Best friends Jess and Lily visit Friendship Forest, where animals can talk and magic exists!

The girls are thrilled to be back in Friendship Forest, but Grizelda is up to her old tricks with some new helpers — dragons! When Grizelda’s ice dragon casts a spell on the Flufftail family, can Lily and Jess help little squirrel Sophie Flufftail free her family?

Daisy Meadows

Sophie Flufftail’s Brave Plan

For Eddie, my breakfast buddy with love

Special thanks to Valerie Wilding

Chapter One

A Stormy Day

Jess Forester smiled as she spread some sunshine-yellow butter on her last piece of crusty bread. “That was a great lunch, Dad,” she said.

“Mmm,” said her best friend, Lily Hart. “Cheese, toast, and walnuts. Yum!”

Mr. Forester smiled. “Have some more nuts. We picked lots before the squirrels took them all.”

“If I eat any more nuts, I’ll turn into a squirrel!” Jess joked, getting up to clear the table. “Anyway, we’ve got to get back to Helping Paw.”

The two girls smiled at each other.

They were lucky to live on the same street—and even luckier that Lily’s parents ran the Helping Paw Wildlife Hospital. The hospital looked after all kinds of animals in need, and both Jess and Lily loved helping there whenever they could!

Mr. Forester glanced out of the window. “Take your coats,” he said. “It looks like it’s about to rain, and you don’t want to get wet.”

As he spoke, rain splattered against the window. Jess and Lily put their coats and rain boots on, and Jess picked up her big rainbow-striped umbrella.

When they stepped outside, Lily’s short, dark hair blew across her face. She ducked under Jess’s umbrella and glanced at her friend. “The rain’s making your hair curlier than ever!” She smiled.

Once they’d crossed the lane, Jess opened Lily’s gate and ran down to the Helping Paw barn at the far end of the yard.

But as she raced after her friend, Lily spotted something strange beneath the chestnut tree. “Wait!” she cried.

Lily showed Jess a heap of leaves and twigs. “Something’s moving under there,” she whispered.

Lily pushed the wet leaves aside. Underneath were three bright-eyed creatures huddled together, long tails curling around their tiny, furry bodies.

Lily gasped. “Baby squirrels!” she cried. “They must have fallen from the tree.” She glanced around. There was no sign of the babies’ parents anywhere.

“They’re so tiny,” said Jess, moving her umbrella to shelter the little squirrels from the rain. “We can’t leave them here. They’re already soaked.”

“You’re right,” said Lily. “Mom and Dad say you should usually leave baby animals alone, in case their parents come looking for them, but I think we have to take them to the wildlife hospital.” She scooped up two baby squirrels, and Jess gently picked up the third.

When they reached the barn, Lily knocked on the door with her foot.

Mrs. Hart opened it. “Goodness!” she exclaimed when she saw the squirrels. “Bring them in!”

Lily and Jess carried the babies to Mr. Hart, who was standing by the examination table. The girls gently put them on the table, then, as they took off their coats and boots, they explained where they’d found them.

Mrs. Hart found a nest box, and Lily cut some squares of soft blanket to line it.

“These will make a nice bed,” she said.

“Like a real squirrel home!” said Jess. “Nice and warm and dry.”

They gently lifted in the three babies, while Mr. and Mrs. Hart went to the kitchen area to find them some food.

Lily and Jess were watching the little squirrels snuggle up to one another cozily, when they heard something tapping at the barn window.

They looked up to see a beautiful green-eyed cat on the sill outside. Raindrops sparkled on her whiskers.

“Goldie!” whispered Jess.

“She’s soaked!” said Lily, flying to open the window.

The cat darted inside and jumped down, her fur dripping on the floor.

Jess leaped up to get a towel. Excitement fizzed through her as she gently dried the cat’s golden fur. Goldie might look like an ordinary cat, but Jess and Lily shared a wonderful secret—Goldie lived in Friendship Forest, a magical world filled with talking animals!

Goldie purred as the girls patted her dry.

“Maybe Friendship Forest is in danger again,” Lily wondered out loud.

“I hope Grizelda isn’t back,” said Jess anxiously.

Grizelda was a wicked witch who wanted to take Friendship Forest all for herself. She had sent the Boggits, her four smelly helpers, into the forest to ruin it. Luckily, the girls and Goldie had managed to stop Grizelda’s plan and save the forest.

Goldie looked up and meowed, then padded over to the door.

“She wants us to follow her!” said Jess. Her blue eyes shone. “Lily, I think Goldie’s going to take us back to Friendship Forest!”

