Twelve-year-old Macy is an amateur treasure hunter who finds lost things along the southern Saskatchewan shores of Buffalo Pound Lake. When her mom announces she’s leaving her park ranger job at the lake to be a police officer in the city, Macy decides she needs to find a treasure big enough to put Buffalo Pound on the map so her family can stay put. But instead of a treasure, Macy finds a mermaid kidnapped from the West Coast and brought to the Prairies by a monster known only as "The Beast.” Macy must find a missing magic shell to reconnect the mermaid with her family. But will Macy find the shell before the Beast does?
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Copyright © Melanie McFarlane 2021
Published in Canada and the United States in 2021 by Orca Book Publishers. orcabook.com
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording or by any information storage and retrieval system now known or to be invented, without permission in writing from the publisher.
Library and Archives Canada Cataloguing in Publication Title: Finders keepers / Melanie McFarlane. Names: McFarlane, Melanie, author. Series: Orca currents. Description: Series statement: Orca currents Identifiers: Canadiana (print) 2020027046X | Canadiana (ebook) 20200270575 | ISBN 9781459827691 (softcover) | ISBN 9781459827707 (PDF) | ISBN 9781459827714 (EPUB) Classification: LCCPS8625.F375 F56 2021 | DDC jC813/.6—dc23
Library of Congress Control Number: 2020939208
Summary: In this high-interest accessible novel for middle readers, Macy discovers a mermaid in the prairie lake near her home.
Orca Book Publishers is committed to reducing the consumption of nonrenewable resources in the making of our books. We make every effort to use materials that support a sustainable future.
Orca Book Publishers gratefully acknowledges the support for its publishing programs provided by the following agencies: the Government of Canada, the Canada Council for the Arts and the Province of British Columbia through the BC Arts Council and the Book Publishing Tax Credit.
Design by Ella Collier Cover design by Ella Collier Cover artwork by Getty Images/Yuri_Arcurs Edited by Tanya Trafford Author photo by Michelle Heisler
Printed and bound in Canada.
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For Emily, my adventurer, and all the readers in search of buried treasure.
I dug deep into the muddy sand. I was looking for treasure at the bottom of the lake. But the more I dug, the darker the water got. Then something soft touched my foot. I froze. What was it? A weed? Or, worse, a hungry fish? I was a treasure hunter, not a diver. I needed to get out of here!
As soon as my head popped out of the water, I gasped for air. I was at the very far end of the marked swimming area. I thought again about what could be moving around below me. Why had I swum out so far? I knew if Mom were here, she’d tell me to just take a breath, that my active imagination was always working overtime. But she was at work right now. She is a park ranger for Buffalo Pound Provincial Park. That’s why we live here.
I love living at the lake. I can ride my bike anywhere I want to go. I have hills to explore. And my best friend, Sam, lives close by, so we can hang out most days. But the lake water hides a ton of scaly creatures that make me nervous. Have you ever seen a fish up close? Their big eyes, spiky fins and sharp teeth make them look like monsters.
“Hurry up, Macy!” Sam called from the shore. He was standing next to my little brother. Real nice. They left me alone out here to be fish food.
I looked around, trying to figure out the fastest way out of the lake. Old Lady Wilson’s dock was to the right. In front of me was the beach. To my left were tall reeds—they were a bit closer, but I hate the feel of moving through them.
Something soft touched my foot again. The creature had found me! This time it grabbed on to my toes!
“Ahh!” I screamed, kicking my feet furiously. It wasn’t letting go!
I swam as fast as I could toward the beach. When I reached the shallow water, I tried to stand but slipped on the thing attached to my foot. I fell back into the water and grabbed at my toes. It was just a chunk of lake weed. I laughed, but then remembered that leeches and other creepy crawlers love to hide in lake weed.
I stood up quickly. I looked down at my feet to make sure there was nothing near them. That’s when I spotted something sparkly under the water. I had to investigate. Finding things is kind of my thing. I started digging carefully like I’d learned from my handbook, Treasure Hunting 101. Rule number one: Always protect the scene.
