WHEN TORIN SINCLAIR'S mom gets a job as the town doctor in Snow Park, Colorado, Tor can't wait to learn to snowboard. But on Tor's first night there, a member of the high school snowboarding team dies. "It's the curse," everyone whispers. Tor's new friends Drake and Raine explain that there's an old Native American curse on the doctors of the town. Snow Park can never get a doctor to stay. Tor and his friends must piece together a mystery involving an old mine, a Ute curse, the entire snowboarding team--who just might be blood doping in order to win competitions-- and an attempt to save the wild river otters of Colorado. But to complete the puzzle, will Tor have to ride the deadly White Gates? And how will he survive the avalanche that follows?
Adult mystery writer Ramthun makes a smooth transition to YA with this action-packed tale set in a Colorado resort town. Twelve-year-old Torin (Tor) and his mother get a chilly reception when they move to Snow Park, where his mother has been hired as the town physician. They soon find out that residents' less than welcoming attitude has to do with an aged Ute woman's half-century-old curse against doctors and healers. Believing more in foul play than old curses, Tor wants to get to the bottom of things, especially after his mother's first patient unexpectedly dies. With the help of fellow outcast Drake and Raine, a descendant of that Ute woman, he discovers a web of deceit and greed. Solutions to puzzles come as swiftly and dramatically as an avalanche that nearly takes Tor's life, but the distinctive location and thrilling snowboard scenes overcome improbabilities in the denouement. Ages 10-14. (Nov.)
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Random House Books for Young Readers
November 24, 2008
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Excerpt from The White Gates by Bonnie Ramthun
Tor was awake the moment the door to his room opened. "Torin?" "I'm up, Mom," he said, sitting up in bed. His mother came into the room and turned on the light. Tor squinted. The room was full of boxes, some open, some still taped shut. Tor had been too tired to do much more than throw some blankets on his bed last night. He hadn't even unpacked his books or his CDs. "I have to go into the clinic. Now. I don't want to leave you alone, so I need you to come with me," his mother said. She started rummaging in the closet. "Where's your snowsuit?" "My snowsuit?" Tor asked, and for a moment wondered if he wasn't as awake as he thought. Weren't snowsuits for little kids? He was twelve years old, not six. "Overalls, coveralls--what are they called around here?" his mom said, frantically throwing clothing out of the closet. "We have to go, Tor. Now. There's a boy at the clinic and I need to get there right now--there!" Tor scrambled out of bed and grabbed the ridiculous blue snowsuit his mom was holding out to him. Somebody needed his mom's help. He hadn't gotten used to thinking of her as a doctor after all those years she'd spent in school and in training. But she was a doctor at last, and someone needed her. He pulled the blue suit over his pajama bottoms and T-shirt. His pj's were printed with blue waves and tiny California surfers. Yesterday he'd been a California kid. He stuffed his feet into the brand-new snow boots his mom had bought. Zip went the suit. Done. He flipped the attached hood forward and looked at his mom, who was dressed in a similar suit. Hers was red. He and his mom looked like two characters from a really lame Saturday-morning cartoon. He wanted to say what he was thinking, but his mom's face was too serious, almost scared. He said nothing. "Follow me," his mom said, and Tor clumped after her. When Tor followed his mother outside, his lungs instantly stopped working. His breath froze. He started coughing. This was like outer space. The air felt like knives going into his lungs. There was a tiny crackling sound as all the moisture in his nose froze. That was so gross. Tor didn't want to imagine frozen snot, but too late, he did. His fingers started tingling, and he shoved them into his pockets. Huge puffs of vapor came out in a cloud around his mother's head as she pulled the door shut behind them and locked it. Tor looked at his new hometown. He'd seen it for the first time that afternoon when they'd driven in. Crowds of skiers and shoppers had filled the streets. Now it was late at night and Snow Park was silent. He looked up and down the streets and saw only a single set of tire tracks in the powdery snow. Streetlights on every block cast down pale circles, but no one walked on the sidewalks and no lights shone in the buildings. Tor's new house was a block off the main street of Snow Park and stood near the top of a small hill. The streets below him were decorated for the Christmas tourist season, and green wreaths and red ribbons decorated every storefront. Snow Park could be a miniature town inside an enormous snow globe. Tor almost expected to see a department store dummy standing at the corner holding a fake pile of Christmas boxes. This vision was so instantly creepy he shivered. "This way," his mom said, starting down the sidewalk. Tor followed, glancing back at the garage where the car was parked. His mom saw the look, or somehow knew what Tor was thinking. "The car would take longer to start than we have time," she said. "We'll be at the clinic in just a minute. It's only two blocks. Can you breathe okay? Put your glove over your face--oh, I'm sorry. No gloves yet. Try to breathe through your jacket collar. It must be twenty below out here." "I'm good," Tor said. He wasn't going t