Once upon a time there lived a skeptical princess. She was so skeptical, in fact, that she didn’t believe in fairy tales! “I’m too grown-up for such nonsense,” she would sniff with her haughty little nose in the air.

One morning, down by the lily pond, she spied a golden ring, shining on a lily pad. It was shaped like a dragon and had a bright emerald eye. “Finders, keepers!” she crowed with satisfaction, for it coiled around her finger as though it were made just for her.

The very next afternoon she was complaining rather peevishly that she wished she had someone to play with, when suddenly the dragon ring spun around her finger and its emerald eye began to glow.
Below her window a little fool appeared, dressed in stripes and bells.
Now, this little fool was nobody’s fool. Not only could he sing and play the lute, but he was a juggler and acrobat too. So naturally the skeptical princess summoned him before the throne and decreed that he should be her very own little fool.

All went well—they went boating together and horseback riding…

…and played hide-and-seek and knights-and-dragons. They even had pillow fights!

Then one evening, long past bedtime, he told her this story:

                  “Once upon a time, in this very castle, there lived a crabby old wizard. He was crabby, people said, because in all his long life he’d never had a wink of sleep—which was no small misfortune for the kingdom because the crabbier he got, the more magical mischief he made.

                  “One summer night, in the midst of a blizzard he’d conjured up, a little weaver appeared, shivering, on his doorstep.

                  “‘If you will give me shelter, your wizardship,’ he said with a bow, ‘I’ll repay you with more than gratitude.’ And he spread before the wizard a beautiful cloak made of woven flowers.

                  “The crabby old wizard, who hated uninvited guests, snatched up the cloak and pulled it over his shoulders, without so much as a thank-you. As he was considering whether to turn the little weaver into a toad or worse, a sweet fragrance made him drowsy, and he sank to the floor in a swoon.

                  “When he didn’t wake up after a week or a month, there was bewilderment throughout the kingdom.

                  “‘Why, the cloak is woven of magical dream flowers,’ explained the little weaver, ‘and the wizard will sleep for as long as he wears it.’

                  “Then the people, rejoicing, decided there was nothing to do but proclaim the little weaver king and live happily ever after. And that is what they did, leaving the crabby old wizard to his well-deserved rest.”

“Wizards!” scowled the skeptical princess when the story was over. “I may believe in magic rings, but wizards? I’m too grown-up for such nonsense!” And she flounced scornfully off to bed.

That night she dreamed she was in a dark, spooky room, trying to find a spell to banish scary things. But when she woke up in the morning, the dream had faded from her mind.

Later that day, when she and her fool were playing hide-and-seek, the princess peered behind a tapestry and discovered a door and a passageway that led deep down under the castle to a musty room full of dusty bottles of powders and potions and old, yellowing books of spells.

She gazed around, perplexed, wondering why it all looked so familiar…until she saw a bulky shape under a flowery blanket. “I’ve found you, little fool!” she sang out, pulling the covering away.

There on a narrow shelf lay a withered old man. The next instant the wizard himself sprang to life, free from the spell of the magic cloak.

“Quick!” cried the little fool, jumping from his hiding place. “Wish him to sleep with your magic ring!”

But before she could, a great black bird flew from the folds of the wizard’s gown, plucked the ring from her finger, and swallowed it down. Furious about being wakened from a sound sleep, the wizard grabbed the princess by her collar and the fool by his cap, and, fuming and sputtering incantations, he flung them high in the air.

The skeptical princess and the little fool plopped down magically on the far side of the castle gate. Unfortunately, now they were dressed in rags, and everything around them had changed.

“Of all the impertinence!” raved the skeptical princess.

“Now do you believe in wizards?” sighed the little fool.

All that day they chased the raven—and never caught more than a tail feather.

That night the clever bird perched on a castle turret far out of reach.

“It’s hopeless!” wailed the skeptical princess.

But the dauntless little fool climbed a great tree and lassoed the turret with a vine. Then he tightrope-walked out to where the raven was sleeping. No sooner had he seized the raven than a gust of wind blew him off balance. The startled raven spit out the ring, and the skeptical princess caught it in mid-air.

“Let everything be as it was before!” she rashly pronounced.

The dragon ring spun around her finger, its emerald eye began to glow…

…and the next moment she found herself safe and snug in her own bed. The raven had vanished. But so had the ring…and the little fool!

