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the THE BOY WHO MET A WHALE by Nizrana Farook Blog Tour hosted by Rockstar Book Tours. Check out my post and make sure to enter the
About the Book:
Title: THE BOY WHO MET A
Author: Nizrana Farook
Pub. Date: February 1, 2022
Publisher: Peachtree Publishing Company
Formats: Hardcover, Paperback, eBook,
Find it: Goodreads, Amazon, Audible, B&N, iBooks (audiobook), Kobo (audiobook), TBD, Bookshop.org
A Sri Lankan fisherboy
is swept up in a thrilling seafaring adventure, complete with a kidnapping,
missing treasure, and a huge blue whale! From the author of The Girl
Who Stole an Elephant.
Razi, a local fisherboy, is watching turtle eggs hatch
when he sees a boat bobbing into view. With a chill, he notices a small, still
hand hanging over the side.
Inside is Zheng, who’s escaped a shipwreck and is full
of tales of sea monsters and missing treasure. But the villains who are after
Zheng are soon after Razi and his sister, Shifa, too. And so begins an
exhilarating escapade in the shadow of the biggest sea monster of them all.
Author Nizrana Farook has crafted another briskly
paced, action-packed quest that swells with empathetic heroes, missing
treasure, and a great beast lurking beneath. Set against a vibrant, authentic
landscape inspired by Sri Lanka, this delightful caper will thrill young fans
of adventure and fantasy.
A Financial Times Best Children's Book of the Year
Also available from Nizrana Farhook:
The Girl Who Stole an Elephant
"It’s a thrilling,
old-fashioned treasure hunt, and the Sri Lankan setting makes familiar arcs
feel fresh. Short, action-packed chapters keep things moving at a fast clip,
while lush descriptions and flashes of beauty (including an astonishing
encounter with the titular whale) will keep readers absorbed. A proper
adventure story with a tender heart."-Booklist
"An exciting and appealing page-turner."-Kirkus Reviews
"Farook invokes the
beauty of her native Sri Lanka with sparkling descriptions of island and sea. . .. This lyrical story, reminiscent of Salman Rushdie’s Haroun and the Sea of
Stories will be appreciated by all lovers of adventurous fairy tales."-School
Grab book 1, THE GIRL WHO STOLE AN ELEPHANT now!
Excerpt from The Boy Who Met a Whale:
The boy clung to the rail
with a death grip as the ship lurched violently in the storm.
It was sinking.
All around him was
darkness and the roar and crash of waves as the ship buckled and rain lashed down. The wind was shrill and whip sharp. But for all the noise, the ship was empty of people. Where was everyone? The boy ran along the deck,
slipping and sliding to the wheelhouse.
It was deserted.
He sprinted down the
length of the ship, hurtling below deck to the captain’s
quarters. He pounded on the door, desperate to be heard over
the sound of the thunder and the howling of the wind. But it
The door opened suddenly, and the first mate slipped out, a long leather pouch clutched
in his hand. He started when he saw the boy, and quickly hid
his hand behind him.
“Sir, the storm—”
began the boy, but the man shoved him aside and hurried down
The boy held on to the
side for balance and stumbled into the cabin. The captain was
lying in his bunk, fast asleep. The room had been ransacked:
drawers were hanging open and books had been tossed all over the place. The ship listed sharply and the debris on the floor slid to one side of the room where water was pooling, creeping darkly over fallen books.
The boy froze in shock.
The crew had known they would be sailing into a storm. Why was the captain asleep so
soundly? Why was the whole ship asleep? Apart from…
He stormed out of the
captain’s cabin and scrambled up to the deck. A lifeboat had
been lowered into the sea, and the first mate was getting ready
to climb down, accompanied by a man the boy recognized as the
He stared at the men, a
cold fear clamping around his heart as the rain soaked through
him. “Marco!” he screamed. “What did you do? Did you drug
The first mate looked back
and shrugged, not even bothering to deny it.
