In A Dolphin Wish a three-night stop in the city of San Diego seems like it might be just the break the girls need—lovely weather and great sights to see. That is until they hear animal handlers at “Watery World” talking about the trouble they’ve been having keeping the animals in their habitats. Mia and her sisters cannot resist a challenge and they talk Miss Twist into another visit to the educational amusement park to search for clues as to what or who is helping the animals escape.
Related collections and offers
About the Author
Read an Excerpt
A Dolphin Wish
By Natalie Grant
ZONDERVANCopyright © 2016 Natalie Grant
All rights reserved.
Mia was first into the beach bungalow, her sisters right behind her. They'd flown from London to San Diego to relax for a couple days before Mom's next concert. In London, they'd stayed in the over-the-top, amazing Musician's Penthouse, because the tour organizers had a special connection with the hotel. Their resort in San Diego was a collection of bungalows along the beach. Even though this bungalow was half the size of the London suite, to Mia, it was even better. For one thing, it opened right up onto the beach.
"Come on!" Maddie slid open the screen door, kicked off her shoes, and ran out onto the sand.
"Wait up!" Lulu shouted, dropping her suitcase in the middle of the floor.
Mia thought about picking up her sisters' suitcases. In the end, she dropped hers on the pile and raced after them. Lulu was fast for a six-year-old — a good thing, because she always wanted to race and hated losing. Maddie was fast too, but she was more of a dancer than a runner. Mia charged into the waves just behind Lulu, kicking up salt water and splashing her sister's legs. Lulu shrieked and splashed back. Maddie stayed at the edge of the water, leaping out of reach of each breaking wave.
When people first met the Glimmer family, it took a while for them to realize Mia and Maddie were twins. Mia was three inches taller and usually three steps in front, trying things out to make way for her sister. Still, no matter how many differences they had — or maybe because of their differences — Maddie was Mia's best friend in the whole world. Most of the time, Mia felt as though she could read Maddie's mind. Right now, unfortunately, not so much.
A blast of cold water in the face brought Mia out of her thoughts. "Wha ...?" Lulu howled with laughter, darting away before Mia could splash her back.
"You better run!" Mia said, laughing as she wiped the salt water off her cheeks.
Mia and Lulu splashed up and down the beach, tossing handfuls of water at Maddie every time they passed by her. She'd jump back, most of the time staying well out of the way.
"Girls!" Miss Julia jogged across the sand, her floppy hat threatening to blow off any second. "Sunscreen!"
Miss Julia lathered sunscreen on the girls' necks and the tips of their ears. Twice during the operation, Miss Julia's hat blew off her head and skittered across the sand. Both times, the girls helped her chase it down before it blew out to sea.
"Good grief," Miss Julia said, coming back to rub the last white marks into Lulu's shoulders.
Finally free, Lulu flung her arms wide and fell back- ward into the soft sand. "Cover me up! Cover me up!"
Mia's knees sunk into the sunbaked sand. When she scooped up a handful, it felt like holding grains of sunlight in her hands. Deeper down, the sand was cooler. Handful after handful, Mia and Maddie piled sand on top of their little sister's legs. Lulu squirmed and giggled. Soon, all they could see were her toes, her shoulders, and her face.
Lulu grinned a smile that no one could resist and said, "Pack it down! Make it into a sand blanket."
"Who is this sand creature?" Mom asked.
Mia looked up to see Mom and Dad smiling down at them. "Grraumb!" Lulu growled, playing along.
"Watch out!" Dad said. "I think she might be dangerous." Miss Julia snapped a picture of Lulu, the sand creature.
"Are you starting a new travelogue?" Lulu asked. "Can I help?"
"Yes, and yes!" Miss Julia said, holding the picture out for Lulu to inspect. "I need a sand monster face." Lulu scrunched her nose and growled again.
Mom laughed and laced her fingers through Dad's as Miss Julia took a second picture. "Better," Lulu decided, after checking the picture out.
