Itsbansea and the Paddling Games
is Chapter Two of Tales by Moons-Light: Stories from Before the Great Melt
It’s a thought-provoking, fun story and I’ve provided it in a cool “flip book” format. Read it by clicking on the link above and then come back here, for more info.
First, let’s talk a little more about Urth, the planet where the story takes place.
If you’ve read Mateo and the Gift of Presence, you know that Urth is a watery planet 64,000 light years away, on the other side of the Milky Way galaxy. You also know that Urth lost its continents in a catastrophic event called the great melt.
In the great melt, Urth’s polar ice caps and glaciers disappeared in a matter of decades. The sea levels rose, and Urth’s continents were flooded. Many species went extinct, including the curiboa tended by Itsbansea in the story. It was a terrible loss, but modern Urth people don’t remember it. It happened long before they were born. They don’t talk about it much, but they live with the consequences. Urth is a planet of scattered islands now. There are no vast grasslands with head grass, like there were in Itsbansea’s time. There are no continents like Urth, and no curiboa.
What about Urth’s people (Urthlings)? What are they like and why?
Urthlings are very much like humans. They share the same basic body plan (a head, a torso, two arms, two legs, a nose, two eyes, two ears, etc.). But they’re different from us, too, because they evolved by the sea.
Therefore, it’s not surprising that Urthlings have some of the same features as marine mammals do here on Earth. For example, they have a layer of indigo blubber around their mid-sections to keep them warm when they’re swimming (“paddling”), and webbed feet to make it easier to walk on wet sand.
Seals have blubber and shore birds (like ducks) have webbed feet, right? Of course they do, and for the same reasons!
Itsbansea is a bit unusual, though, for he has webbed hands, too. In the story, this “defect” is called Chowdri Syndrome, and is considered a kind of curse. Itsbansea is teased mercilessly for his condition, even though it’s not his fault. He was born like that. He inherited the webbed hands. The trait had been in his family for generations.
What causes Chowdri Syndrome?
The story doesn’t lay it out, but here’s the scoop: It’s a genetic defect caused by a dominant mutation. Perhaps you haven’t studied Mendel’s Laws in school yet, and that’s okay. Put the info in your back pocket for later, when you do.
What’s the moral of the story?
Fairy tales usually have morals. What’s a moral?
A moral is a message or lesson. It’s a truth that applies not only to the story and its characters, but more broadly to all of us.
So what’s the moral of Itsbansea and the Paddling Games?
Let me give you a hint.
I’m only 5’ 1” tall, which is unusually short. (The average height for women in the United States 5’ 4”.) Sometimes, I hate being short because:
- I have a hard time reaching things. (e.g. in cabinets and on high shelves)
- I have trouble finding clothes that fit.
- People make fun of me. (“Hello, shortie!”)
- I usually have to look upwards to catch someone’s eye.
At other times, it’s great to be short because:
- I fit perfectly into the tiny seats on airplanes.
- When I fall, I’m less likely to injure myself.
- I require less food than most people and would survive better during a famine.
- I can crawl through small spaces and under downed trees when I’m hiking.
Height is largely an inherited characteristic. My mother is very short (even shorter than I am). My siblings are on the short side, too.
Geneticists know that nutrition can play a role in height as well. Most traits are influenced of both genes and the environment. But in countries where people have plenty to eat, genes tend to matter most, and so it is in my family.
Do you have a so-called “defect” that makes you different from other people? (A big nose, for example.)
If so, did you inherit it from your parents? (If you’re adopted, you may not know, but take your best guess.)
What are the disadvantages and what are the advantages of your “defect?”
Now think about it: What’s the moral of Itsbansea and the Paddling Games?
When you think you’ve figured it out, let me know. I love to get comments from my young readers!