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Ocean Fairies
cover artwork © 2003 Ardy M. Scott.

 

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Ocean Fairies

Wendy Maree Peterson

 

 

 

Chapter One: Welcome Home

 

 

Surrounded by gleaming clouds, the sun descended towards the watery horizon. Where the ocean met the land, rumbling, tumbling waves surged up the shore leaving lacy patterns of foam, seaweed and tiny shells decorating the sand. The volatile water was powerful and beautiful to look upon, yet the beach was deserted.

A long-legged girl suddenly appeared on the top of a partly over-grown sand dune and whisked along the crest. Two thin plaits bounced behind her as she leapt over a clump of daisies then flew down the steep dune leading onto the beach.

Sitting on a rock that was half-buried in sand, she watched and waited. Half-hidden behind her fringe, her blue eyes had a dreamy expression as if part of her was somewhere the ordinary world couldn't reach. She was imagining the glorious face of a mermaid inside the golden globe of the setting sun. Her billowing hair became the clouds of gold and crimson floating around her face. The mermaid leaned forward from the sun and then plunged into the ocean. In the last ray of titian light shimmering across the water, the mermaid's hair streamed towards the shore. Then the sun and the mermaid faded into the night.

As the beach was far from the nearest town, and the few locals were afraid of the dangerous surf, people rarely visited. The young teenager, however, thought this beach the most beautiful place she had ever seen. Although all trace of sunlight had disappeared, the beach was resplendent with a magical glow. Moonbeams glittered across the water while stars blossomed in the sky like luminous fairy flowers. Silver and indigo surrounded her in this enchanted place where anything could happen--and sometimes did--as ocean fairies lived in nests hidden on the foreshore. And she didn't imagine that. If local Real Estates Agents knew about the fairies, property values would surely skyrocket.

She impatiently drummed her feet against the sand. Her friends were late tonight, which was unusual. Another huge wave surged towards her. As it receded, a little face appeared--then it was gone. Two more faces popped out of the water and disappeared, too.

The girl smiled and strained to glimpse another sign her friends had arrived. They were very shy and every evening they went through the ritual of making sure it was safe to leave the water. Then, as if by magic, several small black and white bodies emerged from the bubbling, shallow water near the shore.

Jumping up, the girl waved her arms and yelled, "Welcome home!"

They scooted back into the water, clunking into one another as they retreated. Still watching from the shore, she giggled and hugged herself with anticipation.

Two more of the creatures emerged from the frothy surf, waddled a short distance up the shore and looked around. Then they dashed back into the safety of the water. Finally, one braver than the rest began waddling up the beach. The others were encouraged to leave the water and followed behind him in little groups.

The leader headed straight for the girl on the rock.

She held out her arms and gave him a hug. His feathers were wet and sandy, but she didn't care.

"Did you catch many fish, Roger?" she asked.

The fairy penguins flocked around her all talking at once.

"Jes-eeeeeeeeeeeee!" Coral sang out as she approached and then clambered into her lap.

With Coral, the laptop penguin, snuggled into her lap and several others leaning against her, Jesse wore an animated expression as she listened to the adventures they'd had that day.

They made for strange companions. While Jesse was lean and lovely as a swan, the fairy penguins were roly-poly and cute as ducks.

"Did you bring tuna sandwiches, Jesse?" Vegemite wanted to know. His black eyes had an impish sparkle, and sometimes he could be the most lovable of the penguins. He was also the plumpest.

She looked at him with a contrite expression. "Sorry, Vege. We'd run out of tuna at home."

"Dash it!" he said and hung his head.

"I'll bring you some tomorrow," she promised.

He lifted his head and gave her a cheesy grin.

"We can't expect Jesse to bring tuna sandwiches every day," said Coral in her squeaky voice. With large round eyes and a tiny body, she was the cutest of the penguins; and with her kind heart and quick mind she was also the most thoughtful.

