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Melody and the Sea Dragon
By Katy Kit, Tom Knight
ALBERT WHITMAN & CompanyCopyright © 2012 Tom Knight
All rights reserved.
"Ruby, sapphire, diamond, emerald, opal, pearl," said Melody, pointing one-by-one at the gemstones that were laid out on the seabed in front of her. The five mermaid friends had gathered out at Coral Reef to make clothes and jewelry for the Mermaid Bay Spring Ball. Surrounded by fields full of silky seaweed, dainty sea pods, sparkling sea stars, and golden seagrass, it was the perfect place to spend an afternoon.
"What about this one, Melody?" asked Rosa, picking up a clear blue stone and holding it up to the light.
"That's aquamarine," replied Melody, pushing her glasses back on her nose. "It's called that because it's the color of seawater. In Latin, aqua means water and marine is just another word for sea."
"Latin? What's that? You're so clever, Melody," said Rosa. "How do you know all these things? All I know is that it will make a wonderful necklace. Will you hold this strand of silver seaweed, please, so that I can tie it in place?"
Melody held the delicate strand while Rosa threaded the gemstone on.
"There ..." she said, holding it up. "Perfect!"
All the mermaids were skilled at making jewelry, and they loved dressing up. The Spring Ball gave them the perfect excuse.
"Do you remember last year's ball?" said Jasmine. "Myrtle and Muriel were determined to arrive in style, so they persuaded a dolphin to pull their carriage. It swam at top speed and took a shortcut through Five Fathom Forest. When they arrived, Myrtle's top was torn to tatters and Muriel's tiara was bent out of shape. They thought everyone was laughing at them. They were furious for weeks."
Myrtle and Muriel were two older mermaids. They were always being mean to the five younger mermaids, who tried to keep out of their way.
"So how are we going to get there?" said Coral.
"We could use some mermaid magic to create a few water ponies," said Rosa, "and harness them to giant clamshells."
"That's a good idea," said Sula. "I'll round up some sea horses tomorrow."
"I'm so excited," said Coral. "I've never been to a ball before."
"That's right," said Jasmine. "You weren't here last year, were you? Oh, it's such fun. It's held out at Watery Downs."
"Is there dancing?" asked Coral.
"Plenty," replied Jasmine. "Throughout the whole afternoon. The last dance is the best one though: It's called 'Weave the Weed.'"
"That is a very strange name," giggled Coral.
"It's a strange dance!" joked Jasmine. "Everyone brings a string of seaweed onto which they've threaded jewels. When the dance is called, everyone who wants to join in stands in one of four lines of dancers that together form a square. Then the music begins, and the dancers swim across the square to the other side, weaving their weed first over then under everyone else's as they go. They do this over and over again until a huge seaweed carpet is woven. That's why it's called 'Weave the Weed.'"
"Sounds difficult," said Coral.
"You can get a little tied up, but it's great fun," continued Jasmine.
"Afterward the carpet is laid on the seabed and covered with the most delicious food. It's then that the feast begins."
"Weave the Weed is a very old dance," said Melody. "Long ago, before we were born, after all the food had been eaten, the carpet was rolled up each year and given to the sea dragon to take back to his lair. That was before the water fairies put a spell on him and banished him to the underwater caves behind Rainbow Falls. Since then, the carpets have been given to King Neptune to use in the palace."
"Why was the sea dragon banished?" asked Rosa.
"Because he got greedy," said Melody. "Apparently he started stealing things from the mermaids' homes. Then, one day, a mermaid went missing ..."
The mermaids gasped.
"And the sea dragon was blamed," she continued.
"What a frightening story," said Sula. "Thank goodness he's not going to be at the ball this year."
"Oh, it's going to be such fun," said Rosa. "Only two more days to wait!" "What do you think of this?" said Jasmine. She held up a strapless top. It was covered in hundreds of tiny seed pearls.
"It's stunning!" exclaimed Coral. The other mermaids agreed.
"And incredibly precious," said Melody. "Especially when you think that every one of those tiny pearls took around two years to grow!"
Excerpted from Melody and the Sea Dragon by Katy Kit, Tom Knight. Copyright © 2012 Tom Knight. Excerpted by permission of ALBERT WHITMAN & Company.
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