National Geographic for Kids

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Nature lovers and regular kids will find this site awesome!  It has information about animals, people and places,  it has stories and videos, activities and photos.

http://kids.nationalgeographic.com/

 

Fun Brain

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http://www.funbrain.com

Learning Arcades, Books and Comics, Fun and Games

About Funbrain

Funbrain, created for kids ages preschool through grade 8, offers more than 100 fun, interactive games that develop skills in math, reading, and literacy. Plus, kids can read a variety of popular books and comics on the site, including Diary of a Wimpy KidAmelia Writes Again, and Brewster Rocket.

Teachers and librarians can confidently encourage students to use Funbrain during their free time in class, assured that kids will enjoy an educational, safe online learning experience. Funbrain’s games help students build on what they have learned in class and acquire new skills in reading, math, and problem solving.

Parents can trust Funbrain to deliver a fun and safe experience for even the youngest children. The Playground helps parents introduce their preschoolers to the Internet and teaches them how to manipulate the mouse and keyboard. Selected by FamilyFunmagazine in its September 2010 issue as one of the top ten websites for kids, Funbrain is committed to providing a safe gaming environment that bridges learning and entertainment.

Switcheroo Zoo

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http://switcheroozoo.com/default.htm

 

Welcome to Switch Zoo
Play animal games, make new animals, solve jigsaw puzzles, learn about animals, join a quest, and more! Teachers—Visit Teachers’ Resources for lesson plans and more info.

ARKive – Images of Life on Earth

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With the help of the world’s best filmmakers, photographers, conservationists and scientists this website is a guidek jot the world’s endangered animals, plants and fungi. Great for research or just browsing.

www.arkive.org

 

TIPS FOR BUILDING A BETTER READER

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#1 READING STARTS AT HOME

Did you know that the most important teacher in your child’s life is you?  Half of a youngster’s mental ability is developed between birth and age four.  These are the times children spend with parents before entering school.

Reading is an important part of your child’s first six years.  A child who enters school with no favorite books, or doesn’t know some of the alphabet will ask fewer questions, use shorter sentences and have a shorter attention span in class.

Teachers are great but they can’t do it alone.  The fact is that kids who read outside of school do better.  If your child only sees books in the classroom they will grow up feeling like reading is work, rather than fun.

When you take time to read with your child, he or she becomes more enthusiastic and positive about books. Learning becomes easier.  Kids who read at home become more curious about the world around them, have better imaginations and are able to express themselves more clearly.

By reading with your child you share thoughts, and help your youngster grow emotionally and this brings you closer together.

And you just might learn something new yourself.

Live, Laugh, Read

Barbra Hesson, Librarian, Our Lady of the Evergreens

#2 – READING IS FOR EVERYONE

What about those students who are already at school?  Surely they’ve had enough of books all day.  However, children who don’t read at home will begin to fall behind some of their classmates.

Maybe you can’t read or write as well as you’d like.  By reading with your child you will not only improve their skills but yours as well.

Make reading time a family affair by inviting brothers, sisters, grandmas and grandpas to join in.

And don’t forget about Dad.  When dad participates it shows boys that reading is for everyone.  Break out the books on cars, rockets, dinosaurs and sports.

Remember your youngster is watching you. What topic interests you?  Even reading the newspaper or a magazine sets a good example.

Once you bring reading into your home you will find the magic in words.  They can take you anywhere, and they are everywhere.  Point them out on your way to school, work, and the playground, or as you head to your favorite library.

Live, Laugh, Read

Barbra Hesson

Librarian, Our Lady of the Evergreens

#3 -DRAW, TALK, COMMUNICATE

Scribbling and drawing are wonderful ways for your child to join in the world of reading and writing.  These squiggles and stick people will soon become letters of the alphabet and pictures that tell a story.

Give your child a place to write and draw, a dictionary, and have your computer in a common area so that you can check their progress and be close by to help.

Display their creations and put their name on it.  Every author, young or old, loves to see his or her name in print.

Of course there is nothing like having your own library card and exploring the shelves of a library.  Many libraries also have story hour, and author visits. It won’t take long for your child to feel comfortable around books.

Ask your child what he would like to read about and get the librarian to help you find what you are looking for.  Ask friends with children what they read and check websites and the newspaper for book reviews.

If you have difficulty reading, don’t feel bad, you’re not alone.  There are lots of things you can do to help yourself and your child.

Just talking, asking your child about their day and singing with them a song they learnt at school increases word power.

Don’t be impatient when your child asks questions.  Answer them as best you can or try to find the answer together in a book, or on a computer.  Ask them questions that require more than a yes or no answer.

You can share books on CD’s and enlist the help of an older sibling, friend or neighbor to read to your child while you listen in.

Live, Laugh, Read

Barbra Hesson

Librarian, Our Lady of the Evergreens

 

 

 

#4 SUMMER TIME AND THE READING IS EASY

Just because it’s summer doesn’t mean books have to be on vacation.