Through all the cheerless days that followed, the skeptical princess missed the little fool sorely. Morning after morning at first light, she dashed down to the lily pond to see if the magic ring had reappeared on a lily pad. Night after night she started awake, thinking she heard singing, only to find, when she stumbled to her window that it was just the trilling of a nightbird or the whistling of the wind.

Weeks passed, then months, and the skeptical princess pined away of loneliness…

…until one brisk morning a small horseback rider came galloping over the hill.
“Why, you’re not the little fool,” she cried, blinking back tears as he knelt before her.

“But I am!” he protested. “Only now you must call me ‘Sir Little Fool,’ for while I was away I tamed a dragon and saved a kingdom, so they made me a knight of the realm.”

“A dragon?” the skeptical princess frowned. “I may believe in magic rings and wizards, but dragons? I’m too grown-up for such nonsense!”

And as many times as he told her the story, she always remained…

…a little skeptical.



In a faraway kingdom in a long-ago time, a baby was born—with a lock of yellow hair and eyes like bluebells—a boy so fair, he could only have been a prince. And since that is what he was—and bonny too—he was called Prince Beauregard, which means “beautiful.” At his first cry of life, trumpets blared, rainbow banners unfurled, and shouts of celebration rang throughout the kingdom.

A happy beginning, if that had been the end of it…but, of course, it wasn’t, for not five minutes later, in that very same bed, a twin prince was born—with a lock of yellow hair and eyes like bluebells—and, in the middle of his forehead, a small purple horn. No sooner did the queen set eyes on him than she fainted away, and the king set to roaring that this was no child of his but a thing bewitched, and before the queen could recover her senses, he had him whisked away.

“A horn?” you ask. A “bump” if you will—a nubble, a button, a defect quite small, if truth be told, and not worth a fuss, in my humble opinion, but I’m not a king, so what do I know?

Then the bonny baby was swaddled in the softest linen and lifted by his proud father to a castle window for his first view of the kingdom and its first view of him, while the beastly one was hustled to the stable, popped in a gunnysack, tied to a saddle, and ridden by a horseman straight out of the realm.

Well, the horseman rode hard and hardly glanced back, so he never noticed that when the bundle broke loose and landed in the road with a rather hard thump, an uncommon thing happened: the wee beast began to cry…and with his very first tears, his forehead flushed red, his horn set to glowing like a very hot coal, till crick-crick-crack, it magically sprouted a bit more from his brow.

Soon a traveling circus rolled up in three bright-painted wagons and stopped to see what lay wailing in the road. With “oohs” and ahs” they gaped and exclaimed and decided on the spot to claim him for their own.

And so it was that bonny Prince Beauregard wore lace-trimmed gowns and shoes of tooled leather and was borne everywhere in his parents’ arms, for they were so fond of him they could barely bear to put him down, except at night, under a downy blanket in a golden cradle, to be rocked and sung to sleep.

Meanwhile, his hapless brother, being only a beast, was bundled in rough skins and carted about in a straw-filled cage from town to town to be exhibited to crowds for a penny a peep. And needless to say, they were happy to pay…for when they poked and prodded through the bars of his cage and made frightful faces, what do you suppose happened? Why, with his very first tears, his forehead flushed red, his horn set to glowing like a very hot coal, till crick-crick-crack, it magically sprouted a bit more from his brow.

Time passed, of course—for who can stop it?—and little Prince Beauregard grew rosy and strong. He learned to crawl and then to walk and then to run and then to ride—his very own pony, with a gilded saddle and white-braided mane—and he did all these things most excellently, as befits a prince. But there was a thing he could not do—though the king coaxed and the queen wheedled and the court tried everything they could think of to tickle his fancy—he could not laugh. Day in and out—and month and year, too—his sad little countenance never changed.

As for the Beast Baby, he grew to be a Beast Boy and learned to do all the things his princely brother did, though it was no white pony he rode, but a great black bear. And, as if that weren’t enough, he learned the twitter of the bird, the chatter of the monkey, the roar of the lion, the growl of the bear—the languages of all the beasts, for they were the only family he knew—and he spoke to them as plainly as I’m speaking to you.

