Sometimes, a big problem calls for a hero or two ... or maybe even hundreds of tiny heroes!
Large and small creatures alike live in the dark forest and safeguard the trees, plants, and the East and West Rivers. There are the ants and spiders, the little guardians on the ground; the shy horse with the heart of gold; a bat called Ivan; buzzing, busy bees; and a beautiful, glowing fish named Alice Mae.
But the East River has grown dark and ugly, poisoned by trash from the local factory; it is now unfit for life. The animals know they cannot let the West River follow the same path, or their lives will be in danger. They need a hero to help!
That hero is a child, one who visited long ago, and one who promised to come again should they ever need her. And that time is now ...
A timely story about the importance of respecting all life and taking care of our environment, A Child from Nowhere will delight and entertain the smallest child to the oldest adult. Dare to dream of a better place ... but be careful-you could change the world!
|Product dimensions:||6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.30(d)|
|Age Range:||7 - 9 Years|
Read an Excerpt
A Child from Nowhere
By Ann Lannin
iUniverse, Inc.Copyright © 2011 Ann Lannin
All right reserved.
Chapter OneEvery summer, our family comes to this big house near the lake. We all want to see how the children have grown and what each person has experienced during the time we have been apart. During the day, some of us play games, like volleyball or soccer. The front yard is so big you can play many different games at the same time. Or, you can swim in the clear blue water of the river. At the edge of the front yard, there is a rope hanging from the branch of a huge oak tree so, it's fun to swing high and let go, to see who can make the biggest splash when they hit the water.
At night, there is always a barbeque in the back yard. Sometimes, Uncle Ray plays his guitar and Aunt Ellie sings ... but the best part is always the stories. After everyone has finished eating, and the music and singing has ended, Big Betsy gathers the children and makes sure everyone has taken a bath and brushed their teeth. All the children sleep in the huge attic. There are bunk beds, small beds, twin beds and one very big bed for Betsy. Because, Betsy is a big woman and late in the evening the little kids loved to sneak into bed to sleep with her.
When everyone has settled down, Betsy always turns off all the lights except for the tiny night light, for those who are afraid of the dark. When it gets very quiet, so quiet you can hear the sound of crickets down below, Betsy will start her story, and it always starts the same way ...
"It all happened right here, my dears, in this very house", says Betsy, "and this is where it ended too. Every one of you is part of a mystery from long, long ago. This is a story my mother told me when I was just a little thing and it's a story you should remember to tell your own children." Then, Betsy would make us all repeat the same thing she always said before a story begins ...
"It only takes one person to start a miracle."
Now, it's my turn to tell you our family story. You can tell your own children and, with your help, we can keep the miracle alive.
* * *
Into the dark forest came the color of morning and the black sky began to glow, while the sound of crickets slowly faded.
Under a mighty tree, a group of ants gathered around their leader. His name was Commander Waldo Smartz and he was trying to explain what was about to happen in their forest.
"A child is coming, troops," shouted Commander Waldo, "a child like none you have ever seen. She came here long ago, before any of you were born, and she promised to come back if we needed her help."
Waldo looked down at the ants that were gathered around him and continued to tell his story. "I don't know how she found out about the river but this morning I found this note at the entrance to our ant hill."
Waldo lifted a big leaf high above his head, so that everyone could see what he was holding, and he read the message out loud for every ant to hear. The red and gold leaf had turned brown in spots and spelled out these words ... "I can help ... see you at dawn" and it was signed ... "K."
"Who is "K?" shouted one ant.
"I'm afraid of people!" shouted another. "She might try to squash us!"
One tiny ant squealed, "What if she tries to EAT us?"
Suddenly, all the ants were running in circles and bumping into each other. Some of them ran to the ant hill, where they grabbed some ant eggs and quickly started to carry them up a tree.
Commander Waldo rolled his eyes and reached down to the whistle hanging around his neck. With one giant breath of air he blew that whistle so loud every ant stopped moving.
"Enough!" shouted Waldo. "Get back to your positions NOW!"
"Put those eggs back in the ant hill," said Waldo. We are not in danger. She is not going to eat us! She's here to help us."
The eggs were returned to their nest in the ant hill and, very soon, every ant was standing at attention in front of Waldo. He gave them orders and sent them to work on a pathway to the twin rivers, at the opposite ends of the forest.
Meanwhile, the noise of so many ants had lifted into the air and caused a nearby spider web to shake.
The web was located deep within a hollow log where a family of spiders lived. Papa spider was the first to notice the commotion. He rubbed his eight sleepy eyes with a few of his eight fuzzy legs and put on four pairs of glasses, as he walked to the opening of the log to see what all the fuss was about.
"What this commotion?" asked Papa. "This noise get worse every day," he grumbled. "That goofy bat, Ivan ... he learn to rope ... now, there be no more peeze."
Before Papa could finish his sentence, his sweetheart, Leeza, came to the opening and saw Papa hanging from a string of web, moving all eight legs in different directions. Leeza batted her eight beautiful eyes and made a squeaky little yawn. She managed to find a spot where Papa's flailing legs would not hit her and she placed a quick kiss on his face. "Papa," said Leeza, "calm down. You know what happens when you get all worked up."