Mom and Dad went to try out the beach chairs, and Maddie poked the sand above Lulu's belly button. "Can you feel this?"
"Nope!" Lulu said.
"How about this?" Maddie asked, drumming a beat on Lulu's knees.
"Not that either!" Lulu crowed.
Mia sat back on her heels, part of the game but also on the fringes of it. She almost felt as though she were watching her sisters through binoculars. Or maybe it was only Maddie who seemed farther away than usual. Ever since Maddie had snuck out of their hotel in London and chased down a thief — a completely un-Maddie-like thing to do — Mia felt like the world had turned upside down. It was the strangest feeling, as though someone had swapped her sister for a stranger.
"My turn!" Maddie said, flopping onto her back on the sand.
Lulu wriggled free and started piling sand on Maddie. "Come on, Mia. Help me!"
Maddie kept moving, so it was hard to cover her up, but after a few attempts they managed it. As soon as Mia and Lulu started patting the sand down, Maddie burst free.
She caught Mia's eye. "Your turn?"
"Maybe later," Mia said.
"Are you sure, Mia?" Mom called. "Because if you girls are done, I want you to rinse off, and then we'll go find something for dinner."
"Yay, dinner!" Lulu said. "I'm starved."
"Me too," Dad said.
"Come on, girls," Miss Julia said. "I'll help you get dressed."CHAPTER 2
Just down the beach from the hotel was a restaurant, close enough that the Glimmer family could walk. Mia took off her flip-flops and pressed her toes into the still-warm sand. The sun hadn't set yet, but the heat of the day had cooled. The tide was coming in — with each wave, the beach seemed to shrink further and further still.
"Tiki torches!" Lulu said, pointing ahead.
Sure enough, flames atop tiki torches flickered, lighting the way to the restaurant. Mia wasn't sure of the exact definition of a cabana, but cabana was the word that came to mind. The restaurant had a sea grass roof, a tiled floor dusted with fine sand, and wide open walls to let in the sea breeze. The waitstaff wore Hawaiian shirts, and a musician playing a ukulele wandered from table to table. Mia slipped her feet back into her flip-flops as a woman walked over to the sand- strewn entrance to greet them.
"Welcome. Choose any table you like," she said, gesturing to the half-filled restaurant. "Mid-week tends to be quiet."
Dad chose a table close to the beach. Mia chose the seat closest to the sand. After she sat, she realized Lulu or Maddie might have wanted this chair. But Maddie and Lulu were deep in conversation, planning a sandcastle to build tomorrow, complete with three levels and a moat. They hardly noticed their seats as they sat down.
A waitress arrived at the table. "Water?" she asked.
"Please," Mom said, and the waitress poured glasses all around.
"I'll be back in a moment to take your orders."
"Let's see." Dad scanned the menu. "Tortilla soup, tacos, nachos, quesadillas ... Chips and salsa to start?"
"Oh, they have peach-mango salsa," Mom said.
"Delicious!" Lulu swung her arms wide, knocking directly into her water glass.
Water cascaded over the table, pooling around glasses and plates. Everyone pushed back in their seats, but Mia didn't move fast enough to keep her shorts dry.
Mom and Dad sopped up water with napkins and the waitress hurried over to help. The table was dry in no time at all, but Mia's shorts weren't quite so fortunate. She sat down, trying not to think about how miserable waiting for soggy shorts to dry would feel. Lulu's bottom lip trembled as she sat down again.
"It's okay, Lulu," Mia said. Lulu nodded, blinking hard.
"Pass me your glass, Mia," Dad said. He filled it up a little less than halfway. "Yours next, Lulu. You too, Maddie. Let's play some music."
He added water so each glass held a different amount. Dad tapped his spoon against the glasses, adding splashes of water until each played a distinct tone. Then he passed them around.