A long summer break can cause student learning to slip. Here are some things to make reading a fun part of your time off.

–         Start a children’s book club. Trade books with friends. This will help uncover great books you may not have explored while also cutting down on book costs.

–         Gather the kids or grandkids and head to a local park for an afternoon of reading. Sit in a circle and read the stories out loud, or spread out a couple of blankets so each person can read their own story.

–         Join the local library’s summer reading program

Connect read-aloud choices to summer activities. Read books about camping, hiking, skateboarding, whitewater rafting.  Don’t just stick to fiction.

–         Allow children to choose their own titles. It is equally important for them to read about topics that interest them, whether it is insects, dragons, or a favorite fiction series.

–         Help your child select books at a comfortable level. Summer reading should be fun and easy. Listen to your children read. If they read smoothly, and can tell you what they read, the book is probably at a comfortable level. In addition, teach your children to use the “Five Finger Rule” in selecting books: If they make 5 or more errors in reading a page, the book is too challenging.

–         Encourage your child to read the sports page, to check up on their favorite baseball team or to read children’s magazines.

Read a book and watch the video together. When you finish reading and viewing, talk about what you liked and didn’t like.

–         Pack books in your beach bag or put some in the car for short and long trips. Download an audio book free from the Public Library onto your Ipod or MP3 player.

–         Encourage your children to write this summer, too. From writing postcards to friends and relatives to keeping a journal while on a trip, summer presents unique ways to write about their own experiences. Take a disposable camera for them to use on vacations or day trips and they can create a book about their adventures.

What a great school year we’ve had! Thanks to everyone who helped out and supported our library this year.  Happy Summer to all.

Live, Laugh and Read.

Barbra Hesson, Librarian, Our Lady of the Evergreens

 

 

 

#5 IT’S NEVER TOO EARLY TO START

Your baby is ready to respond to your voice and your actions from day one.  You are his first teacher and your home is his first school.

From birth to age 5 your baby will learn more at home than at any other time in his life.

Introducing stories to baby encourages him to be comfortable with books and it’s a fun way to interact.

Up to six months it doesn’t matter what you read.  Small sounds from baby will let you know he is enjoying himself and trying to mimic you.

After seven months baby can recognize faces, objects and voices.

He will love picture books with simple, bold, bright illustrations, and songs or rhymes. Board books or waterproof books can be touched and held without worry.

 

As baby begins to understand point out familiar objects. Run your finger along the text as you read and he will associate print with words.

 

Don’t be afraid to act silly! Change your voice, make it loud, make it quiet.  And don’t forget to cuddle and tickle.   Have books in every room.  Talk back to baby when he makes sounds and ask him questions.  “Show me your foot, where is your nose?….”

There are many awesome interactive books on the computer, use them as well.  But nothing beats one on one time. The main thing to remember is learning can be FUN for both of you.

Live, Laugh, Read.

Barbra Hesson, Librarian, Our Lady of the Evergreens

 

#6 READING IS A GROUP ACTIVITY

Reading out loud is the best way to share a story.  Your toddler may not understand all the words, but hearing and seeing helps them learn what language is all about.

 

Start out with simple stories.  Books with lots of rhymes and pictures are a hit.  If there are repeating phrases, have your child join you in saying them out loud.  Use a hand signal to tell them when it is time to say the words.

 

Childrens’ magazines are a great way to hold a young child’s attention span.

 

Make sure you BOTH enjoy the story!

 

In your busy day you only need to find fifteen minutes.

 

Pick a time when you can both concentrate, with no interruptions.  Let the phone ring.  Your child will see that they are the most important thing at that time.

 

 

It’s drama time! Make your story exciting. Make sounds, sing a song, act silly and laugh.

 

Run your finger underneath the print as you read.

 

Encourage your youngster to ask simple questions, or ask them questions as you go to see if they understand the story, or just to keep interacting with them.  Have them tell you the story they see in the pictures.

 

Often you will be asked to read the same story over and over.  Soon your child will begin to repeat the story.  This is an important step.  Try leaving out the odd word and let your child fill it in.

 

Don’t force your child to read and stop reading when they loose interest.  Remember it is up to you to MAKE it interesting.

 

Read in different places.  Take books wherever you go.  Having books in the car can come in handy when you to wait in line-ups.

Whatever you do with your child, support their efforts.  A world of words is waiting for them one hurdle at a time.  Rejoice with them as they jump!

Live, Laugh, Read

Barbra Hesson, Librarian, Our Lady of the Evergreens

 

My Guardian- Chapter One- City Boy

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It looked safe enough. Mom would’ve had a fit if she knew I was this close to the water, but there was nothing to do in this dumb little town.

Gray weathered boards creaked as I walked down the center of the wooden dock. When I was halfway out I stood, feet wide apart. I leaned to one side and then the other, and watched as the water splashed higher and higher. I stopped moving and let myself be slowly rocked to a stop.

