Gold Winner of the Literary Classics Book Awards for Best Tween Series, 2018 Brought to you by a writer of the best-selling CUPCAKE DIARIES series...The JUNIOR LIFEGUARDS series is wholesome summer fun! Lifeguards clash passionately over environmental issues and patriotism in this heated Fourth of July title. Junior Lifeguards are #brave and #strong. Join the squad! Praise for Junior Lifeguards: The Test by Elizabeth Doyle Carey“Delivers believable surprises…authentic…An enjoyable start to [an] engaging series for tweens.” —Kirkus Reviews “Brings to mind the cheery it-all-ends-well tone of books from another era…brimming with wholesome tween drama.” —School Library Journal
About the Author
Elizabeth Doyle Carey is a former book editor and bookseller. She is the author of 33 books for young readers including 15 titles in the Cupcake Diaries series and 4 titles in The Callahan Cousins series. She lives in New York City. Tracey West has written more than 200 books for children and young adults including How to Draw Pokémon and the Dragon Masters series. She lives in Pearl River, New York. Katherine Noll is the author of Animal Jam, Big Book of Activities, and Sailor Scouts Unite!. She lives in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.
Read an Excerpt
The summer sun was just beginning its descent in the sky, and hints of pink and gold streaked the horizon. I stopped paddling and let my kayak bob up and down on the waves, feeling at one with the ocean. I imagined I was a single drop of water, one of billions making up the vast sea. I took a deep cleansing breath and imagined floating across the earth's surface ...
"Hey, Zigs!" a voice called me out of my communion with nature. "What do you think?"
I peered over the side of my kayak, looking at the massive sea creature we'd paddled out to see. I was no longer a drop of water, but back to being me, Ziggy Bloom, Junior Lifeguard in training. And that was one big fish!
"It's incredible," I said, in awe of the giant animal. "But it's kind of hideous." It had a large, circular shaped body, making it look like it was all head. The tiny, unblinking eyes stared back at me, too small for its big face. "Sorry, dude," I whispered to it. "You've got a face only a mother could love."
"Ziggy Bloom, lover of all creatures great and small, thinks it's ugly? Poor sunfish," my friend Jenna chided from her kayak.
"If Zigs thinks it's ugly, this poor sunfish will never get a date," Selena joked as she paddled around the fish.
"He can come with me to my knitting group," I joked. "We don't have dates, either."
As I said that, I stole a glance out of the corner of my eye at Jack Lee, one of the other Junior Lifeguards. I wouldn't mind going out on a date with him. He was a local surfing champ and had that ultra-chill, laid-back surfer vibe. He also happened to be ultra-cute — Asian American, with a deep tan from all his time spent surfing. His black hair was streaked with reddish-blonde highlights, but whether it was from all the time he spent in the sun or from a bottle I couldn't tell. (I hoped it was from the sun; I can't understand people who put unnecessary chemicals on their bodies.)
If Jack heard me complaining about my lack of a love life, he gave no indication. He was listening attentively to Bud Slater, the director of Westham's lifeguard program.
"These guys can get up to five thousand pounds," Bud was saying. "But they're gentle giants. They like to sunbathe near the surface of the water. That's how they got their name."
"It kind of looks like a whale," said Jack.
"Yup," agreed Bud. "Or a shark. The combination of it being near the surface and having this shark-like dorsal fin is why they're often mistaken for sharks."
"Pip-er!" the other lifeguard trainees teased.
My friend Piper Janssens, a fellow Junior Lifeguard, had spotted the fin from the beach at the end of our shift and sounded the shark alert. Bud and his son Luke had paddled out to investigate, and when they realized it was a harmless sunfish they'd called us out to see it up close. But Piper had had good cause to think it was a shark; lately, great whites had been attracted to our beaches here on Cape Cod, thanks to a resurgence in the local seal population (otherwise known as shark food!).
Now Piper jokingly accepted the other Junior Lifeguards' teasing kudos, lifting her hand in the air and nodding all around. Everyone was cheering for her and she laughed, her thick blond braid bobbing up and down her tan, broad back.
I watched the sunfish slowly swim out to the deep ocean. There was something goofy and also noble about the way it looked and moved. It was my first time seeing a sunfish, and it made me wonder what else was living in these waters off the shore of the Cape.