“We’re going to see our animal friends again!” said Lily, smiling. She jumped up and peered out of the window. Luckily, the rain had stopped. “Mom!” she called to Mrs. Hart. “We’re going outside.”

“Okay,” called Mrs. Hart.

Pulling their coats and boots on, the girls followed Goldie past Helping Paw and down to Brightley Stream. They hopped across the stepping stones and ran toward the tree in the middle of Brightley Meadow. It looked like a dead oak tree, but the girls knew that it was the Friendship Tree, and it was very special.

Lily and Jess ran up to the tree and grinned at each other. Something magical was about to happen!

As Goldie reached the tree, leaves sprang from the lifeless branches, birds swooped down to sing sweet songs, and brilliant butterflies danced above the bright yellow flowers that bloomed below. Lily ran her fingers over two words carved into the tree’s bark. “Ready, Jess?” she asked, feeling a thrill of excitement.

Together they read the words aloud, “Friendship Forest!”

Instantly, a door with a leaf-shaped handle appeared in the trunk. Jess clasped Lily’s hand and opened the door. Shimmering light shone from inside. They ducked and followed Goldie into the golden glow.

What magical adventure would they have this time? Lily and Jess couldn’t wait to find out!

Chapter Two

Back to Friendship Forest

As the golden light surrounded them, Jess and Lily tingled all over as they magically shrank. Then the light faded and they were in Friendship Forest once more. A warm breeze drifted past, catching the lemon and chocolate scents of the flowers growing around them. It was so different from the rainy day in Brightley that it was easy to tell they were in a magical world!

“Welcome back,” said a soft voice.

They turned to see Goldie, but she didn’t look like an ordinary cat at all anymore. She was standing on her hind legs, with a glittering golden scarf wrapped around her shoulders. She smiled and the girls rushed over to hug her.

“It’s great to be back,” cried Jess.

“And to talk to you again,” said Lily.

“But why have you brought us here today, Goldie?” Jess asked her.

Goldie twitched her tail anxiously. “Come and see what’s happened in Sunshine Meadow.”

“Wait,” said Lily, tugging at her coat. “It’s so nice and warm here that we don’t need these!” They took off their raincoats and stowed them at the foot of the Friendship Tree.

As they set off with Goldie, they passed lots of gorgeous tiny cottages nestled among tree roots and up in the tree branches. It was a perfect little village—for all kinds of amazing animals!

A yummy baking smell wafted from the windows of a pretty cottage perched on a branch overhead. The door opened and a mouse in an apron scurried out. “Hello, Jess and Lily!” she cried.

“Hi, Mrs. Twinkletail!” the girls called.

Lily smiled at Jess. “I still can’t quite believe that we can talk to all the animals here! It’s wonderful!”

They hurried on to Toadstool Glade. Agatha Glitterwing the magpie was busy chatting to Mr. Silverback the badger, while a group of young animals played with a jump rope made of flowers. Outside the Toadstool Café, the Prickleback hedgehog family was sipping delicious-looking drinks. Everyone waved happily at Lily and Jess as they passed by.

Jess and Lily waved back, but there was no time to stop. Goldie was bounding ahead, her tail twitching anxiously.

“Poor Goldie seems really worried,” Jess whispered to Lily as they hurried after their friend. “Something really bad must have happened.”

When they reached Sunshine Meadow, both girls gasped in horror.

Huge patches of the red, yellow, and orange flowers that grew there were scorched and blackened.

“Oh, no!” Lily exclaimed. “Who would burn the beautiful flowers?”

Goldie’s whiskers drooped sadly. “It’s terrible, isn’t it?” she sniffed.

“Maybe it was the Boggits?” Jess wondered out loud.

The Boggits were hairy, smelly creatures who had been Grizelda’s helpers until Jess and Lily found them a new home in the stinky swamp.

“No, it’s not them.” Goldie shook her head. “They’re friendly now that they have their swampy home.”

“Don’t worry, Goldie,” Jess began. “We’ll—” She froze as a familiar orb of yellow-green light suddenly floated across the meadow toward them.

“It’s Grizelda!” cried Lily.

With a cra-ack, the orb burst into a shower of evil-smelling sparks, which cleared to reveal the witch in a black cloak, purple tunic, and pants. Her green hair swirled like angry snakes as she stamped her pointy-toed boot.

Goldie took a brave step toward her. “Stay away from Friendship Forest, Grizelda!” she cried.

The witch cackled. “Ha! It’s the cat and the meddlesome girls,” she spat. “But who cares? I’m going to make Friendship Forest so horrible that no one will want to live in it. Then I’ll have it all for myself!”

Lily and Jess stepped beside Goldie. “No, you won’t,” shouted Jess. “We won’t let you!”