Rain pelted the men as
they prepared to get in the boat. Something snapped in the boy,
and he raced toward them and plucked the leather pouch from the first mate’s pocket.
Yelling, the men gave
chase as the boy sprinted away down the ship. Lightning lit up
his running figure. The ship groaned and shifted. The men
stumbled and one fell as the boy doubled back, jumping over the fallen man and speeding past his furious companion. The first mate took out a knife that flashed silver in the gloom of the
night. He ran fast, closing in on the boy as water filled the
deck and crept up his ankles.
It was over. The ship was
going down, and it was too late to save anyone. The boy wailed
in anguish as he threw himself over the side and into the
lifeboat. The ship tilted and groaned, making a huge cracking sound as it broke apart. The men ran to the railing and yelled at the boy, but the rain blotted out everything as he rowed
swiftly away. The last he saw of the ship was it careening jerkily off course.
The boy screamed into the
wind and wept for his lost friends.
The baby turtle scuttled
down the golden beach, wet and gritty with sand. Bit by
bit scores of others emerged, their shiny black bodies,
flailing limbs, and beady eyes glinting in the early
morning sun. They
scampered toward the water, their little legs scuffling over the freshly turned-up sand. A bale of tiny turtles—all eager
to make their first meeting with the sea.
Razi laughed as he ran
after them, careful not to step on any of the little creatures.
The sight never failed to amaze him and lift his spirits. He’d
seen it a hundred times, coming early to this stretch of beach
to watch the newly hatched turtles running into the sea at
sunrise. There was a white one among them, an albino turtle,
the pattern on its back etched out in shiny black lines. It was
lagging behind and in danger of getting lost.
“Go on! Go, your friends
are leaving!” called Razi. He knew not to touch it and so he
hoped his voice would cheer it on instead. Sure enough, the
white turtle perked up and scuttled after the others.
Overhead a yellow-beaked
ibis wheeled past. Razi kept an eye on it in case it tried to
attack the babies. The sea was a grayish blue, deepening gradually to a brilliant turquoise with the rising sun shining on the waves. Coconut trees fringed the beach, their wiry trunks
twisted like swaying cobras.
Standing on the shoreline,
Razi watched in awe. A wave came in, drenching the baby turtles
as they swarmed up to meet it. They hopped into the water, greeting it playfully. Razi held his breath. This part always
worried him. The turtles looked so little and fragile. But the
whole lot of them swam away happily, dots of black on the
rolling blue waves surging into the great ocean.
He sat cross-legged on the
sand and watched them bob away. They disappeared quickly,
swimming away to their new lives. He knew that turtles always
came back to the very same beach they were born in to lay
their own eggs. So someday when Razi was an adult he could be back here and see the babies of one of these same turtles.
It was a lovely feeling.
But it couldn’t completely dislodge the sadness that dimmed
Razi’s world, no matter how much the sun shone, and waves
The sun rose higher and
prickled his skin. Then he saw something bobbing in the water.
Something dark. Razi squinted into the horizon. The turtles were all gone, but this was too big to be one of them anyway. Whatever it was,
it was heading toward land. The sea glittered a brilliant, sparkling
blue now, and the dark object swirled closer and closer to the
shore with every wave.
It was a boat.
Razi stood up. This wasn’t
a fishing boat like the ones on Serendib. This boat was plain
and simple, with no sail or outrigger, and, as it moved closer,
Razi saw it had some strange lettering etched on the side.
Foreign letters, thought Razi excitedly. Where had the boat come from?
It dipped into a wave and
then lifted up, a solitary blot on the empty ocean. As it
surged closer, Razi saw something droop out over the side.
Something small and bunched.
An actual human hand!
Someone was in the boat! Razi staggered back, jabbing his foot on a
pointed shell. The pain hardly registered as he watched the
boat bobbing closer. He looked around the beach wildly to see if there was anyone to help. But, as usual, it was entirely
The boat swirled closer
and Razi froze. Was he going to have to get into the water?
Dread clawed his heart at the prospect.
