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Sula and the Singing Shell
By Katy Kit, Tom Knight
ALBERT WHITMAN & CompanyCopyright © 2012 Tom Knight
All rights reserved.
Sula was waiting alone outside the Merschool for her mermaid friends to arrive. The Merschool choir had been invited to King Neptune's Palace to sing in a concert to honor Princess Rowena, who was visiting from the South Sea. There was to be one last rehearsal before the performance the following afternoon. Sula shivered in the cold winter water and looked nervously around.
"Sula ... Sula ..." a ghostly voice called.
Sula peered into the gloom, but there was no one around. She must have been hearing things. Where are they? she thought impatiently. They're not usually late.
"Sula ... Sula ..." the ghostly voice called again.
This time, Sula started to feel frightened. Her eyes grew large, her heart beat fast, and soon, every scale on her tail was standing on end. How she wished her friends were here.
Suddenly, out of the murky water, in a flash of shimmering color, something appeared.
"Aaaaaaaahh!" Sula screamed.
"It's only me!" cried Jasmine gleefully.
"Oh my goodness," said Sula. "I thought you were a ghost. I almost leaped out of my scales!"
Just then Rosa, Melody, and Coral swam up. "Sula, what's the matter?" asked Rosa. "What happened, Jasmine?"
"I was only teasing," said Jasmine mischievously. "But Sula's such a frighty fish. I'm sorry, Sula."
"I've got a lively imagination, that's all," replied Sula, feeling a little foolish.
The friends went quiet.
"And a beautiful voice, too," said Coral, trying to cheer Sula up. "No wonder Madam Octavia chose you to sing the solo."
"Come on, let's go in. Everyone will be waiting for us," said Melody.
"Yes," said Rosa. "Madam Octavia wants our song to be note-perfect tomorrow. It's not often we have a real princess visiting Mermaid Bay, after all!"
The mermaids followed Rosa along a path lit up by tiny starfish that led to the school door. They talked as they swam.
"I can hardly wait to meet the princess," said Sula, brightening up. "It's going to be really exciting. Tell us some more about her, Coral. You've seen her before, haven't you? What does she look like?"
"Well, she's tall and graceful," replied Coral, "with a beautiful silver tail and long, dark hair. But the most wonderful thing about Princess Rowena is that she is incredibly kind."
"Kind!" sneered Muriel, one of the older mermaids in the choir who was following them in. "More like a busybody. Ever since that huge storm in the South Sea that destroyed the merfolks' homes, all I've heard about is her offer to help. It's 'Princess Rowena did this, Princess Rowena did that.' I mean, please!"
"I agree," said Myrtle, her twin sister, joining in. "What exactly can a royal princess do? She has no idea what they're going through. They don't need her help. I'm sure they can manage on their own."
"Muriel! Myrtle! I can't believe what you're saying. You're lucky it didn't happen to us," said Rosa, pushing open the rehearsal cavern door.
"Come in, come in, my darlings," boomed Madam Octavia, the mermaids' music teacher. "How are we all feeling about our little performance tomorrow? You will not let me down, will you, my sweet things? King Neptune does not often make such a request. You must make him proud."
"Don't worry, Madam Octavia," said Rosa. "The performance will be perfect. None of us could bear to disappoint the king."
"Yes, he is special to us all, isn't he? And Sula, my darling, how is that voice of yours? Such a voice I have not heard in my whole life — and that is longer than any of you can possibly imagine," she chuckled.
"It's not good, I'm afraid," said Sula. "Just the thought of singing in front of an audience makes me feel terrible. I'm afraid that I will open my mouth tomorrow and nothing will come out."
"Don't worry, my darling," said Madam Octavia. "It's just your nerves. I will help you with some breathing exercises that will calm you down. You must look after your voice. It should be treated like a jewel and treasured so that tomorrow, and forever, it will shine." Sula smiled weakly, but she was really very worried. What if she let them all down?
Excerpted from Sula and the Singing Shell by Katy Kit, Tom Knight. Copyright © 2012 Tom Knight. Excerpted by permission of ALBERT WHITMAN & Company.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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