Sweetwater

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On the planet Harmony, Tyree and his people are fighting to survive. Their beautiful world holds terrible dangers — vicious sea creatures, diminishing food supplies, and, at the heart of it all, a rising tide that will soon destroy the city where they cling to their way of life.

Tyree has secretly befriended Amadeus, the greatest songmaster of the native alien race. Amadeus teaches Tyree about the power of music, and, to Tyree's blind sister, he gives an awesome treasure. But ...

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Overview

On the planet Harmony, Tyree and his people are fighting to survive. Their beautiful world holds terrible dangers — vicious sea creatures, diminishing food supplies, and, at the heart of it all, a rising tide that will soon destroy the city where they cling to their way of life.

Tyree has secretly befriended Amadeus, the greatest songmaster of the native alien race. Amadeus teaches Tyree about the power of music, and, to Tyree's blind sister, he gives an awesome treasure. But his gift kindles the fears of Tyree's people — fears more dangerous than the sea itself. Tyree must help his people before they tear their community apart.

In this richly inventive science-fiction novel, acclaimed children's author Laurence Yep creates a future world that is as haunting and as powerful as the song that Tyree learns to play — Sweetwater.

A boy and his people, colonists on the planet Harmony, try to save their way of life.

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Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature
Terrible dangers await those who live on the planet of Harmony. Don't let the name of the planet fool you. There are great dangers that face the inhabitants every day, and a tide that is getting larger and larger and will soon wipe out the entire city where Tyree and his people live. Tyree's friend, Amadeus, teaches him the song "Sweetwater" and the power of music. What a wonderful gift to give someone; however, what is looked upon as a gift to some, fuels the fears of others. Fear begins to take over the people thoughts and Tyree must find a way to save his people from themselves and from the impending disasters. This young boy who is both naive and simple must accept the reality of the dangers of prejudice. He must identify what is really important in his life and find the courage to protect it. Astonishing, lifelike descriptions add believability to the characters and the reader can actually envision himself as part of the city. This science fiction novel will hold the reader's interest from the first to the last page. Both boys and girls will enjoy reading this novel and will want to read more by Laurence Yep. I highly recommend this to be part of any classroom library. It will hook even the most reluctant reader. Words like terrific, wow, and fantastic come to mind when I think of this book! 2003, HarperCollins Publishers, Ages 10 up.
— Kathie M. Josephs
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780060560287
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 12/23/2003
  • Pages: 208
  • Age range: 8 - 12 Years
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.25 (h) x 0.77 (d)

Meet the Author

Laurence Yep is the acclaimed author of more than sixty books for young people and a winner of the Laura Ingalls Wilder Award. His illustrious list of novels includes the Newbery Honor Books Dragonwings and Dragon's Gate; The Earth Dragon Awakes: The San Francisco Earthquake of 1906, a Texas Bluebonnet Award nominee; and The Dragon's Child: A Story of Angel Island, which he cowrote with his niece, Dr. Kathleen S. Yep, and was named a New York Public Library's "One Hundred Titles for Reading and Sharing" and a Bank Street College of Education Best Children's Book.

Mr. Yep grew up in San Francisco, where he was born. He attended Marquette University, graduated from the University of California at Santa Cruz, and received his PhD from the State University of New York at Buffalo. He lives in Pacific Grove, California, with his wife, the writer Joanne Ryder.

Julia Noonan's many award-winning books for children include Baby Bat's Lullaby by Jacquelyn Mitchard and When the Moon is High by Alice Schertle. Her own books include The Very Best Doll and Hare and Rabbit: Friends Forever. Ms. Noonan has two children and makes her home in Stony Brook, New York.

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First Chapter

Sweetwater

Chapter One

The Great Silkie

The galaxy is an awfully big place so I don't expect you to know about my home world, Harmony; but my ancestors came from Earth. If you go out some cold winter night and look for your constellation Virgo, you might be able to see the tiny pinprick of light on her left side where her heart ought to be. That's my star, but even if you strained your eyes, you wouldn't be able to see the fifth planet around that star, which is my world.

