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Keeper

By Kathi Appelt, August Hall

Read an Excerpt

Keeper

1


Keeper leaned over the edge of the boat. In the darkness of the night, she glared at the black surface of the water.

“You stupid crabs!” She sputtered as she said it. Keeper knew that Signe would be mad if she heard her use that word, “stupid,” but it was the only one that seemed to fit, so she said it again, this time with more force. “Stupid!”

She hoped the not-allowed word would sink down to the bottom of the pond and etch its way into the crabs’ hard shells. She couldn’t see them, but she knew they were down there, scuttling along the bottom of the pond.

In her entire ten years she had never heard crabs speak before. And then, that very morning, all ten of them had called out to her.

Those ten crabs had turned this whole day into a disaster.

Stupid, stupid, stupid crabs!

Keeper checked the rope that held her boat to the pier. It was still too tight to untie it. She needed the moon to rise, which would make the tide rise, then the boat rise, which would make the rope go slack, which would mean she could untie the knot, which would mean she could set her plan into action. Her perfect plan.

“Come on, moon,” she implored. Didn’t it know she was in a hurry? As soon as she said the word “moon,” she chewed on her bottom lip. So much had depended upon tonight’s moon, a blue moon, second full moon of the month.

First, Signe’s gumbo.

Then, Dogie’s two-word song.

Finally, Mr. Beauchamp’s night-blooming cyrus.

All three of those things had depended upon the blue moon, and all of them, every one, had been ruined.

Ruined by… CRABS!

Keeper never wanted to see another crab in her entire life! Never, never, never!

And now she needed the moon to turn the tide around and pull her out of the pond, through the channel, and into the breakers until she got to the sandbar.

That was the plan… or at least the first part of the plan.

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