The following is excerpted from The Turtle Secret, a story of a ten-year-old Arab girl, Hessa, and her mission to save the turtles. 


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Chapter One

Hessa walked alone to the market. She carried a shopping bag and clutched the money in her pocket as she followed the path beside the beach.

She wished her father was with her, as he used to be in the old days. Thats how she thought of the days before her mother died. The old days were happy days, when her father talked and laughed a lot.

They would get up early and step out before the heat. Never buy fish once the sun is high,he had told her. She remembered their mornings together, how special they had been, having her father all to herself, her hand tucked into his. They would leave her brothers behind, snoring in their beds. They had never run short of things to talk about.

Nowadays he barely spoke to anyone and he wasnt interested in going with her to the market anymore. In fact, he didnt seem to be interested in anything much. Hessa felt lonely without him.

A gaily painted truck passed by. The driver recognized Hessa. He sounded his horn and waved.

She smiled and waved back. Everyone knew Hessa.

She could smell the fish now. But first she wandered among the stalls piled high with fruit and vegetables. Big shiny red tomatoes jostled for space between pyramids of green apples and bright oranges. Hessa stopped at one stall and bought lettuce and cucumbers and tomatoes.

The stallholder gave her a banana. For you,he said. It was his way of saying, Thank you for buying from my stall.Hessa thanked him and munching the banana, she made her way towards the fish. But before she reached her usual stall, something caught her eye!

A boy was pushing a barrow, a boy not much taller than her. The barrow was too big and heavy for him, and the floor was wet. He slipped, almost upsetting the barrow. As he righted it, something slid out onto the floor. The boy looked around nervously, as if he was afraid someone might be watching him. He scuttled away with the barrow.

Hessa hurried over to see what he had dropped. She couldnt believe her eyes! Lying on its back, unable to move and still very much alive, was a turtle. It was waving its flippers about frantically, but could not turn over. Hessa rushed to help it, but a man got there first.

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 The Turtle Secret is priced at AED 50.