Another birthday, another birthday book... I present "Lara's Grand Birthday Adventure."
On a sunny day, Lara was walking through the forest when she heard the burbling sounds of running water.
“What a nice, cool stream!” she said, “I think I’ll fill up my cup so I can have something to drink later.”
In a little while, she saw a large, dark cave and came closer to take a good look.
A small dragon hopped out of the cave, coughed, and opened his mouth. Suddenly, a huge stream of fire and smoke poured out around Lara. A little scared, she jumped back behind a tree and watched the dragon cough out some more smoke.
She realized that he didn’t seem very angry, and she had an idea.
“Would you like something to drink? You are coughing a lot, and I have a cup full of cool water,” Lara asked.
“Oh, thank you! My throat was so very sore!” he said with a hoarse voice. “Thank you for not being afraid of me. I really can’t help breathing fire!”
“I’m just glad you’re feeling better,” Lara answered.
“I wish I had something to give you in return.” The dragon thought for a minute, then reached back and
plucked something off of his tail. “Here,” he said, “take one of my scales. It’s not much, but it is extra shiny
since I cleaned it just this morning.”
The red dragon scale was warm and reflected the sun. Lara smiled, waved good-bye, and walked on.
Soon, she reached a dock that stretched into the ocean. Floating in the waves was a ship with a black pirate sail. On its deck Lara saw a boy who looked quite sad.
“What’s wrong?” Lara asked. “You seem very sad for a pirate.”
“If only I were a real pirate,” the boy sighed. “I think I have everything I need to be one – a ship, a sharp sword, this red bandanna. But the other pirates just laugh at me.” The boy waved his sword at her. “You better not laugh at me too!” He yelled angrily.
Lara looked carefully, and noticed that he really was missing a piece of pirate gear.
“Hey, I have an idea,” Lara said, breaking the dragon scale in half. “Let me climb aboard and help you.”
She tied a string to edges of the scale and put it on the boy’s face as a particularly fearsome eye patch. “Now you really look like a scary pirate!”
The boy looked at his reflection in the water and smiled happily. “Thank you so much for your help! I don’t know what to give you in return. How about a ride on my boat – and this sword?”
The sword’s sharp edge gleamed and the handle was just the right size for Lara’s hand.
In a little while, Lara heard scared cries coming from the water. Sword in hand, she smiled, waved good-bye to the pirate, and dove into the deep ocean. The cries got louder and louder, and finally she saw a mermaid struggling against a dense patch of seaweed.
“Please help me! I was trying to harvest these plants for a mermaid salad, but instead got stuck!” The mermaid pulled her arms again with no avail. “If only there were some better way to pick seaweed,” she sighed.
Holding her breath, Lara swam as fast as she could toward the mermaid, knowing just what she should do.
Swinging the sword from side to side, Lara chopped up the dense plants. “Oh, how wonderful!” The mermaid exclaimed, “These tiny seaweed pieces are perfect for my salad. You’ve saved me a lot of work!”
“Here, you should take this sword,” Lara said. “That way, you won’t get stuck the next time you feel like eating some greens!” The mermaid laughed. “Wait till the other merfolk hear about you! But I should give you something in return – how about this pearl?”
The pearl was smooth and pale in the greenish water. Hugging it to her chest, Lara smiled, waved good-bye, and swam away.
Swimming to the surface, Lara saw an island with a tall palm tree. Lara pushed her giant pearl onto the sandy beach and noticed a fairy hovering in the air above a large bubbling cauldron.
Lara watched the pot send up wisps of smoke and pink sparks. The fairy’s wings beat very fast, and she frowned in frustration.
“What’s wrong?” Lara asked.
“Oh, this whole thing is ruined,” the fairy sniffled. “I was trying to make a magic potion, but I forgot the
most important ingredient. I just need to add something from the ocean floor!”
Lara picked up her pearl, smiled, and gently lowered it into the cauldron.
The brew began to froth and sizzle as streams of swirling rainbow sparkles shot high up into the air.
“What is it doing?” Lara asked the fairy.
“You made the potion, so the magic will be for you!” the fairy answered.
And the next thing Lara saw was an enormous chocolate vanilla birthday cake with four candles, and all the new friends that she had made on her adventure.
“Happy Birrrrthday!” roared the dragon.
“Aye, make a wish!” yelled the pirate.
“Oh, and don’t forget to blow out the candles!” sang out the mermaid.
“I hope you like pink icing,” whispered the fairy.
Lara laughed. Pink icing was her favorite.
It was so much fun to make it! We came up with the story together, then Misha drew the illustrations, I scanned them in and colored them, and wrote out the text. Then we published it through Lulu press (and if you feel like getting yourself a copy, they are available at the forty-two roads storefront).
Lara amusingly loves it and can't quite decide which pronoun is right to use when referring to the heroine ("the pirate said to her... to me... to Lara!"). She also had two great editorial comments: 1) "No, my favorite is white icing, not pink," and 2) "Hey, I don't see the pirate's reflection in the picture in the book!" Ah, that's my literary critic daughter...