Grizelda gave another horrible laugh. “You can’t stop me this time,” she said. “I have new helpers to carry out my plan—magical ones. They’re far better than Boggits!”

She clapped once and pointed into the sky, where four winged creatures were flying toward them.

Goldie’s green eyes were wide. “What are those?”

“They’re too big to be birds,” said Lily.

“They can’t be bats,” said Jess. “Not with those long tails.”

“But what else flies?” Goldie said. “I can’t think—”

They all gasped as one of the creatures let a stream of fire out of its mouth.

“Dragons!” both girls squealed together.

Chapter Three

Grizelda’s Plan

Lily, Jess, and Goldie huddled together as the four dragons hovered around Grizelda. They were almost as big as the girls and all different colors: one red, one blue, one yellow, and one black.

The red dragon nipped at Grizelda’s long green hair as she flew past.

“Stop it, Breezy,” snapped the witch, batting her out of the way.

The red dragon twisted over and over as she flew through the air.

The yellow one giggled so much that she hiccupped. A whoosh of fire shot from her mouth, scorching another patch of flowers to a crisp.

Lily and Jess exchanged a glance. Now they knew who’d been ruining Sunshine Meadow!

“Dragons,” said Grizelda, “meet two interfering nuisances and their irritating pet cat.”

“She’s not our pet!” Jess shouted. “She’s Goldie, and she’s wise, clever, brave, and beautiful.”

“My helpers are cleverer than any cat!” Grizelda screeched. “And they can do more than breathe fire. Dragons!” Grizelda stomped her foot and the four dragons all jumped. “Show them!”

The red dragon swooped down. “I’m Breezy the storm dragon. I can make WIND!” She beat her wings, and a blast of wind blew Jess’s and Lily’s hair backward.

Next, the black dragon hovered over them, casting a dark shadow. “I’m Smudge,” he said. “I can make inky darkness.”

The giggly yellow dragon said, “I’m Dusty. I can turn you to stone. Tee-hee!”

They all turned to look at the blue dragon, who was turning in lazy circles high in the sky.

“Show them your power, Chilly!” shouted Grizelda.

“Won’t,” said the dragon. He stuck out his tongue at the witch.

Grizelda pointed a bony finger and a jet of sparks shot past his tail. He jumped. “Ow! I hate hot things!”

“I know!” Grizelda sneered.

Jess and Lily glanced at each other. Grizelda was even horrible to her own helpers!

“I’m Chilly,” the dragon said, scowling. He blew a puff of snowflakes. “I make things cold.”

“These dragons,” said Grizelda, “will help me with my brilliant new plan!” Her dark eyes glittered. “It’s sunshine that makes Friendship Forest all green and flowery,” she sneered. “Urgh! Green is for hair, not leaves! I’ll get rid of the sunshine so Friendship Forest turns dark and cold and all the plants will die.”

Jess, Lily, and Goldie looked at one another in dismay.

“Then the animals will leave and the forest will be all mine!” screeched Grizelda.

She snapped her fingers and disappeared, along with the dragons, in a burst of evil-smelling yellow-green sparks.

Goldie’s eyes swam with tears. “She’ll destroy our beautiful forest,” she said. “We have to stop her!”

“But how?” said Lily. “We don’t know what’s she’s planning to do.”

“How can she get rid of the sunshine?” Jess wondered out loud.

Goldie gasped. “Of course! Grizelda’s going to attack the Shining House!”

“What’s the Shining House?” Lily asked.

“I’ll show you,” said Goldie. “It’s on the far end of Sunshine Meadow. Follow me!”

“It’s amazing!” Lily gasped as she and Jess gazed at a beautiful glasshouse. Sunlight sparkled off every pane, and a beautiful heart-shaped diamond glittered in the roof.

“Wow!” they breathed.

“It keeps all of Friendship Forest bright and warm,” Goldie explained. “Without it, everywhere would be cold and dark.”

“Just what Grizelda wants!” Jess said with a frown.

“Hello!” A little squirrel in a polka dot T-shirt bounded up to them.

“Woody!” Jess smiled, bending to hug him. They’d met the young squirrel on their adventures before.

“We need your help,” Lily told him gently. “We think Grizelda is going to attack the Shining House!”

Woody gasped, his bushy tail shivering in fear. “Come and see Mom and Dad,” he said.

The Shining House was full of yellow sunflowers, and every sunflower face was turned toward the sun. The air shimmered with a magical golden glow.

Two big squirrels were busy high up on the roof, polishing the glass with their long, fluffy tails. Three small squirrels were working just as hard polishing the inside. Swish! Swish! Swish!

