"All those nights worrying about a gift and working on the rug. It seemed so important. But it wasn't really. Friends were important. Friends and food and the Heartwood. Those were the biggest gifts."
A few days ago I talked about the first installment in the Heartwood Hotel series - A True Home. Over the weekend my friend gave me the second book - The Greatest Gift and the third book - Better Together.
Often the second book in a series can be disappointing BUT this is absolutely not the case here. I enjoyed The Greatest Gift even more than A True Home. In this second story it is Winter. Most of the guests are safely tucked away downstairs hibernating. After competing her chores Mona joins in the St Slumber festivities and watches as gifts are given to all the Heartwood Hotel staff. Mona is given a new apron with a tiny heart sewn on the front pocket, a cheese crumble covered in blueberry sauce, a subscription to the Pinecone Press, and a "walnut case, like the one she had lost in the fall."
"This cannot replace the one you lost,' Mr Heartwood said, 'nor is it a case with which to roam. It's a place to store your things, now that the Heartwood is your home."
Mona now puzzles over the gifts she can give to her new friends. A new and very grand guest arrives at the hotel - a rabbit called Duchess Hazeline. She is very bossy and demanding and announces that wants a carpet for her room - the penthouse - she tells Mona she must deliver the beautiful one from the lobby.
"The rug was an important part of the lobby. It was made from tree moss, a beautiful minty green, and it was the first thing you saw when you came into the Heartwood."
The rug is delivered as requested along with the delicious crumble which was only just given to Mona. The Duchess is horrified that this is a gift for Mona and she flings the crumble onto the floor. The beautiful rug is ruined. Mona is so upset but she is also a problem solver. She decides to make a new rug as a gift to everyone at the Heartwood.
While all of this is going on it seems someone is taking their food. A thief has been sneaking around the storeroom and supplies are dwindling and then a further disaster strikes. Their supply shipment is stuck in a snowbank. Mona will once again save the day. She discovers the truth about the thief, finds and rescues the shipment and best of all helps the Duchess to own up to her bad temper and take on a better role in the forest.
You will be rewarded if you can read these books in order but they can also sand alone which is good news for young readers impatient to find the next book.
You might also enjoy The Vegetable Thieves by Inga Moore (sadly out of print). You can read about book three - Better Together here.