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Welcome to Storyline Online brought to you by the SAG-AFTRA Foundation.
I'm Michelle Yeoh, and today I'm going to read Lotus and Feather,
written by Ji-li Jiang, and illustrated by Julie Downing.
Lotus walked home from school by herself yet again.
These days no one invited her to play.
Ever since a winter illness had taken her voice, the other kids treated her like a strange creature.
Lotus lived with her grandfather, a craftsman who made beautiful baskets out of reeds.
Grandpa understood Lotus's loneliness.
He stroked her hair and invited her to go boating with him on the nearby lake.
"This lake used to be so alive," Grandpa said.
"Lotus flowers swayed in the breeze, fish jumped into the boat, birds sang in the sky,
and foxes watched from the shore.
But now"—he looked around the deserted landscape and sighed—
"it has been ruined by greedy fishermen and hunters,
and by ignorant people who took over land where animals once lived."
Lotus blew a whistle made out of a reed.
The sound drifted around the empty lake like a wisp of sorrow.
One morning, Lotus went to collect reeds for Grandpa.
She stopped in awe when she saw a big bird, as white as fresh snow, standing in the marsh grass.
Its wide wings were edged with black feathers, like lace on a dress.
Above the long, curved neck, its head was crowned with a red top like a dazzling ruby.
A crane!
Lotus shouted silently.
She had heard many stories about the endangered cranes from Grandpa, but she had never seen one.
They had stopped coming because the wetland was disappearing.
A loud gunshot startled her.
Lotus turned around and saw a man with a hat made out of reeds aiming his barrel straight at the bird!
Lotus couldn't utter any sound, but she crouched down and drummed her metal pail with her reed cutter,
making a noise like thunder.
The hunter fled, dropping his hat and never looking back.
Lotus hurriedly waded across the wetland toward the bird.
When the crane spotted her, it tried to run but collapsed instead.
Lotus gathered up the heavy bird.
Hold on.
Hold on, please, she pleaded silently.
She tottered home to Grandpa, who had rescued other animals before.
Carefully, Grandpa wrapped the bird's wound.
"He's lost a lot of blood, but he will survive," he said.
Lotus trusted Grandpa, but still she was worried.
The crane barely moved and didn't open his eyes, not even when Grandpa fed him rice soup.
Lotus tucked the bird into the soft nest she had made for him and gently stroked him,
just like Grandpa used to do when she was sick.
For two days Lotus watched the bird anxiously and hardly slept.
On the third day, she fell asleep by the nest.
She awoke when she felt the air stir.
The crane lifted his head for the first time and looked straight at her.
Gingerly, Lotus put her small fingers on his head.
The bird stretched his neck, and rubbed her cheek gently.
Lotus's heart pounded, and tears sprang to her eyes.
"Feather" was the name Lotus chose for her new friend.
When she helped wash his wound, Feather stared at her.
When she whistled with her reed, Feather rubbed her cheek with his head.
Filled with happiness, Lotus searched the rocks and climbed trees to find food for him.
At night she often stroked him until he fell into sleep.
One day, slowly and cautiously, Feather took his first step.
Lotus jumped and swirled and hugged Grandpa blissfully.
Soon Feather was following Lotus everywhere.
Her reed whistle, like a magic wand, made him move up, down, slow, and fast.
Lotus loved her new friend so much that she didn't want to leave him for school.
Grandpa shook his head firmly.
Feather, as if he understood what was happening, pushed her outside with his long neck.
Then he followed her all the way to school.
Feather waited outside Lotus's classroom.
As soon as school was over, Lotus blew her whistle, and here Feather came.
When Lotus whistled short notes, Feather pranced on his long, thin, legs in rhythm.
When Lotus whistled long notes, he dipped his neck and opened his wings wide.
He could not yet fly, but he could dance!
The astonished kids clapped and cheered.
They all joined in, dancing in a circle.
Lotus's heart swelled with pride.
