|Publisher:||Morgan James Publishing|
|Product dimensions:||4.90(w) x 7.90(h) x 0.40(d)|
|Age Range:||8 - 12 Years|
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Lucas Meets Prescott
Lucas slammed on his brakes and skidded to a stop as he swerved his bike off the sidewalk and onto the grass. "What was that?" he asked his dad. "It moved!"
Lucas pointed to what he thought was a green stick just inches away from the black skid mark. Whatever it was, it turned its head and looked right at Lucas. Lucas had narrowly missed running over a small lizard whose tiny scales reflected in the sunlight like emerald crystals with ruby tattoos. It was definitely the strangest creature he had ever seen.
Lucas's dad carefully picked up the reptile. "It looks like a lizard," he said. "In fact, it's a chameleon. Although, this is strange, I have never seen a chameleon wearing a collar. It must belong to someone, but the collar doesn't show a name, just these strange symbols."
"Can we keep it, Dad?" asked Lucas.
"Let's take it into the house and keep it safe first. Before we decide whether or not to keep it, we need to see if it belongs to one of the neighbors."
Lucas knew they should check with the neighbors, but he hoped that they would not find the owner. After all, who would let such a beautiful creature escape?
Lucas lived on a quiet street in Tustin, California, about ten miles south of Disneyland. His was a dead end street, so most of the cars driving by belonged to the local residents. Lucas recognized most of the people in the neighborhood and his parents waved to almost everybody. There was a creek that ran behind Lucas's house, which usually had enough water to make it difficult to cross on foot and stay dry. In the winter, during the heavy rains, the water flowed dangerously fast, so his mom did not allow Lucas to play in the creek.
Once the chameleon was settled in a cardboard box in Lucas's room, Lucas and his dad walked to the neighboring houses and showed a picture of the chameleon to everyone who was at home. After they got to the end of the block, they decided that the lizard had probably not gone that far so they crossed the street and walked on the other side. With still no success, they crossed back to their side of the street. After a few houses, Lucas walked up to a house with a rocking horse on the porch and rang the doorbell — and prayed that no one was home!
A tall woman answered the door. She had silver hair, deep green eyes, and a very kind face. Lucas thought he saw a hint of recognition in her face and wondered if he had seen her somewhere before. Her face actually seemed to glow when she smiled and asked, "Can I help you?"
"Did you lose a chameleon?" Lucas asked, holding up a photograph of the green and red creature.
The woman's eyes lit up. "Where did you find him?" she asked.
Lucas told her about the near miss on the sidewalk in front of his house and explained that the chameleon was at their home.
"My name is Katrina," said the woman, "and that chameleon belonged to my son, but it escaped from its cage over a year ago. I'm very surprised that it's still alive! About two years ago, my son was given the chameleon by a friend who owed him money. Supposedly, it was a "magical" lizard and worth much more than the five-hundred dollars he was owed. My son did not expect to get his money, so he took the chameleon, never once believing it was magical."
"Is it really a magical chameleon?" asked Lucas with excitement.
"My son didn't believe that there was any magic in that chameleon, but now I'm not so sure." And then with a smile, she said, "How could he live on his own for so long if he didn't have a little magic in him?"
"I'm glad we found you," said Lucas's father. "We'll go get the chameleon and bring him back to you."
Lucas's shoulders drooped as he looked at the ground. He had hoped to keep the chameleon, but now he would have to give it back.
"Oh no! My son has moved to the east coast, and I no longer have the cage."
Then, looking at Lucas, Katrina asked, "Would you be willing to give the chameleon a good home and take really good care of him?"
Lucas's face split into a big grin. "Oh, you bet! Please! Please, Dad! Can I keep him?"
"We'll have to get your mother to agree, but leave that to me, I think I can work a little magic of my own," said Lucas's dad.
"It would make me very happy if you could give the chameleon a good home," added Katrina. "Before you go, I think I still have a few books on caring for chameleons. Would you like them?"
"Sure!" said Lucas and his dad at the same time.
While she was gone, Lucas said, "We should give the chameleon a name."
"I agree. Since you found him, you should choose the name. Do you have any ideas?"
Lucas thought for a while. "It needs to be a good name, because this is a very special chameleon, maybe even magical. Lizards like to warm themselves in the sun. I was doing some homework this week and learned about a place in Arizona called Prescott. Since Prescott is a warm town, I think we should name him Prescott."
"That sounds like a great name for a special chameleon," said his dad.
The woman returned and handed two books to Lucas. "Be sure to read about how to care for and feed him because chameleons are not native to North America," she said. "Most chameleons come from Africa or Madagascar, and this particular breed lives in the forest, so he likes trees, leaves, and branches."
They thanked Katrina again, and as they turned to go, she said, "I wish you luck understanding the symbols on his collar. Maybe that's where magic is. Oh, and I forgot to tell you, Lucas, the chameleon's name is Prescott. But since he's yours now, you can name him anything you like."
Lucas and his dad looked at each other with wide-eyed amazement, and then back at the woman, who just smiled, waved and closed the door.