A gull squawked overhead,
startling Razi. It was the jolt he needed, and he ran into the
sun-warmed water, soaking his clothes as he waded quickly
toward the boat.
This is okay, you can
do this, he told himself over and over
as he tried to ignore the water rising to his chest. Razi reached the
boat and looked over the side. An egret swooped by and darted
off again, leaving the echo of its cry.
Lying in the bottom of the
boat, sunburned and still, was a boy.
“Okay now,” said Razi.
“Stay calm, stay calm,
this is serious. Just BE CALM.”
With all his strength he
pulled the boat out of the sea and dragged it up the
beach, making a groove in the soft sand.
The boy was on his side,
cheek pressed against the bottom of the boat. His eyes
were closed, and his expression was blank. His lips were parched, and his skin was covered in patches of white where salt
had dried. Even his clothes were dried up, and they rustled
like paper when Razi shook his shoulder.
His eyes remained shut.
“Um, hello,” said
Razi. “Er, listen, are you alive?” The boy was as still as a
stick. The sun beat down on him mercilessly, frying his already
parched body. He had to be moved to the shade and given some
Razi took a deep breath
and carried on talking to the boy, despite feeling foolish. “So, I’m going to move you over there. Get you out of the sun.”
He leaned into the boat and grasped the boy under his arms.
To his surprise the boy
slid out easily, as if he was no weight at all. Razi dragged
him all the way up the sand to the shade of the coconut trees
and laid him down. Out of the sun’s glare, it was instantly
cooler, and there was a soft breeze too.
The boy twitched, his eyes
fluttered open slightly, and then closed again.
Razi almost cried with
is good,” said Razi, trying to sound encouraging. It had worked for the turtle, after all. “You stay here—I’m going to look for some water.” He stood up and
Something out at sea
caught his eye. Another boat, identical to the one the boy had
been in. There were two men in the boat, and the taller of the
two was standing up, gesticulating furiously at the beach
while the other rowed to shore. Razi couldn’t understand any of this. What was going on?
Razi emerged from the
trees and walked down the beach to meet the men. The tall one,
who was strongly built with close-cropped hair, immediately
jumped into the water and ran to him. To Razi’s alarm, he gripped him by the collar and lifted him off his feet.
Razi tried to scream. He
blanched at the man’s furious expression.
“Marco!” said the
other man, coming up the beach. “That’s not him.”
The tall man shoved Razi
away. He seemed angry that he’d got the wrong person. Razi
turned to run, terrified. He had to get away from these men
“Where is he?” yelled
the one called Marco. He rounded on Razi. “You! You must have
seen him.” Razi shook his head hard. Was the man talking about the boy on the boat? He wanted to say something, anything, but couldn’t find the words.
“He must be around here
somewhere,” said the other man. “That’s his boat over
there. We’ll find him.”
“Find him and kill him,”
said Marco, kicking at a scuttling crab.
Razi began to tremble. The
boy was lying unconscious just yards away from them in the
shade of the coconut trees. He was weak and barely alive, and
these men wanted to harm him. He couldn’t let them do that.
“Oh! D-do you mean the
boy in the boat?” said Razi, finding his tongue at last.
Marco stopped and turned
around. “What do you know?”
Razi, which was true. He pointed toward Galle town, then
carried on less truthfully. “He asked me where the closest
town was, and I told him it’s a mile up the beach. So, he ran
Marco came toward Razi
slowly. His thick neck and meaty shoulders made Razi shrink
away until he backed onto the side of their boat.
“When was this?” said
Marco, breathing into Razi’s face.
“An hour ago.”
“Why did you say before
that you hadn’t seen him?” The man spoke slowly, making the
words sound doubly dangerous.
Razi swallowed as he tried
to think of a reason. “I wasn’t sure what you m-meant. I
m-mean, ‘Where is he?’ doesn’t mean much, d-does it? Now,
if you’d said, ‘w-where’s that boy who came on the
boat…’ He was blabbering and Marco was looking at him
with deep suspicion. He should shut up before he brought some serious damage down on himself.
