BREAK THE WORLD RECORD IN…READING ALOUD!
How to participate
1) On Thursday, January 31st, 2013, at 9:00 am, take 15 minutes to read the attached extract from the book, “Attack of the Shidas…” Read it aloud alone, with friends or with the children around you.
2) Send Start A Library a picture of you reading out loud wherever you are by posting it on facebook and tagging ‘StartAlibray’ or post it on twitter under the hashtag, #readingrevolution.
‘Attack of the Shidas: AKA’s save Planet Earth’
I am enough! As everybody knows, in Kiswahili, the word ‘tosha’ means ‘enough’. My name is Tosha. My mother thinks I am joking when I tell her I am an AKA. AKA means ‘Also known as’. I am Tosha AKA an alien-fighter. Calling myself an alien fighter sounds silly so I’d rather be known as an AKA. I am twelve years old and have special powers to fight the Shidas – nasty water-sucking creatures from a dry planet. You probably think I am making this up or cracking a joke. Maybe you believe aliens do not exist. Let me tell you how it started.
Our town sits in the middle of a vast dry area. It rarely rains here. Our three communities – the Northeens, Southeens and Centreens rely on water drawn from a borehole built in the centre of the town. Early one morning, my mother and her friend were fetching water from the borehole. The water took an unusually long time to emerge from the tap. Finally, dirty brown splashes of water spurted out. The women tried the other two taps, and even the manual hand pump. The water that came out was dirty brown.
Mama pulled me aside and spoke urgently in Southeen language “Bring all the large containers in the house. Let’s fill them up… just in case.”
When I returned, I saw that several other people had brought containers. They pushed ours away. Soon a sizeable crowd was jostling and arguing for a chance to get at the tap.
“Southeens are thieves,” somebody shouted.
An elbow whacked the side of my face.
‘’Whoooi! They are killing my child!” my mother wailed. People joined in the fighting. Grown men and women, and their children shoved, kicked and shouted. A sharp whistle rang out.
Someone shouted, “Police! Police!”
The police chief inspected the broken pump handle, twisted tap, overturned containers, and spilled water. The water engineer arrived. He examined the gauge and checked the numbers against the register.
“This is odd.” He said. “The gauge shows a huge drop in the water level. It is as if the water was sucked out overnight. But how can that be? This could be a catastrophe.”
“No one, and I mean no-one, has permission to draw water until further notice” the police chief announced. The police chief asked for volunteers to help police guard the borehole. I raised my hand, but instead, he picked my brother, Jako. I sneaked out of the house that night to join them. From a distance, I spied on my brother and the police officer on duty. They looked bored. As I approached them, I heard an eerie, high-pitched voice.
“Human, can you hear us?” the eerie voice asked.
“Of course, I can hear you,” I said.
“Shida One, the human can hear us”.
“Shida Two, suck his water source.”
“Shida One, he seems to have a barrier. I cannot suck him.”
I looked around, but saw nothing to explain where the voices were coming from. I shouted,
“Who are you?”
“Shida Two, let us suck the other one.”
That is when I saw my brother collapse.“What have you done to Jako?” I shouted. “Why?”
“We want to suck all the water!” The Shidas said, as they emitted high-pitched laughter.
“Human, you must not interfere with our plan. If you want to save your brother, get rid of the
I did not wish to become an AKA. My name is Shana, and I am an ordinary twelve-year old girl who likes to sing, eat sweet things and play with my friends. What most people notice when they first meet me is that I wear very thick glasses. If they look closely, they see that I do not have one eye. Although my vision is limited, my other senses are well developed. In fact, if I concentrate really hard, I can hear other people’s thoughts as they move from the subconscious level to the conscious. That is my special power.
I was walking home from school when I sensed a strange presence around me. What was odd was that it made no sound. It blew hot, dry air in my face. I opened my mouth, but the saliva dried up and the scream died in my throat. I tuned into my senses. I heard a thin mechanical voice, actually two voices, one higher pitched than the other.
“Shida Two, I am trying to suck the water out of this human but there is resistance.”
