Stolen By the Sea

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A young girl survives the worst hurricane in

American hisrory.

Maggie McKenna loves the sea, and being able to swim in the gulf and walk along the seashore with her father. Her time with him is so precious, in fact, that she fiercely envies her unborn sibling, and even Felipe, the local errand boy. When her father has to take her mother to Houston to see the doctor, Maggie is left behind. But soon she is facing the battle of her life when one ...

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A young girl survives the worst hurricane in

American hisrory.

Maggie McKenna loves the sea, and being able to swim in the gulf and walk along the seashore with her father. Her time with him is so precious, in fact, that she fiercely envies her unborn sibling, and even Felipe, the local errand boy. When her father has to take her mother to Houston to see the doctor, Maggie is left behind. But soon she is facing the battle of her life when one of the most powerful hurricanes of the century ravages Galveston, destroying homes and lives in a powerful and violent flood. Her only chance at surviving is to join forces with Felipe as they try to ride out the storm together.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780802789761
  • Publisher: Walker & Company
  • Publication date: 8/22/2006
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 144
  • Age range: 8 - 12 Years
  • Product dimensions: 5.46 (w) x 8.24 (h) x 0.40 (d)

Meet the Author

Anna Myers is the author of more than one dozen books for Walker & Company, including Tulsa Burning, a New York Public Library Book for the Teen Age, and Flying Blind, an Oklahoma Book Award finalist. Anna lives in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

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Stolen by the Sea
By Anna Myers Walker & Company

Copyright © 2006 Anna Myers
All right reserved.

ISBN: 9780802789761

Chapter One

Before the storm, Maggie McKenna lived in a big house, tall and white. Inside it smelled of furniture polish and the roses from Mama's garden. Upstairs in her bedroom, Maggie had new dresses with lace and starched collars. On her bed were a pink organdy spread and big soft pillows.

    Before the storm Maggie's house stood on the corner of a wide street lined with huge oak trees. Around the house was a sparkling white fence that separated Maggie's house from her city. Maggie loved her city. She loved Galveston, Texas. Maggie's papa called Galveston the Queen of the Gulf. Galveston had sturdy brick buildings, theaters, and flowers. Best of all, Galveston had the sea with its crashing blue-green waves or its peaceful lapping sound. Maggie loved to walk on the beach with her collie dog, Bonnie, and she loved to run into the water with her friends, Beth and Harriet. Papa taught all three girls to swim in the gulf, and on summer evenings he often took them to enjoy a dip. Before the storm Maggie loved the sea.

    The storm came in September, but all that summer Maggie felt a storm building inside her, a dark storm caused by jealousy. "Don't be so hateful," she would whisper to herself when she felt the storm rumbling inside her. She would shake her head and try to smile, butthe darkness would not be driven out. Maggie's father liked boys best. She knew that with a terrible certainty, knew it whenever she saw Papa with Felipe, who came from the orphanage to work in the garden.

    "What a fine knife," Papa said to Felipe one day in early July. Maggie had just carried Felipe a sandwich to eat for lunch and a big glass of lemonade. Mama always liked to make sure Felipe ate well when he worked through lunchtime. He laid down the knife he had just used to cut string to tie up a rosebush.

    Maggie saw her papa coming up the walk and ran to meet him. He put his arm around her shoulder, and they walked together to the back steps. There Papa stopped and spoke to Felipe. He also looked down at the knife. "That's a fine knife," Papa said.

    "It belonged to my tata." Felipe stroked the knife that lay beside him. "It is all that I have of his. My tata could carve from wood, beautiful things. I am trying to learn."

    Papa put his hand on Felipe's shoulder. "I enjoy carving too," he said, "although I am no great artist. Maybe we could work together sometimes."

    Felipe looked up at Papa, and Maggie saw how his eyes sparkled. "That would be very nice," he said.

    "I am sure your father was proud to have a son like you," Papa said. "Any man would be proud."

    Papa's arm was still around Maggie's shoulder, but she wiggled away and went on inside. Tears burned at her eyes. "Don't cry," she told herself. She knew she shouldn't. Hadn't Papa told her just recently that he was proud of her? Couldn't she share her papa a little with an orphan like Felipe? She went often to the orphanage with her mama. Mama liked to help there with the sewing for the children, and Maggie liked going; She never minded when Mama lifted a lonely child to her lap. Maggie did not mind sharing Mama, but Papa was different. Mama did not like boys best.