My fingers found something solid. It felt like a bottle. I pulled it out of the sand and held it over my head like a trophy. I had found the first treasure of the day!
“Hey!” Sam called out. “What’s that?” He ran into the water and stood next to me.
“Aw,” said my little brother, joining us. “It’s just a bottle.”
“Hang on,” I said. Something clinked inside the bottle.
I flipped the bottle over. With a THUNK, a blob of wet sand fell out. Stuck inside the bottle was a beautiful pink shell that glimmered. I tried to shake it out.
“Whoa, that’s cool,” Sam said. “I’ve never seen a shell like that before.”
“Maybe it’s from the ocean!” my brother said.
“That’s impossible, Bug,” I said. My brother is eight years old. His real name is Ben. Mom thinks I call him Bug because he likes creepy crawlers. But really it’s because he’s so annoying, a real pain in my butt. I always have to babysit him.
“Is not,” Bug said. He crossed his arms.
I grunted. The closest ocean is more than a thousand miles away. But Bug had a point. This shell did not look like any of the brown clamshells I’d found at the bottom of the lake.
I shrugged. “Lost treasure?”
We made our way back to the beach. Sam and Bug followed me up to the rocky ledge where we’d left our bags and bikes. Close to Mrs. Wilson’s cabin, it was the perfect place to stash our stuff, away from the crowds of people on the beach.
Bug pushed between us. “How did that big shell get in that tiny opening anyway?” he asked.
“Beat it, Bug.” I peered into the bottle. I’d seen a ship in a bottle before, down at the Treasure Trove, the local general store. But someone had built that boat inside the bottle, piece by piece. Bug was right. How did a shell get inside this one?
“But I want to see,” said Bug.
He grabbed at the bottle. I lost my grip, and the bottle fell out of my hands. It smashed against the rocky shore. Glass shot everywhere, like sparks at a campfire. The shell slid between two rocks, just out of reach.
“Bug!” I yelled. “Look what you did.”
Bug stepped back, crossing his arms again and pinching his lips together. “I’m going to tell Mom you’re not being nice.”
“I’ll tell her you smashed a bottle,” I said, trying to dig out the shell. “And here, of all places.”
Right on cue, a screech came from the front porch of the cabin. “What are you kids doing down there?” Old Lady Wilson stood there, shaking her cane at us.
“Run!” I pulled the shell free, threw it in my bag and jumped on my bike.
I didn’t wait for Bug or Sam. I kicked down the pedal and took off. I didn’t stop until I got to the top of Crow’s Hill. Soon Sam caught up to me, both of us huffing and puffing.
We had escaped. We had the shell. Everything was perfect.
“Wait,” I said. “Where’s Bug?”
“I can’t see him,” I said, scanning Old Lady Wilson’s yard from the top of the hill.
“You should be happy. Now we’re Bug-free,” Sam said. He had taken out his soccer ball and was bouncing it on his knees.
Sam doesn’t have a little brother. All he babysits is his soccer ball. He carries it in his backpack all the time.
“We have to go find him,” I said.
We walked our bikes back down the hill and hid them in the ditch by Old Lady Wilson’s place. Then Sam and I crept up to the long line of bushes that separated the beach from her yard, making our way to the shore.
We could see Old Lady Wilson on the other side of the bushes, poking around the rocks with a stick. Her back was to us, and her long silver braid peeked out under her hat. She was muttering to herself.
“What’s she doing?” Sam whispered louder than he should have.
I brought a finger to my lips. “Shh.”
The old woman’s voice drifted between the leaves. “The beast,” she mumbled. “I can’t let the beast find it.”
What was she looking for? I leaned forward to try to hear better, but something startled me in the bushes beside us. I froze. Was it the beast? The leaves stirred again, and then Bug stumbled out.
“What were you doing in there?” I asked, relieved.
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