The Great White Man-Eating Shark

Story Time

June 27, 1999|By Margaret Mahy

Editor's note: In a cautionary tale that combines 'The Boy Who Cried Wolf' with 'Jaws,' a little boy named Norvin is so good at being a shark that he has every swimmer at Caramel Cove fooled -- almost.

There was once a boy called Norvin who was a good actor but rather plain. In fact, he looked very like a shark. He had small sharkish eyes, a pointed sharkish head, and sharp sharkish teeth.

Norvin lived near a wonderful beach called Caramel Cove, but he had to share it with lots of other swimmers. When Norvin tried shooting through the water like a silver arrow, the other swimmers got in his way. This made him cross and resentful.

Out of plastic he made himself the dorsal fin of a great white man-eating shark. Then he strolled around the headland, thought a few sharkish thoughts, strapped it on, and slid into the clear blue water.

What a panic there was! Up and down Caramel Cove people grabbed up their children, their dogs, and inflatable canoes. Within moments the sand was crowded with dripping bodies and the sea was completely empty. Everyone stared despairingly at the cruising dorsal fin.

It was a very hot day, but nobody dared go swimming again. Norvin had the whole of Caramel Cove to himself. He spent all afternoon shooting backwards and forwards like a silver arrow.

Everyone else watched enviously, sighing and rubbing suntan lotion onto one another. No one dared to share the sea with a great white man-eating shark. At last, Norvin swam out around the headland and vanished from sight.

After that, everyone except Norvin was too scared to go swimming at Caramel Cove.

"Norvin! Come out at once," his friends all cried. "There is a great white man-eating shark hanging around these parts."

Norvin laughed.

"Nonsense!" he said.

Norvin had the entire beach to himself for three whole days.

However, soon a few brave people, tired of seeing Norvin shooting to and fro like a silver arrow, started swimming again. Others joined them, and soon everyone was splashing around happily once more, enjoying the swimming and the summer.

But Norvin had grown used to having the beach to himself. He strolled around the headland, put on his dorsal fin, and swam back into Caramel Cove.

Within minutes Norvin had the beach all to himself once more. No one dared go swimming for a week at Caramel Cove ... no one except Norvin, that is. He shot to and fro like a silver arrow, while others watched longingly from the beach. Soon they could stand it no longer. A few brave people decided to take a risk, and Caramel Cove was once more splashing and bubbling with happy swimmers.

Norvin, however, was becoming greedy. He wanted Caramel Cove all to himself, all the time. So he strolled around the headland and put on his dorsal fin once more. Then he swam back to Caramel Cove, laughing to himself as he thought of all the terror he would cause.

But, suddenly, he felt he was not alone. Someone was swimming beside him. Who could it be? He looked out of the corner of his eye.

There, nuzzling up to him, was a great white man-eating shark -- a female. Norvin was such a good actor that she did not realize he was merely pretending to be a shark. She gave him a very loving glance.

"You are the shark of my dreams," she said. "Marry me at once or I shall lose my temper and bite you!"

He shot like a silver arrow, dorsal fin and all, toward the beach and flung himself onto the sand where he lay, kicking and screaming with terror. Everyone could see at a glance just what Norvin had been up to.

From THE GREAT WHITE MAN-EATING SHARK by Margaret Mahy. Text copyright (c) 1989 by Margaret Mahy. Illustrations copyright (c) 1989 by Jonathan Allen. Reprinted by arrangement with Dial Books for Young Readers, a division of Penguin Putnam Inc.

Pub Date: 06/27/99

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