Educational Under Sea Adventure
Missy is in her upstairs bedroom with Jay, a pompous yet sensitive blue jay who is watching from the windowsill. Sheís downloading information from her laptop into her hand-held Info-Whiz. Mom stops by for a look at Missyís latest endeavors. As she leaves Missyís room she passes Matt and Buddy, the family pooch, in the hall and asks Matt to go down to the basement to tell Uncle Albert itís time for supper. Mattís personality makes its debut as he mutters to himself about the perils of Uncle Albertís basement laboratory. By the time he reaches the door, a great deal of anticipation has been established for what interesting inventions lie on the other side.
As Matt and Buddy carefully passes through the array of books, contraptions, mechanisms, papers and boxes he focuses on a mountainous pile of general inventorís junk against the back wall.† Uncle Albert lets out a wail of horror and throws his hands in the air so that they are just visible above the mound. Matt hurries to see whatís wrong. Uncle Albert is frantically skimming an oversized, important looking book and making calculations on a futuristic contraption. Matt inquires about whatís going on, and Uncle Albert launches into an oracle on the temperature of mineral spouts and the danger they present to sea life. Matt begs him to slow down and start from the beginning. What are mineral spouts anyway? Uncle Albert uses pictures and diagrams to show Matt the three levels of the ocean and the underwater chimneys created by mineral-covered vents in the ocean floor. He explains that unless someone alters the course of nature and stops the smutty release of heated water, thousands of underwater creatures will die.
Also in this conversation, Uncle Albert shows off his newest
project, a duplicate of the Adventure Machine. He wants Missy and Matt to be
able to accompany him on his many journeys, so heís building a special machine
for them. He also discusses the concept of longitude and latitude in relation
to the location of an unusually large number of mineral spouts in the
Matt is fairly accustomed to Uncle Albertís convictions
about preserving the Earthís natural resources and isnít shaken by the news of
a potential catastrophe. After listening patiently to Uncle Albertís raving he
delivers Momís message about supper and he and Buddy head for the kitchen.
After several minutes Missy and Matt realize Uncle Albert isnít coming and
return to the basement to fetch him. They catch a glimpse of the back of Uncle
Albert as he steps into the Adventure Machine prototype with a bulging bag of
corks thrown over his shoulder. Before they can stop him, heís lost in a whir
of color and sparks, and when the smoke clears, the Adventure Machine has
disappeared! Matt and Missy quickly deduce that Uncle Albert must be traveling
The Adventure Machine slams into the surface of the water with a fantastic splash and then bobs to the surface. The childrenís eyes appear just above the water line in the window as they nervously skim their surroundings. The Machine washes ashore and everyone piles out onto the beach. A handsome, dark skinned young boy approaches them and asks what theyíre doing on his island. During the conversation that ensues, the young boy reveals his position as prince of the island and agrees to aid in the search for Uncle Albert. The Adventure Machine converts to a submarine and plunges into the first level of the ocean, traveling serenely through the sunlight waters. This peaceful section of the journey showcases swordfish and jellyfish and gives the travelers a glimpse of a myriad of other sunlight water creatures. They also have the opportunity to hear Matuaís personal tragedy.
Matua is indeed the prince of the island, but he is prohibited from one day taking his place as king by an ancient tradition. All Manahiki kings must possess three names, passed down from tribal leaders before them. When Matua was only a baby his parents were killed in a boating accident and the only valuable item retrieved from the wreckage was his fatherís royal scepter. He displays the beautifully carved scepter for the children and explains that the empty compartment at the top is where his name used to be. It was engraved on a smooth, white stone, which was lost in the ocean. Only the king knew the name engraved on the stone, and unless Matua finds it, he can never take his place as king. He fears the stone is lying on the ocean bottom where thereís too much pressure for a human to travel unprotected. As the submarine travels deeper, Buddy displays signs of increased pressure, and the children embark upon another scientific conversation.
