a complex world we live in! And, as we all know, it grows
increasingly more complex with each day. In some ways this
is good, in others perplexing. Surely it must be especially
perplexing for the young, who must make sense of it all,
with ever increasing agility. Will they be able to increase
in this agility with each generation, and keep pace with
our world? One wonders. But one must also have hope, and
try to provide support and tools which may be of help to
once, in the "Ozzie and Harriet" world of the
1950's was simple (though one wonders if the world was ever
really as it was presented in the media of that time!) is
now much broader, much less clearly delineated, and contains
much more middle gray.
this increasing complexity is just the nature of life, and
in some cosmic way, our messy daily lives are simply giving
us this message more and more clearly. Or maybe the messiness
is an outer manifestation of our inner struggles. No matter,
it is no doubt difficult for the young to deal with and
understand this cosmic and temporal messiness, as it has
is an issue which is a perfect example of this cosmic and
temporal messiness. It is a tough one for adults as well
as children to deal with. It is the purpose of this book,
to help the young (and old folks, too, who might be reading
or reading to their young) to make some sense of this often
painful process. This story endeavors as well, to help young
and old alike hang on to some of the hope, optimism, innocence
and sense of magic and mystery which is deep inside of all
of us. Ideally, we all can hang onto these as we age.
trust, magic, love- we need these in abundance! No matter
our age in years, we need these qualities in us and in all
of our relationships. It is my prayer that this little story
will help you, and help readers of all ages to pull these
qualities up from the deep well that is inside each of us.
May you utilize and depend on these qualities as the great
mitigators, healers, and joy-bringers that they are. They
are all of these indeed, even in the midst of growing pains
of all sorts, troubled times, and difficulties in our relationships.
to you all
and Illustrated by
Michael D. Purvis
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by Michael D. Purvis
was a delightful young lady. She was nine years old and
was just beginning the fourth grade at her school, which
was down the street from the neighborhood in which she lived.
It was a wonderful little school in a small wooded area.
that she was a fourth grader, she was beginning to really
feel at home at her school. She had a wonderful teacher,
Miss Lansley, who had promised to read all sorts of books
to the children. She was currently reading "Wind in
the Willows," to them, which Penny loved, especially
the parts about a certain Mr. Toad and all his mishaps with
motorcars! Soon, Miss Lansley promised, the class would
hear "Stuart Little," "The Jungle Book"
and many other books. Penny could not wait!
loved hearing the imaginative stories Miss Lansley read,
but there were many other things she loved about the daily
time spent in her classroom. It was a truly fascinating
place thanks to her kind and fun teacher. There was so much
to see and do! There were wonderful, colorful bulletin boards,
areas for creating, spaces for discovering, and places to
play all throughout the classroom. There was never a dull
loved her teacher and her school. She loved the neighborhood
too in which her school and her home resided. And, she had
many friends. In fact, it was just the sort of place for
children to grow up in. Penny and her friends enjoyed its
tree lined streets and its big, sunny, grassy yards, filled
with places for hide and seek, and what seemed to them like
vast expanses designed especially for tag and games of softball.
they felt like feeling the breeze in their hair, Penny and
her friends would peddle all about the sidewalks of this
delightful, suburban neighborhood laughing and smiling with
delight, soaking up all the sunlight they could. And in
the evenings, they would play together and catch fireflies.
It was a magical place, though they did not particularly
think of it as so. It would only appear to them as such
in retrospect, when they were older, and viewed it through
the veil of time. To them, as children, it was simply home.
Penny knew, it would be autumn and Halloween would come.
They would all dress up on that night and go trick or treating.
She could see it in her mind's eye, even now. The evening
air would be crisp and cool and wind-swept. The sky would
be black as coal, with shining stars, and dried leaves would
blow about, making that particular, crackly sound that only
dead, brown, autumn leaves make when they dance in the wind.
It would be a night of intrigue and mystery. Oh how she
of course, Halloween would not be the only joy to come,
Penny knew. As the weeks came and went, there would be birthday
parties, events at school, and then Christmas would come!
Indeed, she was looking forward to these things.
have a wonderful life with my family and my friends,"
Penny thought with a smile, which seemed to come from someplace
way down deep inside her.
her? "And just where exactly, from way deep inside,
did this smile begin?" The more inquisitive sorts of
you might ask.
though it was difficult to pinpoint exactly, it began somewhere
deep inside her tummy and from there spread out in waves
to her entire body! And, this smile, in fact, was more than
just an ordinary smile, for it seemed to be leading Penny,
always a unique and perceptive girl, toward a rather special
feeling and conclusion, as she sat on the porch of her families'
cozy, brick ranch house this late summer day.
was not that this day was so different from others, really,
for she had sat on the porch and looked about her with interest
many times. The sights were familiar. She saw, for example,
just as on any other day, the texture of her home's red,
rough bricks. They were there as usual, looking just the
same, making her want to reach out and stroke their pocked
surface, as they always did.
green shutters were there too, an almost perfect match to
the lush, emerald lawn which her father so carefully cut
each Saturday morning. She closed her eyes and could see
him pushing the mower in his none-too-fashionable shorts,
which Penny teasingly called "Nerd-Dad" shorts.
She could see him, too, in his white tennis shoes and the
black socks which dads were evidently prone to wearing with
such shoes. (Well at least her dad was!) She watched her
father pass by in her imagination and loved him, nerdy shorts
and all. She could almost, even now, smell that peculiar,
delicious scent which came from the fresh cut grass and
yellow dandelions. She could see and smell all this and
more; and it was then that she realized what the smile that
came from inside her tummy was trying to tell her.
what exactly was this funny, out-spreading tummy-smile trying
cannot imagine any of these things which you love ever changing.
You will love them forever!"
Penny had to admit it was true. She did not want any of
this to change: not the red bricks or the green shutters,
not the large, old trees lining the streets of her neighborhood,
not the whooshing sound these green, summer leaves made
in the breeze as she and her friends rode by on their bicycles,
not Miss Lansley and the adventurous world of the books
she read aloud, not the smell of fresh cut summer grass
and dandelions, not even her father's silly, tall, black
socks and white tennis shoes, which made the other children
as it might seem, she realized on this particular summer
day, how she loved it all. Strangely, she had never really
thought in such a way before. It was, after all, just her
world. She supposed it was rather ordinary. And yet, nonetheless,
the little tummy-smile said:
up! Look about you! Take notice, girl!"
did. And, she was glad!
Michael D. Purvis