"Jesse, we found a sunken treasure ship not far offshore," Roger said, pointing his sleek black flipper towards the ocean. Nothing ever perturbed Roger or ruffled his feathers. He was a penguin who had an air of confidence and authority. It was not surprising he was their leader.

Jesse's eyes widened and her mouth dropped open. "Rea-lly? Any treasure lying about?"

"Well, of course not," Roger replied.

She grinned at him fondly. "Then how do you know it's a treasure ship?" she teased.

"I've heard some of the merfolk are living in the ship now," Coral told her.

"Wha-at?" Jesse exclaimed.

"And they've been wearing a lot of jewellery, lately," she added.

"Which could only have come from the ship," Roger declared triumphantly.

"Come with us and see, Jesse," Coral urged.

"It'd be awesome to go out there! But. . .how?" she asked, wrinkling her pert, freckled nose. Like most people with red hair, Jesse was plagued with freckles. However, her long auburn hair was her most eye-catching feature. "I can't breathe underwater like you guys," she added.

Vegemite chuckled. "I wish we could," he announced. "Think of all the pilchards we could catch then."

"We don't breathe underwater," Roger explained. "In fact, we hold our breath like you do. But you don't need to swim. If you have a small, light floater, Penguin Power can take you anywhere."

Jesse nibbled the end of her plait and then asked to hear more about this Penguin Power.

"With Penguin Power, we can surround your floater and nudge it out to the ship and bring you back the same way," Roger explained, illustrating his words with in-out movements of his flippers.

"I don't think that would work," Timothy said, looking worried. "There are some big waves we'd have to float her over." Timothy was the youngest and smallest penguin. His beak was still a yellow colour, not black like the others.

"With Penguin Power we can do anything, Tim," Roger replied confidently.

Jesse flicked the plait over her shoulder. "But how would I see the ship from the surface?"

"Goggles," Vegemite responded, grinning.

"Hmmm, that isn't as silly as it sounds," said Roger.

"Thank you," Vegemite replied good-naturedly and took a bow.

Roger continued, "The ship lies on a shallow sea bed where the water is remarkably clear."

Jesse stared at him, her eyes popping with excitement. " If the water's that clear, I might see the merfolk, too!"

Roger cleared his throat as if about to make an important announcement. Jesse always had a hard time stopping herself from laughing whenever he made the funny sing-song noise in his throat.

"Yes, well, I was talking to Raindown, leader of the seals, and I be-lieve the Selkie is back in our ocean as well," he said.

"Oh-h-h-h," said Timothy, looking wide-eyed with awe.

"Isn't the Selkie the mightiest of all the merfolk?" Jesse asked. "The one who can call up the wind and the storm and send them away again?

"Aye," Roger replied. "With just his lyre. Oh, he's powerful, alright. Even the ocean obeys him."

"Oh-h-h-h," said Jesse and Timothy together.

Jesse sighed wistfully. "I'd love to see the merfolk. They're so magical and beautiful."

"They're too beautiful, " Coral said. "Humans can become enchanted just from a glance."

Vegemite looked mournful. "Merfolk are too magical for humans like you, Jesse. You'd fall in love and forget all about me and my tuna sandwiches."

She patted his plump tummy comfortingly.

"Is it true they can shape-shift into anything they like?" Jesse asked the penguins.

"They're metamorphical!" cried Vegemite.

Jesse giggled.

"And animorphical!" added Coral.

"Let's not forget. . .changeable," put in Timothy.

"And-"

"And let's not forget magical and unpredictable and that we have an early start tomorrow," Roger said in a rush. "A conga line, everyone!"

The penguins scrambled to form a line behind Roger--except for Vegemite. "Jesse hasn't told us a fairy tale, yet!" he protested.

Roger shook his head. "It's too late, Vegemite. Nesting time, now."

"Come home with me and watch the telly," Jesse suggested with another giggle.

Vegemite's expression showed he was considering this option. "Would you feed me tuna sandwiches and read me fairy stories"? he asked.