Matuaís story is interrupted by a thud, and the submarine begins moving rapidly from one side to the other. The children are tossed about and terrified until they realize they are simply the object of fun and games for a group of dolphins. Dolphinsí playful nature and intelligence are communicated throughout this scene. The children are relieved when the swaying stops but soon realize a tiger shark has interrupted the game and captured the submarine. A brief rundown of types of sharks takes place until the shark grows uninterested in its difficult prey and moves on.
Matua explains that he has seen a contraption much like the one the children arrived in, and it was headed for the deepest part of the ocean. He agrees to lead the children as far as he can in the right direction, and in exchange the children commit to helping him find the white stone.
†An intimidating oversized swordfish guards the gate between the sunlight waters and the twilight waters. The children and Buddy muster the courage to approach him and discover that swordfish are actually timid creatures who only look foreboding. Sometimes it takes courage to approach people who seem threatening, but kindness turns away gruff and angry feelings. The children gain access to the next level of the ocean and make a new friend in the process. Just as things are looking up, they discover the viewing window of the submarine is blocked. The children don the special underwater suits provided knowingly by Uncle Albert ahead of time and venture outside the ship to clear debris from the window. Once outside they realize the entire submarine is surrounded by ominous looking silver bubbles twisted together in a thick, inpenatratable net. Again they must be courageous and have faith as they force their way through the net. Once on the other side, they realize that it was an illusion created by the ingenious humpback whale, who likes to stun his prey by making them think theyíre trapped when theyíre really not! The children learn that sometimes they canít see the big picture, but faith and courage will guarantee a success.
Once the children reach the midnight level, the real fun begins! First of all, they are surrounded by heavy darkness and must rely on Uncle Albertís specially equipped underwater gear to withstand the pressure of the water above them. Limitations of deep-sea life are discovered one by one as this scary scene progresses. Their best defense against the dangers are a group of deep-sea anglerfish whose built-in lighting system helps them find their way around.†
When the children meet a dangerous looking eel, they think their adventure is over, but upon further scrutiny they discover that he is actually not as bad as he appears. After explaining that they are looking for a scientist whoís trying to plug the mineral spouts dotted along the ocean bottom and a beautiful white stone bearing the secret name of a Manahiki prince, the children convince the eel that their endeavor is worth his time. He leads them to a den of fierce viperfish who claim to know exactly where the missing stone and Uncle Albert are located.
One day (or night as far as midnight waters go) a stone fell from the sky and landed in a mineral spout that was slowly heating the vipersí long time headquarters. They built a shrine around the plugged spout so that all vipers could come pay homage to the stone that saved them. A rhythmic chant can be heard from inside the shrine as mesmerized guards circle the stone constantly, worshiping and protecting it. Uncle Albert had invaded their territory and was seen as an enemy who may try to steal or destroy the stone, so he was captured and has been forced into servant labor for the gang. Using special equipment stored in the underwater gear the children are wearing, they are able to slide temperature safe grabbers past the viper lord as he explains his unwillingness to give up the stone or Uncle Albert. After a near fatal accident involving Matt and Buddy, the stone is delivered to Matua, and the mineral spout begins to bubble again with dangerous, black billows. Now itís time to rescue Uncle Albert and return to safety.
The Vipers have caught on
to what the children are trying to do and taken Uncle Albert deeper into the
bowels of the
The mood in the ship as it travels back through the levels
of the ocean and emerges on Manahikiís beach is
somber and reverent. Matua knows he will never be
able to return to the
A discussion about the benefits of sacrificing and the unexplainable provisions that are made for people who choose that path in life follows this discovery. Matua also explains to Uncle Albert that God has arranged the world in such a way that natureís cycles take care of themselves. It isnít his responsibility to change the way nature operates. He is to respect it and honor the Creator for his wisdom. Matua offers several benefits of mineral spouts, which relieve Uncle Albert and allow the children to take him home peacefully.
They splash back into the house in much the same fashion that they entered the ocean, and no time has elapsed. Matt, Missy, Buddy and Uncle Albert tromp upstairs just in time to meet Dad as he comes in from work and heads for the kitchen.