In the story Saving Peg Leg, Jane finds an injured turtle in her backyard. She wants to keep this turtle as a pet and nurse it back to good health. After taking the turtle to the vet and visiting the library, Jane learns lots of interesting facts about her new turtle friend. She learns that it's best not to keep turtles in captivity. Jane struggles with doing the right thing in letting the turtle return to a natural habitat, knowing it is injured. Through help from her loving family members, many new and old friends, her love for animals, and her strong belief in her faith, Jane overcomes her worries for the well-being of the turtle she calls Peg Leg. She also realizes that God is sending her on a mission of strength, love, and determination for helping one of his creations live a normal life in a suitable habitat.
|Publisher:||Ideopage Press Solutions|
|Product dimensions:||6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.23(d)|
|Age Range:||3 Months to 12 Years|
About the Author
Michael is a first-grade teacher and loves teaching all subjects, especially writing, to his students. When his class writes and shares each day, it makes it the most rewarding part of the school day. Michael Also has written over shirty poems about a leprechaun who visits his classroom every year.
Michael grew up in a suburb of Boston, MA, where he still resides. In his spare time, Michael enjoys candlepin bowling, swimming, and baseball.
Read an Excerpt
An egg is a fascinating creation. It can come in many colors and sizes, and is oval in shape. From creatures as small as a butterfly to as large as an ostrich, life begins a new stage of living when the egg hatches. Some of these creatures spend time learning from their mothers. Baby birds are fed and taught to fly, and when ready, they leave the nest to venture off on their own. Other animals, when they hatch, are on their own from the beginning of life and never get to learn from their parents. One of these animals is the turtle.
After turtles mate, they lay their eggs under a sandy shore on a beach or muddy area of a riverbank. The turtles will never see their babies hatch.
They immediately return to the water. When their eggs hatch, the young turtles begin their journey of life by trekking through their ancestral waters, fending off life's ups and downs by themselves in search of a place to call home.
One early morning in late August, just before the sun began to rise in start of a new day, a small wood turtle hatched out of its shell from under the cool, grainy sand on the shore of the Connecticut River. Its mother, nowhere to be seen, had laid her eggs only a few months prior. It immediately began its life crawling slowly on the top layer of the wet sand toward the bank of the river, leaving a perfect track of footprints and underbody behind. It soon reached its destination, diving under the cold water and searching for its first meal. As it moved gracefully downstream, the turtle swam into a rapidly moving current, causing it to glide through the water like a skier on a steep slope glides down the freshly fallen snow. A sense of peace filled its body; it was happy to be alive.
The turtle settled on a muddy shore about a mile from where it began its life. He crawled up to a flat part of a large stone sticking out from the mud and lay quietly for a while. The sun shone brightly on its shell as its first day of life on land began.
Captured and Released
A boy, about five years of age, was using binoculars in search of something unique. He stood on a walking bridge and looked down along the shore where the turtle was basking.
"Hey, Mom! Just look at the turtle! I'm gonna capture it!" said the boy.
Before his mother could respond, the boy was holding the turtle with one hand and using the other hand to poke inside it with a long, pointed stick.
"Jesse! Leave the poor thing alone and get back up here at once! You're getting mud all over your new sneakers!" yelled his mother.
The turtle for the first time in its young life, immediately retreated inside its hard, protective shell. The boy began slipping on the mud beneath his feet and tossed the turtle up in the air to a grassy area between the rocky incline and the bridge. As he climbed to the top, still slipping occasionally on the wet surface, his sneakers became covered with mud. The turtle, landing with a thud on the grass and rock below him, lay motionless, not budging from him shell. The sense of danger was real.
"Jesse James Joseph!" screamed his mother. "How many times have I told you to leave those critters alone! Now take off those muddy sneakers and get into the car."
Ignoring his mother's commands, the boy jumped into the back of the car with muddy shoes, leaving a track of mud and sandy debris on the seat and floor of the car while holding the turtle in his hands. He placed the turtle in an empty yellow pail that laid on the floor. His mother didn't know he was taking the frightened turtle home with him.
