Everyone loves Sebastian. Immediately you can feel his good nature. His gentle smile takes you by surprise and leaves you feeling calm and happy.
Sebastian comes from a large family. In addition to his mom and dad, he has brothers and sisters—too many, in fact for him to recite all their names at once. By age, he lands right in the middle. Some kids would feel they don’t get enough attention being in the middle, but Sebastian loves being in the middle. Why? People are so busy noticing the eldest and the youngest children that Sebastian gets away with a lot!
Besides, he wouldn’t want to be one of the eldest kids, who are held to higher standards. They are expected to behave as proper role models for their younger siblings. They must work extra hard and do especially well in school, and they must always help at home. Often, they are busy babysitting the younger ones. There is one thing Sebastian would like about being older among his brothers and sisters: They do get to choose first when anything good or extra is going around. And being one of the youngest would not work either. Sure, his little brothers and sisters are often spoiled, because they are too cute, but Sebastian prefers to have fewer eyes on him so he is free to do as he pleases!
Sebastian’s dad works as a lumberjack, which means he chops down trees. The trees are then cut into long boards called lumber. The lumber is later used to build things, like houses and furniture. During the felling season, when trees are harvested, Sebastian’s dad lives in a lumber camp in the mountains with other lumberjacks. The felling season begins after the snow and ice melt in spring and ends when the weather turns chilly in autumn. Usually, the camp is hot and uncomfortable with gnats and mosquitoes—the kind of bugs that like to bite! Since the cold and ice make a lumberjack’s work too dangerous, Sebastian’s dad returns home to live with his family in the winter.
This is where Sebastian and his family live.
From time to time, Sebastian’s mom plans a family day trip to visit their dad at the camp. She prepares enough bread, cheese and pies for the entire family. Once all the food is packed and each child finds a space on their two horse cart, the journey begins.
At the start of their journey, the road is a flat dirt road, stones and gravel. Later, it becomes a little lane. Wagon wheels from other horse carts have left behind two, continuous rows of hardened mud with grass growing in between them. As they ascend the mountain, however, the lane turns muddy. Every now and then, the horses miss a step and stumble. And of course the horse cart rocks, it is important to be calm and still during this part of the trip.
Archie the horse, Sebastian's friend pulls the horse cart.
The last part of the journey is the slowest and bumpiest as they enter the forest. Trees border the narrow trail on both sides. It feels like you are traveling through a dark green tunnel that will never end—until, out of nowhere, streams of sunlight poke through. That’s the clearing for the lumber camp!
Only the lumberjacks venture higher up the mountain, where the felling takes place. When a tree comes down it comes down hard, first there is a loud crack and then a heavy thud! Nobody wants to be caught under a falling tree. Therefore Sebastian and his family wait at the base camp, but this gives them time to prepare a lunch and of course make a pot of hot coffee.
Sebastian is always excited to see his dad, however he was especially close to his grandfather. Those two shared a special bond. They also shared a secret.
Sebastian’s grandfather gave him a key, it was not a big key but it did have a lot curls and swirls which made it look unusual. At the time, Sebastian had to promise never to tell anyone. When the time was right, he could tell only the next family member who would be the next keeper of the secret key.
What’s special about a key? Why keep it a secret?
Sebastian’s key opens a special door, a door that only the keeper of the key can see.The door, in fact, appears only when the keeper asks for it.
Where does the door lead?
Where is the most fascinating part of it all: The key holder determines where.
For Sebastian, the key unlocks a door to an unusual animal kingdom. In Sebastian’s forestland, he can talk to every single animal. His senses are so powerful that he can also spot each one, even those hiding under rocks, in dens and behind trees. Also spectacular is his ability to become any animal he chooses, such as a bear or a falcon.
Sebastian’s grandfather had a different experience when he held the key. Then, the key opened a door to ….