Rowan is a very lonely ten-year-old girl. Her parents sent her to stay with her aunt and uncle, and she feels rejected by everyone around her. She tends to get into accidental mischief, which causes Rowan's relatives to keep threatening to send her to boarding school. In another dimension, Gopher is a burrowing tortoise. In Gopher's world animals are intelligent and communicate telepathically, while all humans are "dull" and only used as beasts of burden. Gopher and four other friends live together as burrow mates. For their burrow to be officially recognized by the Elders they must find one more for their group. The problem is they are all too young and no one wants to join them to help protect the burrow. One day, while digging a new tunnel, Gopher falls through a sinkhole and discovers a whole new realm. There Gopher meets Rowan and discovers to his horror that in this new world humans can talk, and while they don't know how to use telepathy yet, the fact that they communicate shocks Gopher. What a catastrophe it would be if humans suddenly became intelligent! Becoming friends, Rowan learns to communicate telepathically and vows to help Gopher find his way back home. But her task just got a lot more complicated when Gopher is captured by a tortoise hunter and Rowan discovers that construction will soon begin over the sinkhole leading to Gopher's world. The race is on to rescue Gopher, stop the construction, and get him back home again before someone discovers Gopher's secret.
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