The boy lived with his mother and grandmother in a small apartment in a large city. (Not an ideal place for a wood turtle.) Life was not easy in the time the turtle spent with the boy. It spent most of its time sheltered inside its shell, scared to come out. It would have starved to death if it weren't for the start of school and the thoughtfulness of the boy's grandmother.
One day, after dropping the boy off at school, the grandmother began her daily chores of cleaning the house. As she collected dirty clothes and put away toys from the floor of her grandson's bedroom, she heard a scuffling sound coming from the closet. She was unaware the turtle was making a desperate plea to be heard.
Armed with a broom and a wonderment of what could be making that noise, she quickly opened the closet door. Jumping back with a sigh of relief, she said to herself, "What in blazes do we have here? That boy needs to stop bringing all of God's creatures into this house."
Noticing how sickly the turtle looked, she picked it up, brought it to the kitchen, and gave it some spring water and pieces of fruit salad to eat while detaining it in a large rectangular plastic container. It was far better cry than the clutches of the boy's hands.
After a while of observing, she noticed the turtle had gained some life back into its tiny body. The woman thought about what to do next with the scared, frightened turtle. She decided to take it to a safer place. She knew a little boy's hands, and an apartment in a city was no place for the turtle to live. She walked down the noisy street toward a large park in the center of the city. As she entered the park, she walked along a narrow path, up a hilly incline, and down the other side. She dodged bikers, roller skaters, and mommies with babies in strollers until she came to a small pond. There, she released the turtle on the shore, freeing it from the near-death experience it encountered in the apartment. It was as if an angel was sent down from heaven by God to watch over and protect the turtle from harm's way.
The next few weeks went relatively without incident for the turtle. It was gaining his strength back and adapting nicely to its new home. The turtle settled in an old, hollow log for shelter, hiding from predators on one of the islands in the center of the pond. Autumn weather was settling in. The leaves on the trees around the pond were changing to peak colors of bright reds, yellows, and oranges.
Food for the turtle was plenty at first, although more of a challenge to find as the cooler temperatures arrived.
As time passed, the first snow fell. The pond, looking as sleek as a sheet of glass, began to ice over. The turtle found himself settling down in the waters of the pond. There he rested all winter, finding food to survive on beneath of the murky surface, such as small fish, slugs, and worms.
After months of life being seemingly frozen in time, the first sign of spring was heard from the island above. The ice melted away. Frogs began croaking. The birds began chirping. The turtle could hear their voices through the vibrating echoes in the water. He soon emerged from the water below. It was now time to explore the land above again. Having both an aquatic and terrestrial habitat gave him the advantage of seeing what both land and water had to offer.
One warm day in late April the turtle trotted slowly along the shore of the pond, in search of something to eat. At the same time, a group of schoolchildren, accompanied by several adult chaperones, walked along a path toward the pond. They were visiting from Upstate New York on a fieldtrip.
One of the students noticed the turtle laying on a rock as they stopped to take pictures of the scenery around them. "Hey, guys, look over there. Is that a turtle?" asked a girl with long, curly, brown hair.
"Yes, it is," replied a teacher. "It's a wood turtle commonly found in this area."
"Can we take it back to school?" asked another student.
"I'm afraid not, Gus," replied the teacher. "This turtle is on the endangered species list. It's in danger of being extinct. But we can take pictures of it if you like." All the kids took turns taking pictures with the turtle, and then one group picture was taken by a passerby.
When it was time for the group to board the bus back to New York, one of the boys snuck back to where the turtle was resting. When he found it, he picked it up and carefully placed it in his lunchbox and placed the box in his backpack. He boarded the bus without anyone knowing he had a turtle hidden from sight in his bag. Once again, the turtle was captured.