    She had known that Papa liked boys best for several months now, since not long after Felipe came to work for them. "Perhaps we should consider taking in one of the boys over at St. Mary's," Papa said to Mama. Maggie had sat quietly on the front porch swing, and she heard the conversation through the parlor window.

    "Oh, no, Charles." Mamas voice sounded horrified. "The child would not be a true McKenna. I know I will give you a son. Just be patient."

    "It isn't the blood that matters, Katherine," Papa said. "Look at young Felipe. He is dear to me already. Perhaps we should adopt him."

    "Charles! What a strange idea. The boy is practically grown. He's far too old. I can't take some boy who is almost a man into my home. And what about his little sisters? He wouldn't want to leave them at the orphanage. Besides, there's Maggie. She could never adjust to suddenly having a half-grown brother."

    Maggie had slipped off the swing then and made her way quietly down the stairs. Felipe was working in the back garden, pulling the tiny pieces of grass that kept trying to come up in the flower beds. His dark head was bent over the flower beds, and he could not see Maggie watching him. He sang as he worked, but the words were ones he had learned in Mexico before he came to Galveston with his mother and father. Maggie could not understand his song.

    "Sing in English," she said to him. Then she lied to the boy her father wanted for a son. "Papa said you should always speak English here."

    Felipe raised his head, but he did not turn toward Maggie. "I was not speaking to you," he said. "I was singing to myself and to the flowers."

    "It is silly to sing to flowers," Maggie said. "How old are you?"

    "I am thirteen years."

    "That's older than I am," she said. "Thirteen is too old to be adopted!" Maggie's words came out as a shout.

    "I do not plan to be adopted," Felipe said quietly. "When my birthday comes next year I will leave St. Mary's. The sisters there are good, but an orphanage is no place for a fourteen-year-old."

    "Where will you go?" She did not shout this time. She could see that Felipe would not tolerate much shouting. If she wanted to talk to him, she could not speak in anger.

    This time he turned to look at Maggie before he spoke. "What do you care where it is that I go?"

    Maggie shrugged her shoulders. "Just wondered."

    Felipe pointed. "That way," he said. "I will go back to Mexico, and I will find my abuelos."

    "Abuelos? What does that mean? Speak English."

    "Grandparents," Felipe said, and he bent back over the flower beds. "I will go home and find my abuelos."

    "You will leave your little sisters in the orphanage?" Maggie asked. Maggie had often seen Felipe at the orphanage with his twin sisters. She liked him then, forgetting how jealous she felt when her papa stopped to talk to him even before he came into the house to say hello to her and Mama. Felipe was good to the little girls, who seemed always to be following him.

    "I have two little shadows," she had heard him say. He laughed and hugged the little girls to him. Maggie had liked his laugh at the orphanage, but now she felt too jealous to like anything about him.

    He did not answer her question, so she asked again. "What about your little sisters?"

    "I will return for my little sisters," he said, and he went back to pulling weeds. Maggie could see that the conversation was over. She would be glad when Felipe left for Mexico. Let him find his own family and leave hers alone.

    But that had been a few months ago, before anyone knew there would be a baby. Mama and Papa did not talk to Maggie about the baby because they thought she was too young to know about such things, but Maggie knew. "If God is merciful," Maggie had heard Mama tell Aunt Susan when she had come from Houston to visit, "I'll carry this child until December."

    Maggie wished Mama and Papa didn't think she was too young to talk to about the baby and too young to know about the others, the babies that had come too soon to live. Maggie knew. She knew why Mama had stayed in bed crying and Papas face had looked gray and sad.

    In late July Maggie celebrated her birthday. After dinner that night, Harriet came from across the street, and Beth came from across town. The two girls walked up the front walk together, and Maggie watched them from the doorway. She felt lucky to have such good friends. They were nothing alike. Beth was blond, like Maggie herself, and she laughed almost all the time. Harriet had dark hair and eyes. She did not have to fear the Galveston sun as much as her fair-skinned friends did. Harriet did not laugh as much as Beth, but she never missed anything. Maggie had never told either girl how she felt about her papa wanting a boy, but she was pretty sure Harriet knew.