The two big squirrels waved through the glass roof.

“Hello, Mr. and Mrs. Flufftail!” Jess and Lily called up to them.

“This is my brother, Dasha,” explained Woody, “and my big sisters, Hazel and Lulu.”

A tiny squirrel wearing a striped T-shirt peeked out from behind Woody.

“And this is Sophie,” Woody said. “She’s the youngest Flufftail.”

“Hi!” said Sophie, waving at the girls with her tail.

“Hi, Sophie!” said Lily. “It’s lovely to meet you all.”

“Flufftails, we need your help,” Jess said urgently. “We think Grizelda is going to cause trouble here. Can you tell us how the Shining House works?”

“Of course.” Mr. Flufftail scurried down from the roof and over to them. “The trees have so many beautiful green leaves that the sun can’t shine through them all to reach the forest floor,” he explained, pointing at the trees with his tail. “So the Shining House collects the light. Then the sunflowers magically reflect the sunshine through the glass and out into the forest, to make the whole forest lovely and light and warm.”

“We keep the glass polished,” Woody said proudly. “Only a Flufftail fluff tail is soft enough to clean the Shining House. Feel!” he added, flicking his tail out toward her.

Lily stroked his beautiful bushy tail. It felt as soft as silk. “It’s gorgeous,” she said.

“Do you really think Grizelda is going to come here?” Woody asked sadly.

“Don’t worry, we’ll stop her,” Jess said firmly.

“We’ve done it before and we’ll do it again!” Lily agreed.

But just then the air turned icy cold. There was a whoosh and a cloud of snowflakes blew over them.

Jess heard wings flapping and looked up. “Oh, no! It’s Chilly the ice dragon!”

Chapter Four

Chilly’s Icy Spell

“Dragon?” shrieked Mrs. Flufftail. “Children, hide!”

The young Flufftails scattered. Woody and Dasha ran squealing behind Lily and Jess, and Hazel and Lulu hid under Mr. Flufftail’s tail.

As Chilly swooped down to land, he blew a big raspberry, scattering ice flakes everywhere. “Pffffttthh!” he said. “I’m going to make the forest nice and cold!”

“No!” cried Jess.

But Chilly pointed his wings at the Flufftails and chanted:

“Magic make these squirrels change

So they hate the golden sun

Then wintry cold will chill the trees

And bring snow for everyone.”

For a moment, nothing seemed to happen. Then Goldie gasped. “Look at the Flufftails!” she cried.

The squirrel family were curling their tails over their eyes.

“Too bright,” they moaned.

“The sunshine’s horrible,” Woody said with a groan.

Chilly grinned, flicking icicles from his tail.

“Change the squirrels back to normal,” Jess demanded.

“Won’t!” Chilly said, and stuck out his tongue. He beat his wings again.

Instantly, an icy wind blew over the Shining House, and Chilly flew up into the sky, high above the treetops.

As the dragon flew away, the Flufftails disappeared into the woods, still covering their eyes.

“Wait!” Jess called. “Woody! Hazel! The poor Flufftails.” She sighed as she turned to Lily and Goldie.

But Lily and Goldie were staring at the Shining House in dismay. The gleaming glass was covered with frost so thick they could barely see inside. The sunflowers were already drooping in the cold. Worst of all, no light was shining out into the forest.

Goldie gave an upset sniffle.

“Everything will be fine,” Jess promised. “We won’t give up until it is.”

“I know you won’t,” said Goldie. Her whiskers lifted a little.

There was a crackle from the bushes next to the Shining House.

“Someone’s coming!” whispered Jess. “Careful, it might be Grizelda.”

The girls held their breath. But instead of Grizelda, little Sophie Flufftail crept out from behind a bush. She was trembling and looked very upset.

Lily knelt down. “It’s okay, Sophie,” she said. “The dragon’s gone.”

Sophie ran to Lily, who scooped her up, stroking the little squirrel’s silky fur.

“I hid behind the bush when the dragon came,” she told them. “Now my family all have a spell on them! I wish I’d come out and helped them.” She burst into tears.

“There wasn’t anything you could have done,” Lily told her gently.

Jess stroked the trembling squirrel. “Don’t worry, Sophie,” she said. “We’ll help your family.”

“Really?” sniffed Sophie. She wiped her eyes with her tail.

Goldie nodded. “Of course we will. Lily and Jess always help animals in trouble.”

“Thank you!” cried Sophie. She wriggled down from Lily’s arms. “But first I’ve got to fix the Shining House.”

She scampered over to it and rubbed the frosty glass with her tail. As soon as her bushy tail touched the glass, the frost started to fade. But even though she rubbed and rubbed, she only cleared a tiny patch of the glass.

