Ellis and The Hidden Cave by Aryeh and Cerece Rennie Murphy

11 Mar

Ellis and The Hidden Cave
by Aryeh and Cerece Rennie Murphy

An Ancient Civilization
An Underwater World
And A New Quest for the StoneKeeper!

Ellis, Toro and Freddye are at it again in the 2nd book in the Ellis Monroe Series Early Reader Chapter Book! Join them as they explore a hidden world, face more nasty Bugabols and discover that there are many kinds of superpowers!   Ellis and The Hidden Cave is book 2.  Ellis and the Magic Mirror is book 1 in the early reader series.  Join the Facebook community:

Excerpt from Ellis and The Hidden Cave

Chapter 1  Spring Break!

“Hurry up! Recess ends in one minute,” his teammates shouted from the sidelines.  Sprinting ahead, Ellis Monroe caught up with the soccer ball and turned toward the goal.  To his right, Ellis saw Max Washington running toward him. Ellis knew that Max wanted him to pass the ball, so that Max could try to score for the win. Max thought he was the best player on his team and always let everyone know it.  But Ellis thought a pass would be too risky. Instead, seeing an opening on the field, Ellis quickly dribbled forward. Suddenly, Kevin Taylor appeared and bumped Ellis, trying to steal the ball away. Ellis kicked the ball, hard, and watched as it sailed toward the goal.  And out of bounds.

Max came charging up to Ellis. “What’d you go and do that for?” he yelled, as several kids joined them.

“Are you trying to lose the game?” Omar Mendez said. “Yeah, Ellis, did you forget where the goal is?” asked Nate Weaver, and a few kids laughed.

Ellis flushed as the children closed in on him. He looked around at the group of kids and wished his best friend Toro Quispe wasn’t at home sick today.  “Cut it out, guys,” said Ellis, looking around for a teacher. Max moved closer to Ellis. “You should have passed me the ball!” he said. “I would have scored.”  “It was a mistake. Just drop it, Max, okay?” Ellis said.
“I should drop kick you,” Max replied, putting his face just inches away from Ellis.

“Back off, Max!” Ellis yelled, but Max stepped closer. “It’s just a game!” he said, then pushed Max away from him.

Max stumbled backward, then tripped on his feet and fell. “You pushed me!” he shouted, scrambling to his feet. Just then, Mrs. Lee appeared out of nowhere and Max ran straight to her just as the recess bell rang. Ellis hung his head, wondering how much trouble he was going to be in.

When Ellis and his younger sister Freddye got home from school, both their parents were waiting for him in the living room. “Ellis, we got a call from the principal today,” his dad said quietly. Ellis looked from one parent to another, tears pricking the back of his eyes. “I was only trying to defend myself,” Ellis explained. “I wasn’t trying to hurt anybody.”

Mrs. Monroe walked over and gently put her hand on Ellis’ head. “Why don’t you sit down and tell us what happened,” she said. Ellis put his book bag down then sat on the couch, with Freddye trailing closely behind.  “I accidentally kicked the ball out of bounds and some of the kids got mad,” Ellis said. “I know Max wanted me to let him score, but he always hogs the ball and I saw an opening!” Ellis looked down. “But I missed.”

“And then?” his father prompted.

“Max got really mad and started yelling at me. And some of the other kids said stuff too.” Ellis sniffed. “And there were no teachers, and not even Toro was there. But then Max got in my face and said he should ‘drop kick me’.  I got mad and a little scared, too so I pushed him away.”

“Was he hurt?” asked his mother.

Ellis shook his head. “Well, he did fall down,” he admitted.

“Good!” piped up Freddye. “He deserved it for being mean to you!”

“Okay, Ellis,” said Dr. Monroe. “That’s what the principal told us as well. Lots of kids saw what happened and they said a few of the kids were ganging up on you.”

Freddye punched a fist into her hand. “Next time I see Max, I’m gonna hit him right in the nose for messing with my brother,” she said.

