When Bolt, Annika, and Blackburn are given another cryptic clue by Omneseus the Seer, they know the time has come to defeat the baddest Werepenguin, "the Stranger," and free the world's penguins from his evil reign. Only a very special tooth can bring the Stranger down, but of course, procuring this precious item is no easy task, and it doesn't help that Bolt can't stop hearing the Stranger in his head, trying to coax him to the dark side. When Bolt stumbles into a weremole burrow and meets Grom, a human boy with a penguin birthmark who's desperate to be bitten, he starts to question whether a werepenguin can be anything but a terrible monster. Or if one born out of love might be the key to penguin salvation. As Bolt's werepenguin strengths grow more powerful, the ultimate war between good and evil looms closer. But no one can guess what's about to go down. And when an unexpected foe returns, the battle of the werepenguins IS ON.
Related collections and offers
About the Author
Scott has produced work for television commercials, magazines, toys and comics. He spends his free time at his drafting board working on creations of his own. Originally from the seaport of Gloucester, Massachusetts, Scott currently resides on the southwest gulf coast of Florida (he can't stand living too far from the ocean) with his wife, two daughters, and a rather affable pug named Linus Van Pelt.
Read an Excerpt
Prologue: The Docks
As the crew loaded large wooden crates and smaller iron cages onto the steamship, the misty salt water tickled my ears. Eartickling is very annoying, so I cursed the ocean spray. Rattling chains and hydraulic hums echoed across the pier, along with the grunting of apes, the whoops of flamingos, the roars of lions, and the shrieks of a dockworker who forgot to close the crate of roaring lions before loading it onto the ship.
But, despite the menagerie of yips and yaps, the penguins were silent. I watched as their crate was lifted with ropes that were attached to a large crane, to be loaded onto the ship. Their crate had a window, and I could see the penguins lounging on their pillows, watching a show on the bigscreen TV I had thoughtfully placed inside for their amusement. Penguins love soap operas.
“Be careful!” shouted the penguin caretaker as the crate swung from the crane. The man—-short, balding, and roundish with a long, thin nose—-wore a long black overcoat with a white shirt underneath. It was the same outfit he had worn every time I had seen him, an outfit that made him look, if you squinted, eerily similar to the birds he cared for.
“Relax, my friend.” I clapped the man on the back, and he jumped. He was jittery. Anxious. “Your penguins will be fine,” I said in my most soothing voice. “After all, penguins don’t get seasick. It’s the giraffes I worry about.” There are few things worse, or harder to clean up after, than a seasick giraffe. “We should be at the zoo within the week. There, the animals will find happiness. I hope.”
“It was kind of you to offer them a new home,” said the man. He choked up; his gratefulness was genuine.
“We had a deal,” I reminded him. “You tell me your tale, all of it, and I give the animals a new beginning.”
“Although perhaps you wish I had never begun to tell you my story at all?”
“Perhaps.” My evenings had been filled with nightmares since my first visit to this zoo. So, why was I here? Why return to hear the rest of a story that had turned my hair white, my face wrinkly, and my stomach perpetually queasy?
Because perhaps after the story ended, my nightmares would cease and my stomach would unquease itself. I could only pray they might.
But, upon my return just the other day, I discovered the St. Aves Zoo had been torn down, a result of accidents and circumstances that involved an iceberg and a clumsy cow. I was the animal procurer for a new zoo, a great zoo, and so I struck my bargain: a home for the now homeless animals if the man told me the rest of his story.
To be honest, the zoo already had plenty of giraffes and apes and dung beetles—-and really, how many dung beetles does one zoo need?—-but to hear the conclusion of this man’s tale, I would have accepted a thousand dung beetles. Fortunately, he only had twentyeight of them.
But our deal was not entirely onesided. For my zoo would also now feature the St. Aves Zoo penguins—-the most celebrated penguins in the world. I pinched my arm to make sure I wasn’t dreaming. “Ow!” I howled, wishing I hadn’t pinched so overzealously.
I turned to my companion, who was still watching the penguin crate, which now lay quietly on the ship, snuggled between the opossum cage and possum cage, although I wasn’t sure which was which. The loading of the rest of the cages and crates would take hours. As we stood on deck I figured this was a good time to collect the rest of my payment. “Your story is not yet finished,” I reminded the penguin caretaker.
“Are stories ever finished?” he asked. “For even as one story ends, another begins. The world continues to spin, lives continue to be lived, penguins continue to waddle.”
“And storytellers continue to delay ending them.”
The man smiled and sighed. “Very well. Where did I leave off?”
“Bolt and his companions, the bandit Annika and the fearless pirate Blackburn, had set sail for the island of Omnescia. Bolt needed to speak to the great seer Omneseus in hopes of discovering how to defeat the Stranger, the most powerful werepenguin of them all.”
The man nodded, his long, thin nose flapping against the bitter winds blowing across the deck. “Yes, they were happy then, sort of. Happyish. All was well, for the moment. But Bolt and his friends would soon discover their happiness was as fleeting as a feather in the wind. As the caretaker for penguins, I know how fleeting feathers in the wind can be.”
Coincidentally a feather, perhaps from an ostrich, floated under my nose. My sneeze was so loud it woke a sleeping hippo nearby, and you never want to wake a sleeping hippo. The hippo grunted, thumped its feet, and overturned the snow cone machine in its cage. A shame. Hippos love snow cones, and I hadn’t brought another machine as a backup.
The caretaker waited for the hippo grunts to quiet before continuing. “Our three heroes arrived the very next day. Bolt made the trek up the Omnescian mountains to speak to the great seer. That is where we will continue our story. That is, if you are certain you want to hear its conclusion.”
“I am. I must.” I wrung my hands with excited nervousness. “For once you let the cat out of the bag, it can never go back in.”
“I hope you’re mistaken by that,” said the man as a pride of escaped lions ran across the deck below us, chasing a dozen screaming dockworkers.