Now, it came to pass on Prince Beauregard’s eighth birthday that the circus was invited to entertain at court. And what do you think happened when a beastly boy, clothed all in skins, with a horn on his head, came riding out on a great black bear, and with a whisper, not a whip, made the bear twirl and the monkeys do somersaults and the birds fly through hoops and the lion purr? Were the king and queen pleased? Well, not one whit. The king shuddered and the queen covered her eyes with her veil, and though the little prince clapped his hands with glee and cried, “What a wonder!” the king ordered the circus players from his sight and charged them never to set foot in his kingdom again.

At this angry pronouncement, the Beast Boy hung his head, his eyes filled with tears…and, before the horrified eyes of the court, what do you suppose happened? Why, his forehead flushed red, his horn set to glowing like a very hot coal, till crick-crick-crack, it magically sprouted a bit more from his brow.

And so, in disgrace, he ran away from the circus to hide in the woods, where he thought no one would ever laugh and stare and taunt him again. But on the edge of the forest, a stonemason lived, who caught him in a trap and chained him to a boulder at the bottom of a pit and pressed him into hardest labor. Each dawn to dusk he had to swing a great pick, breaking rock for his cruel master till his little hands bled, living only on water and crusts of bread. Yet he worked with a will and shed no tears, except in his sleep, unknowingly. And each time he did, his forehead turned red, his horn set to glowing like a very hot coal till…well, I expect you can guess what happened next.

Soon his horn became so huge and heavy he could no longer stand but had to crawl about on all-fours like other beasts. Then he was good for nothing, so the stonemason split his chain with a grumble and an oath and set him free…and he crept deep into the woods, where he thought no one would ever find him.

One glorious summer morning, just after dawn, when the Beast Boy was singing with the first birds, bonny Prince Beauregard woke and heard a sweet chorus and slipped from his bed to get a better listen. From the hall to the garden, where a guard stood snoring, from the garden to the wood…one step led to another, as steps often do, and then he was lost, and oh, what a bother! He tramped and tramped, but only in circles. Then he climbed into a treetop—the very tallest one—from branch to jagged branch, to see if he could see the turrets of the castle, but all in vain. By now his fine nightgown was tattered and his bare feet bruised, for in his hurry he’d gone off without his boots.

And so when he came to a silver pool and he looked in and saw his own reflection, he hardly recognized himself, with his tousled hair and grubby cheeks…and, growing out of his forehead, a great purple horn. He blinked and stared and stared and blinked till the Beast Boy, who was hiding in the water, came up gasping for air. Then the little prince was so astounded he fell right in and would have drowned if the Beast Boy hadn’t caught him by his torn hem.

When the two had shed their dripping clothes and skins and shaken the water from their eyes, they looked each other over in wonder, for truly they were—eye for eye and nose for nose—even fingers for fingers and toes for toes—exactly the same. Now this was quite a conundrum, too much for two little boys to figure out, even if one of them was a prince, so the Beast Boy summoned the bear from her lair and the raccoon from his hollow and the beaver from her lodge and the fox from his den and the owl from her nest—for she was wisest—and asked them all how such a thing could be. And after much deliberation they gave their answer: “In our considered opinion you two are brothers.”

By then it was getting dark, for deep deliberations take time, so the two brothers curled up together under a great sheltering oak, as they had in their mother’s womb, and they dreamed the very same sweet dreams.

But back at the castle, things were in an uproar. When the king discovered his son was missing, he ordered his horsemen to search the kingdom from end to end and not show their faces again till they’d found him. When, by evening, not one had reappeared, the queen shut herself in her room and refused to come out, while the king beat his breast, convinced that goblins had stolen his beautiful son because he had tossed away his beastly one—and now it was his punishment to have no son at all.

The following morning the two brothers went hand in horn, one walking, one crawling, back to the castle, for the animals, who knew the forest like the backs of their paws, showed them the way.

When they reached the throne, where the king had sat up all night, so burdened with grief he could not get up, he threw open his arms to embrace them both—and sobbed so loudly he woke all the court in their beds. Then the Beast Boy wept too—a single tear, for he was trying to be brave. But with that solitary tear—of joy, not of sorrow—his forehead flushed red, his horn set to glowing like a very hot coal, till CRICK-CRICK-CRRRAAACK!—what do you suppose happened? Why, it magically broke off and clattered to the floor. So great was the happiness of the moment, Prince Beauregard had to smile, then to giggle, then to laugh, till his merriment filled the great hall like sweet music, and the queen and the courtiers came running in their bedclothes to see what had happened.

