Near Mount Washington in New Hampshire, a gangly, 13-year-old, Native American boy moves into his grandfather’s trailer because his parents are soldiers now deployed to the Middle East. The boy’s American name is Paul, but Grampa Peter addresses him as Piel, his Abenaki name.
Grampa Peter is a loving, heroic mentor to Piel, who has visited often over the years. A Vietnam vet with long white hair pulled back in a ponytail, Grampa Peter knows every trail on the dangerous mountain and has astonishingly good hearing. He and Piel share such a close and trustful bond that they can communicate without words. Piel admires Grampa Peter for his knowledge of Abenaki lore—“the keeper of a story that others might know, but only he understands”—and of the mountains, and for his ability to commune with the spirit realm. Grampa Peter respects Piel’s interest in their heritage.
All of Grampa Peter’s skills, and their close relationship, become critical when the two are kidnapped. Darby Field, a sleazy television host, demands that Grampa Peter lead him up the mountain to find a treasure guarded by Pmola, a winged creature of Abenaki legend. With a record of theft and no respect for native lore, Field is accompanied by a film crew of unsavory characters.
Piel and Grampa Peter collaborate to foil their captors in this suspenseful adventure story. The book imparts several morals from Abenaki heritage: treat other people, nature and the supernatural with respect; and take only what you need because greed brings the downfall of fools.