Doing What They Could

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A retelling of The Star Thrower by Loren Eiseley

Shortly after dawn, a cool breeze swept in through the open windows and woke the daughter. When she had gone to sleep, it had been so hot, as it had for so many days. But during the night, there had been a summer storm, a storm with thunder and lighting and strong winds. That storm had broken the heat wave.

The daughter thought, “Why am I cold? Oh, I remember, the big storm last night must have cooled everything off.”

She looked outside her window and saw some branches on the ground.

She thought, “I wonder what the beach looks like this morning.”

She ran to her mother, who was still asleep in her bed. “Mommy, Mommy, wake up! Let’s go to the beach and see what the storm brought!”

The mother opened one eye and saw her daughter’s excited face only inches away. “Good morning, sweetie. Ah, what did you just say?”

The daughter replied, “Mommy, Mommy, wake up! Let’s go to the beach and see what the storm brought!”

The mother turned her head and looked out the window. She saw that it was a beautiful morning. She remembered her own excitement as a child to see what storms had brought her way. She remembered the shelf which had held her treasures from the beach. She remembered her daughter’s shelf of treasures too. She looked longingly at her pillow, then back as her daughter’s excited face. The mother smiled as she swung her feet to the floor.

“Alright, let’s gobble up some breakfast and go to the beach.”

They ate and dressed quickly, then filled a canvas bag with their beach things and walked the few blocks to the beach. As they got close to the beach, they smelled the salt in the air. When they got to the beach, the gritty sand was cool on their feet, for a change. The daughter tossed her flip flops into the canvas bag and started running toward the water, calling over her shoulder, “I’m going to see what the storm brought us.”

The mother took her time, clapping her flip flops together to get the sand off of them, wigging her feet into the cool sand. Suddenly she heard her daughter call out in horror, “Mommy, LOOK!” The mother dropped everything and ran to her daughter’s side. The mother looked where her daughter was pointing and sighed saying, “Oh, no.”

In front of them on the sand, above the normal high tide line, were thousands of starfish. Some of the starfish were slowly making their way back to the ocean.

The daughter carefully picked up one of the moving starfish, took it to the edge of the water, and gently put it down. She watched as it moved into deeper water. Then she went back and picked up a second starfish.

The mother said, “Are you going to try to save all these starfish? That’s impossible.”

The daughter looked up at her mother. “I know it’s impossible to save all of them. But I can save some.” She gently put that second starfish in the water.

The mother looked stunned, and then said, ‘You’re right. Let’s save however many we can.” So they both started picking up starfish, carrying them to the ocean, and gently putting them in the water.

All that morning, people passed them. Most of the people asked what they were doing.

The daughter always answered, “We’re saving the starfish.”

The people replied scornfully, “Are you going to try to save all the starfish? That’s impossible.”

The daughter always looked up at them. “I know it’s impossible to save all of them. But we can save some,” as she gently put yet another starfish in the water. Most of the people stopped and helped, some for just a few minutes, some for the rest of the morning. Together they saved many, many starfish.

For the rest of their lives, the daughter and the mother remembered the starfish. Whenever they were faced with a new, seemingly impossible task, they found as many people as they could to help, they all worked hard together, and they did what they could.

I will be very honored if you want to tell this story. That will help spread the truth about Muslims. But as with all copyrighted materials, there are rules. Please honor them. (These are based on Jane Yolen's rules.

  1. Always mention my name, as the author, before each telling.
  2. If it is appropriate and you have one, display a copy of my CD Learning About Muslims so your audience can learn where to find the story for themselves. And if you have a program you hand out, please show: Author: Kate Dudding
  3. Don’t change my ending.
  4. If you want to record your telling of the story in any way (paper, video, audio, Internet, TV, etc.) you must get permission from me and possibly pay a fee.


Copyright 2008 by Kathryn Eike Dudding. All Rights Reserved.

Kate Dudding (518) 383-4620
8 Sandalwood Drive
Clifton Park, NY 12065-2700 USA
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