Not a sound, not a car honking, not a kid yelling, nothing. Even the air smelled different here; like trees and wet stuff.

Lying on my back I closed my eyes. Sharp slivers pierced my shirt and jabbed into my skin. I pretended I was floating on an inner tube, somewhere else, anywhere else.

I missed my friends and my old neighborhood.

We didn’t live by a lake, or have a whole lot of trees, but we could skateboard. We rolled every inch of pavement on our block and went to all the skate parks we could get to by bus. We even made a couple of awesome ramps.

John, Riley and I had spent afternoons screaming up the sides of those jumps and flying through the air.

We could have become professionals if Riley hadn’t broken his arm. After that, all the moms banded together and made us get rid of the ramps, but we still found things to jump off.

Just as I was starting to feel relaxed a hard stomp to my gut put an end to my daydreaming.

Gasping and curling into a ball I looked up and saw Bruce Danville smiling down at me.

I met Bruce the first day we came here. His mom was all, “so happy to have new neighbors.”

Bruce squeezed my hand hard when she told him to “be nice and welcome your new friend.” Right then I knew we weren’t going to be friends.

“Whatcha doing city boy, sun tannin?” Bruce kicked my feet.

I tried to think of an insult to spit back at him but I couldn’t breathe. He motioned to some kids on the beach to come and join him.

Great, I thought, one I could handle… maybe.

I recognized a few of them from around town, two girls and three boys. They looked like normal kids; bathing suits, bare feet.

I stood hunched over hugging my stomach

The smallest boy came forward and said “hi” all friendly like.

Bruce turned and stared at him. The kid’s smile disappeared and he stopped in his tracks.

“Hey guys, do you think city boy would like to go for a ride?”

No one answered.

Bruce started rocking the dock, like I had been doing.

Everyone fell to one side and then the other. The girls squealed and hung on to each other.

My stomach sloshed with every dip, but I kept perfect balance, moving my weight at the right time, like I was back home on my skateboard.

Bruce grunted as he leaned his large body down with each drop. The others screamed and yelled at him to stop, and one by one they fell off. The small boy was the first to go.

It was down to Bruce and me.

“That’s enough Bruce,” one of the girls spoke up. Her long brown hair was in a braid. The skin on her face glowed pink beneath a summer tan.

“What’s the matter, can’t ya swim city boy? Are you getting scared?” Bruce leaned forward and gave me a hard push.

I fell back, but put my arms out and got my balance. “Oh I can swim alright.” I hoped he didn’t notice my shaking legs.

Well I could swim, a little. I had taken lessons. I just never seemed to be able to get past the second level. Back home we had a wave pool, but all I ever did was mess around on the inner tubes, so I guess you could say my swimming skills were a little weak.

“Oh ya, well why don’t you give us a demonstration?” He shoved me again and I stumbled closer to the edge.

“Leave him alone Bruce.”

“What’s the matter Leslie? You got the hots for city boy?”

Leslie’s face turned pinker.

I looked at Bruce, and standing right next to him like that I realized something. He had to look up, to stare me in the eyes, and for a second I felt a little brave. But he wasn’t skinny like me. The muscles in his arms went hard when he lifted his hands to his head. He laughed and ran fat fingers through black bristled hair.

“Okay, okay,” he said smiling, “I’m just kidding around.”

He stopped moving and we waited for the dock to level. I never took my eyes off him. I tried desperately to think of something to say back at him, but in my trembling body, my brain was empty.

He walked towards me with his hand out.

Did he think I wanted to shake his hand? My heart pounded. I put out my hand.

That’s when he grabbed me, and started to push.

I leaned against him but he was strong. I shoved and felt him slip back a bit. I smiled. But that only made him madder and more determined.

“Knock…..it……off!” I grunted.

“Look out everyone city boy’s going for a swim.”

As I fell off the dock I reached out to grab his shirt, but it tore in my hand and my head smacked the edge.

I felt the cool water, held my breath, and when I closed my eyes I saw flashes of light. I told my legs to kick but they wouldn’t listen. My lungs grew hot and my stomach rolled.

Dear God, please help me.

I thought about mom and dad, and my baby sister Tara; the new house, the move. Was this it? Surely someone was going to help me.

Please somebody, help. Help me out of this, I don’t want to die. I’ll do what ever it takes. I won’t complain anymore.

I opened my eyes. The water was swirling and murky. I squinted and saw something move. Somebody was coming to help. Yes, I knew it.

It was a big bulky shape. Even if it was Bruce I didn’t care.

Arms and legs moved above me in a blur as it got closer. But something wasn’t right, the shape, it wasn’t human. It wasn’t a fish, it was partially above the water, but it seemed to have black seaweed flowing from it.

I back-pedaled and pushed away with my arms.

I went nowhere.

It dove towards me.

