A Fine Feathered Friend

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Our 9-year old has a friend.  She is kind and helpful and talkative and always, I mean always, smiling.  We took them to dinner with us over the weekend and just marveled at their natural companionship, just how comfortable they are in each other’s presence.  We went for a walk after dinner and the girls were very excited to find a peacock feather, the very one you see in the picture above.  Though her friend found it and took it home that evening, when our daughter saw her the next day she received this pen as a “just because” gift.

This little present stands out in my mind for one reason – my wife and I saw how special this find was in the eyes of both little girls.  They were mesmerized by its brilliant color and fascinating, stylish design.  They were intrigued at how such an exotic bird might have wandered into the area that we were walking through that evening – the Bricktown RiverWalk in our city.  The girls spoke of little else once they discovered this single feather.  It became a wonderful token of a happy evening among friends and family.

But to have it returned and recreated in a new way especially for our daughter by her closest friend, well, you should have been there.  It meant so much more to her and was received with such surprise that her friend was as happy and surprised at its giving.

It all makes me stop and think about how a “just because” kind of gift can make all the difference in the world.  It is the stuff of a great friendship, no matter how old you are.

 

‘Friendship’ – Thursday Stories with Baby Frederico

Baby Frederico sat quietly on the back row nearest the exit. It was his first official day at camp and he was worried. Every other camper in the room seemed to have a thousand friends, and he had not even one.

Camp was not something he had wanted to do, but Mama had insisted on it. “Just try it,” she said. “If you go this one time and don’t enjoy it, you don’t ever have to go again.”

And now, here he was. Alone. Friendless. Homesick. Hungry. Sleepy. Grumpy. “Hey,” he said to himself. “I sound like I’m becoming all those dwarfs in Snow White!”

Before he could stop himself, he laughed…out loud. He was immediately embarrassed and his face turned from green to red in a moment. It was just then that he felt a tap on his shoulder.

“What’s funny?” said an iguana who was just a little taller and darker in color and sitting in the chair to Baby Frederico’s left.

“Oh nothing. Nothing at all. I was just thinking.” Baby Frederico couldn’t believe he had actually laughed out loud. He was embarrassed all over again.

“Anytime someone can think something so funny that it makes him laugh out loud, especially at camp, that’s a good thing. My name’s Rob.”

With that, Baby Frederico suddenly, without a bit of warning and simply because he accidentally laughed out loud, had a friend. Just one friend, that’s all it took. Just one.

Camp might not be so bad after all.

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‘Scaredy Squirrel Makes a Friend’ – Tuesday’s Look at THIS Book!

* Every Tuesday we introduce you to a favorite book from our secret book room.

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Today’s great book: Scaredy Squirrel Makes a Friend by Melanie Watt (2007, Kids Can Press)

Great Website: http://www.scaredysquirrel.com/aboutmw.html

Time to Read: short and very funny; we read it right after dinner

Summary:  from the website…”That lovable little worrywart is back. And he’s as scaredy as ever! In his latest adventure, Scaredy Squirrel sets out to make The Perfect Friend. And once he’s spotted a perfectly safe candidate (with no teeth), Scaredy’s ready. Armed with a name tag, mittens, a mirror and a lemon, he’s prepared to make The Perfect First Impression. But just when every detail is under control, Scaredy’s Action Plan takes a surprising — and “toothy” — turn. Will he survive this ordeal? Will he find his kindred spirit? Will he discover the true meaning of friendship? Read Scaredy’s nutty story to find out…

Best Quote from the Book:  “If all else fails, play dead…”

Our View:  Among the great 1st grade teachers of the century is Kathleen Brannen.  She has been our friend since Claire was in her class nearly a decade ago and she has shared so many good books and ideas with us – and the Scaredy Squirrel series of short books are among our newest favorite!   This is the story of one scared squirrel who has learned to handle his fear by simply having a plan.  The plans are hilarious and they are drawn in map form in detail on the pages of this wonderful story.  Watt is not only a fine storyteller but a master illustrator for young children and their dads, and this book is a treat in every way.  If your children have any fears, we happily recommend this book because it helps the reader understand courage and making a plan.  When the plans don’t always work out as expected, Scaredy Squirrel does a super job of rolling with the punches (in this case, energetic dogs in parks).  I only wish I had heard about this series sooner.

Favorite Illustration from the Book:

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‘A Friend In Need’ – Thursday Stories with Baby Frederico

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*Every Thursday we introduce you to another quick bedtime story about our family’s favorite resident reptile – Baby Frederico. His backstory can be found here.  Enjoy!

 

Baby Frederico loves his Momma Mia and Papá Frita, his buddy Grenelda the Grasshopper, blue crayons, popcorn and…’Good Luck Charlie!’  Here is his story:

It was Friday morning and Baby Frederico was shivering as he stood at the bus stop waiting for his best buddy Grenelda the Grasshopper and the school bus.  The weather was cold and snowy, but not cold and snowy enough to close school and Baby Frederico was disappointed.  He knew that it would only take Grenelda and her funny stories to make him feel better.  Why was she late this morning?  If she didn’t arrive soon, the bus would come and leave without her and she might have to miss school.

Baby Frederico couldn’t stand the thought of it.  He was in the Third Grade and he didn’t have too many good friends to sit with at lunch or play with at recess.  Grenelda was his best buddy and she was great at it.  She knew just what he was thinking and laughed at the same things that he did and, when math was too hard or he didn’t do well on a geography map test, Grenelda was always there to help.  She was especially good at math and knew where every continent in the world was without even looking at a map anymore!  She was also the happiest friend he knew and she enjoyed reading and running and playing music and making up stories, just like he did.  No wonder they were friends…and no wonder Baby Frederico was worried that she was not going to get to the bus stop in time to make it to school.

Suddenly, there was the big yellow bus coming to a stop in front of him, and Baby Frederico could not see Grenelda anywhere.  When he climbed up the steps to look for a seat on the bus, his favorite Bus Driver smiled his usual great, big toothy smile and said, “Baby Frederico!  How are you doing on this bright and sunny day” (which he said even when it was not a bright and sunny day)?

“Not very well,” Baby Frederico grumped.  “Grenelda didn’t make it this morning so I am going to have to sit all by myself.  I’ll have to eat lunch by myself and play at recess by myself.  Why don’t you just take me home instead…”

The Bus Driver smiled and said, “I have just the solution to your problem my little green friend!”

With that, he looked in the long mirror above him and motioned to someone in the seat behind him.  It was a little green frog and he smiled timidly as the happy Bus Driver introduced him to Baby Frederico.  He said, “Baby Frederico let me introduce you to your new friend Noah.  This is his very first day to ride in a school bus and his very first day at our school.”

The Bus Driver turned to Noah and said, “Baby Frederico is something else.  He knows which seats are the softest and which windows are the easiest to open on my school bus, and he even knows all the shortcuts through the hallways and how to open just about any lock on a locker!”  He laughed as he pulled the big yellow school bus back onto the road.

Baby Frederico sat down beside Noah and introduced himself.  They talked and discovered all kinds of friend things about each other.  They both liked Avengers comic books and they were both in the third grade and they both even liked being green.  Baby Frederico thought to himself, “Maybe this day won’t be so bad after all.”

And guess what….he was right.