I already spent a lot of time thinking about the animals that lived on the shores of Westham, Massachusetts. One of them was the piping plover, an adorable small bird that nests and feeds along the sandy beaches of Westham. The birds were endangered, and all spring and early summer I had been helping the Nature Conservancy by tracking their nests and working to keep their new babies safe.
Imagine all the precious life teeming under those waters, I thought as I watched the sunfish sail off into the distance. I fully believed it was our duty as humans to protect all creatures. That was one of the reasons I was a vegetarian. I couldn't eat my animal friends.
As the waves crested and the seagulls circled overhead, I thought about how close I had come to growing up with buildings in my backyard, instead of the ocean. And pigeons in my neighborhood instead of piping plovers. I was born in Brooklyn Heights, New York and my life would have been very different if my parents hadn't decided to leave the "rat race." They didn't like how unhealthy it was living in the city, and they didn't like all the competitiveness there. I don't remember much about living in an urban environment, though. We moved to Westham when I was just three years old.
While growing up, both of my parents had spent their summers in Westham. Their families had owned summer houses here and they thought it would be a great place to raise me, because it was peaceful and people were mellower and kinder than in the city. Being an only child, I wish I had some cousins or grandparents still around in Westham, but my parents said all the family had died off over the years, so it was just me and my Mom and Dad.
Even though it was just the three of us, life was really full and busy. My parents are total environmentalists. We lived on a small organic farm on the outskirts of Westham. Our house had solar panels and we grew most of our own food. We recycled and reused everything. In fact, most of my clothes came from thrift stores, because my parents believed it was more ecologically friendly than buying new stuff. Although lots of my friends would be horrified at the idea of shopping at a thrift store, I loved it. I put together unique outfits, and I didn't look like everyone else who got the same clothes from the same stores at the mall.
I don't mind standing out in a crowd. Actually, I like it.
My parents believed in giving back and being involved, so from a young age I always had a lot on my to-do list. That was fine by me. I liked being busy.
As we began paddling back, Jack moved his kayak alongside mine.
"They're predicting great surfing weather tomorrow. You gonna go out?" Jack asked.
He was usually very quiet. In fact, this was the most I've ever heard him say, so I was surprised at the question.
"Me? Not likely. I've never been surfing," I admitted. "I'm not really into sports or, like, competing for waves."
"You should try it," said Jack. "It's supportive, not competitive, and it's peaceful. My favorite time to surf is at dawn. The beach is so quiet. I paddle out and sit on my board, waiting for waves. I focus on my breathing, and my mind just empties. I'm totally relaxed."
"That sounds a lot like meditation," I said. "I do that every day."
Jack smiled. "You should try it on a surfboard. I mean, surfing's not always peaceful, but that's what makes it fun. Sometimes you've got to deal with rough waters and stay focused no matter what. It's all up here." He tapped his temple with his finger. "Super-Zen."
I'd never heard Jack talk so much. Maybe being out in the ocean made him more relaxed and willing to open up. Either way, if I had thought Jack was cute a second ago, he'd just become a trillion times cuter. His attitude toward surfing was something I could totally relate to, and I was all about Zen. It's kind of hard to explain what Zen is, but it's a philosophy that's like a total togetherness of body and mind, where you feel at peace.
"The Zen of surfing, huh?" I said. "It sounds right up my alley." If surfing could be meditative, it might be perfect for me.
"Do you want me to give you a lesson?" he asked.
"I'd love that." But before I had a chance to respond with a date and time, Samantha Frankel came paddling over. She's the local spoiled rich girl and a star at Junior Lifeguards. I'm not a fan.
"Jack, did I ever tell you about the time I met Laird Hamilton?" she asked him, totally ignoring me.
"Laird Hamilton?" Jack's eyes gleamed. "He's a surfing legend! Do you know he once surfed a wave that was as tall as a seven-story building?"
Samantha shrugged. "I didn't know that, but I knew he was a famous surfer. I met him and his wife Gabby Reece — the volleyball star — at this killer party in Malibu. They're so cute together!"
