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Chapter One


Not very long ago, nor very far away, in a seaside village where stars twinkle and little boats tinkle, a magical journey began.  One warm summer's night, the moon was so close to Sydney, it could see its own face reflected in the water.  The city lay silhouetted against the harbour waterways like an ancient hand stencil.  Pinpricks of light dotted the shores here and there, where people in their houses and apartments were still awake.  Their windows shone out into the night, like tiny lanterns lit with tea lights.  How lovely it is, thought the moon, catching a glimpse of a row of tiny Christmas trees, which lined the foreshore of a pretty little bay at one end of the harbour.  A ferry wharf divided the harbour beach, and down by the water's edge, on the west side, the moon spied a huddle of little penguins.  Smiling at the sight of them, it spilt a glittering path of light, out across the water, to where the little penguins stood.  As the tiny sea birds gazed up into the inky-twinkling sky, they wondered what else the lucky moon could see from up so high.  They yearned to travel and see more of the world, but they believed they were too little.

Beneath the Ferry Wharf at Manly is home to the little penguins.  Manly is a lively holiday destination to which people come from all over the world.  The little penguins love to watch them coming and going, buying ice-creams, and fish and chips and parading around in their brightly coloured cozzies and hats.  They prefer the happy-on-holiday-humans to the grumpy-grey-clothed ones, who have the Manly Ferry growl them to work during the week.

Sometimes, late at night, when it is still too hot to sleep, the little penguins totter down to the water.  At that hour the beach is safe, with no dogs or birds of prey to trouble them.  There are no hopeful fishermen then, with their nasty hooks and snaggy lines.  Best of all, they can torpedo themselves through the water, full steam ahead, and whizz and tumble, without whirring boat propellers in their way.  Down they dive to the very depths, then whoosh, up they swoosh through schools of tickley silver fish, which love to swirl about in the moonlit water.  A penguin's idea of a very good party is a swim through feast of fish.

On this particular night, as the little penguins stood gazing up at the moon, the wicked wind was stirring up some trouble on the other side of the village...

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