The Turtle (Lighthouse Family Series)by Cynthia Rylant, Preston McDaniels (Illustrator)
A thick fog has found its way up north to the Lighthouse Family, surrounding the cliffs and the waters below. Always ready to lend a hand, the lighthouse
Newbery Medalist Cynthia Rylant brings the peaceful sounds, sights, and characters of the coast vividly to life in the fourth book of the Lighthouse Family series, in which the family rescues a trapped turtle.
A thick fog has found its way up north to the Lighthouse Family, surrounding the cliffs and the waters below. Always ready to lend a hand, the lighthouse siblings, Whistler and Lila, help Seabold guide small ships to land. As they overlook the foggy waters, a distant voice emerges from the rocks below. Using only a rope and their hearts as a guide, the lighthouse crew makes their way down the side of the cliff and find much more than the strongest light could have shown.
Read an Excerpt
Chapter 1: Fog
At the edge of a rocky cliff, high above the beautiful waves of a blue-green sea, there stood a proud lighthouse, and in this lighthouse there lived a family.
This was an unusual family, but a very happy one. At one time they had all been scattered about the world, living very different lives, never knowing that the future would one day bring them together.
There was Pandora, the cat, who had lived all alone at the lighthouse. Bravely she tended the great lamp year after year to help those who sailed the seas in fog and darkness and who might be in danger of shipwreck. Seeing the bright beacon across the water, sailors carefully turned their ships away from the deadly rocks of the shore.
Seabold, the dog, was for many years a sailor himself and a very fine one. He was quite proud of the boat he called Adventure. But one dark night Seabold was tossed into the ocean in a storm, and though this might have been an unlucky turn in the dog's life, it was, in fact, good fortune. For Seabold washed up, alive, on Pandora's shore. Pandora found him, sheltered him, and they found in each other a true friend.
The dog, however, knew that he must return to the sea, to a sailor's life, once he and his boat were mended. Pandora knew this too, for the sea was the very heart of Seabold's life, and she understood.
But then one day they found the children, and everything changed.
Pandora spotted three orphan mice -- Whistler, Lila, and their baby sister Tiny -- adrift in a crate in the vast blue waters. The children, who had fled an uncertain fate in an orphanage, were carried into the lighthouse, warmed, fed, and, ultimately,loved.
Seabold did not leave. The children did not leave. Having found one another, everyone wanted to stay. So in the sanctuary that was Pandora's lonely lighthouse, they all became a family. And the lighthouse was lonely no more.
Now winter was nearing. The days were shorter and colder, and a thick, damp fog rolled into shore nearly every morning. From their cottage window high on the cliff, Whistler and Lila could see the clear blue sky above them but only a gray cotton blanket of fog below. Sometimes they saw the masts of small boats poking up through the fog like twigs in a snowdrift.
Lighthouse keeping became very important work in these times. Seabold often stood at the edge of the cliff for hours, sounding a foghorn in his hands, guiding small boats in to shore and warning the large schooners away. Lila and Whistler loved to be near Seabold as he worked, but on the windiest days Pandora so worried they might be blown off the cliff that she insisted the children tie themselves to the porch post. This, of course, required the children to be very creative in their play. They also had to be patient, for they could hear each other's voices only between the blasts of Seabold's horn.
"Let's pretend we've been captured by pirates," suggested Whistler. "They've tied us to the masts until we tell them where the treasure is."
"Let's be kites," said Lila, spreading her arms wide and spinning in circles.
Seabold sounded the horn. The children waited.
When all was quiet again, Whistler said, "Brrrr. It's so cold today. Maybe we should just pretend we're on our way home for tea."
"Yes!" said Lila, shivering and tucking in her scarf. "Let's pretend we live right here and can run inside and get warm."
"And that someone nice will bake us something toasty," said Whistler.
"And sweet," added Lila.
She looked at her brother.
"Isn't it nice we don't have to pretend that story?" Lila asked with a smile.
But just as Whistler was about to answer, they suddenly heard a voice from the thick fog below:
"Hello? Hello up there?"
Lila looked at Whistler.
"Goodness," she said.
"Who is it, Seabold?" called Whistler.
"Did you hear?" called Lila. She wished she could untie herself and run to Seabold's side. But she knew she must mind Pandora.
"Who goes there?" Seabold shouted down into the fog bank.
He waited for an answer. The children waited for an answer. None came.
Seabold returned to the children and gathered up the ropes, which had kept them safe.
"I am going down to the shore, children," Seabold said. "You must go inside and wait with Pandora. And have her set hot tea to brewing, for that was a very mysterious call. Who knows what I might bring back."
"May I come with you, Seabold?" asked Whistler.
"And I?" asked Lila.
Seabold carefully studied them.
"Please?" asked Whistler. "We like to help."
Seabold smiled and patted the boy's shoulder.
"Indeed you do," he said. "Run, then. Tell Pandora."
The children hurried into the kitchen to tell Pandora the news. Pandora was mixing up something in a bowl while Tiny slept tucked in a candlesnuffer on the windowsill.
"Oh, yes," said Pandora. "Do go. Seabold may need your help."
She lifted up the ends of the ropes still attached to the children.
"But see to it that you are safely tied to Seabold," she said. "A strong gust and I dread to think what might happen."
The children ran back outside. Then, with the ends of their safety ropes looped to the buttons of Seabold's coat, they started carefully down the cliff to see who might be helped.
Text copyright © 2005 by Cynthia Rylant
Meet the Author
Cynthia Rylant is the author of more than 100 books for young people, including the beloved Henry and Mudge, Annie and Snowball, Brownie & Pearl, and Mr. Putter & Tabby series. Her novel Missing May received the Newbery Medal. She lives in Lake Oswego, Oregon. Visit her at CynthiaRylant.com.
Preston McDaniels is the illustrator of the Phineas L. MacGuire series and Cynthia Rylant’s Lighthouse Family series. He lives in Aurora, Nebraska.
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