She blew her whistle long and high, like the melody at the Chinese New Year celebration.
Feather walked to school with Lotus every day after that.
And every day the other kids danced with them.
Lotus's whistle was no longer sad, but full of joy.
One night, Lotus was awakened by Feather's urgent crows.
Grandpa opened the door to find their front steps underwater.
A faraway earthquake had vibrated the lake and flooded the village.
"We have to alert the neighbors," said Grandpa.
He and Lotus jumped into their boat.
Feather stood tall on the bow.
"Wake up!
The lake has flooded!"
Grandpa shouted as they poled past the dark homes.
Lotus struck the metal pail with a bamboo stick, again making a noise like thunder.
Feather crowed.
House by house, neighbors came out and jumped into their boats.
Over three hundred villagers were saved.
Feather was the hero.
Feather's story was reported in the local newspaper, and he became famous throughout the province.
People stopped by to see the rare bird and hear the story again.
Grandpa told them how the crane had been shot.
He asked for their help in keeping hunters away from the lake.
Lotus always blew her whistle and let Feather dance for the guests.
March arrived.
Birds began appearing in the sky, migrating back north.
Feather's wings were still too weak for flying, but he watched the flocks until they disappeared.
Will Feather leave us?
Lotus asked Grandpa with her hands.
She was frightened by Feather's longing stare.
"That's where his home is," Grandpa said.
Lotus looked down.
She didn't want her friend to leave, but she knew she would never separate him from his home and family.
Quietly, she searched more rocks and climbed more trees to find him food;
at night she stroked him longer and hugged him tighter.
Then, one day, Feather spread his wings wide and leaped into the sky.
He didn't go far, but Lotus could see that he was completely healed.
She stroked his wing, and her tears dripped onto his soft feathers.
She knew the time had come for him to leave.
Lotus walked slowly behind Grandpa as he carried Feather to the lake.
He held Feather high and tossed him gently into the air.
Feather flew up, circled a few times, but landed back at Lotus's feet.
Grandpa tried again. Again Feather returned.
"He is waiting for you," Grandpa said, handing Feather to Lotus.
Lotus buried her head in Feather's warm body for a long time.
When she heard another flock of birds passing overhead, she hugged Feather one more time,
and then threw him into the sky.
Feather hovered and circled, circled and hovered.
Lotus waved good-bye, holding her tears back.
With a long crow, Feather flapped his big wings and soared north, disappearing into the horizon.
Lotus missed Feather.
So did her schoolmates.
When Lotus climbed up the hill that faced north, her friends followed.
They sat around her and listened to her whistle.
Her notes, filled with love and yearning, floated into the sky.
They all believed Feather could hear them, wherever he was.
One early morning in autumn, Lotus heard a crow outside.
She jumped off her bed, ran to the door, and pushed it open...
Feather, as white as snow, stood on the doorstep.
Behind him was a beautiful red-beaked female, and a chick.
Feather's family!
Moving slowly, so as not to frighten the birds, Lotus held out her hand.
Feather stretched his neck over and rubbed her palm.
Then, Lotus heard a commotion. She looked up and gasped.
She tugged on Grandpa's arm and they ran to the lake.
The sky turned white as it was filled by hundreds of cranes.
They were circling and diving, singing and dancing around them.
"Feather has brought his entire flock! Another miracle!" Grandpa said.
"The lake will not be lonely this year."
Lotus grinned. She twirled and pranced with Feather and his friends.
Her whistle, accompanied by the birds' singing, echoed far, far away in the golden sky.
I think my favorite part of the book was when Lotus realized that she had to let Feather go back to join his family;
and we always have to remember they are wild creatures and they deserve to be free as we all do.
So for me, for a young child to come to understanding with that, um, was very special.
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Lotus & Feather read by Michelle Yeoh

125 タグ追加 保存
宋鴻瑜 2019 年 6 月 20 日 に公開
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