"Vegemite!" Roger exclaimed.

He was all wide-eyed innocence. "Yes, Roger?"

Coral reached over and yanked him into the line.

"We leave at dawn, and don't be late, Jesse," Roger told her.

Accompanied by rhythmic flipper clapping and singing, "da-da-da-da-da dah !" Roger led the fairy penguins towards their nests on the foreshore.

Jesse watched the conga line snake towards the sand dune then up and over the other side. Just before he disappeared, Vegemite turned and waved then scampered away after the others.

 

 

Chapter Two: Away We Go

 

Even before the sun rose, Jesse climbed out of bed and groped her way across the bedroom. The darkness added to her nervous excitement. Although she knew the penguins would look after her, she dreaded going over the high waves in a dinghy. But she wasn't going to tell them she wasn't a good swimmer; they might not allow her to go, and she couldn't miss out on the chance of seeing the merfolk. Anyway, she could dog-paddle her way out of any emergency.

Neither had she told her mother of the day's plans. Jesse's father no longer lived with them, and her mother sometimes seemed overwhelmed with responsibilities and worry. Jesse didn't want to add any more.

She decided to dress to impress and slipped a slinky blue dress over her slight frame. The dress was for school dances, but she had only gone once and then had been too shy to dance with anyone. She plaited her hair so the sea breeze wouldn't blow it into her face and eyes.

While the rest of her family slept, she crept in darkness towards the spare room. Along the way she stubbed her toe on a barbell lying in the hall outside her brother's room.

"Oh, crumbs!" she cried, hopping about on her good foot and forgetting to be quiet.

After hobbling through the double-doors that opened into the family room, she dug out an inflatable rubber dinghy that had been folded under a cupboard. Unfortunately, Jesse pushed the stopper to see if it would work. The dinghy mushroomed out and knocked a tasselled reading lamp onto the parquetry floor.

She also found a pair of goggles and an umbrella so she wouldn't get too sunburnt. Her next stop was the kitchen. Working by the light of the oven, Jesse slapped together a dozen tuna sandwiches. After wrapping them in plastic, she crammed them into her backpack. Dragging the dinghy after her, she crashed and banged her way to the front door. The noise woke her older brother who poked his head out into the hallway to investigate. His short, spiky hair stuck out in a wide array of angles.

"What are you doing?" he asked, frowning.

"Shhh," whispered Jesse.

"You're telling me to be quiet? I thought stampeding elephants had broken into the house," he complained.

Jesse gave him her brightest smile. "Can you help me get the dinghy out the door?"

It took longer than planned to get to the beach that day. But, finally, armed to the teeth and the toes, she staggered up a sand dune dragging the dinghy behind her. When she reached the crescent, she froze. The view of the ocean mesmerised her with its power and charm as it did every time she visited. The ocean waves were thundering onto the shore in every shade of blue and green and crisp, foamy white. The atmosphere was electric. A buzz of excitement filled her with a new energy. The sea breeze smelled briny and delicious and felt warm against her skin. The sun was now well clear of the horizon, tingeing the sky with a warm, pinkish glow.

Jesse quickly picked some daisies to wind through her hair and then dragged the dinghy to the very edge of the sand dune. Her friends were lined up along the shore waiting for her. She sighed as she noted the considerable distance still to go. A brilliant idea came to her.

"Yes!" she exclaimed to herself and climbed inside the craft. After giving the dinghy a push off from the dune, Jesse whooshed down the sandy slope. On the way down she had time to wave to the penguins. Her sand craft slid a few yards up the beach before coming to a halt.

"You're fifty waves late, Jesse," Roger pointed out when she finally reached them on the shore.

"I've made heaps of tuna sandwiches," she told them.

"Hooray!" exclaimed the penguins.

"All is forgiven," Vegemite said, beaming.

Coral tugged on the hem of Jesse's long frock. "How pretty you look," she said.

