Reese, of course, was always ready to fill the silence with her own voice. “Oh, did I ever tell you what it’s called when you can smell the rain? It’s called petrichor. I don’t know if I’m pronouncing it right because I read it in a book but—­”

Talk of the weather made Jenna think of Reese’s dad, Mr. Morgan, who was a meteorologist at the local news station. “Are you going to your dad’s next weekend?” Jenna asked. She knew she had cut Reese off, but sometimes that was the only way to be part of the conversation.

Reese’s parents had separated several months before, and now she and her sisters had to spend weekends with their dad, which left Jenna bored and lonely on Saturdays and Sundays. She hoped Reese wouldn’t have to go. It was a selfish wish . . . but she also knew that her best friend didn’t like the living arrangement either, so that made her feel a little less self-­absorbed.

“I don’t know. My mom said he might have to travel to report on that hurricane . . .” Reese snapped her fingers. “Brandy? I think it’s Brandy. So we might get to stay home next weekend.”

“At least you’ll get to see him on TV,” Jenna said.

In another rare moment of quiet, Reese shrugged and tilted her head toward the ground. “Hang on,” she said. “Gotta tie my shoe.” Her body sank low to the ground.

Jenna, whose eyes had remained trained on the same general area where Reese had been standing, caught a dark blur of movement in the trees. Her blood and body froze.

She choked on a gasp, and her heart skipped a beat.

The breath in her lungs was snatched away so suddenly that her chest ached, and she felt every single hair on her body stand up straight—­like they, too, were witnessing the horror of what she was seeing.

Something was staring back at her from among the trees.

It was tall and coated in dark fur. Or was it hair?

And it was standing on what appeared to be two legs, with one massive hand—­with fingers—­pressed against the trunk of the tree. Huge nostrils flared in a humanlike face as its chest rose and fell in quick bursts, like it was breathing hard or smelling the air. When it locked eyes with Jenna, its lips peeled back to reveal teeth that looked ready to tear and rip.

Jenna wanted to shout at Reese—­to tell her to look—­but the most she could do was wiggle her fingers in Reese’s face. Her friend must have thought she was messing around, because Reese only swatted back at her fingers while laughing.

Jenna’s brain tried to classify what she was seeing, but the only results she could conjure were images of great apes. Her brain wanted to accept the ape theory, but her gut disagreed. Her muscles, which had felt like gelatin just seconds before, were now tensed and ready to flee. Her body and her animal instincts were screaming at her, telling her to run from this predator.

Reese was still facing the ground, checking her shoelaces and bobbing her head to music only she could hear.

Troop 3122 was moving along the trail without them.

Less than seventy-­five feet away, a creature from a horror story was stalking them, and only Jenna knew.

“Reeeeee, look . . .” Jenna managed to huff out a few syllables that sounded like words, but she couldn’t get her tongue to move properly.

Finally, Reese popped up with a smile on her face, her shoulders wiggling as she got more into the song. But the happiness melted from her face when she caught sight of Jenna.

Reese yelped. “J, what’s wrong?”

The thing bared its teeth at Jenna, and then, in a fluid motion, it sank behind the tree.

It wasn’t gone. It hadn’t run off.

It was lurking behind the tree, just out of sight, and Jenna thought that was more frightening than having to look at it.

Jenna’s brain found words again. “Did you . . . did you see it?!” she shouted at Reese.

A whistle pierced the air. Without turning to look, Jenna heard Troop Leader Winslow marching toward the back of the line. When she reached Jenna and Reese, her porcelain, freckled face looked tense and serious. “What’s the problem?” she asked. “You two are falling behind.”

It’s easy to fall behind when you stick us at the end of the line every time, Jenna thought. She was surprised that her dislike for Troop Leader Winslow could still win out at a time like this.

Jenna’s eyes darted back and forth between the trees and Winslow, who stood there with her hands planted on her hips.

Hands. The thing had hands, so it could have been a human, right? No, no. It was covered in animal fur from head to toe. It was too tall! Jenna felt like her brain was misfiring. Every time she tried to come to a reasonable conclusion, the actual details of what she’d just seen proved her wrong.

“Is there a problem, Scouts?” Troop Leader Winslow asked.

Jenna wanted Reese to say something, but her friend just stood there with wide, scared eyes. “I . . . I saw something out there,” Jenna said. She pointed over Reese’s shoulder.

“Saw what?” Winslow asked. She pulled her binoculars up from her chest and scanned the tree line left to right. Winslow didn’t give Jenna a chance to answer. “I don’t see anything,” she said. Her tone was flat, and her words were dismissive.

“It . . . it was something. It looked like an animal but . . . but it wasn’t,” Jenna said.

Winslow dropped the binoculars and looked at Jenna. Her wide, blue eyes were unblinking and skeptical. “What do you mean wasn’t?”

Jenna looked at Reese, whose face was unreadable. Had Reese seen it too?

“I saw branches move but . . .” Reese’s words trailed off. Jenna could see the guilt on her best friend’s face, like she wanted to have Jenna’s back and present a united front against Winslow but couldn’t because she hadn’t seen what Jenna saw.

Winslow sighed. “So you saw a bear? Nothing to worry about. It’s more afraid of us than we are—­”

Jenna shook her head and cut Winslow off. “No, I know what a bear looks like. This wasn’t a bear. It was standing on two feet. Its head was almost touching that branch!” Jenna drew Winslow’s eyes toward a tree limb that was close to eight feet above the ground.

“Sometimes animals, like bears, stand on two feet,” Winslow said. “You’ve seen wild animals before, right?”

“If she says it wasn’t a bear, then it wasn’t a bear,” Reese said.

One of the scouts, a tall girl who hadn’t stopped chewing gum since they’d started hiking two days ago, called out. “It’s hot. Why aren’t we moving? What’s going on?”

Before Jenna could explain, Alexis—­another scout with white skin, rosy cheeks, and brown hair pulled up into a high ponytail—­smirked and shouted in response, “This kid thinks she saw Bigfoot!”

The word seemed to echo off the trees around them, and it was only drowned out by the troop’s laughter. Jenna’s fear turned to embarrassment. Her cheeks were on fire, and she couldn’t think of a single thing to say to defend herself.

“All right, girls, that’s enough,” Winslow said. The snickering behind her quieted down but didn’t entirely stop as Alexis continued to whisper things to the other scouts. Winslow redirected her attention to Jenna and Reese. “Ladies, it’s hot. We all want to get to camp. If the”—­Winslow paused before delivering the rest of her statement, but Jenna didn’t know if it was out of concern or for comedic effect—­“animal is not bothering us, then do you think we can keep moving along?”

Jenna crossed her arms. She wanted to yell at Winslow. Had she ever seen wild animals before? Jenna had spent more time outdoors than indoors. She was more comfortable under a canopy of trees than a drop ceiling.

Winslow blew her whistle as she marched toward the front of the line. Her blond ponytail bounced behind her, like it was laughing at Jenna too.

When Winslow was out of hearing range, Reese sucked her teeth. “She wasn’t going to believe you anyway. You know she only listens to them,” she said. She pointed at the scouts walking ahead of them, and Jenna understood exactly what her friend was trying to say.

What she didn’t understand was the thing she’d seen lurking in the trees. She looked over Reese’s shoulder, fully expecting to see it scowling at her again, but she only saw branches and leaves . . . and plenty of cover for something that might want to hide.

Reese stepped closer to her and grabbed her hand. “J, let’s go.”

With difficulty, Jenna’s feet moved forward, but she didn’t take her eyes off the spot where’d she’d seen the awful thing. Instead, she let Reese guide her until they caught up with the rest of the troop.