“Shida One, we must get rid of resistant ones. They will endanger our plan if they get
“Shida one, the other one is coming. It will finish this one.”
I heard the rustle of grass. I saw a boy walking towards me. He was screwing his face.
“I can do it. I can do it. I can do it,” he chanted,
“I can do it…” He was clearly urging himself to do something.
The two eerie voices spoke in tandem. “Chop her now. Chop her now.”
“Don’t do it!” I shouted. “They are trying to control you.”
The boy grabbed my shoulder. I sensed his other hand coming towards me. I ducked, and kicked his shin. His blow landed on my arm. I leaned forward, sank my teeth into the back of the hand on my shoulder. He yelped.
“Tosha!” Another boy rushed towards us from the path ahead.
He yelled, “Tosha, don’t!” as he launched himself at Tosha’s back. He wrapped his arms around him so that Tosha couldn’t
move. From his accent, I could tell he came from a posh background.
“Shana,” I said. “How do you know about the Shidas? What did you plan to discuss with me?”
“You can hear what the Shidas are thinking?” asked Tosha, in a shocked whisper. “You, of all
people, can read their minds?”
“Disability is not inability,” I blurted. “Being half blind is not the same as being stupid!”
Tosha pulled away from Pato and raised his arm in a karate position. He was about to attack me again. Then I felt the dry heat crackle around us. The Shidas had come closer. Tosha suddenly slumped against Pato. “Water, water,” he gasped. He fell.
“Shida Two, this is strange, I am finally getting through to his water store.”
“Shida One, it seems when he attacks the other resistant ones, it lowers his barrier.”
“Shida Two, then let’s suck hard while they attack each other.”
I repeated what I’d just heard out loud. What did it mean? Did our negative thoughts about each other have the power to destroy us?
“Give me your hand,” Pato said, holding out his own. “We have to create a barrier around him or as you heard, the Shidas will suck out his water.”
As I gripped his hand I felt an incredible burst of power. I felt a glow, a shining aura around us, a though a force field surrounded us. It even covered Tosha.
“Shida One, I’m hurting.”
“Shida Two, let’s get out of here!”
The taste of blood filled my mouth. I spat it out at the boy who had attacked me. I could hardly see the stranger, so I tuned into his mind to sense if he was also planning to attack me. I heard his thoughts. Why is Tosha behaving like an idiot? I told him not to do anything about the Shidas until we’d talked to her. Now she’ll be suspicious…’ I felt relieved but tried not to show it. For some reason, I wanted to seem cool. “Who are you?” “My name is Pato and this is Tosha,” he said. “What is your name?”
Tosha could hear and talk to them. Shana could read their minds. I could see them. I also noted other similarities between us. We were all twelve. We’d grown up in this town and loved it with all our hearts. We came from the three communities that lived in our town – Shana was Centreen, Tosha was Southeen and I was Northeen. Surely, I thought, if we united and used our special powers, we could stop the Shidas before they sucked us dry and destroyed our town.
The police chief and her officers used maximum force to break up the riot. Determined to get to the bottom of the mysterious disappearance of water, he ordered everyone to attend a baraza at the borehole. A wall had been erected around the perimeter of the borehole. It was guarded by policemen, who held big guns. Most people stood in small groups of family or friends from the same community. There was hostility in the air. I felt a prickling sensation under my skin. An eerie chill went through me. I saw Shana rub her temples. Tosha froze and stared at me, looking frightened.
“The Shidas are here,” Tosha said. “I feel their presence.”
“Shh. Let me listen to their thoughts,” said Shana.
Then, I spied a weird shape staring at the crowd, a silvery outline made up of two roundish, transparent blobs joined by a long trunk. The creatures floated just above the ground. Their skins simmered with boils of different sizes. They floated around the space between the police officers and the rope perimeter, surveying the crowd. Was it my imagination or were the Shidas getting bigger? I shivered. Were they sucking the crowd?
How does the story end? Use your imagination and tell us in the comments section what happens next. Do you like the story? do you want the book?