Once upon a time, at the very top of Madagascar, the barren Anjajavy Peninsula stretched out between the turbulent Indian Ocean on one side and the tranquil Bay of Narinda on the other. Nearby in the Anjajavy Forest, the ancient baobab tree Dera listened as life stirred within her seedpods. Most of the seeds snuggled sleepily together but one little seed, Razana, was interested in the world. A slit in the seedpod allowed her to see outside, and the active little seed wriggled around to watch the mighty Indian Ocean. Razana was fascinated by the constant movement of the waves. However, the peninsula was past the Yellow Rocks, the traditional planting boundary. Forced to stand in one spot her entire life, Razana longed to plant next to the dancing sea. How could she get out there?
On Rooting Day, Razana put a plan in motion. As Dera's seeds fell to the forest floor, a family of Sifaka lemurs leapt into active duty, each one assigned a seed to plant. As Razana dropped down, the adventurous little seed bounded over the age-old border and lead her lemur, newcomer Reny, on a merry chase. At the tip of the peninsula, Razana ignored Reny's pleadings and planted herself. Water now surrounded her on three sides, though she was far from the forest, farther than any baobab seed has ever traveled.
At first Razana loved her home; saplings could bend so she curved over to play with waves or reached up to confer with seabirds. As she grew older, however, her trunk toughened and she grew top heavy. Suddenly she tipped over and landed on a boulder. Now she was stuck dangling parallel with the Ocean. Unharmed, Razana decided to make the best of it. At least her branches still trailed into the waves.
Little by little, she realized she had separated herself from the complex Web of Life of the forest. For thousands of years, baobab trees had watched and recorded the world's history for the Forest Team. By growing so far from her family, Razana hadn't learned her proper role. Eager to experience what baobabs could not do, she neglected to appreciate what the Forest Team did do. Now all her seed pods drop and drift away on the Ocean's currents. Where do her children wind up?
Razana wanted to find her missing children and grab her last remaining seed pods to plant by her side. Aided by a group of wacky friends like Rano, a pink backed pelican, Pikabary, a leaf-tailed gecko, and Lalao, Reny's daughter, they tried to collect her remaining seed pods. In spite of their help, all their schemes failed.
In the meantime, out in the Bay of Narinda, a little wave named Toky had to confront the fact he was different. While he knew how to play all the small wave games, Toky was unlike the others. He asked a thousand questions which the other waves ignored. Or they teased him.
Toky watched the big waves as they raced to the beach and learned that these big waves were called Gifters, and that they gifted the land with debris cleaned from the ocean floor which provided food and shelter for all the land dwellers.
But what happened to the waves after they Gifted? It seemed as if they ... vanished. He asked his friend Kompana, but the larger wave didn't know and wasn't really interested. The question haunted little Toky. Do they die?
When Toky accidentally met Razana, their mutual curiosity about life built a solid friendship. For his Gift, he offered to catch her next seed pod and to fling it onto the beach high enough for Lalao and Pikabary to carry back to Razana. Two botched attempts later only one pod remained. He finally caught it, but while leaving Razana's branch, the pod split open which exposed the seeds, Adana, Liana, and Kaody, to the elements. Plans immediately changed. Until Toky grew large enough to launch the pod far up on the beach where the sand is dry, he must wait. Salt water soaked seeds could not sprout.
Toky and the seed pod full of nattering girls decided to swim around Madagascar. Ocean swimming would help him grow larger. They met a group of Green Sea Turtles led by the beautiful and ancient Lakana. She gave Toky the secret to summoning the various sea currents to help them on their way (which Toky insisted he did not need as he could do everything himself). Famous last words!
And at the point to turn north, Toky's curiosity about an underwater glow overcame his resolve and what seemed like a tiny detour turned out to be disastrous. The glow turned out to be krill, millions of tiny shrimp-like creatures, which filled the air with shrill, high-pitched noises as they romped and tried to leap into the pod. Toky raced everywhere. In trying to keep the seeds dry, he lost track of his Madagascar and was lost in the middle if the Indian Ocean.
As they tried to outrun the krill, a cluster of bubbles reached the surface and suddenly the entire population of crazy critters disappeared. Zanahary, a humpbacked whale surfaced with the pod landed precariously on his back. Liana, Adana and Kaody were safe!
Ancient whales have the Gift of being the record keepers for the Ocean Team. They perceived everyone's precious gift unique to them. It is Toky's curiosity, Zanahary stated, that was his special quality which set him apart from others. But Toky thought this "gift" had gotten them in trouble. Toky and the girls were now caught in the West Wind Drift. a huge raging current which encircled Antarctica! He is too small to swim against the flow. How could he ever make it home before Planting Day?
Toky must discover a passageway around Australia. Navigating this obstacle course full of fishing boats, icebergs and flying fish distracts him from facing his deepest fear. What will happen after he tosses the pod? As far as he knows, waves disappear. That is the question the tiny whitecap will have to face alone on the beach, if he and the seeds can get back in one piece that is ...
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HERE’S A REAL FEEL GOOD STORY:
I had a postcard printed with the cartoon of Toky that you see to the left, the same I used on the Surf’n Seeds Facebook page. I have been sending them out to any agent or publisher I haven’t heard from, letting them know I had passed 5500 fans on Facebook. I sent one to a publisher in Oregon and, for some reason, had written an insufficient address. I did not put return a return address on any of them, yet I received it back because someone named Judy took the time to send it to me.
She wrote this note: “This beautiful postcard has an insufficient address. I couldn’t bear to see it end up at the ‘dead letter office’ (you have no return address so I checked the web) Hope it gets where it belongs. Judy”
What an angel! Isn’t that sweet? I am writing her a Thank You note and hopefully can find out her last name. If, oops… I mean, when I am published, I would love to send her an autographed copy. To go out of her way like that… she really made my day.
I have recruited five Junior Editors to read the complete manuscript and give me feedback. And I mean Junior! They range in age from 7 to 10. Three boys and two girls. Picture them with their pens out, circling words that might be over their heads and letting me know what questions they have as they read. I am adding a glossary and set of discussion questions at the back of the book. One mother wrote her daughter protested not being able to bring it to school. That’s a good sign! I have asked them to finish it in six weeks. Let's see how long they all take.