A long snout, strange large ears, claws scratched my skin. A large jaw opened and jagged white teeth clamped down.

My Guardian – Chapter two – It’s in my room!

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I waved my arms in front of me to hold off the attack and let out my breath.

Air. I gulped air!

I shivered but I felt warm. Was I ..?

“No,” I shouted, but it only came out as a hoarse whisper.

My hands shook as I felt my way up both arms, patted my legs, my chest. I felt my face, my eyes, and my head. Pain jolted through my body.

A blur of movement circled my head. I blinked and wiped my eyes.

The airplane mobile I had made in Grade 4 floated above me. Again I felt around with my hands. I had my pajamas on and there was a puffy quilt under me. I carefully lifted my head and saw my baseball card collection spread out on the floor, my Classic Car posters on the wall. I heard the country station Mom always listened to on the radio.

Then I realized I was still in hell; a small town called Sheridan Springs, population 408, with a bully named Bruce.

I banged my fist into the mattress and regretted it as my head exploded.

I turned my face into the pillow and lay quiet till the banging stopped.

I started to remember something about the lake. I was on the dock dreaming, minding my own business when Bruce came by playing the big tough guy. The other kids were scared and laughing at the same time. Something wasn’t right. Bruce and I wrestled around, I fell in, then I saw…. the creature!

I must have passed out again because the next thing I saw was mom and dad. Mom’s eyes were watery and red. I counted four wrinkles across her forehead.

“How ya doing Sport?” Dad hadn’t called me Sport for a couple of years. His whiskered face seemed a little darker.dad-doctor

“Trevor, look me directly in the eyes,” His doctor voice took over as he flashed a small pen-like flashlight in my eyes. I couldn’t tell what he saw, but he gave me a quick grin, so I figured it wasn’t anything too serious. “Maybe we’d better sign you up for more swimming lessons,” He scrunched up his nose and closed his eyes as three sneezes blasted from behind his hand. “Whew, I hope I haven’t caught anything.”

Mom frowned at him then turned to me. “How’s that bump on your head?” She pushed an ice bag onto the swelling lump.

I cringed.

“Keep that on there for a while Trevor. You sure gave us a scare. What happened, what were you kids thinking?”

“Mom, no one was thinking! Just shoving! I can’t stand this place. Why did we have to move anyway?”

“Oh Trevor, don’t start that again. Accidents can happen anywhere.”

“Mom, it wasn’t an accident!”

She wasn’t listening. “Things will get better, just wait. Let’s not argue, okay? What can I get you? Are you hungry?”

The chime of the doorbell interrupted her fussing.

“Oh dear. Hang on a sec Trevor, I’d better get that.”

Mom ran out the door, like she wanted to go off and cry some more. She accidentally kicked a CD I had left on the floor, but she didn’t stop.

Dad went over and picked it up, along with my backpack and a car magazine, and put them on top of my dresser without saying a word about the mess.

He sat on the edge of my bed, lifted the ice pack, and poked at the lump that was becoming my second forehead. I wanted to scream at him again and blame him for everything.

He leaned towards me and took a deep breath. He was going to say something. Maybe tell me he had made a mistake, and was sorry, we would move back.

“Well, Trevor,” he said, “I’ve checked you over and everything seems to be in the right spot.” He chuckled. “I think what you need is some rest and, when you’re feeling a bit better, maybe some fuel in that body of yours.”

I nodded. Ya sure, what did he care?

“Let your mom know if you feel any nausea or dizziness. Get some rest, but we don’t want you sleeping for long stretches at a time. I’ll check in on you when I get home from work. Okay sport?” He was caught by another series of sneezes.sneeze

I gave him a weak smile and pointed to the tissues on my dresser. He nodded and grabbed a handful.

Mom came back and he put a hand on my shoulder and gave it a hard squeeze. “See you later.”

“Thanks for coming,” mom whispered to him. Giving Dad a hug on his way out she added, “And don’t you go getting sick on me too.”

And like nothing had ever happened; like it was another wonderful day in the good old country, she looked at me and said, “oh, Trevor dear, one of your friends is at the door. He’s wondering how you are. He seems to be concerned about you, but it’s up to you. If you’re not feeling up to it I can tell him to come back.”

What was she talking about?

” Um, what did he say his name was again? Oh yes, I remember. He said it was Bruce.”

“Ahhhh, no! Just leave me alone, I don’t want to see anyone.” I turned away.

Mom didn’t say a word, but I heard her sigh. She tapped the bag, gave me one last smile, then left my door open a crack.

When she was gone I threw the ice pack on the floor. My whole life sucked. My head screamed, and my stomach gurgled. I felt like I was back on the dock. A bitter taste filled my mouth.

I closed my eyes. I wanted to just block everything out and go back to dreamland, maybe hang with my old buddies again, but I had a feeling that someone was in the room. Oh it had better not be Bruce. If mom let him in, that’s it, I was going to freak out.