On the way back, they did stop twice for bathroom breaks. The boy, being more caring to the needs of the turtle than the young boy from the apartment, took this break time to give the turtle some water and fruit he bought from one of the rest stop's general stores. Eventually, one of the chaperones found out that the boy had the turtle hidden in his bag. The teacher scolded him for taking the turtle from its habitat. It was too late to turn back. When they arrived at school, the teacher took the turtle to the science room and placed it in an empty aquarium appropriate for small aquatic animals.
After a few days of rest in an aquarium, the turtle adapted nicely to its current surroundings. Then, one day, the same boy who took the turtle from the pond decided to take it out of its new home when no one was looking. He placed it in the same lunchbox and backpack as he did at the pond.
When school finished for the day, he brought the turtle to an open field beside the school and let it roam. Suddenly, out of nowhere, a huge hawk, with its wingspan spread wide, swooped down and grabbed the turtle with its sharply pointed claws!
The boy was stunned as he watched the hawk carry it off into the blue sky.
As the hawk flew farther and farther away, the boy could only hope that a miracle would save the turtle from its untimely demise. Out of the boy's sight, something of a miracle did happen. Someone nearby was flying a drone in the path of the hawk. The buzzing of the drone scared the hawk enough that it opened its claws, releasing the turtle into the emptiness of the air around it.
As the turtle broke free, it began to fall to the earth below. This would surely have been the end of its young life if it were to hit the land, but what happened next can only be described as a miracle. The grace of God guided the turtle once again, landing it in some newly bloomed, thickly layered leaves on top of an old oak tree beside a stream, padding its journey as it made its way to the earth below. It was free of the hawk's claws and any other danger, at least for a moment.
Mr. Spencer was a tall man of medium build. He had light brown hair with grayish highlights and was known best as the town's handyman. He could fix just about any item that needed repair. Sometimes the townspeople would drop off items at his house for him to repair, and sometimes he would fix them at their houses. He worked hard to help the people and provide a good way of life for his family. His wife and children adored him, and the citizens respected him. But most of all, Mr. Spencer always found time to spend with his family.
Right out of college, he co-owned an advertisement business in the big city with some buddies from school. Two years into the business, he had grown tired of the hustle and bustle of the big city life. He decided to sell his share of the business to other co-owners and moved to the small town where his grandfather lived, located a few towns south from where he grew up. There, he met Helen, got married, bought a home, started a family, and had been there ever since.
Mrs. Spencer, a tall, slender woman with long brown hair, was well-liked by the people of the community for her outgoing personality. She enjoyed small-town living and loved the small-town atmosphere. She grew up in a farmhouse on the east side of town. After attending college in the big city, she returned home to care for her parents and to help with the farm duties. At a town function, she met Harold. They married, bought a home, and started a family.
After her youngest child, Jane, entered school, Mrs. Spencer became very active in the town. During the week, she often substituted at the local schools. She worked at the church as the organist and choir director on Sundays. She would often volunteer at the nursing home, helping the activity director in organizing fun times for the residents. She did her best to teach her children to become responsible citizens through a love for their faith, helping others, and caring for nature around them.
Mark was a typical boy who enjoyed playing sports, hanging with friends, and had a knack for getting into awkward situations from time to time. (The time he got sprayed by a skunk was a very smelly situation.) He had short, brown hair, was husky in build, and looked like his father. He was always respectful to his parents, teachers, and others, young and old. He loved to hang with his younger sister, Jane, even though he was four years older than her, just as their older sister, Megan, did for him. When Megan would come home on college breaks, she'd spend time with her younger siblings. Mark remembered Megan's generosity toward him when he was younger and tried to help Jane in the ways Megan helped him.
Jane, the youngest member of the Spencer family, was a good daughter and always listened to her parents. She had long brown hair, was slender in build, and had many facial features of her mother. She was an excellent student with a will to learn. She was well-liked by her teachers and friends at school, and when she put her mind to a task, she did it. She loved the outdoors, animals, and her family. She enjoyed reading, spending time with her friends, and exploring her backyard with her brother. Most of all, Jane had a big heart. She cared about everyone and anything she encountered, especially the animals in her neighborhood.
