The Great Wave of Tamarind is the stunning standalone conclusion to Nadia Aguiar's critically acclaimed middle-grade Book of Tamarind trilogy.
Penny Nelson grew up listening to her older sister and brother recount their adventures in Tamarind, a magical island not found on any map, but she sometimes she can't tell which of her memories are hers and which are theirs.
After drifting out to sea, Penny once again finds herself on the shores of Tamarind. But things are wrong on the island: portals lead to treacherous places, a strange creature is wreaking havoc, and a Great Wave is coming to bring the Bloom, magic that can stabilize the island. Whoever completes three challenges gets to catch the Bloomand keep some of that life-changing magic for their own use.
To save Tamarind and collect the magic, Penny has to brave dark ocean depths, survive the perils of the jungle, and outwit a cunning creature bent on bringing chaos.
Praise for The Great Wave of Tamarind:
"In Aguiar’s satisfying finale to her Tamarind trilogy, Penny returns to the magical island seven years after Secrets of Tamarind (2011). . . . This volume works equally well as a standalone and a series conclusion (longtime fans will rejoice at Helix’s return). With heartfelt emotion, an exotic setting, and a mix of wilderness survival and fantasy quest, this has something for everyone." Booklist
About the Author
Nadia Aguiar worked in publishing in New York City for a number of years, and has also lived in Canada and London, but currently she lives on her own sub-tropical island of Bermuda, where she was born and raised. She is the author of The Lost Island of Tamarind, Secrets of Tamarind, and The Great Wave of Tamarind.
Read an Excerpt
The Great Wave of Tamarind
By Nadia Aguiar
Feiwel and FriendsCopyright © 2017 Nadia Aguiar
All rights reserved.
Shark Penny's Goggles The Signs Granny Pearl "When the time is right" Urgent Message
Penny peered through her goggles into the turquoise world below. The water was clear as crystal and there was movement everywhere — swaying, darting, nibbling, tugging. Even the light pulsed in veins across the sandy floor. A school of yellowtail jacks circled restlessly and a spiny lobster crossed an open patch between reefs. With its jointed legs and long, wavering antennae, it looked like a big orange insect. It disturbed a snoozing flounder, which lifted its pancake body briefly and, with a puff of sand, wriggled down deeper.
In the distance, she saw a shark cruise out from behind the rocks. Its belly was white as fresh snow; the rest of it gleamed like sunlit steel. Two unblinking eyes sat on either side of the crude spade of its head. It glided effortlessly, as if unbound by gravity. With only the barest flick of its tail, its rubbery body bent and the creature switched direction, swimming a wide, purposeful circle before disappearing around the other side of the rocks.
As Penny floated there, the sun went behind a cloud, and the water grew suddenly murky. Tiny neon fish that had been zipping around the waving sea rods vanished into a hole, and the school of yellowtail jacks swerved away, reforming as a spinning, glittering ball in the distance. Penny's lungs began to burn. She'd need to take a breath soon. The shark emerged again from behind the rocks. Its shadow passed over the lobster, which froze for a moment, detecting the disturbance with its sensitive antennae. As the shark came closer, Penny concentrated on keeping her heart rate slow, just as Simon had taught her.
The animal began to rise and bring its circle deliberately in. Its eye was trained on Penny. With each pass, it closed the distance between them. Its skin, somewhere between metal and velvet, shimmered in the dim light.
Her name was being called at the surface. Underwater, the sound was muffled.
The shark passed her, just feet away this time. Then, as if sensing the intent in the voice above, it abandoned its slowly narrowing circles and, with a barely perceptible shift of its sinewy tail, turned and picked up speed and headed straight for Penny. At the last instant, it veered off, a flick of its tail at the surface releasing a curtain of quivering, pearly bubbles, and Penny felt herself being hauled up by the back of her shirt. She was deposited on the ground outside the tank, just as the shark disappeared into the shadows.
"What were you thinking!" shouted Cab, the aquarist. "Do you know how foolish that is — what could happen? I felt sick when I saw you there! For the last time — stay OUT of the tank!"