“Mom, is that you?”

I looked around trying not to move too much.

A black shape crouched in the corner by my desk. I sat up, but immediately fell back down holding my head.

As I fought to keep my eyes open I got a good look at it. Black fur covered its body. I saw a head and ears; a tail twitched, a long black snout sniffed the air.

I could hear it panting. I remembered the teeth.

It was a dog! A big black, wet dog?

My Guardian – Chapter Three – Gabe

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I decided not make any quick movements or loud noises.  Where did he come from?  The window was open but I was on the second floor!window

And could a dog get past mom and dad?  I always wanted a dog, but dad was allergic. Wait a minute, dad was sneezing! Was the dog here the whole time?  Maybe it was a rescue dog.  It had a strange white pack on its back.

In a scratchy voice I whispered, “Hello fella, are you a nice boy?”

Its big tail swished back and forth, spraying a mist of water. I patted the top of my quilt.

He came right away and stood at the edge of my bed.  He was as tall as the top of my mattress. He seemed friendly, and I didn’t feel scared at all.

“Come on fella, its okay,” I patted the bed again and he sprang up in a single easy leap.

His fur was kinky and damp, and he smelled like stinky old pond water.  I reached out to touch him and a pink tongue escaped from his mouth.  I jerked back.  He panted and looked at me.

I took a deep breath and scratched at the black fur on his head and under his chin.  I didn’t realize I was holding my breath until I began to feel light-headed.

I exhaled and reached for his back. My hand passed over his head, down his neck and onto his shoulders.  When I touched one of the white lumps I knew right away it wasn’t any kind of pack or life jacket.  My head pounded as I moved to get a closer look. My eyes blurred, as my brain said no way. Thousands of tiny feathers!

I glided my fingers over each rounded wing hump and down to the very tip. He didn’t move.  The wings were folded under like a bird.  I felt dizzy.
“Hey fella, where did you come from?”  I thought back to the dock again and tried to relive everything that had happened.  I don’t remember seeing a dog anywhere.  I had seen some white birds. I remembered the kids, and the fall.  My head hit the dock and the murky water.    But in the water, I had seen something.  Maybe it was a hallucination, and this is a continuation of it.  Whatever it was, I knew that this strange creature, real or unreal, had saved me.

You were the black thing in the water.  You saved me. Good boy, good fella.”  But how?  “You must have helped pull me out with the others.  They must have seen you too. They told mom they had saved me, hey boy, but it was you, wasn’t it.  You are a boy aren’t you?”

He wagged his tail in agreement.

I remembered my prayer, my promise. Maybe he was an angel. Maybe he was my guardian angel.

I scratched him behind his ear and he rolled over on his back wriggling and whining.  I laughed so hard my head began to ache again.

“Trevor?”  It was Mom, and by the thumping I could tell she was taking the stairs two at a time.  What was she going to say about all this?  Dad would never let me keep a dog, even if it had saved my life.

“Trevor, what is it? I heard you cry. What’s the matter?” She sent my bedroom door flying into the wall.

In a second she was at my bed feeling my forehead.   She picked up the soggy ice bag from the floor and I cringed as she placed it on my throbbing goose egg.

I waited for her to say something about the dog, but she just went on mumbling, and pulling at my blankets, trying to make me lay down. She never screamed, or jumped back, or said anything about having a dog up on my bed.

“Mom, do you notice anything… different?”

She looked at me scrunching her eyebrows together, “well, that bump is turning kind of blue, but you don’t have a fever or anything.  Does something else hurt?  Should I call your dad back in to have a look at you?”

“No Mom,” She didn’t see him at all, yet he was big as life on my bed.

“I know what you need,” she said, “some food in that belly.   “How about a sandwich?”

I wondered if my guardian needed something to eat too. “Uh, okay sure.” I hoped I wasn’t smiling too much, because she would think that knock on my head had made me crazy.  “Oh and mom, can you put lots of meat on it?”

When Mom came back I had the dog sit next to the table by my bed, where mom would be sure to see him.

sandwich plateShe came in and put the plate down with a glass of milk. “Here you go sweetie.” She patted my arm and that was it.

I reached over and lifted the top piece of bread. The smell of turkey, ham, and Swiss cheese made my mouth water, and she had made it just how I like; with tons of mayonnaise and a pickle cut up beside it.

“You try that out Trevor, and holler if you need anything else.”

She didn’t say anything else, just kind of backed out of my room with a weird worried grin.

This was some kind of dream, but it was cool. I wanted to jump around at the thoughts of my very own secret private dog! But when I sat up, I was reminded of what had really happened. The dizziness came back. Maybe I had bonked my brain so hard I was ready for the loony bin.  My stomach flip-flopped and a sour taste filled my mouth.

