The Ghost of Schafer Meadows

Branch Underline



By Beth Hodder - Cover Illustration by Maria Vekkos - Map Illustrations by Guy Zoellner


When her father accepts a job at the Schafer Meadows Ranger Station in Montana’s Great Bear Wilderness, Jessie Scott, 12, is devastated. She has to leave her best friends in New Mexico for a life without TV, cell phones, the Internet, or even electricity. Jessie feels her dad has taken everything important from her except her dog, Oriole.


After traveling for 20 miles on horseback to reach the Schafer Meadows Ranger Station, Jessie and her family immediately make friends with the U.S. Forest Service workers there, but they also meet some unpleasant characters who make life difficult.


Schafer Meadows presents fun and challenging adventures for Jessie and Oriole. Together they explore their new home as Jessie seeks answers to strange happenings, stolen food, and a ghost that won’t leave her alone.



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As he sat at the table playing solitaire, his muscles bulging, Packer Brad grinned mischievously in my direction. “Have you ever seen a ghost?”

“Only the one of my brother in his pajamas on the way to the bathroom in the middle of the night,” I said. “Talk about scary.”

“Schafer has its own ghost, you know, and it hangs out a lot at the ranger’s house.”

Pulling her hair away from her face and tucking loose ends into her hair band, Mandy dismissed Packer Brad with a wave of her hand. “Oh give me a break. There’s no ghost here. Don’t listen to him, Jessie.”

Packer Brad flipped over three cards and set them in a pile. “There is too a ghost. I’ve been here three years now and every year someone sees it.”

“Oh, yeah, what does it look like?”

“I’ve heard it’s a man who appears to people at night and sometimes calls out. I’ve also heard it’s a woman who walks at night carrying a candle. But don’t ask me. Ask someone who’s seen the ghost.”  Packer Brad picked up a two of clubs and set it on a three of diamonds. “Like Pete.”

My jaw dropped. “Did you really see the ghost, Pete?” As Oriole’s rescuer and my friend, I trusted Pete to tell the truth, and it was hard to imagine that he would believe such a fantasy.

Pete, drinking coffee at the table, shifted uneasily in his chair. He pushed his mug away and sat still for a second. Then he shrugged his shoulders.

“First, let me say that normally I wouldn’t believe in such a thing. But yep—I’ve seen the ghost. At least that’s what it appeared to be.”

“This is too cool!” Jed said, leaning over so he could see Pete, who sat two seats away on the same side of the table. “What happened?”

Pete was silent again. Then he said, “Which time?”

“WHICH TIME?” Mom, Dad, and Cody shouted in unison. He had everybody’s attention now.

“Well, the first time I only heard him. The second time I saw him.”

Pete walked to the coffee pot, poured himself another cup, and sat back down at the table, scraping his chair on the wood floor as he pulled it in with one hand. He took a sip of coffee, wrapping his large hands around the mug.

“Guess I’d better start at the beginning.”



“Ms. Hodder’s story depicts life in a remote ranger station and describes a child’s connection to the outdoors…that connection has all too often been lost.”
---Abigail R. Kimbell, Chief, U.S. Forest Service

“Beth Hodder captures the heart of readers with her strong characterizations and her obvious zest for the great Northwest wilderness. With bold honesty, Hodder accurately portrays the highs and lows of a teen who is suddenly taken from her friends and the convenience of city life and placed in what many would call hardship conditions. The Ghost of Schafer Meadows is a good coming-of-age read for anyone interested in outdoor life, adventure and solid family connections.”
---Mary E. Trimble, Author of Rosemount and McClellan’s Bluff


"The fast action and quick thinking skills of a resilient heroine make for excellent entertaining fiction for young (and older) adults."
--Midwest Book Review, Children's Bookwatch: August 2010


"******FIVE STARS!*...Author Beth Hodder brings her career as a Forest Ranger to vivid and colorful life, teaching about the wilderness through the eyes of a smart girl on the verge of becoming a teenager. Filled with suspense, mystery, a haunting ghost, and a bit of danger, this story is sure to please!*****"
--Detra Fitch, Huntress Reviews



 Independent Publishers Book Awards

The Independent Publisher Book Awards were conceived in 1996 as a broad-based, unaffiliated awards program open to all members of the independent publishing industry. The awards are intended to bring increased recognition to the thousands of exemplary independent, university, and self-published titles produced each year, and reward those who exhibit the courage, innovation, and creativity to bring about change in the world of publishing






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