    Both girls carried gifts wrapped in bright paper, and Maggie opened them as soon as her friends were inside. Beth's gift was a book full of clean white paper for drawing. Harriet brought a necklace, a small white heart painted with roses.

    "Thank you," Maggie said as she opened each gift, and she said thank you again before her attention turned to the table with her cake. Mama felt tired, so she sat with her feet up on the settee beside her. She took a small box from beneath a pillow and held it out to Maggie.

    "This is from your papa and me," she said. Mama gave Maggie a hug when Maggie bent down to take the gift.

    The box held a beautiful pearl ring. "Oh!" said Maggie. "Oh!"

    "You are a young lady now," Mama said. "Twelve is old enough to wear a real pearl ring."

    "Yes," Papa said. "You are a beautiful, grown-up young lady."

    Suddenly Maggie wished the ring had been a doll. She wanted to shout out that she did not want to be grown up. She looked over at her birthday cake on the table. Papa started to light the candles. Maggie wanted to shout some thing else too. She wanted to yell that she did not want her father to have a son either. She knew for sure that if the baby Mama would have in December turned out to be a boy, everyone would forget all about her.

    "The candles are ready," Papa said.

    "Don't forget to make a wish," Harriet said.

    "And blow out all the candles at once. That way your wish will come true," Beth told her.

    Maggie closed her eyes. I wish the baby would be born too soon, she thought. Then she stopped. How could she wish such a thing? How could she want a baby not to have life? How could she want her mama and papa to be so sad? Shame spread through her like heat from a fireplace. What could she do to take back her wish? She could fail to blow out the candles. She opened her eyes and blew gently. Only two candles went out.

    "Well," she said, "I guess that wish won't come true." She blew out the other ten candles at once.

    "What did you wish?" Beth asked.

    Maggie looked down at the cake and thought quickly. "I wished school wouldn't start in September. I wished we would have another month of vacation?"

    Beth had doubt on her face. "That's strange. You like school. That wasn't your real wish, was it?"

    Maggie felt her face grow red.

    "You don't have to tell us your wish," Harriet said. "On your birthday, you can have some secrets?"

    Maggie smiled at Harriet. She glanced at her parents. Good! They did not seem to be listening. Papa was busy cutting the cake and putting pieces on little plates. Mama had her eyes closed and her head back against a pillow.

    It was the next day that she saw the dog Felipe had carved. It looked like Bonnie. Felipe had it in his hand when he knocked on the back door.

    He made it for me, Maggie thought, and she felt ashamed of how angry she had felt toward Felipe. The dog was not perfect, but she could definitely tell that it was meant to be Bonnie. Maybe she and Felipe could get to be friends, Maggie thought.

    Felipe saw her looking at the dog, and suddenly he shoved it hard into his pocket. "It is not very good," he said. "Your father tried to help me, but I need more lessons."

    Maggie forgot her warm feelings. Felipe had no intention of giving her the dog. It was not right for him to carve a likeness of her dog with her father. Now he wanted more lessons.

    "Papa isn't here," she snapped. "Surely you know he is always at the bank on Monday mornings."

    "I do know," said Felipe, and he backed down the steps.

    Maggie closed the door and leaned against it. She wanted to cry, but Mama came into the kitchen just then. "Is something wrong?" Mama asked.

    "Just Felipe." Maggie made a face. "He made a carving of Bonnie. I thought he meant to give it to me, but he didn't. Do you think he should be allowed to make carvings of my dog?"

    Mama put out her hand to touch Maggie's blond hair. "Oh, sweetheart, your father told me about the carving. Felipe made it for your birthday. Probably he started to feel too shy to give it to you."

    Maggie shook her head. She did not want to believe it. "I don't think so," she said, but she wasn't sure. Why couldn't things just be simple like they used to be? She took Mama's arm and leaned her face against it. "Mama," she said, "sometimes I am not a very good person." Tears slipped from her eyes and ran down her cheek. "I am going to try to be better."

    "You are good," Mama said, "not perfect, but none of us are." She stopped to kiss Maggie's cheek. "I think you've grown up to be a fine lady."

    "Mama." Maggie swallowed big. It was hard to talk to Mama, but she felt determined. "Don't you think I'm grown up enough to talk to about why you are always sick?"