Whatever was truth or made up, I decided to go with the flow.  “Come here fella, would you like a bite?  Come on its okay.”  I tore a chunk of sandwich, and he moved closer.  He snapped clumsily at each piece until it was gone, and then he licked at the mayo around his mouth. He looked at me as if to say, “what’s next?” So I gave him the pickle and he made that disappear too just like a real dog.

“What’s your name boy?” I asked, wondering if maybe he wasn’t also a talking dog.  But he just tilted his head to one side.

“Okay, I guess I’ll have to give you a name myself.  Let’s see, what’s a good name for an angel dog, an angel name?”

The only angel I could think of was Angel Gabriel. Gabriel, hmm, that sounded heroic, or Gabe for short?

“Come Gabe.   Attaboy, come here.”

Gabe came over and licked my face with his rough tongue.  “Good boy, thanks for saving me.”  I desperately wanted to wrestle with him but I knew my body couldn’t take it.  “Maybe we can play later, Gabe.”

I couldn’t keep my eyes open. Gabe whinedtired

“No boy it’s okay.  Don’t go yet.  Is your time up?  But I still need you.  Please stay.  Please stay.”

My eyes grew heavier and heavier and the last thing I saw was Gabe sitting by my open window, his amazing white wings spread from tip to tip.

Chapter Four – My Furry Friend

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sunSunlight blasted into my room and birds chirped like mad.

My head felt okay, and when I sat up I didn’t feel dizzy. But man I was tired. Every time I fell asleep mom had woken me up.   And that dream. Was it a dream?  It all felt so real.

“Gabe, come on boy, are you still here?”  My eyes searched every inch of my room.

“Rats,” I said, banging my fist into the bed. The one good thing about this town and I imagined it all.

I swung my feet around onto the floor and into my slippers. Walking over to my dresser to grab some jeans I heard a thump on the closet door.  I pressed my ear up against it.

BANG, BANG, BANG!

I slowly reached for the doorknob.

Out came Gabe with a half-chewed sock in his mouth, blue threads caught in his teeth.socks

“Wa ha! So you are here, and you’re like every other dog.”  Inside the closet, socks lay tattered and torn into rags.

The mess didn’t matter.  Of course mom might think differently, so I stuffed everything under my mattress until I could sneak it all out.

Mom wanted me resting in my room one more day and I thought it was a great idea.  It gave me lots of time with Gabe.   I wasn’t sure how long he would be here.

“Let’s see Gabe, what’re we going to do all day?” I stared at him for a while and still could not believe my eyes.  Had he really saved me?  That reminded me that I had made some promises; to be a better person, and to stop complaining.  If I didn’t keep those promises it might be reason for Gabe to leave me.  He was the only friend I had in this town.

Gabe pushed at my hand with his nose.

I looked around and sighed.  I guess I could get started by cleaning this room.  Gabe could help.

I turned on my CD player and slowly increased the volume until it was loud, but didn’t hurt my head. I got out a big yellow plastic crate,  picked up my video game controllers and tossed them in.music

Pulling my new found furry friend close I said, “see Gabe, in the basket.  Put this stuff in the basket.” I spread my arms and turned around.

Gabe sat and watched.  Next I picked up some video games and chucked them in.

“See Gabe.”  But he gave me that sideways look again.

When I spotted the baseball I knew I had struck gold.  I walked over to him and gently forced his mouth open.  I placed the ball inside and when he had a good hold of it, I pointed towards the basket.

He sat and looked up to me and I pointed to the crate. To my amazement, he walked over to the basket and dropped it in.

“Yes, good boy.” I gave him a rub and we wrestled on the floor for a while.

Once I got him started there was no stopping him. He would see something and pounce on it, his rear end up in the air, and tail wagging.

My football was tricky but he managed to bite the very end.  But he couldn’t get a hold of the basketball.  Every time it rolled away from him he would let out a little whine.  He tried snagging it with one of his paws and pulling it to his mouth, but once he got it there he couldn’t get his mouth on it.  He put his nose to the ground and rolled it over to the basket. I picked it up and slam-dunked it for him.  Some of my stuff got a little dog drool on it, but I figured it was a small price to pay.basketball

When the floor was clear I walked over to my closet.  That was always the worst place.  Most of my stuff seemed drawn there as if there was a big dirt magnet inside. Things were piled so high I didn’t know where to start and I didn’t want Gabe slobbering on everything.  Mom would wonder why all my clothes were in the laundry hamper. I gave Gabe the first command that came into my head.

“Go Gabe, go dig.”  As soon as I said that, Gabe walked into the closet and began to scratch his paws on the floor.  A pair of jeans, and a mustard stained T-shirt flew through the air and hit me in the chest. Jackets, pajamas, socks, gray moldy towels and crumpled food wrappers shot out like they had been blown from a cannon. Some things landed on the other side of my room.   underwear A pair of underwear soared like a bird and flopped on top of my head.  I bent over holding my side and laughed into my hand.  I didn’t want mom bounding up the stairs again.

“Awesome job Gabe.” Too bad Gabe couldn’t fold.