"Wow! Did you hear that?" said Lucas. "It's like I read her mind."
Lucas and his dad hurried home to share the news. And silently, Lucas determined that he was going to find the magic in Prescott.
That afternoon, after reading some of the basics about caring for a chameleon, Lucas and his family went to the local pet store. Lucas read that chameleons love to eat crickets. When a chameleon is on the hunt for food, it may sit quietly and wait for its prey to come near, or it may move slowly and quietly along a branch or the ground. It has funny mitten-like feet to give it a firm grip on a branch, and its two eyes turn in different directions at once, looking for the slightest movement for food. No other animal on earth has eyes and feet like a chameleon.
They bought a cage with a lamp and some crickets for Prescott. Since lizards are cold-blooded, they need heat from the sun or from a light to keep them warm. They decorated Prescott's new home with some branches and leaves from a tree in their yard and a flat bowl for water. They released five crickets into the cage and watched Prescott to see what he would do.
Lucas had read that when a chameleon spots an insect or other prey, its eyes lock in on the target. After taking careful aim, the chameleon shoots out its super-long tongue, which is usually longer than its body. The tip of the tongue is wet and shaped like a suction cup. When the tongue smacks against the prey, the prey sticks to it and the tongue snaps back into the chameleon's open mouth.
Everyone was watching closely to see if Prescott was hungry. They didn't have to wait very long. Prescott stood very still until a cricket came close to him. His tongue shot out of his mouth and the cricket became dinner in less than a second! Lucas's little sister, Madison, squealed with delight and clapped her hands when she saw the long tongue shoot out and the cricket disappear into Prescott's mouth. Within a short time, all of the crickets were gone and Prescott looked directly at Lucas as if to say,
"Thank you. I was very hungry."
Lucas's little brother, Gavin, wanted to take Prescott out of his cage and play with him, but their dad had to remind all of the kids that a chameleon was not like a dog or cat. They should not expect to play fetch with it like a dog with a ball or pet it like a cat. Although direct contact with Prescott needed to be limited, they could let Prescott out on warm days and watch him explore in the grass.
That night, the cage for Prescott was set up in Lucas's room near his bed. He had had a very exciting day. He almost ran over a chameleon, and now the chameleon was his pet, a gift from Katrina. As he thought about the woman that gave him Prescott, Lucas remembered where he had seen her. Oddly, she was in a dream he had had several nights ago. He didn't remember much about the dream except for her kind face, soft voice and her beautiful green eyes. He did remember that she said, "We have been waiting for you Lucas."
Suddenly, it occurred to him, that as he and his dad were leaving her house, she called him Lucas. He had not told her his name! Just thinking about that gave him goose bumps and he pulled the covers up to his neck. Lucas drifted off to sleep thinking about Prescott.
Little did he know that finding Prescott would change his life in ways he could never imagine. To those who knew Lucas Lightfoot, he appeared to be an average boy from an average family living in Southern California. But that had all changed today. To the Lightfoot family, it would be a day long remembered as the day Lucas met Prescott ... and the beginning of a new life for Lucas.CHAPTER 2
The first thing Lucas did when he woke up the next morning was to rush over to Prescott's cage and say, "Good morning!"
Prescott turned both eyes toward Lucas, winked one eye and stuck out his tongue, wiggling it slightly. Lucas thought that was really weird, as if Prescott was saying good morning to him. At that moment, Lucas remembered the strange dream he had and he went into his parents' room.
"I had a really strange dream last night," said Lucas. "I dreamed that Prescott called me by my name, and thanked me for saving his life, giving him a nice warm home, and giving him delicious crickets to eat. Isn't that a weird dream?"
"Oh, not that weird," said his mother. "Yesterday was definitely exciting enough to have caused you to dream about Prescott."
Lucas agreed and went back to his room and pulled out the books he had gotten from Katrina. As he looked through them, he saw that there were a lot more varieties of chameleons than he had thought. He decided that Prescott was the most beautiful type. He figured out from the pictures that Prescott was a veiled chameleon from the rain forest in Madagascar. His green and red coloring was perfect for living in the forest.
Lucas knew that chameleons changed colors to match their surroundings. In his reading though, he found out that chameleons choose to hang out where their normal, "everyday" colors match their environment. So green chameleons usually live among green leaves, and brown ones may live on the ground. This helps hide them from predators as well as making it easier for them to surprise their prey.
Chameleons may turn a lighter color to cool down or darker to warm up because dark colors take in more heat from the sun. Chameleons may also change color when they become frightened, angry, or feel stressed. Lucas smiled when remembering that his Grandpa Jack sometimes turned red in the face when he got stressed.
As Lucas read more, he learned that chameleons also use their colors to communicate with one another. One color may mean, "Stay away from me!" A different color may mean, "Do you want to be my friend?"