Name-dropping and city-dropping, that was so Samantha. I took a deep breath, trying to breathe in the peace, but Samantha was testing my patience.
I wanted to love everybody, but some people were just harder. Samantha, who lived in an oceanfront mansion, was one of them. Her parents were billionaires, and she also happened to be gorgeous. None of these things would make me dislike anyone ordinarily, but it was her habit of ignoring people like they were beneath her that got me irritated. We were all on this journey called life together, and we all were equals. Samantha didn't always get that.
"They say that Laird's invention of the foil board could change the future of big-wave surfing," Jack said excitedly.
"He's also super handsome, for an old guy," Samantha said.
I rolled my eyes and sighed loudly. I wanted to set a time for a surfing lesson with Jack, but he kept peppering Samantha with questions about Laird. Was he interested in her or just curious about his surfing hero? I couldn't tell. Feeling ignored, I decided to leave them to it and paddled off on my own. I couldn't compete with someone like her.
As I paddled, I saw a school of minnows next to my kayak, and this time when I went to breathe in the peace, it really happened. A wave of tranquility washed over me. Nature always relaxes me. If I had grown up in Brooklyn Heights, would I still be so attuned to nature? So many of the tourists who came to Westham were from cities. Shark mania had taken over the Cape beaches these past few years as people flocked to Westham in hopes of spotting a great white feeding on the seals. But how much did they really know about the ocean ecosystem? In fact, how much did the locals like me even know?
The minnows swam alongside me, as if my kayak was their mommy fish. Bud led us into the bay, and the water became shallower and clearer. I could see to the bottom where a large robin fish moved lazily, looking for a snack. A small crab, which would make a delicious meal for the fish, scuttled away from it. I even spotted a hermit crab, its delicate pincher claws poking out of its clunky shell. There was a whole world under the waves that people barely knew about.
I spotted Bud alone up ahead and paddled to catch up with him. Jenna and Piper were always a little nervous around Bud, but I never was — probably because of my mom.
"Always challenge authority," was one of her mottoes. Until I challenged hers. That didn't go over so well.
Back when I wanted to try out for Junior Lifeguards, she had been totally against it. She thought lifeguards were a bunch of dumb jocks, and she really disliked Bud Slater. I had to sneak around to try out, until my dad backed me up and my mom gave in. But she still wasn't happy about it.
"The time you spend at lifeguard training could be used to give back to the community," she had said just this morning.
"I'm training to save lives. I think that qualifies as giving back to the community," I tossed at her, but then I left the room. She hadn't had her organic, fair-trade coffee yet. It was best to avoid annoying her before she had her morning cup of java because things could get ugly. But right now in the bay, things were beautiful.
"The bay is teeming with life," I said to Bud, impressed with all I had seen.
"It's pretty amazing, isn't it?" Bud replied. He usually barked out his words like a drill sergeant, but the kayak ride had mellowed him.
I nodded. "It's nice to have the time to see it up close like this. Thanks for taking us out."
Bud looked amused. "Is being a Junior Lifeguard taking all your time? You know, you can go kayaking and exploring whenever you want."
I shook my head. "I have my knitting group. Right now we're making blankets for homeless kids in the Boston shelter system, and we need to get as many done as we can before summer is over and the cold weather returns. Plus I've got my yoga classes, and I volunteer for the Nature Conservancy, including beach cleanup."
"That's a full schedule." Bud sounded impressed. "And you'll be even busier after the Fourth of July. The beach is always a mess afterwards. July Fourth is the busiest day of a lifeguard's year. I call it the Black Friday of lifeguarding," he said with a laugh.
"Ugh." I wrinkled my nose. "I hate Black Friday. It's all about consumerism and tricking people into spending money they don't have."
"Don't worry, Ziggy. This Black Friday is much more fun. The lifeguards have a great tradition for the Fourth. We make our own float for the town parade. I let the lifeguards decorate my truck and boat, and I pull the boat on a trailer in the parade. The kids always go all out with the decorations. All of the guards are invited to participate and ride on the float. Usually everyone gets into costume. It's a lot of fun! I hope you'll have enough time in your schedule to be a part of it." His eyes twinkled so I knew he was teasing me.
