I read it in grade school- it was one of a number of short stories in my McDougal-Littell literature textbook. I recall other stories in that textbook included "All Summer in a Day" and "Flowers for Algernon."

In the story, a woman reminisces about her childhood, during which she spent some time at the sea shore. She thinks fondly about the waves and digging for shells in the sand. She has a conch shell from this outing, which she has kept for many years, and she likes to listen to the sound of the waves from the conch.

She has not been able to go back to the sea shore because the acid rains and toxic atmosphere have killed all life that is not in a controlled, sealed environment- she herself needs to wear a space suit to venture outside. The reason might have been related to climate change?

In the end, she nostalgically decides to return the conch to the sand by the sea.

What's the name of this story? I've searched for keywords and for a table of contents from McDougall, but I haven't been able to find it again.

  • Hi, welcome to SF&F. What year would this have been, approximately? Do you recall what grade it was? Those textbooks are graded, so if we can narrow it down to grade and approximate year of publication that will make searching much easier.
    – DavidW
    Oct 13 '20 at 21:40
  • It would have been in 6-8 grade, approximately 2008-2011. I think it might have been the 1999 edition, because the blue cover looks familiar, but I'm not positive. ebay.com/itm/…
    – lit_lover
    Oct 13 '20 at 21:49
  • Posting to confirm it's definitely the 1999 edition- the 7th and 8th grade textbook covers also look familiar
    – lit_lover
    Oct 13 '20 at 22:02

Looks like The Sand Castle by Alma Luz Villanueva.

Readable online here: https://www.paulding.k12.ga.us/cms/lib/GA01903603/Centricity/Domain/2941/SandCastleStory.pdf

Appears to be the 6th grade book: https://www.classzone.com/books/language_of_lit_gr06/page_build.cfm?content=overview_p2_u4&u=4

Masha knew they were squabbling because they hated to dress up to go outside. The clothing, the gloves, the goggles, were uncomfortable and cumbersome. She sighed, tears coming to her eyes. Well, they’re coming, Masha decided. They can remove their goggles and gloves on the bus.

Masha sighed with a terrible, sudden happiness as she brought out the plastic bag. Quickly, she removed each precious seashell from its protective cotton: eight perfect shells from all over the world. “But grandmamma, these are your special shells! You said the sea doesn’t make them anymore....”

  • 2
    That's it- Thanks! I misremembered that it was just one shell, and that the woman was alone.
    – lit_lover
    Oct 13 '20 at 22:07
  • theres a Carol Emshwiller story along those lines too, called "Day At The Beach" IIRC Oct 17 '20 at 10:15

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