"But I wasn't swimming this time," said Penny, pushing her faded black goggles up over her head, water streaming down from her wet hair and shirt. "I was just leaning in. And," she said confidently, "you know people think sharks are way more dangerous than they really are. You're more likely to die in the bathtub than you are in a shark attack."
"You're not supposed to be in the staff area," said Cab, exasperated. "No one else would come up here, let alone put their head in a tank with a six-foot shark!"
"But," said Penny, "I just ..." She trailed off. She looked for the shark, as if the sight of it would prove to Cab how she just hadn't been able to help herself, but the big fish was hidden behind the reef.
"Penny, are you up there?" A moment later her mother appeared on the platform.
"I found her in the tank," said Cab.
"Not all the way in," said Penny quickly. "Just leaning in a little."
"Again, Penny?" cried her mother. "I'm so sorry, Cab," she said. "That's the last time."
"It had better be," said Cab self-righteously as he shuffled off.
The open-air platform above the tanks at the Bermuda Aquarium, where Penny's parents were marine biologists, had been declared strictly off-limits to Penny ever since she had been caught swimming in the tank last month. But today, after walking to the aquarium after school, Penny had grown restless as she'd waited for her mother in the main hall, watching Oscar the shark circle. In the end she couldn't resist sneaking up to the platform above the tank.
"Why do you have to be so reckless?" said her mother after Cab had left. "There are rules for a reason — why don't you think you have to follow them just like anyone else?"
"I follow rules that make sense," said Penny, water dripping on the concrete as she wrung out her wet hair. "But come on, Mami, Oscar won't hurt me. You know he's hand-fed — he's not like a wild shark." She looked longingly down at the beautiful dusky shark swimming peacefully. She had come so close to reaching out and brushing his dorsal fin with her fingertips.
In the tank, the lobster had safely ended his stiff-legged venture. A pair of parrotfish scraped algae from the reef, their fused beaks leaving tiny white crosses on the rock. Purple sea fans bowed in the current and fluted sponges reached up toward the fading light. As Penny watched, a lettuce-green eel emerged from its cave and — like a long scarf set loose by the wind — stretched to its full length and billowed across the water.
She couldn't explain to people like Cab, or even her mother, the powerful pull she felt to be in that other world, close to such a magnificent creature that moved so flawlessly through its element. She couldn't describe how, when she was near the shark, she felt not fear but a deep, potent sense of being alive, a feeling more vivid and real than anything else in her day, in her whole life, even. But already the sensation was fading. The clouds thickened, transforming the reef and its creatures into shadows.
Her mother sighed. "I'm going to talk to your father about this," she said. "But right now let's go. I want to get home to Granny Pearl."
Hearing the urgency in her mother's voice, Penny grabbed her school backpack. She felt suddenly chilly in her damp shirt, and a familiar nervous feeling quickened her step. Leaving the darkened tank behind, she hurried after her mother down the staff stairs.
* * *
In the car, Penny wound down her window and let the wind dry her hair. She used to take the bus home. Her mother driving her was a new thing; ever since Granny Pearl had been having what Penny's parents called "the episodes," at least one of them tried to come home early. After so long without them being there, Penny found it strange to have them around all the time. She was still thinking about floating in the cool blue world of the tank, remembering how close she had been to the shark, when Mami nodded at the road up ahead.
"Looks like girls from your school," she said.
Penny looked up to see a group of girls walking along the shady verge under the oleander. She shrugged and hunched down in her seat.
"Isn't that Angela with them?" asked Mami, squinting. "It is. Should I offer them a lift?"
"No," said Penny quickly. "They're going the other way!"
"I haven't seen Angela in ages," said Mami. "Are you two still arguing?"
"We're not arguing," muttered Penny. "We're just not friends anymore."
"That's a shame," said her mother. "You've been friends since you were little kids. Don't you think you can try getting along again? Angela probably misses you, too, you know."
Penny didn't answer. It was typical that her mother had no idea what was going on in her life. As if Angela missed her! She had a whole other group of friends now. It wasn't as if Penny had wanted things to change — Angela was the one who had turned into a different person overnight. Penny looked the other way as they drove past the girls.
