Chris Fossett can't resist a dare to spend a week alone on rocky, isolated Fowlers Island off the coast of Maine. He expects to spend his time hunting for food--not ghosts. But there's no denying an eerie presence in the fog, and Chris recalls his grandfather's tales of a girl who was left behind on the island. A fierce girl...who may still be there.
Joellen Roth, who comes to the island's bird cliffs with her scientist father and his new girlfriend, wants nothing to do with Chris--nor he with her. But when the two stumble upon a hidden journal, the pages reveal a story strikingly similar to one that Joellen is writing.
|File size:||309 KB|
|Age Range:||8 - 12 Years|
About the Author
"I started writing stories almost as soon as I began to read. They were derivative and predictable-as much a way of revisiting characters and places in books I loved as it was a means of self-expression. I don't remember when words and their use became important. In the beginning was the story, and for a long time it was all that mattered.
"Even though I always wrote, I imagined becoming an explorer or an animal trainer. This was long before I had to be gainfully employed. It wasn't until after I'd landed in the workplace, first in museum research and then in teaching, that I returned to story writing-this time for my young children. Then a fellowship in creative writing at the Bunting Institute of Radcliffe College gave me and my storymaking a chance. One affirmation led to another, and now there are books-and some readers.
"When I talk with children in schools and libraries, I realize that child readers are still out there. When they get excited about a character or a scene, a new dimension opens for them, a new way of seeing and feeling and understanding.
"Of course there is always one child who asks how it feels to be famous and to be recognized in supermarkets. I explain that the only people who recognize me are those who have seen me working my sheep dogs or selling my wool at sheep fairs. That response often prompts another query: Why write books if they don't make you rich and famous? I usually toss that question back at the children. Why do they invent stories? How does story writing make them feel?
"Eventually we explore the distinction between wanting to be a writer and needing to write. If we want to write, then we must and will. Whether or not we become published authors, we all have tales to tell and stories to share. Literature can only continue to grow from the roots of our collective experience if children understand that they are born creative and that all humans are myth users and storytellers."
Read an Excerpt
Chris couldn't believe it. Here he was, just sprung from school and ready to Cut loose, and instead he was bound for Fowlers Island, where his best friends would leave him to spend his only full week of freedom in total isolation. He had better things to do before starting his summer job at the Harbor View Inn. He ought to have his head examined.
He glanced back at Ledgeport. If someone was going to stop them and ask where they thought they were going, it had to be now. But everyone on the waterfront was used to the three boys taking off like this on a Sunday. No one took any notice of them.
The small workboat wasn't designed for speed, but the boys could make it cover a lot of water. Of course they had to go slow and easy until they were clear of the harbor. But as soon as they headed into Grace Narrows, nothing but the old one-lunger engine could hold them back. Letting go like that usually made Chris feel good. But not today.
It had started last fall with the kind of boasting that so easily sets a trap. Even with three town boys against one from away, Chris and Andy and Eric had felt pressed to challenge Gary. And all because Gary had returned to his summer home bragging about the two nights he had spent alone on Brimstone Island.
Anyone could do that, the town boys had retorted They didn't need survival training either. Look at all the times Chris stayed out on one of the islands with his father tending sheep. Anyway, Brimstone was small. No one had ever lived on it in bygone days, so you wouldn't meet tip with old ghosts and that.
Ghosts? They believed in ghosts? Gary had laughed and laughed.
So oneof them had mentioned the light that used to be seen on Fowlers Island on certain moonlit nights. Not the signal from the lighthouse that marked the treacherous ledges of the outer islands, but a low, taint flicker like a candle flame. Most of the old-timers hereabouts had glimpsed it at least once. Or else they knew someone who had. Anyway, they believed it, even if they didn't all agree on what caused it or what it signified. Try staying way out on that island.
Gary had shrugged. He figured it was a lot easier spending a couple of nights on a big island where people used to live than on a wild, uninhabited island where you could hear the sea all around you no matter where you unrolled your sleeping bag. Besides, if a storm came up, there was always that lighthouse for shelter.
The lighthouse was out of bounds, the town boys replied. Anyway, its downstairs room was usually full of dead birds and bird crap. And maybe something else.
Gary had laughed again. None of that bothered him any. If one of the town boys went out there alone, he would, too. After all, he had made it through survival camp and passed his solo island experience. He knew about marking eggs in a nest to find out which were newly laid. He knew how to grind up burdock roots and which plants were edible raw.
He didn't think he'd have any trouble getting permission from his folks to spend a few days on an island with a lighthouse. He assumed there would be a well. A gallon of water would be enough for a day or two, but not if a person stayed much longer. And they'd have to agree to certain rules, like no food handouts from outsiders and no raiding lobster traps, and only one box of matches. He'd go a day longer than any one of them on that island. No sweat.
Andy and Eric and Chris had each planned to be the one to outsurvive Gary until it became clear that no one's family would put up with any such nonsense.
Then at New Year's Chris's parents had won the prize of a lifetime. The New England Association of Sheep Breeders had awarded them a three-week sheep tour in New Zealand. They put off the trip until early June, when the home farm chores were least demanding.
Grandad moved in with Chris, who made sure that things were going smoothly before proposing to take the week off
On Fowlers Island? Grandad didn't like that idea, not one bit.
Chris hadn't actually lied to convince him, but he did have to point out that it wasn't all that different from his being out there with Dad when they sheared the island sheep. Nor did Chris mention not bringing food. And he had to promise that his friends would check up on him and report back to Grandad.
Since Gary hadn't yet arrived for the summer, the town boys just assumed that he would agree to this. To be fair, everything would have to be the same for Gary, and Chris would provide him with a map or description of the island.
"Don't forget," Andy remarked as he cut the engine and coasted up to a rocky outcrop below the beach, "even if someone shows up, you keep away from them. No help. Unless," he added, "you're in trouble."
"I won't be," Chris said, tossing the rope onto high ground. He shrugged his backpack up his shoulder, stepped out on rockweed, and sank to his ankles in the frigid water. Andy and Eric laughed. Chris laughed, too, to keep from yelping. Hoisting his water jug and sleeping bag, he splashed shoreward.
The one-lunger revved up, making its usual racket. Chris turned to watch them go. Eric shouted something that must have been pretty funny because both boys doubled over laughing. The boat rocked as it backed off.