After sorting my clothes into two piles; clean and dirty, the next task was a stack of dirty dishes.  I could see why Mom always said, “rinse your plates right away when you’re done.”  Bits of melted cheese and ketchup stuck to bottom, and the glasses had cloudy rings.

Then I got another totally brilliant idea.

I held a dish up to Gabe’s face and he licked it.  He couldn’t get everything off, but he made a great effort.  His pink tongue danced and slid into every corner reaching for the smallest of crumbs.  He even tried to lick everything inside the glass, reaching his tongue further and further.

We spent the rest of the day snoozing and learning new tricks. It was nice to be able to relax and not have to worry about being the new kid, fitting in, or pretending that I was cool.

I taught him to fall to the floor, and play dead, when I shot him with my finger.  I even got him to crawl on his belly when I told him he was only wounded.   Later I took the clean dishes downstairs and filled up the dishwasher.

Mom was ironing.  “Well, so you’re up and around. How’re you feeling?  You can come out of your room if you want; you look a whole lot better.  Well except for that big purple egg on your forehead.”

“Actually Mom, I’m feeling a little tired again.  I think I’ll read or have a nap.

“Read?” asked mom.  “Gee, maybe that bump on your head did you some good.”

“Ya right mom.” I rolled my eyes.

“Sorry buddy, just teasing.”

I hated being called “buddy,” as much as “sport.”

I was a little tired. In my room I called Gabe up on the bed.  He spun around and around, pushing the covers with his paws; first one way then the other.  After finding the perfect spot, he flopped down.

I put my head on the pillow.

I thought about tomorrow when I could take him outside and wondered if any one else would be able to see him.

I slept till supper.   I wasn’t hungry so I pushed the peas and meatloaf around on my plate until Mom began to clear the table.  I helped her load the dishes even though I was dying to go back and see Gabe.

Gabe dive-bombed me when I opened the door.

In the morning I was a little scared that maybe he wouldn’t be able to leave my room, but when I stepped into the hall and called him, he bolted ahead of me.

My stomach growled when the smell of bacon and toast hit me.

Mom had her back to me as she flipped pancakes at the stove. Sitting in her yellow flowered high chair eating bananas was my three-year-old sister Tara.  She squeezed them through her fingers and rubbed it into her fuzzy brown hair. She smiled at me as I came in and held out her goo-covered hands.

I froze when she looked at Gabe and said, “doggy, doggy.”

Oh no, she could see him.  I had forgotten about my baby sister.  She started giggling and saying “doggy” over and over, and she tried to get out of her chair.

“What the heck has gotten into her?  Tara, what are you saying? Trevor, help me, you always seem to be able to understand her. Why is she saying doggy?”

“I don’t know Mom; she must have seen one on TV.”   I lied, hoping it wouldn’t make Gabe mad, seeing as he was an angel and all.

“Well, Trevor what do you want to do today?  We can go to the mall, or the zoo, or maybe the arcade.  It can be your day, whatever you want.”

I knew Mom was trying to be nice, but I didn’t want to do anything today except stay with Gabe.

“Well, Mom, I just feel like hanging out.”

Mom got that worried look on her face. “Well okay, I did say it was your choice, just… don’t go near the lake, okay? Maybe your friend Bruce will come by, he said he would come back later.”

“Oh sure, great.”  He was the last person I wanted to see.

Gabe stayed under the table as I smothered my pancakes with syrup and wolfed them down.  They were warm and sweet.  I ate five of them.

Mom looked and me and shook her head.  “Guess you are on the mend.”

When I was finished, I lowered my plate to Gabe and he licked off the rest of the syrup. He kept slapping his sticky lips and tongue together, even when I took it away. I put the plate back up on the table as mom turned around.

“Trevor, gee, what’d you do, lick your plate clean?   I don’t know what’s happened to you since that accident, but it seems to have knocked some goodness into you.  I peeked into your room after you were in bed and I couldn’t believe my eyes.  It looks great.”

“Aahhh, no problem mom.”

I left the table in a flash and raced upstairs with Gabe at my feet.  I dressed as fast as I could and ran out the door before mom could change her mind, or decide she had better come with me.  This was the last day before school started and I wanted to stay away from everyone.  And I wanted to find out how special Gabe was.

Chapter Five – A Little Behind

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Our house was not only within walking distance of a lake but we also had a huge forest in behind it.  There were walking paths all through it, and I found one that led to an old fort some kid had made into a clubhouse. cabin The boards were soft and moldy, and some were missing and there were rusty nails sticking out everywhere, but I figured I could fix it up; get some new lumber; maybe find a piece of rug, and a lock for the door.  I could do it and it would be great, I knew that.  But I also knew I would need some friends for it to be a real clubhouse. I pushed that thought away and concentrated on Gabe.