Sophie’s face fell. “I only have a little tail,” she said sadly. “I can’t polish it all on my own.”

Everyone looked around the darkening forest anxiously. Without the Shining House, light was already fading away.

Jess turned to Goldie. “We need to lift Chilly’s spell on the Flufftails so they can all fix the Shining House. We’ve got to find them!”

“The spell has made them hate the sunshine,” Lily said, “so maybe they’ve gone somewhere dark and cold. Goldie, do you know anywhere like that?”

Goldie shook her head.

“Then we’ll just have to look for it,” Jess said determinedly.

“We’ll search the whole forest if we have to!” agreed Lily.

“Okay,” said Sophie. “Come on.” She bounded ahead but stopped suddenly, jumping back in fright. A big mound of earth had simply popped out of the ground, right in front of her.

Another mound popped up nearby. Then another. And another!

Jess scooped up Sophie and huddled together with Goldie and Lily. “What’s happening?” she whispered. “Is it more dragon magic?”

Chapter Five

Little Lola

“Stay back,” Jess said as another mound of earth appeared. “It could be Chilly, making more magic spells.”

Pop! A fresh mound sprang up right by her foot. Suddenly, a face appeared in the middle of the mound! It was a mole, wearing round purple-framed eyeglasses.

Goldie ran over, purring happily. “It’s okay! Those mounds are molehills, and that’s Lola Velvetnose!”

“Phew,” said Lily with a grin.

“Hello, Goldie!” Lola said, squinting up at them through her glasses. “Who’s that next to you? She smells like honey!”

“This is Jess,” said Goldie, going closer so the little mole could see her clearly. “She’s a girl, and so is Lily.”

Lola peered at Lily, then sniffed. “Mmm, you smell like strawberries,” she said.

“You scared us, making all those molehills!” Lily laughed.

“Sorry,” said Lola. “I’m investigating a strange new scent underground—a strong smell of chestnuts.”

“Oh!” cried Sophie, looking out from behind Lily. “That must be my family. We love chestnuts.”

Lola’s little pink nose went woffle woffle. “Yes,” she said. “You smell like chestnuts, too.”

“Is my family really underground?” Sophie asked.

“They must be,” said Lola. “Follow me, everyone. I’ll take you through one of my bigger tunnels.”

She dug a hole wide enough for the girls, and they dropped down into a tunnel, followed by Goldie. Sophie cuddled into the crook of Lily’s arm, her tail curled around her little body as she held on tightly to her new friend.

The tunnel was cool and smelled like freshly dug earth, but as Lily stepped inside, it got darker and darker. “Wait!” she called as Lola scrabbled ahead. “We can’t see!”

“I’ll fix that,” said Lola. She dug upward, making a little hole that let in dim light and fresh air.

Everyone followed her until she stopped at a corner. Woffle woffle went her little pink nose.

“The chestnut smell is coming from somewhere nearby,” she said.

They peered around the corner, and Sophie gave a little squeak.

At the end of the tunnel was an underground cottage. Outside were several deck chairs. Mr. Silverback the badger, wearing his green vest, sat in one. And in the others were the Flufftails!

“Hello there!” called Mr. Silverback in a rumbling voice. “Have you come to visit my underground garden, too?”

“Mom! Dad!” cried Sophie. She scurried over to them as the girls and Goldie explained to Mr. Silverback what had happened.

“Dear me,” he said, scratching his striped head. “No wonder they keep complaining about the light.”

“We’re going to take you home,” Sophie told her family.

“We can’t go home,” said Mr. Flufftail. “The sun’s shining. We don’t like sunshine.”

And they refused to move.

Sophie gave a little sob and Jess stroked her head comfortingly.

Goldie looked at the girls in dismay. “If we can’t get the Flufftails to fix the Shining House, the forest will be dark and cold forever!”

Chapter Six


“Let’s go to the Toadstool Café to think,” Jess suggested.

“Don’t worry, little Sophie,” said Mr. Silverback. “Your family will be safe here with me.”

They thanked the badger and Sophie hugged each member of her family good-bye. Lola dug upward, making a hole big enough for everyone to climb out.

As the girls reached the surface, they stared around in shock. The forest was so different from the sunny place they’d seen when they’d stepped through the Friendship Tree. Without the Shining House it was gloomy and gray and the air was damp and cold.

“We have to fix this,” Goldie said miserably.

“Can I come with you to the Toadstool Café?” asked Lola. “I don’t want to meet Chilly by myself.”

“Of course,” said Lily, holding the mole’s soft paw comfortingly.