    Mama looked at Maggie for a minute before she spoke. "I'm not sick, darling, not exactly, more just tired. It is a hot summer, but I will feel better. You are not to worry about me."

    Mama hugged Maggie, who noticed that her mother's face seemed too white. What if having this baby was too much for Mama? Maggie had heard about lots of women who died giving birth. Would her papa be happy then? she wondered. Even if Mama died, would he be happy just to have a son?

    All through July and August, Maggie worried. Mama seemed to have no strength at all. Often she did not leave her bed until just before the evening meal. Maggie felt lonely with Mama so often in bed. Harriet had gone away on a trip with her mother to visit relatives in Louisiana, and Beth was away at her grandmother's in Houston.

    Only Myra seemed to have time for Maggie, and she often helped the housekeeper with her chores. Myra had worked for Papa's family since he was just a child not much older than Maggie. One morning Mama and Papa discussed Myra at breakfast.

    "Charles, we have to have more help. Myra is just too old to manage this house anymore," Mama said.

    "She keeps saying she won't have some silly woman getting in her way." Papa put his newspaper down on the breakfast table.

    "Well, tell her you insist. After all, you are her employer. Of course she will always have her room and her salary, but we have to have more help. Later, you know ..." Mama moved her eyes in Maggie's direction. "Later we will need. much more help. Just tell her, dear."

    "I will, Katherine. I will," Papa said.

    Maggie did not want someone else new in the house. Already there was a new cook, Daphne, who was hard to get along with. "I'll help Myra," she said. "Myra and I like to work together."

    Mama smiled at her, but neither she nor Papa really seemed to hear what Maggie had said. They hardly know I'm here, she thought.

    In the evenings Papa spent lots of time sitting beside Mama. Sometimes he read aloud to her. "Come and listen, why don't you?" Papa would call to Maggie, but she didn't.

    It was a restless, unhappy summer for Maggie, but in late August she decided to go to the orphanage alone. She had never been there without Mama, and it made her feel grown up. On the long trolley ride, she looked out at Galveston. The city was full of bright flowers and busy people. I want to live here always, Maggie thought. There could be no other spot as wonderful as Galveston.

    Maggie could see St. Mary's from where the trolley stopped. Two buildings stood on the grounds, tall and strong. They were made from brick and rock, and they were surrounded by a black iron fence.

    Maggie did not go inside the fence right away First, she wanted to look at the sea. Most of the time Maggie felt really sorry for the girls and boys who lived at St. Mary's because they didn't have a mama or papa or a regular house to live in, but when she looked at the sea, Maggie felt envious of the orphans. Maggie loved the great magical water better than just about anything. When the children of St. Mary's looked out the windows after they got up in the morning, they could see the ocean, and at night the waves would sing them to sleep.

    She climbed the stairs to the brick building, and her stomach felt a little uneasy. Maybe it was silly for her to come here to help all by herself. Maybe she really was too young to do anything. At the door, she hesitated before she knocked, but then she drew in her breath and stood tall. The sisters would be glad to see her. They were, Maggie believed, the kindest people in the world.

    "Is there a job I can do?" Maggie asked the sister who opened the door. "I'm Katherine McKenna's daughter. My mama is too sick to come to sew, but I would like to help somehow if I can."

    "You could play with the little girls," said the sister. "It would make them very happy."

    "It would make me happy too," said Maggie.

    The sister went up the stairs and came back with a group of little girls, who were all about the same size. They ran eagerly to Maggie. "Where should we play?" Maggie asked the sister, and she was pointed toward a back door.

    When Maggie had the girls settled on the back lawn, she had the chance to look at them. Felipe's little sisters, Rosa and Maria, were there along with four other girls. "What should we play?" Maggie asked.

    "Button, button, who has the button," yelled a little redheaded girl.

    "That would be good. Let me think what we could use for a button." Maggie felt in her pocket for the nickel trolley fare she would use to get back home, but she was afraid the nickel might get lost in the grass.

     "We could use Rosa's or Maria's necklace," suggested the same little girl.

    The twins looked at each other, and their hands went to their throats. Each girl wore a small wooden cross fastened to a black ribbon. The crosses were made of red wood, and the finish shone in the afternoon sun.