Gabe followed me as we snooped around the fort and explored the forest.  When we came to a clearing I found a stick.  I waved it above his nose and he went crazy barking and jumping around.  He brought it back every time I threw it, getting just as excited as the first time.

My arm was getting sore so I decided to chuck it as far as I could to keep him occupied for a while as I caught my breath.  I brought it back and flung it forward with a grunt.   It flew high into the air and landed right in between two branches.

“Sorry boy, I guess that’s it for today.”

I sat down and expected Gabe to come and nudge me for more, but he didn’t.  He started to run toward the tree and that’s when it happened.

My mouth dropped to the ground as I saw him leap.  Huge white wings spread out from his shoulders and he flapped once, twice, and on the third he reached the branch, grabbed the stick and floated gently to the ground.

“Whoo hoo, Gabe.  That was awesome!”  I touched his wings folded tightly to his side, and I felt my eyes trying to leak.  It was weird.  I wasn’t sad; I guess it just hit me.  That he was no ordinary dog.

“Awesome,” I whispered as he dropped the stick at my side and lay down beside me.   I reached down and ran my fingers through his thick fur. He turned on his back and showed off his soft pink-skinned tummy.  It was warm and smooth.

I lay down beside him and gave and gave him a playful push and he rolled back over.  Before I knew what was happening he placed his front paws on my chest and was soaking my face with his tongue. We wrestled around for a while until I was laughing so hard I couldn’t catch my breath. I had to tell him “enough.”

I lay back down and Gabe rested his head on my stomach. Every time I took a breath his head moved up and down, his eyes always watching me. I think we both let out a sigh at the same time.

“You are some kind of dog, you know that.”

“Hey goofy, who ya talking to?  That bump on your head must have really screwed up that little pea brain of yours.”

That deep rough voice, that mean way of making someone feel small; I knew it was Bruce.  Where did he come from? Did he have some kind of radar on me?

Gabe sat up, and moved back, his ears flat against his head.

“Don’t worry Gabe, I won’t let him hurt you,” I whispered.

“Get away from me Bruce.  You could have killed me you know, you jerk.” I shouted at him as I stood up.

“It wasn’t my fault,” Bruce snorted, “as a matter of fact you should be thanking me for helping you to learn how to swim.”

“Ya, right. I sure learned how to swim. If it hadn’t have been for…” I glanced at Gabe, but Bruce didn’t follow my gaze.

I realized that Bruce could not see Gabe. What could I say, “a dog with wings dragged me out of the water?”

“Hadn’t been for what, that snotty little girlfriend of yours?  I was running home to tell my Dad. He would have come to save you.  He’s a top athlete you know.  I’m in training too; he kind of helps me out. I bet I could beat you at anything.”

Doesn’t this guy ever give up?

“Let’s have a race,” he said and gave me a shove.sjneaker

“Who cares about some dumb stupid race?  I got better things to do with my time.”  I didn’t, but doing anything that involved Bruce, win or loose, seemed like a waste of time.

“Come on you wussy, you gonna let one little bump on the head stop you?” He shoved me again.

Gabe growled, but Bruce heard nothing.   I knew the only way to get rid of Bruce was to do the race.  I didn’t even care if I won. I just wanted him to leave us alone.

“Okay, Bruuucie, let’s do it.”

“To that tree at the end of the clearing and back” he said.

“Whatever.”

At the count of three I took off.   However, Bruce took off at the count of two and a half.  He had a head start and I knew this race was all over before it began. My heart was pumping loudly in my chest and my breathing was short and quick, but after a few minutes it evened out.

As I rounded the tree, I caught up to him. He gave a loud grunt and tried to pull away, but his foot slipped on the grass.  Gabe was with us all the way, and he was so close to my heels I was scared I was going to step on him.

 

We had fifty feet to go when Bruce turned around and yelled. “Told ya, you wussy, you don’t have what it takes.”

I saw his eyes widen. The smile melted from his face when he saw how close I was.

Gabe pulled out in front of me and headed straight for Bruce. With a soaring dive Gabe’s teeth caught a piece of Bruce’s back pocket. I saw Bruce jerk back and look behind him, his eyebrows scrunched low.  He pumped his arms harder as Gabe put on the brakes.

“What’s going on?”  Again he turned.pocket

With a loud rip his pants and his pocket said good-bye to one another and he somersaulted to the ground.

“Yes!” I ran all the way to the finish and pumped my arm.

Bruce got to one knee and looked behind him to the right, to the left.  He stood up and spun around.  Staggering towards me he shook his head and frowned and for once didn’t have a smart thing to say.

I could see a huge hole down the back seat of his pants, where his pocket had been.

“Who’s the baby now? Better go fix your pants baby; I think you soiled your underwear.  I pointed and laughed so hard I cried.

“Good boy Gabe, good boy” I said as we stood and watched Bruce run for home, trying to hold his pants together.

As the day wore on I felt bad about what happened until I thought about the next day.  It was the first day of school.  School was Bruce.

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