"My dancing dress-" Jesse began, but Roger interrupted by clearing his throat. The noise peaked at new heights and then descended the scale to a more normal level. All heads swung around to look at Roger.

"We're now fifty-five waves late," he announced.

Everyone turned and stared at the breakers foaming up the shore towards them. Timothy sighed loudly.

"Penguin Powerrrrr," Roger reminded them.

"I'm really looking forward to this," Jesse said, but looked a little shaky climbing into the dinghy.

As the penguins began nudging the dingy out into the ocean, Roger yelled, "Ocean fairies, a-wa-a-a-ay!"

The first row of waves tried to shove the little boat back to shore, but Jesse kept paddling and the penguins kept pushing and tugging. The second row of waves reared up like giant seahorses and then crashed down nearly submerging them. However, on all sides came encouraging words and cries from the penguins. Jesse wiped salty water from her eyes and paddled harder. It was like riding a roller coaster when a wave raised them up in the air then dropped them down the other side.

Although Jesse was determined to share ocean adventures with her friends, she was frightened, too. The ocean was huge and powerful and didn't seem concerned about one human girl. She looked so worried the penguins sang to encourage her and make her smile.

"Forward ho!
Over the waves we go.
It's our destiny
to know the rapture of the deep.

Away we float,
leaving behind all we know.
It will be like a fantasy
exploring the foamy sea.

Sailing into adventure,
aren't you glad to play a part?
Who knows what lies out there.
Can you feel the magic start?"

The penguins repeated this song so many times that Jesse began singing along with them. Gradually, she became less afraid and more excited to be on a magical adventure. They floated up and down on the volatile water singing at the top of their voices.

Jesse, the penguins, and Penguin Power finally won through as they reached the calmer open sea.

 

 

"Ocean Fairies" Copyright 2003. Wendy Maree Peterson. All rights reserved by the author. Please do not copy without permission.

 

 

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Author Bio

Like the sea witch in Wendy's story, The Tail of the Sea Witch, she lives near a beautiful, deserted beach. Also, like the sea witch, when Wendy first moved to the small seaside resort, her neighbours speculated on whether she could be a witch. Not that she wore a black pointy hat or performed laps around the property on a broomstick; but she did live a reclusive life with just her menagerie of animals - including a charismatic goat called Jack - and she often wore an exotic array of clothing.

Is art imitating life? Again, just like the sea witch, Wendy isn't telling.

Wendy has been writing children's stories and musical plays for nearly twenty years. Her aim is to create stories and music that uplift the spirit, enchant the senses and inspire the mind by taking the reader beyond the limitations of mundane thinking into a more brilliant and exciting reality.

Author web site.

Visit Wendy's art gallery at The Australian Fantasy Art Enclave.

 

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  Reviews

5 STARS!

Jesse is a teenager who lives at the beach. Known only to her, fairy penguins live in nests hidden on the foreshore. Part of their magic is that they could understand and speak every language in the world. When they are near Jesse, she could understand other creatures too.

While exploring a sunken ship with the fairy penguins one day, Jesse's rubber dinghy is torn. She is rescued by the Selkie. The Selkie is the mightiest of all the merfolk. He can summon the wind and storm. The ocean obeys his every whim. As he leaves Jesse, he promises to grant her a wish. Jesse is enchanted with the Selkie and wants nothing more than to meet him again.

Thus begins a magical journey for Jesse and her little friends as they search for an elusive island. They meet a few mythical creatures and experience many magical things.

The story is like the fairy tale of "The Little Mermaid," only in reverse. The heroine is human and longs for a prince of the sea. This story will amaze readers of all ages. Yet it is written simply, so even those around the age of eight can understand it. Highly recommended.

Reviewed by Detra Fitch for Huntress Reviews.
 