Papa was not listening to Leeza. He was moving his legs so fast his entire body began to spin in circles.
Outside, Commander Waldo was shouting orders to his troops. When he saw Papa and Leeza, Waldo walked to the log and tried to stop Papa from spinning. Papa was still shouting to Waldo, "Commander, have you lost you mind? You gonna wake up every ting in the forest if you don close your mouth!"
"Papa," said Leeza, "you shouting too!"
"Quite right," said Waldo. "I do apologize, ol' chap. Just putting together plans, you see ... for the visit."
Just then, little BB, the smallest spider in the forest, came out from his sleeping place. He was rubbing eight eyes and making a big, loud yawn. "What visit?" said BB. "Who's coming to visit?" he said with a smile.
"Oh dear," said Waldo. "This is a bit of a bother to all of you. Never mind, I'll be going now. Got to get ready, dear boy, for the child. She's due at dawn.... I really must hurry."
"A CHILD?" shouted BB. "A CHILD?" he repeated, as he ran to the top of the log and hung upside down. "NO, NO.... No Child.... No Child!" he repeated.
Papa began to swirl around, tying himself up in his own web, as he shouted, "a human, she comes! Run for cover! Eeez the end of the world !"
Such noise! With Papa, BB, and Waldo all trying to talk at the same time it seemed there was no way to calm them down. Then, Leeza had an idea. She grabbed the whistle from around Waldo's neck and blew with all her might.
The shrill sound of the whistle was so startling that everyone stopped moving, except for Papa. He was quiet now but still spinning in circles beneath the string of web he was suspended on.
"You gonna be dizzy like a beetle," Leeza said to Papa. They all reached up to stop Papa from spinning but it was too late. Papa's eyes were rolling in different directions. When they cut the string of web and put Papa on the ground, he was so wobbly he couldn't stand up so, they waited quietly for Papa to calm down.
"You satisfy now ... you piccola crazy?" Leeza scolded Waldo. "You know ... Papa and BB ... they no like these humans."
Everyone in the forest knew BB was not their baby. Papa and Leeza found BB by the river. He had come from the city, where a human had smacked him with a newspaper and flushed him down the toilet. It was a very long time before BB could walk again and he never forgot how awful it was to be attacked by a human. After all, BB was just eating bugs that were in the house, and not hurting anyone at all, when the human screamed and chased him all over the house.
"Oh, dear," said Waldo. "I do believe I have been very cruel indeed. Please forgive me, won't you? Perhaps I should explain; this child is not at all like the others. This is the child we heard about from our grandparents. She is the child from 'Nowhere.'"
"Over where?" said BB.
"Nowhere," answered Leeza, "where we dream."
"I don't understand," BB replied. "What do dreams have to do with this?" "Well, son ..." explained Waldo, "this child says she lives in our dreams. She uses dreams to explore other worlds. According to her, it's not that hard to do if we would just practice. She was here, ever so long ago, because she said we called her to help us with a problem were having. After the problem was solved ... and I'm not sure I can recall what the difficulty was, actually ... she went home, wherever that may be."
"I knew she planned to visit us because I awoke one night to find her sitting next to me. She told me there was a boy in the city she was destined to meet and the two of them would help us with the river. To this day, I don't know why I wasn't frightened silly to see her sitting by my bed. Still," continued Waldo, "there it is."
"This river," Papa asked, "how she know about this dead river we have? How she know this?" he said again.
"I'll bet Ivan told her," Leeza's replied. "He flies to the city every night."
"Ivan?" asked Papa. "This Ivan, the bat that does rope?"
"Rap," said BB. "It's called rap, not rope. Ivan is a bat that loves to rap."
"This give me a headache," moaned Papa. "Let me lie down."
"There's a good chap," said Waldo. "You rest and I'll have the troops clear all the debris from the path to the river."
"Commander," said Leeza, "listen to this idea ... we got to line it with colored leaves and red berries and colored stones. It got to shine and glow, to show the way."
"Can I help?" asked BB. "Can I? I'm very strong and I have eight legs to lift and pull and push."
They smiled quietly at each other for a while. Then, Commander Waldo snapped his skinny legs upright, and with a firm salute he said, "Right! Now, I must get back to my troops. There's aphid-feeding to do and we have to snap to it if we want to be ready by this evening." He spun around and quickly disappeared into a sea of busy ants.
Leeza and BB grabbed a leg on each side of Papa and pulled him along with them. They headed for a bright spot of sunshine that was beaming down to the green grass under the tallest tree in the forest.
"Right here," said Leeza, as she pointed with four legs. "This is best of all spots. We build a soft bed for her because is too cold tonight. We cover her. She sleep like a little bambino."
Meanwhile, as Waldo had said, it was time to feed the aphids. That meant the ants would herd the aphids up the bushes, to eat from the tender young branches. When the aphids were full, the ants would lead them back down the tree trunk and into the ant hill. Once the aphids were settled down, the ants would milk them. The ants hummed a song to the aphids, believing that the sweetest songs brought the sweetest milk.