The Spencers' Home
The Spencers lived in a small town in Upstate New York. Their house was once a barn full of animals and equipment. When Jane's parents married, they bought the barn from her dad's grandfather and converted it into a live-in country house perfect for its location. Many of the barn's features were kept unchanged.
On the outside, the house resembled a barn. Mr. Spencer preserved the deeply rich, red paint on the exterior by repainting it every five years. The long, wooden boards and the white-trimmed awning added to its country feel. The original barn doors on the front and back sides of the house were converted into porches. The porches were covered with rocking chairs and swinging love seats for entertaining friends or just relaxing. From spring to early autumn, people could be seen enjoying numerous activities that included relaxing on a rocker and reading a good book, playing board games, or having meaningful conversations with each other. Glasses of lemonade and cookies were served on hot summer days to any guest who joined them.
The house was located on the highest point of a dirt road on the north side of the town's center. A mile from the Hudson River, it stood on an acre of land surrounded by a variety of numerous trees, a small pond, a clear glass greenhouse, a flower garden, and a hilly, rocky landscape that was also home for so many of God's creatures. On the rooftop stood the original rustic rooster weathervane dawning a campus rose. Some say the house could be seen for miles from the hills on the outskirts of a nearby mountain range.
Mr. and Mrs. Spencer maintained their property as a small farm. They had several chickens, hens, one cow, and a goat. Although no crops were grown in the field like in the early days, a few apple and peach trees remained in the back, about twenty yards from the house. Plump, juicy blueberries could be picked from the bush that grew near the greenhouse from time to time. They always had fresh milk, butter, eggs, and homemade blueberry jam for breakfast, along with the occasional blueberry, apple, or peach pie for dessert.
The house exemplified a country feel as you entered its breezeway. On the inside, the original posts kept the structure in place. Wood floors with patterned area rugs were found in each room. Each area of the original barn was converted into seven rooms, including a kitchen, a living room, a dining room, and a bathroom on the main floor, and three spacious bedrooms on the lower floor. The furniture seen throughout the house was made from the finest wood — old, yet classy. Some contained features of circular swirls, ridges, and flowery designs. Many pieces were passed down from previous generations and contained bits of family history deep inside of the drawers.
Excerpted from "Saving Peg Leg"
Copyright © 2017 Michael Fitzpatrick.
Excerpted by permission of AuthorHouse.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Table of Contents
Chapter 1 The Egg, 1,
Chapter 2 Captured and Released, 4,
Chapter 3 Hawk's Claws, 8,
Chapter 4 The Spencer's, 13,
Chapter 5 The Spencers' Home, 16,
Chapter 6 Peg Leg, 21,
Chapter 7 Dr. Mahoney's Clinic, 26,
Chapter 8 The Library with Mrs. Green, 32,
Chapter 9 Grandma Grace, 36,
Chapter 10 A Talk about Sunday School, 41,
Chapter 11 A Sign from Above, 43,
Chapter 12 Sister Nora and the Saints, 45,
Chapter 13 Peg Leg Comes Home, 49,
Chapter 14 A Chat with Mom, 51,
Chapter 15 A Visit with Mrs. Green, 53,
Chapter 16 Mr. Sharry, 56,
Chapter 17 The Pet Fair at the Park, 58,
Chapter 18 The Treehouse, 62,
Chapter 19 The Swing, 66,
Chapter 20 The Park, 68,
Chapter 21 Camping in the Yard, 72,
Chapter 22 The Surprise, 75,
Chapter 23 One Man's Bluff, 79,
Chapter 24 A Gift from Grandma Grace, 85,
Chapter 25 The Weather Report, 88,
Chapter 26 Peg Leg Goes Missing, 91,
Chapter 27 The Search, 93,
Chapter 28 Jane's Last Journal Entry, 96,
Chapter 29 An Answered Request, 99,
Chapter 30 A New Home for Peg Leg, 102,