Mia's glass was the high note. Dad motioned for her to start, and taught the girls how to play a simple version of "Three Blind Mice" that used only three notes. They experimented until they managed to hit their spoons just right, so the glass rang out just in time. Soon, they were laughing and having fun again. Lulu had forgotten about the water. Even Mia had almost forgotten about her wet shorts. Also, it helped that the sea breeze had dried her off much faster than she'd expected.
"Can we practice our song for Mom's concert?" Lulu asked.
In London, Mia and Lulu had convinced Mom that they should sing at one of her upcoming concerts. She hadn't chosen which concert they'd present the song at yet, but she had promised that one day they'd sing. Maddie hadn't been thrilled about the idea to begin with, but she seemed to be coming around now.
"Maybe later, when we get home," Dad said. "We'll need more than three notes for that song."
"Everyone smile!" Miss Julia snapped a photo of the girls and their glasses. "And now, who wants to talk about rides at Captain Swashbuckler's Adventure Park?"
"I want to do a log ride. And see penguins. Oh, and cotton candy. I want some cotton candy," Lulu said.
"Do you think they'll have cotton candy at a water park?" Mia asked. "More like saltwater taffy, right?"
"We get cotton candy at the beach sometimes," Lulu said.
"True," Mia had to admit, especially after Maddie caught her eye.
Maddie seemed to have a sixth sense about what would cause a fight between Mia and Lulu. For now, Mia held her tongue. Disaster averted.
"Here's the map." Miss Julia tapped her phone. "On Barrel Buffoonery, you ride in barrels over rapids and down a waterfall ..."
"Down a waterfall?" Lulu asked. "Cool!"
"I don't know ..." Maddie said, sounding much more like her usual self. "That sounds dangerous."
"Oh, I'm sure you can count on all the rides being safe," Dad said.
"There's High Jinks on the High Seas," Miss Julia said. "Where you do battle with a pirate ship."
"What? Let me see that." Mia reached for the phone and scrolled through the pictures. "Looks like they teach you to sword fight and everything. The pirates try to take over your ship ... What's that called?"
"Commandeering," Dad said.
"Also, I have a surprise for you, girls," Mom said. "One of my friends knows a marine biologist who works at the park. Tomorrow, we have an appointment to go behind the scenes and meet some dolphins. We might even be able to feed them."
"Really?" Lulu's eyes went wide.
"What do dolphins eat?" Maddie asked.
"Fish, mostly," Dad said.
Maddie made a face, but Mia grabbed her arm. "Like in A Ring of Endless Light! Remember that book, Maddie? How Vicky and Adam went to the research center and worked with the dolphins and ... Oh! They could speak to the dolphins when they were in the water with them, speaking without even talking! We could swim with the dolphins, couldn't we, Mom? I mean, it wouldn't be that big of a deal, right, if we're already backstage. We can wear our swimsuits —"
Mom cut her off. "I don't think you can swim with the dolphins unless you're trained, sweetheart."
"But it's not like dolphins are dangerous or anything. Vicky did it and she wasn't trained ..."
Mom gave a wouldn't-that-be-nice kind of sideway smile. Mia wasn't about to let it go so easily, but clearly arguing now wouldn't get her anywhere. Maybe tomorrow, then. She could ask the biologist herself.
"So what other rides are there?" Lulu asked.
Mia handed back Miss Julia's phone, but she wasn't thinking about rides anymore. In the book, when Vicky swam with the dolphins, she didn't have to put her thoughts into words. The dolphins simply knew, and talking with them — or actually, thinking with them — was how Vicky made her world right again. It wasn't that Mia's world was wrong, exactly, but it wasn't right, either. Maddie was too far away, as though a door had closed between them. Mia couldn't exactly ask her to open it back up. Could she? Not in words. But the dolphins didn't need words. Maybe if she swam with them, she'd figure out how to speak without words too. Tomorrow. She'd find a way to make it happen.CHAPTER 3
Stars polka-dotted the velvet-black sky, brighter than usual because the moon was nowhere to be seen.