Ellis smiled at his sister. “You don’t need to do that, Freddye, but I sure won’t be helping Max with his science homework anymore.”

“Now just a minute, both of you,” said Mrs.Monroe. “We have made it clearthat you have the right to defend yourself, but that doesn’t mean you can just go around punching people in the nose. I want you and Freddye to think about how you want things to go from here. Is Max always mean to you? Is he really your enemy?”

Ellis thought for a minute. “Not really,” he admitted.

Turning her full attention back to Ellis, Mrs. Monroe continued. “Then it might be a good idea for you to think about why you and Max both acted the way you did.”

Ellis frowned. Max had acted like a big bully, and Ellis didn’t have anyone else on his side. But Max didn’t usually bully people. He just hated losing. And he actually was a really good soccer player. But that didn’t make it okay for him to say those things to Ellis.

“Your mother is right, kids,” Dr. Monroe added as he gathered Ellis and Freddye in front of him. “No matter what anyone else does, you have to decide what kind of person you’re going to be.” The children nodded silently, sitting side-by-side on the couch.

Dr. Monroe began to smile. “Well, on a happier note,” he began. “We have some exciting news for you.”

“What is it, Daddy?” Freddye asked.

“Remember how I told you that we might be taking a big trip soon?” Ellis and Freddye leaned forward in anticipation.  “Well, my colleague, Dr. Patel, has asked me to help study some ruins of an ancient civilization they recently discovered,” Dr. Monroe paused for a moment, keeping them in suspense. “The ruins are in India, so we are all going to travel there over Spring Break!”

Freddye gasped and Ellis leaped to his feet. “Oh yeah! I’ve got to tell Toro!” he said. “Is it okay if I call him?” At his parents’ nods, Ellis ran to the next room to call his best friend.

“Hey!” Ellis said when Toro got on the phone. “Are you feeling any better?”

“Yeah,” said Toro. “I’ll be back at school tomorrow. Did I miss anything today?”

“Kind of,” Ellis began then went on to describe the scene at recess. “Max was acting meaner than those Bugabols,” he told Toro.

Toro nodded his head in understanding. It was just a few months ago that he, Ellis and Freddye had discovered a group of trolls called Bugabols hiding out at their school. When they learned that the Bugabols were trying to stop children from learning, Ellis, Toro and Freddye devised a plan to stop them. Not only did they succeed with the help of a magic mirror, but Ellis learned that he had the special mark of the Stonekeeper, and was given a beautiful purple and yellow gem by a strange presence in the woods. “The journey of the Stonekeeper has begun,” the voice in the forest told them. While no one knew exactly what that meant, Ellis, Toro and Freddye had been on the lookout for more adventure ever since.

“Wow, that’s pretty bad,” said Toro. “I’m sorry I wasn’t there to back you up.”

“It’s okay,” Ellis said. “Besides, I’ve got some really good news.”

“Me, too!” Toro said excitedly, “You first.”

“My family is going to India for Spring Break with my Dad to study some ruins!” As soon as Ellis said it, he felt less excited than he wanted to be. “I wish you could come with us, Toro.”

“Well, guess what?” Toro asked, more excited than ever.

“What?” Ellis replied.

“I’m going to India, too,” Toro blurted out. “Since my mom’s a botanist, they asked if she could come and help them identify some of the seeds and plants they found there. So…”
he paused, “Mom, Dad and I are going on the trip with you!”

Ellis’s mouth fell open, then he dropped the phone and let out a loud whoop. “This is going to be the best spring break ever!” he shouted.

Later that evening, Ellis’ father showed the family some photos from the archaeological site. “A great city once thrived here,” Dr. Monroe said.

“How do you know that, Daddy?” asked Freddye.

“There are ruins all over the area, some of them quite large. And a range of artifacts – from tools to crafts,” he answered. “Dr. Patel, the lead archaeologist on the project, says that some of the artifacts came from other parts of the world, which means that these ancient people either had visitors from all over the world or they were great explorers.”

“What is this?” Ellis asked, holding up a photo of a statue with a green body surrounded by flowers.

