- See Also: Minor Characters in Lea's Stories
Chapter By Chapter Summary
Chapter One: The Adventure Begins
Lea is packing for a trip to Brazil when her dad reminds her not to forget her camera. Lea reminisces for a moment about loving photography ever since her brother Zac gave her his old one when she was six, and winning third place in a national children’s photography contest with her photo collage of her hometown; St. Louis, Missouri. Those pictures were taken with the camera Lea’s grandmother gave her for her tenth birthday--the same camera Lea packs into her suitcase along with a sea turtle identification book, new bathing suit, and of course her passport. She looks forward to leaving the late-January chill behind but is interrupted by Dad, wearing an over-the-top hiking outfit. Dad jokingly asks if Zac will be impressed and Lea, playing along, says he will. She remembers tagging along after Zac when she was little, earning the nickname “Cricket” because she was always “chirping up”. Lea had missed Zac terribly when he’d gone away to college in California, and even more once he decided to take a year abroad in Brazil to study the rain forest. Lea finishes packing her suitcase, and looks at it a moment. The case is covered with stickers from faraway places and once belonged to her grandmother Ama, who had recently passed away, leaving the suitcase and her compass necklace to Lea. At that moment, Mom comes in with a stack of three books tied together with an orange ribbon. She explains that they’re Ama’s travel journals and that Ama wanted her family, and Lea specifically, to have them. Lea asks if Mom read the journals, and Mom says she has--that unlike most retirees, Ama had only become more adventurous with age, traveling all over the world and trying as many new things as she could. Mom tells Lea that Ama had mostly been a stay-at-home mother, but even as a child she (Mom) could tell that Ama had “that spark”, like Zac and maybe even Lea. Lea remembers a day in kindergarten when she told her grandmother she wanted to be just like her. Ama had replied that she wanted to be just like Lea, and had even begun wearing her hair in the same two braids Lea had. Even when Lea stopped braiding her hair, Ama had kept the style. Lea decides to bring Ama’s journals with her to Brazil and read about her travels along the way.