"Perfect stargazing weather!" Dad said as they walked back toward the bungalow.
Everyone bundled up with sweaters and blankets and went back onto the beach. Even though it was dark, Mia took off her shoes. The sand felt like liquid stone under her feet. She spread out her fingers to let darkness stream through her hands. Maddie and Lulu spread out their blankets next to the beach chairs, and Mia put hers next to theirs.
"There's the Big Dipper," Mia said, pointing it out.
"And there's the Little Dipper," Maddie said.
"What else do you see?" Dad asked.
The Glimmer family had a tradition of inventing star pictures. Dad insisted that the first people who named the constellations were just like anyone else. Who was to say the Glimmer girls couldn't invent new constellations, right here, right now?
"There it is!" Lulu said, pointing. "My starfish flower!"
The starfish flower was Lulu's favorite constellation. She'd invented it on a beach trip three or four years ago. Mia was pretty sure Lulu pointed out a new set of stars each time.
"I see a footprint," Maddie said. "It might be a clue."
"Oooh ... Like the footprint of someone who stole a star painting." Lulu launched into her Glimmer Girls to the Rescue theme song. "Maddie, when will we solve our next mystery?"
Good thing the night was dark, because Mia knew she'd made a face. It wasn't fair that Maddie had become the detective of the family. Maybe she'd solved the mystery in London, but she'd done it by breaking the rules. Her consequence for rule breaking had been no movie-watching on the flight to San Diego. To Mia, the consequence didn't seem big enough at all, especially since everyone was also treating Maddie like a hero.
"Let's admit, it wasn't a good thing for Maddie to sneak out," Mom said. "But I'm also so proud of Maddie for being brave and speaking up when she knew that something was wrong."
"But she SNUCK OUT!" Mia snapped.
As soon as the words were out of her mouth, she wanted to take them back. She could feel Mom's look even though she couldn't see her face in the dark. Mom had already spoken with Mia about letting Maddie's mistake go. Mia was trying — honestly, she was — but it wasn't easy.
"I see a dancing dolphin!" Maddie moved away from Mia, nudging over to Mom and Dad to draw the imaginary lines of the star picture in the sky.
Mia knew Maddie was intentionally changing the subject. Maddie didn't like it when Mia and Lulu fought, and she was even less willing to argue herself.
"Show me!" Lulu scooted over toward Maddie.
Mia sat up and hugged her knees close, resting her chin on her knees.
"Do you see any pictures, Mia?" Miss Julia brought her blanket over and sat down.
"You'll never see anything if you don't look up."
Mia could hear the smile in Miss Julia's voice.
"You know what I like best on nights like this — nights without the moon? It's dark enough to see the Milky Way. To me, the Milky Way looks like a stripe of star paint across the sky. It's beautiful because of all the tiny lights shining together. None of the lights are big enough to be spectacular on their own. Or at least not from our vantage point here on the earth."
"Star paint," Mia repeated, following the line of light in the sky. "Wouldn't it be fun to have a can of that?"
"What would you use it for?" Miss Julia asked.
"Oh, everything. My bedroom ceiling and the playroom ceiling, and of course I'd share it with Maddie and Lulu for their bedrooms. And maybe I'd paint a path of starlight from the back door out into the yard. Maybe I'd make a secret hideout. The paint would point the way so Maddie and Lulu and I could follow the path at night when it was dark enough to see. We could have sleepovers and read stories and drink hot cocoa."
"When I was younger, my dad and I built a club- house in the backyard," Miss Julia said. "Maybe when we get home, we could see about making one for you girls in the backyard. We wouldn't have the star paint, but we could have the rest of it — especially the hot cocoa."
Excerpted from A Dolphin Wish by Natalie Grant. Copyright © 2016 Natalie Grant. Excerpted by permission of ZONDERVAN.
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.