Do you remember the dreams of your youth when the excitement and mystery were so very real to you? Go back to that time again...relive it with your child...let those flights of fancy come back to you through the wonder in their eyes. Oh, to sail away upon a magical wave to a land where beauty and nature are combined to make a world where dreams come true and fantasy lives forever. Such is the tale of Ocean Fairies. Let your imagination be swept away...let your heart feel the first joys of young love...give your child a beautiful gift on this night...the gift of words to be read and savored and shared with those you hold dear.

Jessie, a teenager with a most beautiful mind, enjoyed being part of the beach. She loved the sand, the water, and the beautiful sky overhead. Her favorite place...the sand dunes, of course. This is where her imagination ran free and where her fantasies took her on her magical journeys, or so it seems.

The beach is where Jessie meets her dear friends, the beautiful fairy penguins. She enjoys playing with them and sharing her favorite fairy tales. They become family to Jessie and it's when she's with them that she feels at peace with herself and her dreams.

You'll meet Roger, Vegemite, and Coral the enchanting penguins who also tell their delightful tales about a treasure ship that lies upon the ocean floor. Their magical words leave Jessie breathless and she is able to convince her fairy friends to take her to that special ship. Using their "penguin power" they take Jessie on the ride of her life in the little dingy she owns, only to have a major setback when Vegemite accidentally puts a hole in her transportation with a dagger he has found in the ruins of the ship. This is when Jessie meets the one who makes her dreams come true...the romance of a young girl is beginning to blossom. This is when she meets The Selkie, the ruler of the sea, the leader of the merefolk who comes to her rescue and brings her to safety. The Selkie is Jessie's knight in shining armor.

Their love of adventure and their caring of the ocean inhabitants lend to one of the sweetest stories I've ever had the pleasure of reading. Wendy Peterson, an imaginative and thought-provoking Australian author, has outdone herself with this tale of love that crosses over the line of reality and fantasy. Her words are filled with caring, magic, and the power to smile in memory of first love and the emotions it creates. Each fairy penguin had their own unique personality which blend together to create a fanciful flight into my imagination.

The illustrations are heavenly and colorful and lend themselves to the beauty of this novel for young children. It is with pleasure and delight that I was able to read this book and share it with some young children in my own family.

Reviewed by Patti Fleishman for In The Library Reviews.
 



5 stars
Enchanting read
Highly Recommended

Jesse is sitting on a sand dune imagining merfolk and waiting for the ocean fairies who live in nests in the foreshore. No one but Jesse knows about the little fairy penguins. Soon Roger the leader of the fairy penguins and his friends appear. These are not just any old fairy penguins; these penguins can speak every language on earth and when they are near Jesse can understand the language of birds and others. The penguins tell Jesse of a treasure ship with merfolk living in it not far out in the ocean. They help her travel out to the ship by 'penguin power.' When Vegemite accidentally stabs Jesse's dingy with a dagger he finds in the ship the leader of the merfolk comes to help Jesse to shore. The Selkie is the ruler of the sea; he controls storms and waves. The Selkie promises Jesse a wish, Jesse is completely under his spell, and yearns to see the beautiful creature again.

Jesse buys a yacht with a coin Coral found on the treasure ship and now she and her penguin friends can travel out on the sea whenever they like.

Jesse meets the Selkie, a beautiful sea princess, Raindown the seal leader and Manomam a seal who is caught in a nylon fishing line. She and the fairy penguins travel in a bubble to the undersea city, go to the island where the merfolk shed their tails and listen to wind harps in the trees. While on the island Jesse learns something special about the Selkie and the Sea Wizard.

Australian Writer Peterson has crafted an especially charming tale of magic, love and kindness in her book Ocean Fairies. Amply composed characters move against a lavishly executed tapestry of intonation, seascape, and settings in this delightful narrative of a solitary young girl and her endeavor to overcome misfortune in her life. The characters are appealing and well-developed, especially the diversified dispositions of the penguin fairies. Coral likes to sit in Jesse's lap, Vegemite pines for tuna sandwiches. Timothy is helpful. Roger is the shrewd, sensible leader. Zestful action, first class energetic dialogue, and appealing scenarios are all included in this wonderfully directed tale.