She told herself she didn't care, anyway. She didn't have time to worry about problems at school now, not when things at home — important things — needed her attention.
For weeks now, strange signs had been appearing around Granny Pearl's house.
First, a dozen harbor conches had appeared overnight in a perfect circle on the shore of the cove.
They were followed, days later, by the leaves of the orange tree turning silver.
Then, deep within her plumage, the parrot Seagrape's quills had begun to glimmer.
There were other things, too: little things in the garden and the cove, just out of the ordinary enough to be notable. Granny Pearl said they were like warnings that appeared in the days before a big storm — in the same way that silk spiders moved their thick yellow webs from high in the treetops to low in the trunks of the spice trees to escape the rain, or the way your ears popped from subtle pressure changes in the atmosphere.
"On their own they don't mean much," said Granny Pearl. "But all together like this ... It's been seven years since I've seen anything like it. Something is on its way, Penny; some big change is about to happen. I can feel it."
"Should we tell Mami and Papi?" Penny had whispered as she looked wonderingly at the pewter luster of a leaf cradled in Granny Pearl's palm.
"Better not," said Granny Pearl. "I don't think they'd understand."
"No, probably not," Penny had agreed.
To be honest, Penny wouldn't have paid much attention to any of the signs if her grandmother hadn't seen them and been so sure. But Granny Pearl had always been attuned to things in the natural world that no one else noticed. She knew what the shapes and tints of the evening clouds predicted for the next day's weather. She knew that monarchs spun their cocoons in milkweed and that cloudless sulfurs flocked to cassia trees. On summer evenings, after a full moon, she would take Penny down to the shore, where she could time to the minute when the glowworms would shimmy up to the surface — first one, then two, then dozens of little whirring, bioluminescent spirits, before one by one they'd ebb and sink back down into the silt. Darkness would have seeped in unnoticed in their wake and the last of the sunset drained away, so that when the spectacle was over, the world would have transformed, leaving the cove a glossy black disc beneath the moonlight.
So, when she told Penny that the signs meant that something important was on its way, Penny believed her.
What that something might be, Granny Pearl refused to say.
"When the time is right," she'd tell Penny. "When I'm sure."
It seemed to Penny that since the signs had begun appearing, Granny Pearl had been growing weaker. It was as though the mysterious thing approaching was sapping her strength, making her forgetful and confused, inclined to leave faucets running, or to wander and forget where she was. At the rate things were going, Penny thought that whatever was happening had to happen soon. Maybe, she thought, looking out of the car window at the eerie, sallow sky, maybe even today.
She and her mother had reached the pampas grass, which meant they were almost home. A breeze rustled restlessly through the razor-sharp blades. Dingy plumes shook on long stalks above the grass, like surf kicked up by a roiling sea, and released fluffy, dirty-white seedpods that whirled thickly in the air. Penny had never seen so many. She twisted around in her seat to see out of the window behind them as her mother turned the car down the bumpy dirt road through the trees to Granny Pearl's house. The gray afternoon dimmed further as the trees met in a roof over the road, forging a gloomy green tunnel. Seedpods from the pampas blew in and were held aloft like tiny parachutes on currents of breeze, eventually coming to lie in yellowed drifts in the hollows of the earth.
"Do you see them all?" asked Penny. "They're never out like this until late summer! And I've never seen so many before!"
"You mean the pampas seeds?" Mami asked. She glanced out the window. "They're the same as always, aren't they? They always make a huge mess."
One blew in the window and landed on Penny's knee. Her heart quickened. She picked it up and examined it. It looked perfectly ordinary — a tiny, soft hook with a shock of blond fluff at the end — but she knew it wasn't. She looked back outside. Her mother was wrong. They were everywhere, more numerous than she had ever known, falling like dirty snow, obscuring the day.
She would have to tell Granny Pearl right away.
* * *
The green parrot was waiting.