They walked back to Toadstool Glade. The café was full of shivering rabbits and cold birds and mice with chattering teeth, but they all squeezed in to make room.

“Everyone, take one of my play cots—I mean clay pots,” said a voice from somewhere in the middle of the room.

Jess grinned. “I know who that is!”

They made their way through the crowded café to where Mr. Cleverfeather was handing out red-brown pots to all the shivering little animals.

“Hello,” he said when he saw Goldie and the girls. “Something’s long with the forest, and everyone’s sold—I mean, something’s wrong and everyone’s cold. So I invented these hotpots.” He passed some over to Lily, Jess, and Goldie.

The round pots felt smooth and warm. Jess peeked under the lid of her hotpot and saw softly glowing embers. The girls, Goldie, and Sophie sat down and held the cozy pots. They felt even better when Mrs. Longwhiskers came over with a tray of hot blackberry tea and blossom buns.

“Mmm,” Lily said as she enjoyed the buns’ gooey golden filling, which tasted like butterscotch.

“Yummy!” Jess agreed. She looked around at the animals all huddled together. “All right, what are we going to do? We need to fix the Shining House and the Flufftails can’t help us.”

All the animals leaned in to listen. “Maybe we could break Chilly’s magic somehow?” Lily thought out loud.

Goldie glanced up as a long-legged stork wearing a flying helmet and carrying a tall cup made from bamboo appeared through the crowd. “Hello, Captain Ace,” she said. “Have you ever met a dragon on any of your long flights?”

Captain Ace nodded. “I did once. Now that was a very interesting journey.”

“Do you know anything about their magic?” asked Lily eagerly.

“One thing I know is that you can’t lift a dragon’s spell,” said the captain. “You have to persuade the dragon to do it himself.”

He dipped his beak into his tea as he strode away.

“If he’s right,” said Lily, “we have to find Chilly.”

“But where could he be?” Jess said.

Sophie shivered. “An ice dragon would probably go somewhere really cold.”

Lola wriggled. “Ooh! I know! The Winter Cave.”

Goldie’s green eyes gleamed. “Lola, that sounds like exactly the right place! But where is it?”

“It’s just beyond the Silver Spring,” said Lola. “I tunneled into it by mistake one day, and almost froze! I’m never going there again.”

“That must be it!” exclaimed Jess. “Lola, you don’t have to come, but could you tell us how to find it?”

“It’s very simple,” the mole said. “Instead of going through the maze to the Silver Spring, you go around it. Look for a glowing bush and the cave entrance is just beneath.”

“A glowing bush?” Goldie said in surprise. “I’ve never heard of one of those in Friendship Forest.”

“At least it’ll be easy to spot.” Jess shrugged. “Come on!”

“I’ll go back and tell the Flufftails not to worry,” Lola volunteered.

The girls, Goldie, and Sophie waved good-bye to Lola and their other friends, and set off. But as Lily passed the Friendship Tree, she cried, “Stop!” and ran to grab the coats they’d left there. “Even with the hotpots, it’s getting so cold that we might need these,” she explained.

They put them on gladly.

“Hey, turn around, Lily,” said Jess. She picked Sophie up and nestled her into Lily’s fur-lined hood. The little squirrel curled her tail round her toes.

“Ooh, it’s so snuggly,” she said with a smile. “Thank you!”

On they went, clutching the hotpots, which were still wonderfully warm. At last, they saw a light up ahead.

“The glowing bush!” Lily laughed when she saw it.

“Poor Lola couldn’t see—it isn’t the bush that’s glowing!” Jess giggled as she looked at the plant. It was covered with gorgeous fireflies, eating the leaves!

“And here’s the entrance to the Winter Cave,” Goldie said, pulling aside the leaves.

They’d only taken a few steps inside the cave when a rumbling noise echoed though the air. Lily, Jess, and Goldie stopped, and Sophie ducked even farther down into Lily’s hood.

“What was that?” exclaimed Jess. “It sounded like horrible laughter.”

“We have to keep going,” said Lily with a gulp. She took another step forward, then gasped. “Come and look!” she whispered.

Jess and Goldie joined her. Sophie looked over Lily’s shoulder as they all peered into the mouth of the cave.

“Wow!” said Lily.

It was dark inside the cave, but the walls, roof, and floor shimmered with gleaming ice. Long icicles hung from the roof and the rocks on the ground glittered with frost.

And in the middle, his tail over his eyes and his body shaking, was Chilly. But he wasn’t laughing... he was crying!

Chapter Seven

Inside the Winter Cave

Chilly whimpered again. With each cry, puffs of snow blew out of his mouth.

“What’s wrong with him?” Jess asked.