Peterson deftly captures the imagination of the reader from the opening lines as we meet Jesse sitting in the dunes and holds interest tight through this gripping tale to the last paragraph as Rujarn, the merfolk, fairy penguins and Jessee all join in dance. With a keen eye for detail Peterson has captured the essence of the sea and those who may live in it.

With it's beautiful cover and lovely inner illustrations, splendid storyline and easy reading style Ocean Fairies is a special delight sure to bring pleasure to youngsters in the target audience. This is a charming book for classroom use, free reading time, the home library or for older sister to read to younger sibling.

US kids will find the small 'Australian' differences of language to be particularly charming I believe.

Enchanting read, I found each of the little fairy penguins especially appealing.

Reviewed by: Molly Martin  (20+ years classroom teacher)
 



Wendy Peterson and Ardy Scott have done it again. They have combined to produce a wonderful story. Ocean Fairies is their best book yet; the writing is superb and the drawings just magnificent. Young readers will find the layout of the text easy to read. It is well-spaced and pleasing to the eye.

Jesse, the heroine of the story, lives near the ocean and spends nearly all her spare time in the company of her friends, the fairy penguins. These magical penguins seem more like fairies than birds and live in secret nests along the foreshore of a wild and beautiful beach.

One day Roger, the head penguin, tells Jesse of a sunken treasure ship. He suggests she gets a floater so the penguins can take her to the wreck site. She can then use her goggles to look down on the old ship.

When Jesse and penguins arrive at the wreck site, she is excited to see that the wreck is an old galleon. Roger tells her the merfolk live there and bedeck themselves in the sparkling jewels the sunken boat contains.

Two of the penguins, Coral and Vegemite, dive down to the wreck. Coral brings back a gold coin, Vegemite a sharp dagger. The dagger tears the inflatable dinghy and it begins to sink. Terrified of drowning, Jesse does her best to keep her head above water. Roger and a seal also do their best to keep her afloat. Eventually a handsome Selkie (part seal, part man) comes to Jesse’s rescue. The Selkie is one of the merfolk and a very powerful one. Jesse immediately feels a strong bond for him she finds hard to explain. All the penguins agree she has become enchanted with the Selkie.

So begins an adventure that will take Jesse to parts of the ocean never before seen by humans. The consequences of the adventure will be far reaching. Jesse will never be as she was before she met the Selkie. What happens to her will captivate the reader, as they immerge themselves in the stories magic.

Ocean Fairies is a good example of the quality now achieved by electronic books. It will give children hours of reading joy. I highly recommend this book to all young readers.

Reviewed by Warren Thurston of Boggle Book Reviews.
 



Jessie seems like an ordinary girl. Nobody knows about her secret life with the penguin fairies, who live in the ocean near her house and take her on all kinds of adventures. Jessie dearly loves her penguin friends and all their quirks, but more than anything else, she longs to meet a merperson.

Her wish is fulfilled when she almost drowns and is rescued by the Selkie, the most powerful of all the merfolk. Jessie promptly falls under his spell. She must see him again to find out if there is any chance he could return her feelings. Her quest leads her to an ugly sea wizard, a beautiful sea princess, and finally to a search for a magical island that only the pure of heart can discover.

Ocean Fairies, written by Wendy Peterson and illustrated by Ardy Scott, is a charming fairy tale about a young girl who looks for love and finds herself in the process. The characters are fun and well-developed, especially the various personalities of the penguin fairies. The e-book itself is skillfully designed with a delightful opening illustration and large print that is easy on the eyes.

...for readers with a little patience and a love of magical creatures, Ocean Fairies is a winner.

Reviewed by Debra Stang, author of Visiting Grandma, for eBook Reviews Weekly.

 

 

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mp3 sequence copyright © 2003
Wendy M. Peterson
Ocean Sounds

 

 

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