The old yellow-hulled sailboat, the Pamela Jane, lay on her mooring in the sea at the foot of the garden. Perched atop the mast as it knocked gently back and forth in the salty breeze was Seagrape the parrot, in the post she kept every day from three o'clock until Penny got home. Far below, tangled in the mooring chain, burned-looking clumps of sargassum drifted dreamily in the tide. The school of snappers that lived below the hull was off at the other end of the cove. A sign hung from the stern, squeaking in the breeze: CLUBHOUSE — KEEP OUT!
At the rumble of wheels, Seagrape cocked her head, then dropped down from the mast and flew, faster than usual, to meet Penny. Penny jumped out before the car had fully stopped, ignoring her mother's irritated shout. She stretched out her arm, and Seagrape landed heavily. Agitated, the bird shuffled from talon to talon, muttering and ruffling her feathers.
"What are you so excited about?" Penny asked. She stroked the parrot's silky wings, looking for the glimmer that Granny Pearl had seen in her quills, deep within the glossy green plumage. But in the sallow light of the overcast afternoon it was hard to discern.
With a squawk Seagrape flew ahead to the porch. Penny kicked off her shoes and peeled off her socks, muddy from the field at school, and ran barefoot the rest of the way to the house.
"Granny Pearl!" she called, dashing up the porch steps, past the row of conch shells.
"I'm home!" she shouted, barging through the screen door into the kitchen.
No one answered.
"Granny Pearl!" Penny sang as the screen door banged shut. But the kitchen was empty. Her parents' lab coats from earlier in the week lay rumpled and soiled in a heap on the floor by the laundry, waiting to be washed. Penny dropped her shoes inside the door.
"Hello!" she shouted again. "I'm home!"
Seagrape flew in through the open kitchen window. The house was dim. The living room, with its faded old furniture and stacks of marine biology journals, was empty, too. The creaky ceiling fan was off, but the faint breeze coming from outside turned it, so slowly it barely moved at all. Penny ran down the hallway, tossing her backpack in her room as she went, but no one was in the bathroom or in her grandmother's small and tidy bedroom. The violet, its leaves fuzzy as bumblebees, sat silent on the windowsill. Across the hall, Simon and Helix's old room, nearly bare now, was quiet.
All of a sudden the house felt hollow, but the musty, undisturbed air closed in claustrophobically. Penny hurried back through the living room, past her parents' bedroom to her father's study. The eyes of sea creatures preserved in jars of alcohol — unblinking year in and year out throughout Penny's childhood — stared down at her from the shelves, and a few ophalla stones from Tamarind glowed stubbornly on the desk, but they were the only things there. Granny Pearl wasn't in the house. The uneasiness building these past weeks rushed to the surface. Seagrape landed with a thump in the doorway.
Penny ran back to the kitchen when she heard her mother come in.
"She's probably just down in the garden," said Mami, but beneath her mother's calm Penny could detect the same sharp fear they all felt these days.
She bolted out the screen door, took the porch steps in a single leap, and raced down the hill. Seagrape ducked out the open kitchen window and flew after her.
* * *
When Penny reached the vegetable garden, she saw her grandmother's basket, half full and abandoned in between the rows, but no Granny Pearl. She kept running down the hill to the cove at the end of the garden, where the Pamela Jane was moored. It wasn't until she saw her grandmother standing on the rocks near the cove's entrance, looking out to sea through a pair of binoculars, that Penny slowed down. Granny Pearl had shrunk in the past months and her cotton housedress billowed like a mainsail in the breeze, its pattern faded from hundreds of sunny afternoons spent drying on the line. Penny looked back to see her mother standing at the top of the hill and waved to indicate that everything was okay. Her mother returned to the house and Penny ran the rest of the way down the hill.
"There you are!" said Penny, drawing up breathlessly alongside her grandmother.
"Oh good, you're home," said Granny Pearl, not lifting her gaze from the binoculars.
"I didn't know where you were," said Penny.
Excerpted from The Great Wave of Tamarind by Nadia Aguiar. Copyright © 2017 Nadia Aguiar. Excerpted by permission of Feiwel and Friends.
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