“That is Tara. She is a Hindu goddess,” Ellis’ mother said. As an art history teacher, Mrs. Monroe knew a lot about statues.

“Wow! I’ve never seen a god look like that before,” Freddye exclaimed as she noted the statue’s peaceful pose and elaborate headdress. “And she’s sitting on a lotus flower, which is kind of cool!”

“Is a Hindu god like a kind of superhero?” asked Ellis.

Mrs. Monroe laughed. “Well, I guess you could say that.”

“What kind of superpowers does Tara have?”

“She doesn’t have powers like super-human strength or x-ray vision,” Mrs. Monroe explained. “But people of the Hindu faith believe that she can help you gain compassion for others.”

“That doesn’t sound nearly as good as being able to fly or pick up cars,” said Ellis doubtfully.

His mother smiled. “Being strong is not the only way to be powerful.”

Ellis thought about that as Mrs. Monroe picked up another photo. “They must have had an important connection to water,” she said. “See all the drawings of people swimming?”

Ellis examined one photo that showed images of people diving into a large pool. “It’s like an underwater world.” In one drawing two people were swimming past a huge blue statue.

“That’s strange,” Mrs. Monroe said, as she flipped through all the photos again.

“What is, Mom?” asked Ellis.

“With such an obvious connection to the water, I’m surprised there is no evidence of ship building,” she said. “How did they gather all of these artifacts if they didn’t travel over the water?”

“I was thinking the same thing,” Dr. Monroe agreed.  Ellis looked at the photo more carefully. He absentmindedly rubbed the star-shaped birthmark on the back of his hand that the Bugabols said identified him as the Stonekeeper.

“Maybe they could swim like fish,” Freddye offered.

Both her parents chuckled. “Well, that’s one theory you can explore when we get there.”

But Ellis didn’t laugh. He just looked at his sister. Stranger things have happened, he thought. She might be on to something.

(  Continued in the Ellis and The Hidden Cave, Early Reader Chapter Book…  )

© 2016 All rights reserved.  Excerpt from Ellis and The Hidden Cave.  Book excerpt reprinted by permission of the author, Cerece Rennie Murphy.  Do not reproduce, copy or use without the author’s written permission. This excerpt is used for promotional purposes only.

About the Collaborators

Aryeh is a very curious boy and Cerece is his Mommy. “We dedicate this book to boys and girls everywhere who still like lots of pictures when reading all those words.”

Greg is an enthusiastic artist who loves a good story to draw. “I dedicate this book to all my nephews and nieces. If this doesn’t make me the coolest uncle, I don’t know what will.”

Carol is a lifelong book enthusiast who loves helping create new stories for the next generation of children. Carol dedicates this book to L and E for introducing her to the world of children’s books.

Purchase the books from the author, go to:

To learn more about the Ellis series, please visit our website at

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Kids celebrating literature and Black History Month at the Barnes and Noble in Antioch, CA!
So honored to have Ellis and The Magic Mirror picked by the Sistahs on the Reading Edge
as their elementary school book selection!!



Ellis and The Magic Mirror
by Cerece Rennie Murphy

Ellis Monroe has always been curious about the world. When his father brings home an ancient mirror with the power to reveal the truth about the people and things around him, Ellis begins to see the world in a whole new way. But things get more than a little strange/even more interesting when Ellis brings the mirror to school. While on the playground with the mirror and his best friend Toro Quispe, Ellis discovers that someone or something is hiding out at Harriet Tubman Elementary and trying to stop children from learning. Determined to solve the mystery, Ellis, Toro, and his little sister, Freddye go on a secret mission to find out the truth about the mischievous Buddy Cruster and stop whatever he has planned. Join Ellis, Freddye and Toro as their quest leads them deep into the forest and on an adventure you will never forget!

