‘The Secret of Whistling Willow’ by Sonia Bruni
When Freddie wakes up one cold February morning and looks out of the window, he is in for a big surprise. The countryside of Whistling Willow village is completely covered in snow.
Not only is this the first time he has seen snow before, he just knows this is the ideal setting for him and his three best friends, to unravel the secret that has been shrouding the village for the past two hundred years.
This intrepid lad of nine, along with his pet dog Patch and his friends Sally, Pat and Betty lay out a plan at their secret hideout. The snow, along with the bright moonlight will help them reveal the identity of the age-long truant.
That night they lie and wait along the river to find out why, only on full moon nights, an eerie whistle floats up from the river to haunt the peaceful village. What they discover, is not at all what they had expected.
After a long and tiresome watch in the freezing night, two translucent figures suddenly emerge, followed by a strange whistling. These are Wilkie and Wendy, who, two hundred years ago fell through a tunnel from the Underworld, a land of wizards and witches.
Since then, they have been desperately looking for the entrance as well as the secret password in order to return home.
Unfortunately, they discover that Cassandra, an evil witch has also fallen through the tunnel. They must capture her and take her back before she can do any evil. Freddie and his three friends promise to help them search for the passage, in exchange Wilkie offers Freddie the magic whistle for protection.
It is Patch, who eventually finds the tunnel. After having disappeared for three days, he re-emerges and leads them to the entrance, where they find the secret password that will take Wilkie and Wendy back home.
On the evening of their return, they all meet at the tunnel’s entrance in the hollow of an old oak. Wilkie and Wendy have trapped Cassandra and are ready to return.
As Wilkie pronounces the secret password before passing through the tunnel, Cassandra escapes with Patch at her heels followed by Wilkie, and Wendy. They all disappear in an explosion of brilliant light.
Patch finally returns home with a message from the Underworld. Wilkie and Wendy are safely home but Cassandra has escaped once more.