It's a hard life on a star colony and most humans are too busy trying to survive even to learn where Earth is in the night sky, but that was one of the first things Pa taught me. Pa said that at least his son would remember Earth. He said that in each generation one of us must be able to tell the others about the old Earth ways, and I guess he was right.

But I think it's just as important that we don't forget our city, Old Sion, now that we're about to leave it, and I think it's even more important that we remember how we lost it. Pa says that no one person's responsible, but I figure Pa's just being nice. If I hadn't wanted to play the flute or go mixing with aliens, we wouldn't have had so much trouble. Anyway, I'm going to try to write about what happened during the last few years. And maybe, just maybe, I can save something of what we're losing -- for the generations to come on Harmony and for you people back on Earth who don't know what it's like to live on a star colony.

The first thing you ought to know is that our colony here was split into two groups, the ones we call the Mainlanders and my own group, the Silkies. You see, the original colony built a city on what they thought was the coast; but Harmony has a fifty-year cycle of tides and they built Old Sion during the lowest time of the tides. When the sea rose, half submerging the city, a lot of the colonists gave up and moved to the mountain ranges twenty miles to the east where they knew it would be dry and built a new city, called New Sion.

But my ancestors stayed on in the city, learning to adjust to the new kind of life, traveling about in the flooded streets in boats. They took so well to the half-flooded city that the other colonists began to call my ancestors Silkies. The Mainlanders meant it as an insult because the mythical Silkies were so ugly on the land, but my ancestors adopted the name with pride because the Silkies were beautiful in their own mysterious sea.

From the very day the colony was founded, my ancestors had never gotten along with the other colonists. My ancestors had been the crews of the starships that had brought the colonists here, and they had never intended to stay; but when their starships broke down, they were stranded. Because of their different background and because of pride, they stayed apart from the other colonists. And these lonely men fell in love with a city no one else wanted. Each family of Silkies took a house, salvaging more than enough to make their homes comfortable. A lot of the former residents just left things -- like chairs and tables -- intending to come back for them later and then forgetting about them. Ma got all her pots when Pa found them in a waterproof bag left in someone's flooded basement.

For light they learned to use luminescent mosses, and they took their food from the sea. They turned the flooded alleys into sea gardens by damming them with rubble and then stocking each alley with oysters, clams, and seaweed. (Of course, the oysters and clams and seaweed weren't exactly like the kinds you find on Earth, but we gave Earth names to their counterparts on Harmony.) All the animals grew fat in the slack water of the gardens, but it was a lot of work keeping them inside the dams and keeping the predators out. Households used the food from the sea gardens for a change in their diet; but their main food came from the annual fish run.

Every fall, schools of Sunfish swam from the sea up a river to spawn deep in the interior of the mainland. That was really something to see, too, when the sea turned to gold. It was like the sea was trying to make up for all the hard months by just pouring food into your basements. But don't let me give you the wrong idea. That fish run meant a lot of hard work, so that when we relaxed we really relaxed.

For two weeks of each winter, the whole Commune would do nothing but eat and drink and sing and dance -- everyone, that is, except my father. Ever since my father was elected Captain, he hated to be seen wasting time. Though my parents liked music, Pa didn't think they ought to show it in public. Ma's got a beautiful voice but Pa and my little sister Caley and I were about the only ones who got to hear her. During the winter fête, Pa always made us sit on the side, backs straight against the wall, smiling solemnly while the other folks had fun. It was like Pa didn't want the other Silkies to think he was frivolous. I asked him one time about Great-Great-Grandpa Lamech, who was not only the first Captain of the Silkies but also a great fiddler. All Pa said was that things were different in those days.

Sweetwater. Copyright © by Laurence Yep. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
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