Ellis and The Magic Mirror Book Reviews

“Delightful and unexpected. Young readers will thoroughly enjoy this book.”
– Tanya Barnett, Founder and CEO, Forever Free Books

“The story kept my children waiting for more with every chapter. They really enjoyed it.”
– E. Mitchell, mother of a 2

“A fun adventure that teaches goodness and the power of friendship.  It is a great book that helps take reluctant readers to the next level.  The story is interesting and highlights the importance of team work and the unique characteristics each of us have that adds to the team. The sky is the limit with the adventures this crew can have! Such fun.”
– Mrs. Mommy Book Nerd blog

“A Children’s Book 4 Geeks! When you read the first two or three pages of Ellis and The Magic Mirror, you’re probably going to think that it’s just a regular children’s book with a generic… message that’s supposed to come across to readers. Though shortly after…you’ll realize it’s much more than that. There are great lessons throughout the book that should not be overlooked. I highly recommend getting this book to share with young children.  It’s a great book to read to kids and you’ll have as much fun reading it as they will listening to it.”
– Black Girl Nerds

“At a mere 33 pages, I was delighted at how the authors captured a fun and adventurous story succinctly in a manner that will inspire even the most reluctant of readers to pick up the book and read. The illustrator captures the essence of the characters with fierce illustrations that draw a child’s eye to the page. While this book would be listed as an “Early Chapter Book,” it stands to be put in a class of its own because of the bright, colorful illustrations throughout the book, the edgy, kid approved story line, and the short, easy to read chapters.”
– Books, Babies, and Bows

“The vocabulary and reading levels are very appropriate for second and third grade readers.  The…plot is great [and] kept my attention.  I also like that the main characters are African-American children dealing with normal…lives.  I have struggled to find books with African-American characters who are not stereotyped or set in a time period of racial struggle…great job!!! .”
– M. Erb, 2nd Grade Teacher

Purchase Ellis and The Magic Mirror by Cerece Rennie Murphy
Children’s Books > Action & Adventure > Chapter Books & Early Readers


Why Add the Ellis Series To Your Kid’s Book Collection?
As a mother of a 8 year old boy and a 5 year girl, I know that there are a lot of great books out there for kids.  My husband and I are avid readers and have been committed to encouraging literacy in our kids since before they were born.  But as our son’s reading level matured, we noticed that the books available to him seemed to hold less of his interest.  The early reader chapter books that we found often lacked the action and adventure he craved. And when they did have action, they had little or no pictures (and rarely in color) to accompany the story line.  This often left him too intimidated to give them a try (“There are too many words, Mommy!”) even though he had the ability to read them.  We also noticed that protagonists who looked like him were getting harder and harder to find. I heard the same struggle echoed by parents and teachers of kids around our son’s age.  We were all looking to fill the gap between the Fly Guy series and the next Rick Riordan book.   And that’s how I came up with the concept for The Ellis Series.

With full color illustrations integrated throughout the five-chapter story, Ellis and The Magic Mirror was written and designed to facilitate an easier transition from storybook to chapter book for young readers (ages 6-10 years old).  By combining the vibrant images that storybook readers are accustomed to with a more challenging narrative, Ellis and the Magic Mirror strives to encourage early readers to dive into more complex stories, without sacrificing beautiful imagery.

The Ellis Adventure Series can contribute to your collection in 3 main ways:

* It is unique in the world of early reader chapter books that typically leave vibrant illustrations at the front cover,

* It fills a growing need among parents and teachers for books that capture the attention of reluctant readers, (especially boys) while still moving their reading abilities forward, and

* It offers a diverse group of main characters who are doing cool things in a world that is modern and full of possibilities.

In addition, the story of Ellis and The Magic Mirror is laced with themes that emphasize character building, the unique qualities that reside within every child and the value of learning, family and friendship.  These messages could be used in any school, library, home school or church setting to enhance and enrich a range of character building and educational activities. (It also makes a great bedtime story!)   Download the FREE Discussion Guide for Ellis and The Magic Mirror here.

Ellis and The Magic Mirror is available in hardcover and paperback and distributed through the Ingram Book Group.  Please click here to download purchase information for this title. Review copies are available in paperback and electronic format upon request.


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