    Neither of the little girls said anything, but they looked at Maggie with distress. Maggie smiled at them. "I don't think Rosa or Maria wants to take off her necklaces," she said.

    "Our brother made them for us," said the one with the red ribbon in her hair.

    "He made it from part of a cedar tree," said the girl with the blue ribbon. "He used the knife that belonged to our papa when we had a papa of our very own."

    "Felipe remembers our papa and our mother," said the other twin, "but Maria and I were just babies back then." The little girl scooted closer to Maggie.

    Maggie reached out to touch the child's dark curls. "You are Rosa, then," she said.

    "Rosa in red, Maria in blue," said one of the other girls, and she pointed to the ribbons in the twins' hair.

    "Rosa in red, and Maria in blue. I'll remember that." Just then Maggie felt a small rock under her leg. She reached for it and held it up. "Here is our button." She turned toward the red-haired child. "What is your name?"


    "Well, Judy, this was your idea. You get to be it first." She gave the rock to the little girl. "Everyone get in a circle, put your hands behind you, and close your eyes." While Judy moved about, deciding who should get the button, Maggie opened her eyes slightly to see the little girls' faces. Each one had a big smile.

    When each girl had had a turn with the button, Maggie took them to the front where there was a sidewalk. She borrowed a piece of chalk from a sister and drew the hopscotch diagram. The little girls had never played the game, but they caught on quickly. "You are the funnest to play with," Maria said. She put her arms around Maggie's waist and hugged.

    "I know your brother," she said to the twins. "He comes almost every day to work in my mamas garden."

    "Is he your amigo?" Rosa asked.

    "I do not know what amigo means," said Maggie.

    "It means friend in Mexico," said Rosa. "Felipe wants us to know Mexican words."

    Maggie looked down at the chalk in her hand. She swallowed hard. "Yes," she said. "Your brother is my amigo." She would make it true, she decided. After all, she told herself, it was not Felipe's fault that Papa liked boys better than he did girls.

    The next day, she smiled at Felipe when she took his lunch to him, and he smiled back. But her friendly feelings did not last long.

    That very evening she changed her mind. She had hoped Papa would take her to the beach, but he said no. "I don't want to leave your mother alone," he explained. "She doesn't feel well this evening."

    "I understand," Maggie said. She hoped maybe Papa would talk to her then about the baby, but he only turned away to read his newspaper. Maggie took Bonnie and went up to her room.

    Later Maggie came down the back stairs. She had planned to go into her mother's room to keep her company, but she heard the sound of voices outside the kitchen screen door. She moved quietly to look out into the evening shadows. Papa sat on the steps with Felipe. They both held knives, and they both worked at wood. Just as Maggie got near the door, she heard Felipe laugh. Papa reached out and mussed Felipe's hair.

    She wanted to scream at them both. Papa must have known Felipe would come for a lesson. That was why he would not take Maggie to the ocean. She put her hand over her mouth to stop the sound of the sob that grew inside her. She tiptoed back through the kitchen, then ran up the stairs. Bonnie followed her.

    In her room, Maggie knelt on the floor. She put her arms around Bonnie, and she cried. Her friends were away, Mama was too tired to pay attention to her, and Papa was too busy with Felipe. No one loved her except Bonnie. She stayed in her room, went to bed early, and cried until she went to sleep.


Excerpted from Stolen by the Sea by Anna Myers Copyright © 2006 by Anna Myers. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 4, 2001

    A wonderful historical disaster novel.

    Wealthy, twelve-year-old Maggie lives in a large house in Galveston, Texas, with her parents in 1900. Lately, Maggie has felt ignored by her parents. The attention her father gives to Felipe, an orphan boy who does chores for the family, makes her believe he would prefer a son. Now that her mother is pregnant, she fears the new baby will take her place in her parents' hearts. When her father takes her mother to the doctor in Houston, Maggie is left alone with the elderly, sickly housekeeper and the grumpy cook. Even though the town expected a hurricane, it never expected the terrible storm that would hit. Even though she resents him, with the storm raging and the waters rising, Maggie may have to turn to Felipe for help if she is going to survive. I reccomend this book to young readers who like historical disaster stories.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 7, 2012

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    Posted September 11, 2011

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