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J.R. HardinBy Janet Green

I haven’t always been a Kudzu fan. In fact, prior to reading one particular young adult book recently, I might have said that I downright disliked the vine. I might have said that the only good thing about it was its color.

Ironically, this “vine that ate the South” came into our great country in 1876 during a centennial celebration in Philly. Like a secret agent spy, it has infiltrated our forestry and is not easily eradicated. Wikipedia, in its great wisdom-ness, calls it a “serious invasive plant.”  Serious? Seriously?

When I recently read The Kudzu Monsters Trilogy by J.R. Hardin, my opinion was immediately transformed – just goes to show you, it’s all in the perspective. Now I have a whole other take on this crazy vine. When I drive through the beautiful north Georgia mountains, where I do quite often putz, I now look at the vines and wonder if my monster friends lurk therein, how they’re doing, and if anymore evil creepers have stopped by for a visit recently.

Point is, you don’t have to be a YOUNG adult to enjoy Kudzu monsters, but it sure does help to have a young heart, open to looking at things in new ways, adding the thrill of mystery and fantazamagorium (my own word) to your life.

Meet Kalvin in this sneak peek:

Kalvin looked at his mom, who was standing perfectly still. Joined to her was his new baby sister, Kandi. She looked like a small version of his mother, but her eyes were still closed. She was not yet ready to break free from her mom.

“Okay, Mom, I’ll find Dad,” Kalvin responded, and he started off.

Kalvin’s eight root-like feet raised his tree-trunk body off the ground. His back feet bowed up like inchworms, and his front feet stretched out. They pushed and pulled him down the kudzu-covered hill. Kudzu vines and leaves wrapped his body. The lower vines dragged on the ground behind him, making a rustling sound.

Hearing something, he bent his arm tentacles down and he froze, blending in with the trees around him. He waited for the sound of the car to fade away before he slipped into the forest. Eventually, he came to a river. There’s the Etowah River, he thought. I’ll have to cross the river using the railroad bridge.

As Kalvin approached the bridge, his round, black eyes looked for any movement in the woods or on the dark-green river. He touched a railroad track with a foot tentacle. Ah, no train vibrations, he thought as he pulled up onto the bridge. He felt a small tug as one of his kudzu vines caught on the bridge and broke loose. Oh well, a new one will grow there soon.

Kalvin and his family and all their forest friends show the upside to kudzu and their devotion to protecting their forest! So I guess in that respect, maybe Wiki is right about kudzu being “serious.” Do not cross a kudzu monster! Just ask a creeper!

Click here to become consumed by The Kudzu Monster Trilogy in paperback. It’s also available to download on your Kindle, Nook, or through Kobo.

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