When he got to the end of the book, he was surprised to find a small envelope taped to the inside back cover. He opened it and found a curious-looking thin disk inside. The disk was about two and half inches in diameter and about the thickness of the old silver dollar his Grandpa Jack had given him. It was cool to the touch like some kind of metal. It appeared to be two pieces. There was an inner flat disk and an outer ring that was raised slightly. The inner disk was red with a hole in the middle and it had a small triangle-like pointer. The outer ring was green and was able to spin around the inner disk since both pieces were locked together. The outer ring was divided into eight sections with a line dividing them. Each section had a strange symbol that Lucas thought he had seen before, but where? Then he remembered: They were the same symbols that were on Prescott's collar!
He turned the disk over to look at the backside and saw the following words engraved in a circular shape on the outer ring: "VIRTUE UNLOCKS POWER"
Lucas was not certain about the meaning of VIRTUE, so he decided to look it up. He found three definitions:
1. Conformity to a standard of right or particular moral excellence
2. Quality or power of a thing
3. Manly strength or courage
Which definition was right for the ring? There was clearly only one thing to do: Lucas went to ask his mother, who was in the kitchen.
"Mom, I have a question. What does "virtue" mean?"
"Well, it means to have high morals or honorable standards. Do you remember how we've talked about making good decisions and choosing between right and wrong? If you make the right choice, then you feel good about it and you feel good about yourself. You also show others you have high standards and can be trusted," replied his mother.
Lucas thought about that for a little bit and then asked,
"How does virtue unlock power?"
His mother was a little surprised that her ten-year-old son was asking such grown-up questions.
"What exactly do you mean? Where are you getting these questions?"
Lucas was concerned that the disk he found in the back of the book might be valuable, and he might have to return it to Katrina. However, she was insistent that Lucas take Prescott, and she DID give him the book. He decided to let his mom in on his discovery.
Lucas said, "Look at this Mom."
He reached into his pocket and pulled out the red and green disk and handed it to his mother.
"I found this in the back of one of the books that lady gave me. It looks like it may be valuable. The markings on the front are the same as on Prescott's collar, and the outer ring spins around the inside. But what's really strange is the writing on the back."
Lucas's mother turned over the disk and read the words, slowly turning the disk as she read: "VIRTUE UNLOCKS POWER."
"You're right," said his mother. "It is very strange. I wonder if the woman who gave you Prescott knew about this disk. You and your dad should probably go ask her about it and see if she can tell you what it is and if she wants it back."
Lucas hoped that Katrina didn't want it back. Maybe she could tell him if the magic was in the ring. When his dad came home, Lucas showed him the disk and his dad agreed that they should talk with the woman again. Lucas and his father walked up to the house with the rocking horse on the porch. They knocked and heard the sound of little feet running toward the door. A young woman opened the door and there were two little girls standing beside her.
"Yes, can I help you?" asked the woman.
Lucas's father asked, "Is Katrina here?"
"I'm sorry. There is no Katrina who lives here," said the young mother.
Lucas and his father looked at each other, very confused.
"We were here last Saturday afternoon and spoke with a woman named Katrina who had lost a chameleon that my son found. She had silver hair and green eyes," explained Lucas's father.
"Oh, the person you are describing sounds like Katherine. She sold us this home about a year ago. We were gone all this weekend, so she couldn't have talked with you," explained the young mother.
"Do you know where she is living or how we can contact her?" asked Lucas's dad.
"I'm sorry. I don't know where she is living now," replied the young mother with a puzzled smile.
Not knowing how to explain how they met Katrina as she stood in this house while the owners were gone, Lucas's father said,
"I guess — I guess we made a mistake. Thanks for the information. By the way, my name is Andrew and this is my son Lucas and we live five houses up the street."
"Oh, it's nice to meet you. And I'm sorry I couldn't be of more help," said the woman.
Lucas and his father had a lot more questions than answers as they walked home.
"I guess that means I can keep the Power Ring since there is no one to return it to," said Lucas.
His father agreed and said, "With Katrina gone, I guess we'll never know what the symbols on the ring mean. By the way, why did you call it a Power Ring?"
"I don't know," replied Lucas. "I guess because it has the word "Power" on it."
For the next few nights Lucas dreamed that Prescott was talking to him. He dreamed that Prescott was telling him about the symbols on the Power Ring.
"One symbol represents the power to stop time; another, the power to be invisible; and another, the power to move things with your mind."
In his dream, Lucas had the thought, "but what about the purpose of the other symbols?"
Prescott answered, "The purpose of the other symbols will be revealed if you meet the challenges ahead."(Continues…)
Excerpted from "Lucas Lightfoot and the Fire Crystal"
Copyright © 2016 Hugo Haselhuhn Luke Cowdell.
Excerpted by permission of Morgan James Publishing.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
ONE Lucas Meets Prescott,
TWO Surprise Awakening,
THREE The Power Ring,
FOUR The Fire Crystal,
FIVE Power to Choose,
SIX Frozen in Time,
EIGHT The Book Bully,
NINE History Mystery,
TEN Lunch Time Hero,
ELEVEN Hailey's Secret,
TWELVE Ranger, the Talking Dog,
THIRTEEN Rescued From Fire,
FOURTEEN The Promise,
About the Authors,
Not Alone Any More,