High up in the tree, a few of the ants could see below, where a new, sparkling pathway to the river was shining brightly. The pathway was almost finished.
Down below, Commander Waldo stood atop a hill, looking at the work that had been done. "My word," he shouted to the ants and spiders, "what a splendid pathway you chaps have made. Jolly well pleased, I am."
As Waldo started down the hill, he noticed three young ants running into the forest, toward the sparkling riverbank. On the opposite side of the forest was another river. That one had died. Now, the water was brown and frothy, but why the river had died was still a mystery.
"Where are those young ants going?" Waldo asked himself. He followed close behind and found them dragging a large maple leaf toward the river. As he watched, they put the leaf into the drifting water and quickly jumped on top. With their legs, they pushed free from the riverbank and floated swiftly into the deeper parts of the river. Waldo stepped out from behind the leaves that were hiding him and watched them shrieking and giggling as they spun around and floated freely. He remembered doing the same thing when he was young but he and his friends had gone to the other river because the water ran much faster there. Or, it used to. Now, it didn't move at all.
Waldo thought of the child that was coming tonight and he said out loud, "Maybe she will find the answer and we can have our beautiful old river back."
Just then, there was the sound of laughter and splashing water as one young ant fell off the leaf and into the river. Waldo walked away smiling.
Waldo was headed for the new pathway when he noticed several spiders gathering at the base of a giant tree. As he walked toward the tree, Waldo told a redbird about the visitor who was coming. The redbird told the robin, the robin told the bluebird, the bluebird told the hummingbird and before long, the sound of chirping and flapping wings filled the air. The tree shook from all the excitement and many drops of dew from the leaves dripped down to the flowers below.
The flowers lifted their colored faces to the sky and felt the dew drops splash on their petals. Then, they let the warm rays of the sun dry the dew away.
When Waldo reached the area of the spiders, he found Papa and Leeza and BB. The three of them were standing in the middle of hundreds of fuzzy, black spiders. Before Waldo had time to say anything, Papa shouted, "Line up!"
Waldo could hardly believe how quickly all those spiders formed into so many perfectly straight lines.
Then came the sound of Leeza's voice, and it was just as loud as Papa's.
"BB to the front!" she shouted. With that, BB ran to the front of the line and stood perfectly still in the corner of a large square made from many, many spiders.
"Tighten up!" shouted Papa, so the ants moved closer together.
"To the front, slowly," commanded Leeza. "Stay together."
To his amazement, Waldo watched the large square of black, fuzzy spiders as it moved forward perfectly.
"To the back .... slowly," commanded Leeza. "Watch your step!"
The fuzzy, black square moved backward. BB tried very hard, but he DID trip a few times.
"To your right," called Leeza ... and they all moved right.
"To your left," called Leeza ... and they all moved left.
"I say," thought Waldo as he watched them. "That's a fine bit of marching, if I do say so. A bit shaky on the corner there with the young lad, but a fine example of marching nonetheless. I must make Leeza an officer in my army. Someday, she could be a commander!"
The spiders repeated these movements over and over and Waldo wanted to stay to see why they were acting so strangely. He was quite sure this unusual event was being rehearsed for the coming of the child, but—Commander Waldo heard a sound that caught his attention.
Waldo followed the noise to a cave where the noise got louder. It sounded like singing but it was more like talking. The voice seemed familiar and it was coming from inside the cave.
"Flap, flap ... gotta rap, rap ... gotta flap rap, like the bat I am." The sound got louder as Waldo stood looking up into the sky. "Just as I thought," whispered Waldo. "It's Ivan the bat."
Every morning, Ivan led a sky full of bats out of the city and back into their cave. It was easy to spot Ivan in all those bats because he was the only one wearing dark sunglasses. Long ago, Ivan told Commander Waldo that he made friends with a boy in the city and the boy had given him the glasses. Waldo now wondered if this was the one the child had mentioned. Who was this boy?
As the bats gathered on the tree (hanging upside down, of course) Ivan continued his song.
The boy knows better, Oh, yeah. The girl knows better, Oh, yeah. We all know better now, we gotta do the deed. Push the door to open, Push the mind to hope and Let your big, bad wishing be the key. No, No ... can't let it go, go ... can't let it be, can't be forever. So, put your hand out ... and let your eyes see ... and set your mind free ... whatever.
Waldo could make no sense of this kind of talk. He silently saluted these curious sounds then, turned his body and his attention toward the beautiful West River.
He climbed a hill and looked down at the meadow below. What a sight it was ... covered with spring flowers that had washed their colorful little faces with the morning dew and dried them with the warm rays of the sun.
Suddenly, the hill Waldo was standing on began to move!
Waldo ran straight up a tree to safety but the tree seemed odd. It was covered with something soft. "Was it moss? Why was this tree white?" he asked himself. It got softer as he climbed higher. "This could only mean on thing," he thought. So Waldo continued to climb the white tree until he found himself looking into a big eye ... a big, brown eye!
Excerpted from A Child from Nowhere by Ann Lannin Copyright © 2011 by Ann Lannin. Excerpted by permission of iUniverse, Inc.. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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