Alfred, a young turtle, is accidentally kidnapped and finds himself with several miles of gargantuan mountain separating him from home. As he journeys home he discovers things that he never expected to find: friends, magic, and clues leading to his long-lost aunt, who may or may not be in peril.
Alfred was flying. He was in a jungle swinging from vine to vine, flying through the air in graceful arcs and catching the next vine just in time. The forest around him was a lush, healthy green, and the air smelled of rain and sunshine. Upon looking up he saw golden sunshine streaming through the leafy branches. It was warm on his face, and he smiled and breathed in the scent of the forest as he landed on a thick, mossy tree branch. He was an adventurer. A famous adventurer here in the rainforest to do something important… but he couldn’t remember what that something was… why was he here? The rainforest and sunshine and birds chirping in the trees were fading… fading…
Alfred woke with a start. It had been a dream. A mere dream. He was not in a lush, green forest where one might swing from vines and be a famous adventurer on important missions. He was back in Home Pond, a place where adventures aren’t even thought of, and the trees are mostly scrawny and half-dead. Alfred thought also about how in his dream he had been swinging from vine to vine; something that was not altogether possible, realistically speaking. You see, Alfred is a turtle. A small box turtle, not even eight years of age. Turtles do not have hands to grab things with. Turtles are not particularly fast or loud or even usually very adventurous. Most turtles tend to lead quiet, peaceful lives and prefer it that way. Most, but not all. Throughout history there have been the odd exceptions to everything.
Alfred happened to have a great aunt Alberta that was very exceptional. Alberta was fast, loud, brilliant, and could even juggle (quite an amazing feat for a turtle). Alberta had traveled to distant lands and had had many a marvelous adventure when she was in her prime. Alberta was Alfred’s idol, hero, and everything he once hoped to become. Alberta was an adventurer. As Alfred yawned and got ready to go on his morning walk, he thought about all the stories “Auntee Abotuh” had told him when he wasn’t even a year old (he had never been able to pronounce his great aunt’s name correctly as a young tot).
Yes, Alfred always loved his Auntie Alberta’s stories, but she had disappeared on an adventure a few years ago. Alfred could picture as clearly as anything the day when she had left. It had been autumn and all the trees were beautiful, earthy shades. It was the Day of Blessings (a holiday not unlike Thanksgiving), and everyone on Home Pond was celebrating and giving thanks for what they had. Alberta had pulled Alfred aside and told him in a quiet, excited voice “I’m going on an adventure, Alfred, and we won’t see each other for quite some time. This will be my last adventure in the world, and then I’ll come back and retire here at Home Pond for the rest of my days.” Then Alberta left leaving nothing behind except her own, small home made from an abandoned beaver’s lodge. This she left to her great nieces and nephew to live in as their parents had barely any room in their tiny hut that they occupied about two feet down the shore of Home Pond.
This lodge, which everyone usually simply called “The Lodge,” was where Alfred and his four sisters lived. Alfred’s sisters were Angelina, Ariel, Amy, and Alice Durgle (Durgle was their last name). They all had very ambitious goals and interests in life, and for this reason they were well known throughout all of Home Pond as “The Dreaming Durgles.”
Angelina was the eldest of the five by six hours. She was quiet, kind, and modest; yet still confident and unafraid to be who she was. Ever since she had hatched, she’d loved dance. When she was little, not even a year old, she had been known to randomly start humming and swaying contentedly. When she’d grown old enough to speak she said that she wanted to be a well-known dancer, and someday earn the title “Most Graceful Turtle”.