“We have to help him,” Lily said.

“But what if he puts a spell on us, too?” said Goldie. “Then who will help the Flufftails and save Friendship Forest?”

Chilly gave a huge rattling sniffle, then puffed out more snow.

Lily and Jess looked at each other. Goldie was right. What were they going to do? Before they could move, Lily’s hood started wriggling. Sophie jumped out and darted down Lily’s back.

“Sophie, no!” Jess whispered.

But Sophie didn’t listen. “I hid before, but I’m not hiding anymore!” she chattered as she jumped down on the floor of the Winter Cave, then bravely scampered over to the dragon.

“Take the spell off my family, you big meanie!” she shouted as she scurried right up to Chilly and stood in front of him.

The crying stopped. The dragon’s eyes snapped open and he jumped onto his clawed feet. Chilly opened his mouth, as if he was about to roar...

But to the girls’ surprise, the little dragon gave another whimper.

“Who’s there?” he asked, his scaly legs trembling. “Are you a monster?”

Sophie looked shocked. “No, it’s me, Sophie Flufftail,” she told him. “And my friends. Why did you think we were monsters, Chilly?”

Chilly trembled. “Anything could be hiding in the dark.”

“Chilly’s scared of the dark!” Lily gasped. “That’s why he was crying!”

“Of course!” said Jess. “The forest is colder and darker without the Shining House. Chilly likes how cold it is, but he doesn’t like the darkness!”

Goldie’s green eyes gleamed. “Smart Sophie for talking to him! We’d never have realized otherwise.”

Lily glanced down at the hotpot in her hand. It had given her an idea. She lifted the lid, and a warm light shone out, making the icicles on the roof glitter like chandeliers.

Chilly gazed up, his eyes wide. “Oooh,” he breathed happily.

Lily held the hotpot out to him. “You can have it if you want,” she told him, “as long as you do something for us.”

Chilly reached a scaly paw toward the hotpot. Then he leaped back. “Hot!” he roared angrily, blowing a puff of snow over them all.

Lily glanced anxiously at Jess and Goldie. What should they do now? Sophie scampered over and they all gathered on one side of the cave.

“If only the hotpot wasn’t hot,” Goldie sighed.

“We need one of Mr. Cleverfeather’s glowworm lanterns,” said Jess, thinking back on one of their other adventures. “They made light but they weren’t too warm.”

“Oh, I know!” cried Sophie. “There were fireflies outside. Maybe they’d light the cave for Chilly?”

Goldie ran outside as fast as her paws could take her.

“Chilly, we think we can make the Winter Cave nice and light,” Jess said. “But we want you to do something in return. Will you take your spell off Sophie’s family?”

“Can’t,” said Chilly.

“But why not?” Jess asked.

The little dragon shrugged sadly.

Jess remembered how bossy Grizelda was to the dragons when they first saw them in Brightley Meadow.

“Is it because of Grizelda?” she asked.

Chilly nodded his scaly blue head.

“You don’t have to do what she says,” Jess went on.

Chilly looked puzzled. “Don’t I?”

“No,” said Lily, catching on to what Jess was thinking. “Dragons don’t take orders from witches!”

Chilly roared again, sending more snow fluttering around the cave. “I’m going to lift my spell whether she likes it or not! Pffffftttt!” He blew a huge raspberry.

Brave Sophie raced over to Chilly and gave him a hug. “Thank you!” she said.

The girls cheered. “Now we just need Goldie to get the fireflies to agree to help,” Lily said.

“I don’t think we need to worry about that,” Jess smiled. “Look!”

Goldie rushed back into the cave, followed by a gorgeous fluttering cloud of golden fireflies.

“You must promise not to hurt the fireflies, Chilly,” Goldie told him sternly.

Chilly looked around happily. “Lovely light.” He blew out a breath, which sparkled with frost. Then he stared shyly at Sophie and the girls. “Thank you.”

Lily smiled at the little dragon. Thanks to Sophie, they’d found out that he wasn’t so bad after all. “You’re welcome, Chilly. Now let’s break that spell!”

Lola, the Flufftails, and Mr. Silverback gasped with surprise when the dragon peered down the hole into the underground garden.

“Chilly’s going to lift the spell so you’ll love the sunshine again,” Lily told the squirrels.

Chilly beat his wings and chanted,

“Dragon wings stop Chilly’s spell

Grizelda’s had her fun

Make squirrels be themselves again

And love the golden sun.”

Instantly, the young Flufftails started squealing. “It’s so dark!” squeaked Woody.

“Where are we?” asked Dasha.

“You’ve been under a spell that made you hate the sunshine,” said Jess.

