A Book From Times Past

Phillip and I were clearing out some storage boxes today, when we found a thin book tucked away behind some unrelated things. The book is named Clamshell Boy. It took a while for either of us to realize where this book had come from.

We used to vacation in Ocean Shores, Washington every October. We haven’t been back there in years. One route we followed on our drive out to Long Beach Peninsula took us through the town of Montesano, where we’d always stop into a particular convenience store. We’d stop there on the way to the ocean for fun, but stopped on the way home only if we needed a bathroom.

This little store sold an amazing variety of things. It sold gasoline and food. It sold souvenirs with a wide range of quality and prices. It sold hunting, fishing, geocaching, and camping supplies. It sold maps. It sold clothes. And it sold books. It was there, we agreed, that we bought the book we found today.

Why we bought this book, and why neither one of us got around to reading it until now, remains unknown. My theory is that one of us bought it on impulse and, in the excitement of our vacation, it had been forgotten in the car trunk until we got home and unpacked, where it was put aside, swept up in a cleaning day, and forgotten again.

I was not expecting to complete a Reading Challenge category today.

Clamshell Boy: A Makah Legend, written and adapted by Terri Cohlene, and illustrated by Charles Reasoner, was published in 1990.

Clamshell Boy

Long ago, a young Makah girl named Salmonberry was playing with her friends on the beach. The sun started going down. They had to rush home before Basket Woman caught them.

Basket Woman was a giant who captured children after dark, and cooked them.

Salmonberry didn’t believe this silly legend. Then Basket Woman appeared, and explained that the legend about her was cruel and wrong. To prove that she was a good giant, she offered the children a ride home in her basket. Salmonberry and her friends accepted Basket Woman’s offer.

The legend of Basket Woman turned out to be true.

None of the Makah people knew where Basket Woman lived. No one had ever returned from a capture by Basket Woman. Salmonberry’s mother cried, and her tears landed in a clamshell. Clamshell Boy appeared from the spirit of the clamshell, and swore to the people that he would save Salmonberry and her friends from Basket Woman.

Clamshell Boy set off on a quest to find and kill Basket Woman.

I read Clamshell Boy in one afternoon. It is nicely illustrated in a style reminiscent of the people of the Pacific Northwest. The back of the book contains historic and cultural information about the Makah. I enjoyed it.

  • A book you bought on a trip

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