“I see.” Marco still
spoke slowly and deliberately. “If I find out that you’ve
been lying to me, I will find you and I will kill you.
stammered Razi. “That-that sounds clear enough.” He caught
himself before he blathered on anymore.
With that, Marco and his
accomplice got back in the boat and rowed off.
Razi watched the boat
heading in the direction of Galle.
He exhaled and pressed his hands to his forehead. What had he gotten himself into?
He looked back toward the unconscious boy; his foot clearly visible for anyone to see.
He had to check that the
boy was all right and then get out of there as fast as he
Razi ran to collect some
fallen King coconuts. Once he’d found a pointed stone,
he managed to pierce one, making a terrible mess, and felt the
welcome squirt of cool coconut water on his face.
He went back to the boy
and lifted his head up, tipping the King coconut slowly against
his mouth. Half of the water sloshed out, but the boy stirred
awake and soon began to lap it up. He took in a good amount and
then lay back down, his eyes closing again. He smelled of salt and the brininess of the deep sea. Razi felt a chill in spite
of the heat of the day.
“Er, looks like you’re
a bit better then,” said Razi, edging off and sitting back on
The boy opened his eyes.
His face furrowed slightly and his eyes traveled all around
him—taking in the jewel-bright sea, the shell-strewn beach
with the boat pulled up high on the sand, and the bunches of
bright orange King coconuts in the tree above him.
He blinked in confusion
and tried to sit up. “Huh?” “I said it looks like you’re
feeling better,” said Razi, even though the boy probably
couldn’t understand him. He was clearly from a faraway land.
“You’re safe.” The boy looked at Razi for the first time.
“Where is this?” he said, speaking Razi’s tongue easily.
“Serendib,” said Razi. “You’re on the island of Serendib.”
The boy lay back wearily
but there was a hint of a smile on his face. He touched his
chest and his clothes rustled again.
Razi stared at the boy.
The rustling sound wasn’t coming from his clothes after all.
There was something long and cylindrical hidden inside his
The boy slowly began to
lift himself up until he was leaning against the tree.
“Here,” said Razi,
prying the coconut open into two halves. He showed the boy how
to scoop out the soft, pulpy insides. The boy took the coconut
and scarfed it down gratefully. Seeing he was still hungry,
Razi pierced open another King coconut for him, all the while keeping an eye out for the two men.
“What’s your name?”
asked the boy, after taking a long swig of coconut water. “I’m
“I’m Razi. I live in
the town down the beach from here. How come you speak our
language?” He glanced nervously at the sea. Would the men be
back? And was it all right to leave the boy in this state?
Zheng wiped his mouth with
the back of his hand. “Oh, I speak loads
of languages. I don’t mean to boast, but
I can’t think of a language I don’t know even a little
of. Been all over the world, you see.”
Razi frowned. So much for
Zheng put down the coconut
and gave a small sigh. “Listen,” said Razi. “I don’t
like to hurry you while you’re like this, but you need to get
out of here fast.” “Why do you say that?”
“Because a man called
Marco means to kill you.” The boy startled and dropped the coconut,
water sloshing over his legs. He scrabbled around as he tried to get
up. “Hold on!” said Razi. “I didn’t mean that fast!” Zheng
stared at him with such panic-stricken eyes that Razi felt
instantly sorry for him. “Who are you?”
said Zheng. “Are you working for Marco?”
“No! He and another man
came ashore in a boat soon after you did.”
“Marco is here?”
Zheng got up and staggered around like a crab before he managed
to straighten up. “Wait, where are you going?” said Razi,
following Zheng as he stalked around in a panic.
“I don’t know. Just
away. I’ll figure
something out. I always do.”
Razi could hardly leave
him now. Zheng was shuffling inland in his ragged clothes,
tired and weak, barely able to stand.
“Wait, Zheng.” Razi
ran up to him. “There’s a place near here where you can
rest for a bit.”