“We have to get back home to the Shining House!” said Mr. Flufftail. “Come along, children, quickly!”

Lola and Mr. Silverback helped them climb out of the tunnel, and Sophie quickly told her family the whole story. The Flufftails thanked everyone.

“As for you, Sophie,” said her father, “you’re the bravest little squirrel there ever was. We’re so proud of you.”

Everyone hugged, then Mrs. Flufftail shivered. “Brrr! We’d better fix the Shining House before the forest becomes any more wintry.” She bounded away. “Come on, Flufftails. Work to do!”

Goldie smiled. “When the Shining House is gleaming again,” she said, “then Grizelda’s plan will have failed!”

Lily turned to Chilly. “Thank you for freeing them. You’re not going to cast any more spells, are you?”

Chilly shook his head. “I’m going to play in the Winter Cave! The fireflies have made it so nice and light!”

The girls and Goldie waved as he flew a loop-the-loop over their heads, then flapped away. Goldie, Lily, and Jess grinned, then raced after their squirrel friends. It was time to fix the Shining House for good!

Chapter Eight


Goldie and the girls found the whole squirrel family at the Shining House, lined up before Mr. Flufftail.

“Ready, kids?” he said. “We’ll get this glass gleaming in no time! Everyone fluff up your tails!”

The squirrels shook their tails until they were as soft and fluffy as could be. Then they started to wipe the frost from the glass. Swish! Swish! Swish!

“We can’t clean the glass,” said Jess, “but is there another way we can help?”

“You could water the sunflowers,” Sophie suggested.

Once the sunshine started streaming in and the sunflowers had been watered, they stood up straight and tilted their faces toward the sky.

In less than an hour, the Shining House was almost clean. As Sophie’s tail rubbed away the last patch of frost, the sun came out from behind the clouds. Sunbeams shone on the sunflowers’ upturned faces, then golden sunlight arched up through the beautifully polished glass.

Everyone gasped in delight and ran outside to feel the warmth of the sun streaming around the forest.

The squirrels linked tails and danced around and around, waving their paws in the air happily.

The girls laughed, but Lily suddenly cried out, “Look!”

A familiar orb of light flew across Sunshine Meadow and exploded in a shower of sparks. When they cleared, there stood Grizelda.

“You interfering humans!” she shrieked. “You’ve ruined my plan!”

“It was an evil plan,” said Jess. “We had to stop you to save the forest and all the lovely creatures living in it!”

“Lovely creatures, pah!” screeched Grizelda. “You wait—you and that cat won’t stop me next time. Chilly might have disobeyed me, but I have three more magical dragon helpers. They won’t let me down!”

She snapped her fingers and disappeared in a burst of terrible, smelly yellow-green sparks.

The squirrels stared at one another in shock. Then Sophie bravely jumped forward and stuck her tongue out at where Grizelda used to be, making everyone laugh.

“Come on, you must be hungry after that adventure.” Mrs. Flufftail brought out a picnic basket and soon they were all nibbling delicious homemade nut bread with hazelnut butter, and apricot pies.

When they’d all eaten it was time for Lily and Jess to go home. They said good-bye to the Flufftails and gave Sophie an especially big hug.

“You’re such a brave little squirrel,” Lily whispered as she said good-bye.

As Goldie took them back to the Friendship Tree, Lily and Jess passed lots of their animal friends sitting and enjoying the sunshine.

“Look,” said Goldie, pointing to a starflower bush. It was smothered in white buds. “Thanks to you, the flowers are blooming again. The Shining House is working its magic!”

When they reached the Friendship Tree, Goldie put a paw to the trunk and the door appeared. She hugged the girls. “I’m sure Grizelda will think of another plan to drive us all out of the forest,” she said. “After all, she still has three more dragons. But I know I can count on you to help us again.”

“Of course you can,” said Jess.

“We’ll be ready whenever you come for us,” added Lily.

They stepped into the shimmering light and felt the familiar tingle that meant they were returning to their real height.

Back in Brightley Meadow, the storm had calmed. As the girls crossed the stream and headed for the wildlife hospital, the sun came out from behind the clouds.

“A rainbow!” cried Jess, pointing to a beautiful arch across the sky.

Mr. Hart beckoned them from the barn door.

“Now that the sun’s shining,” he said, “why don’t you come and help me attach this nest box to the chestnut tree for the three young squirrels you brought in. We’ll keep an eye on them,” he added.

“Choose a sunny spot,” Mrs. Hart called after them, “so the squirrels will be warm.”

Lily and Jess exchanged a secret smile.

They knew a whole family of squirrels who loved the sun!

The End