"That's so cool!" I remembered seeing the lifeguard float in the parade before, but I hadn't realized that this year I might be on it! "Can I help plan the float? I already have a few ideas."
"Ziggy, I would expect nothing less." Bud smiled at me. "I want you to mark your calendar for a cookout the night of the Fourth, too. It's for all the town guards, and I bring my truck down to the beach and grill while we watch the fireworks."
I almost clapped my hands together in excitement, but realized if I did, I'd lose my kayak paddles. So instead I gave a great big smile. "I'm in."
Suddenly a thought flashed through my mind, and my smile turned to a frown.
"But what about the nesting plovers? If you drive your truck on the beach, you could run over some of their nests."
The relaxed Bud vanished and instantly he stiffened. He gripped his paddles a little bit tighter; the muscles in his back and toned arms bulged slightly. "So you've got plover mania too, huh, Ziggy?" he said in a voice that was slightly more agitated than before.
I felt myself getting heated. "What's wrong with protecting endangered birds?" I shot back.
"I agree, something needs to be done about the plovers," Bud said, "but not at the expense of other species. The efforts taken have interfered with the comfort of beachgoers, sometimes for no good reason. There could be a little more give and take."
Did I mention I'm passionate about animals? I felt my voice rise as I answered, "Oh, sure, a species should die out just so we humans aren't a little uncomfortable."
"That's not what I meant," Bud said. "There's got to be room for compromise." His jaw clenched and I thought he was going to argue with me some more, but after a pause he took a deep breath and said, "So what's up with this yoga? Is it some kind of hocus pocus? My wife and girls are into it and it sounds like they're reciting spells when they do it. What's adho mukha svanasana anyway? Are they trying to turn me into a frog?"
I laughed. "No, that's Sanskrit for downward facing dog. It's a classic yoga pose. If I wasn't in a kayak right now, I'd show you."
"Downward facing dog? It sounds like charades or something."
"You'd be surprised at the skill it takes to master it," I said. I wasn't very good at the more athletic parts of the Junior Lifeguard training. Jumping jacks and burpees weren't for me. But yoga was something I excelled at. "I've got class Thursday night — you should try it."
Bud said, "We'll see," then mumbled under his breath, "How about downward facing plover?"
It didn't bother me. I breathed in the peace as I paddled away. We were all on this journey together, even me and Bud.
Full extension, Ziggy! Don't try to cheat me. I've got eyes in the back of my head!" Bud called at me the next day.
I panted as I tried to keep up with the rest of the Junior Lifeguards. This was the part of training I hated the most: the workouts. Today we were doing it on the wet sand, which made everything even harder.
"I signed up for this?" I groaned as I tried to do a burpee to Bud's liking: a full squat, before moving into the plank position, followed by a push-up. Then back to the squat position before standing up and jumping into the air. It was like yoga on steroids.
My strategy had been to hide in the back of the group and take shortcuts — like not kicking my legs all the way out, or doing the push-ups from my knees instead of the plank. But Bud had caught me, which is why he was yelling at me.
"Zigs, you can do it!" Piper called out.
"Ugh," was all I could answer as Bud blew his whistle — the signal to switch to two minutes of jumping jacks.
Of course Piper and Jenna excelled at the training. They were both tall like Amazons, and strong — Piper from years of working at her grandmother's stables, and Jenna from training as a champion swimmer. Selena was no jock but she could hold her own. I was the smallest out of my friends and the least coordinated. Yoga usually made me feel strong, but today I was feeling downright puny.
Excerpted from "Junior Lifeguards, Book 4: Fireworks!"
Copyright © 2017 Elizabeth Doyle Carey.
Excerpted by permission of Dunemere Books.
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.
Table of Contents
Chapter One Peace Out,
Chapter Two Burpees,
Chapter Three The Bucket Brigade,
Chapter Four Mini Golf, Maxi Drama,
Chapter Five Keep Calm and Do Yoga,
Chapter Six Keep Smiling!,
Chapter Seven Tears and Ice Cream,
Chapter Eight From Bad to Worse!,
Chapter Nine A Win-Win,
Chapter Ten Independence Day,
Chapter Eleven More Surprises,
About The Authors,
More Junior Lifeguards Books!,