Zheng turned back and
looked at him hopefully. “Come on!” Razi led the way up the
beach, threading through the coconut trees to the abandoned
fisherman’s hut he knew was there. “It can’t really be
seen from the beach. You’ll be safe while you hide and think
of what to do.”
The hut was just a minute
up the beach, small and coconut thatched. There was a single
wooden window that didn’t close very well. The corners were
full of cobwebs, and the door hung lopsidedly off its hinges.
It wasn’t great, but it was safe.
“Would anyone come
here?” said Zheng.
“No. It was abandoned a
long time ago. No one comes to this beach at all. I only come
here because of the turtles.”
Zheng relaxed visibly and
settled on the hard earth floor, stretching himself out.
“What’s that rustling
noise coming from your shirt?” asked Razi.
Zheng paled under his
sunburn. “I’m not sure what you mean. I think it’s my
bones creaking.” Razi suppressed a chuckle. Whatever it was,
clearly Zheng didn’t want Razi to know.
“Thank you for
everything,” said Zheng. “The less you know about any of
this the better. Marco is a dangerous man, and Cook isn’t too
“Don’t I know it.”
Razi leaned against the window. “He’s already threatened to
find me and kill me if I was lying to him. And I was.”
Zheng shook his head in
confusion. “What are you talking about?”
“Marco asked if I’d
seen you. I said you went to town and sent him the wrong way.”
Zheng’s face turned
sour. “Oh no. He’s not someone you want to cross for any
“What about you, though?
Will you be all right?” “Of course,” said Zheng, leaning his
head against the wall and closing his eyes. He seemed to have
become more relaxed after reaching the hut. “I’ve been in
all sorts of situations. When you work on a ship and have been
all over the world, you’re ready for anything.
Reminds me of the time we had to fight off pirates. Not that it
happened just the once, but this one time was particularly
tense, because I had only one working arm at the time.” Razi
had no idea how seriously to take any of this. He was curious
about Zheng, though, and felt responsible for him after
rescuing him from the boat. “Who are you? How did you come to
be in that boat?”
Zheng’s face screwed up,
as if he was trying to hold back some emotion. “I was on a
merchant ship that sank.”
“You’re a ship’s
Zheng nodded. “It might
not sound like much. But I was very close to the captain, no
less. And I’ve been all over
the world. Been doing this since I was eight, and now I’m
twelve. Imagine that.”
That was impressive, but
Razi wasn’t about to admit it. He was twelve too, but he had
never even left the area he lived in.
“Where did you say you
were from again?” said Zheng. “Galle,” said Razi. “It’s a
town about a mile or so up the beach from here. There’s
nothing else around. If you go up the beach the other way
there’s a village, but that’s even farther away than
“What were you doing
“I was watching turtle
hatchlings. There are always loads of them here. I like to see
them go safely to the sea. Did you know that’s why they run
to the sea so soon after birth? It’s so they’re safe from
“That’s nice,” said
Zheng, though he didn’t look too interested in the turtles.
Which wasn’t surprising considering he was running away from
a maniac who was trying to kill him.
“I’ve got to go now.
My mother will be waiting for me. We usually have breakfast
together before she goes to work. Good luck, Zheng.”
“Ah, breakfast… Can’t
remember the last time I had it,” said Zheng, a mournful
expression on his face. “Well, goodbye, Razi. Thank you for
Razi nodded and turned to
go. He stopped at the doorway. He couldn’t very well leave
Zheng without food. The coconut pulp was hardly anything.
He turned back to Zheng.
“Don’t move from here. I’ll bring you some food and water
and then you can be on your way.”
Zheng looked thrilled.
“Could you hide my boat as well? If Marco comes back, it’ll
show him where I am. I’d do it myself if I wasn’t so
“Sure.” Razi smiled.
He’d move the boat, bring the food, and that would be the end
About Nizrana Farook:
Farook was born and raised in Colombo, Sri
Lanka, and the beautiful landscapes of her home country find their way into the
stories she writes. She has a master's degree in writing for young people, and
lives in Hertfordshire, England with her husband and two daughters.
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