Written by Nick Hornby, Roddy Doyle, Gregory Maguire, Linda Sue Park, David Almond, Tim Wynne-Jones, Ruth Ozeki, Deborah Ellis, Margo Lanagan, and Eoin Colfer
A box of shells and a stack of signed portraits. Why did Grandpa Gee leave them to Maggie and Jason? What to they mean?
Grandpa Gee was dead. The heart attack had come with no warning. He'd always seemed larger than life, a famous photographer who traveled all over the world, looking for that perfect shot. His stories about his travels were amazing, almost more like fiction than fact, even if everyone knew that every bit of them was true.
The funeral was over, the will had been read, and his grandchildren had been given their inheritances. Jason opened his right away. It was a collection of photographs of celebrities, all autographed to him. Jason knew immediately that they were worth a lot of money, and he also knew who might buy them. He needed money, a lot of money, and he couldn't ask his parents for it. He didn't question why Gee had left the photos to him, he was just glad Gee had given him something practical, not like what his sister got-an old box of shells.
Maggie didn't open her box for a long time. She was devastated by her grandfather's death. He hadn't been that old, and he was active and healthy, and still had hundreds of stories to tell. When she finally opened the carefully wrapped cardboard box, she found another box inside, made of beautifully polished wood. When she lifted the lid, she saw that it was divided into seven little compartments, each with a lid. Inside each one was a shell, tiny, beautiful, perfect. An on the under side of each lid were letters - A, A, E, NA, A, SA, A. [Draw them on the board in two rows like they are in the book.] What could the letters stand for? And what did the note from Gee mean-"Throw them all back." Back in the ocean? But what ocean? And why? Why would Gee find them, save them, give them to her, and then tell her to throw them away? Gee had given her a wonderful present, a mystery, a puzzle to solve. It was the perfect gift.
It would be a long time before Jason and Maggie would finally learn exactly what their grandfaher had willed to them and what he wanted for them. It would be his final story for them.
This booktalk was written by university professor, librarian and booktalking expert Joni Richards Bodart.