by Robert Beatty
A very entertaining story with lots of local connections for those who live near the Smoky Mountains. The book takes the historical context of the Cherokee and European settlement of the Smokies and blends in "Hobbit-like" Cherokee night spirits and magic. Throw in traces of "The Lorax" and "Oliver Twist" and you've got a story with strong environmental / diversity / friendship & loyalty themes without being "preachy". While this is apparently the first of a series, the book stands on its own and the ending resolves all important conflicts/questions.