omehow, every day in Kittentail Cove turned out to be wonderful. There was always something to learn, somewhere to explore, or some adventure to go on. Shelly loved her beautiful underwater town. She couldn’t imagine living any- where else.
“Does anyone know what tomor- row is?” asked Ms. Harbor. She was the teacher in Room Eel-Twelve.
Shelly looked at the small orange kit- ten to her right. Coral had her paw raised so high she looked like she was going to pop out of her clamshell seat. “I know, I know!” she shouted. “It’s Founder’s Day!”
“I knew that,” Baker grumbled. “I did, too,” Taylor added.
Ms. Harbor laughed. “I guess that wasn’t a very hard question!”
“Founder’s Day is my favorite day of the year,” Coral said.
“It’s my favorite, too,” Shelly said. Most of the students nodded in agree-
ment. But not the black-and-white kitten next to Coral. “Founder’s Day is my sec- ond favorite day of the year,” Angel said. “Right after my birthday.”
“I’m sure your birthday is a paw-some day,” Ms. Harbor purred. “But we don’t have a parade on your birthday.”
“We should!” Angel joked.
Most of the class giggled. Shelly rolled her eyes. And Coral sighed, “Oh, Angel!” She shook her head. Angel liked making a splash whenever she could. Sometimes that frustrated Coral, who spent most of her time avoiding splashes. We’re so different,
Shelly thought. Coral was a rule-follower and Angel was a rule-breaker. But Shelly wasn’t either of those things. She liked rules—as long as she got to decide what those rules were! Somehow, none of that mattered. Angel and Coral had been her best friends fur- ever. Shelly was sure that would never change.
Ms. Harbor held up her paws for silence. She waited for everyone to settle down. “Maybe next year we can plan a parade for Angel,” she said, winking. “But tomorrow’s celebrations are in honor of Leondra, the founder of Kittentail Cove. Leondra wanted to build a town where every creature under the sea would be welcome. She hoped that this community would support each other through good times and bad.”
“That’s exactly what Kittentail Cove is like!” Shelly said.
Ms. Harbor nodded. “By celebrating Leondra’s ideas every year, we remind ourselves to stay that way,” she purred. “And there’s lots of food!”
The students laughed again. Ms. Harbor makes every lesson fun,
Ms. Harbor continued, “Maybe I’ll see some of you out celebrating tomorrow.”
“We’ll be at the Cove Council party tonight,” Baker said.
“My mom says I have to wear a tie,” Taylor whined.
wear a tie,” said Adri- anna. She pointed to Umiko and Cascade. “The Catfish Club girls will be dressed 5
up. My uncle, the mayor, expects us to look purr-fect.”
Shelly looked away so no one would catch her giggling. Adrianna never missed a chance to tell everyone that her uncle was the mayor of Kittentail Cove.
“We’re going to the party, too,” Angel said. “Right, Shelly?”
Shelly nodded. “Yes, we’ll be there. My parents are making all the food for the party.” Her parents owned Lake Restau- rant in Kittentail Cove. They were paw- some chefs.
“Now I’ll definitely be there tonight!” Ms. Harbor purred. “And I’m sure you’re all going to the showcase tomorrow.”
The Founder’s Day Showcase was a yearly tradition. It was held in the Purr-formance Art Wing, or P.A.W., of the Kittentail Cove Museum. Usually, purrmaids were invited to sing for the entire town. Last year, Katy Purry was the main star. The year before, it was Taylor Shipps.
This year, the Cove Council was trying something new. Instead of inviting just a few purrmaids to sing, they were holding tryouts. Anyone could earn a spot in the purr-formance this year.
“Are any of you planning to audition?” Ms. Harbor asked.
Most of the class shrugged. Except for Adrianna. She was nodding and grin- ning. “We are!” she exclaimed. “Umiko, Cascade, and I have been practicing.”
“Actually,” Cascade said, “we’ve been planning
to practice. We haven’t really sung that much yet.”“Mostly, Adrianna has told us what to do,” Umiko said.
Adrianna frowned. “We’ve almost practiced,” she grumbled.
“I tried to get Baker to practice, but it didn’t go well,” Taylor huffed.
Baker shook his head. “No, it didn’t,” he agreed.
“Anyone else?” Ms. Harbor asked. Shelly shyly raised her paw. “I might,”
she purred. “If Coral and Angel will sing with me.”
Coral patted Shelly’s shoulder. “Shelly is a great singer,” she said.
“She sounds like Kelpy Sharkson,” Angel added.
Shelly felt her face getting hot. “No, I don’t,” she said. But she was smil- ing because she was Kelpy Sharkson’s biggest fan. She knew all her songs by heart. Sometimes she dreamed about being a singer like Kelpy when she grew up.
“I hope you girls do try out,” Ms. Harbor said.
“I’m not sure I’m brave enough to sing in front of all those purrmaids,” Shelly said.
“I hadn’t thought about that,” Coral said. Sometimes, she could be a scaredy cat. “I don’t know if I’m brave enough, either!”
Ms. Harbor swam over to Shelly and Coral. She purred, “This year, I’ve entered the Sand Sculpture Contest. I’ve never sculpted sand before!”
“Aren’t you scared?” Shelly asked.
Ms. Harbor smiled. “It might be scary.But it also might be an adventure!”
“And I’m here to help you two be brave,” Angel added. “Nothing scares me!”
“I’ll think about it,” Shelly said.
“I’m sure you girls will make the right decision. But no matter what you choose to do this weekend, make sure you have fun,” Ms. Harbor said. “After all, it’s Founder’s Day!”
Copyright © 2019 by Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.