In The Gates of Aurona series, every meal is a secret code for young Hannah and Cameron Troyer as they navigate a world of grown-up worries they don’t fully understand.
When I was a kid, the code told you who had money by how processed their sack lunches were. Nobody talked about it, but everybody knew that the kids with Kraft and Quaker tattooed on their snacks had cash. And the rest of us didn’t.
Now food signals are a little more complicated.
At the opening of Gates, the Troyers have just come off a long period of unemployment and the family is still really struggling. On one hand, Mom can’t make her homemade mac and cheese, but they can afford the stuff in the blue box. On the other, they can’t afford store-bought snacks and gummies, so Mom makes peanut butter and honey dip for their carrots and celery.
After a run-in with a dragon, Starbucks is a major splurge that makes Hannah and Cameron just as nervous as the dragon did.
And when their tormentor, a cranky Bronze Age sorcerer strikes too close to home, the kids know things are serious because absolutely nothing in the grocery bag next to the brand-new camping gear in the trunk is homemade.
If they were scared before, now they know their parents are, too, and that’s even more terrifying.
Every meal is message about the state of their newly tumultuous, magic-riddled lives, but it’s also embedded with a more important meaning:
I love you and I will always take care of you…
no matter what life throws at us,
no matter how bad things get.
No matter what.
And that’s a message we can all use sometimes.
If you are craving comfort food, each book in The Gates of Aurona comes with a free mini cookbook for members of my Reader Group (Sign Up HERE). From the neighborhood’s multi-ethnic potluck to the Troyer’s campfire specialties, readers can recreate the magic from this completed chapter book series! (Recommended for grades 2-6.)
Thanks for stopping by to share your food for thought, Tonya!
Tonya Macalino lives in that space Between—where the crossroads of past and present tease the senses, taunt the almost-memory. Haunted by story, she seeks it in the shadows of the landscapes of history and in the blinding glare of what-may-come, both alone and with her family of children's book authors: Raymond, Damien, & Heléna Macalino.
For adults, Tonya's national award-winning supernatural thrillers, The Shades of Venice series, combine the mythic surrealism of Pan's Labyrinth with the thrill ride that is Lara Croft: Tomb Raider.
For children, Tonya's highly acclaimed urban fantasy adventures, The Gates of Aurona series, remind readers of the magical family secrets from Spiderwick Chronicles as well the legendary call to heroism of Chronicles of Narnia and the Dark Is Rising.