So it came to pass that the Beast Boy was no longer a beast, but a prince at last. He was called Prince Goodwin, or Winnie for short, which was his brother’s idea because it means “good friend.” And did they live happily ever after? Of course they did…as happily as two brothers ever have. And when as young men they came to rule, they ruled together as one king.



           Somebody Grab That Dog is the first children’s book I ever wrote.

                                                       Below is the dummy.





(ee & some ea words – long e sound)

      Jix’s pal Pog is free on the weekend, so they agree to meet by the creek to play hide-and-seek. Jix greets Pog with a belly bump. Jix is a jeek, and that is what they do.

Then Jix hides in the weeds between the trees and the creek. He keeps his horns down so Pog will not see him. The weeds have a sweet smell—the smell of a green creeper. Did one come by this way? Jix asks himself.

Jix has never seen a green creeper. Almost no one has, they are so shy. They have six feet and big feelers. They can creep up tall trees, even steep cliffs, but they do not have much speed. They feed mostly on the seeds of the heeka tree, but they will eat the leaf buds too. If you want to meet a green creeper, you need to keep very still. If you do not, they will spit a big gob of green goo on you.

Jix spots a heeka tree just up the creek. Maybe the green creeper is in that tree. Jix peeks over the tops of the weeds. He cannot see very well, so he creeps all the way to the tree on his hands and feet. Then he sees big feelers between the branches. It is a green creeper, and it seems to be asleep.

Jix claps his feet with glee. That is what jeeks do when they feel happy. But then he sees that the green creeper is not asleep. No, it is weeping. Jix feels so bad for the green creeper that he sniffs. If he speaks to it, will it flee? (Creepers may not be fast, but they can leap from tree to tree.) Still, he has to speak up.

“Why are you weeping?” he asks.

The creeper looks down at him sadly. “My feeler is bent,” it says, “so I cannot feel anything with it.”

“We can fix that!” says Jix, and he yells for Pog. Once the creeper is on the ground, the two pals lean its feeler over a big rock and pull down the end as much as they can.

“You did it!” says the green creeper. “How can I ever—” 

     Just then a big gleech dives down on them. But the creeper spits a gob of goo at it, and it crashes into a tree.

     “What was I saying?” asks the green creeper. “Oh, yes. How can I ever repay you?”

     “You just did!” say Jix and Pog together.

     And from then on, whenever Jix and Pog pass the green creeper’s heeka tree, it creeps down for a visit.



   The Adventures of Jix is a 4-volume series with a total of 35 stories about a heroic little monster in a world of fantastical creatures. Here is a sampling of the 37 illustrations:




          Once upon a time there was a lion with no name—he didn’t have one yet because he was brand-new. He still had tags on him when Collin Coats ripped off the birthday wrapping paper and said crabbily, “A stuffed lion? Doesn’t Grandma know I’m ten years old today?”

          And the truth was she didn’t because she was old and forgetful.

          “Mom, can’t we take him back and get something better?” Collin complained.

           “But I’m tired of sitting on a store shelf,“ roared the lion with no name, as loudly as he could. “I want to belong to somebody!”

          But nobody paid any attention. In fact, I don’t think anyone even heard.

          So that night, while everyone was sleeping, he crept out the front door and set out to find someone to belong to.

          The next morning the twins Tracy and Stacy Sample found him on their doorstep.

         “He’s mine,” said Stacy. “I saw him first!”

         “No, he’s mine!” cried Tracy. “I’m the one who tripped over him!”

         Then one twin grabbled him by a paw and the other snatched him by his tail, and they had a tug of war, yanking him back and forth so hard that, if he hadn’t been so strong, they would have torn him in two.

         “Can’t I belong to you both?” roared the lion with no name, as loudly as he could.

          But they didn’t pay any attention. In fact, I don’t think they even heard. Instead they argued and fought over him all day long.

           And since it didn’t look like the matter was ever going to get settled, he crept out the front door in the middle of the night while everyone was sleeping and set out to find a single somebody to belong to.

         The next morning Brandon Beamer found him under the elm tree, where he’d stopped to sleep because he couldn’t go any farther.

         “Finders, keepers!” Brandon shouted with glee. And he took the lion to his room and stuck him on top of the dresser—well, half on and half off—with all the other stuffed animals in his collection.

         “But there isn’t room for me!” roared the lion with no name, as loudly as he could.

          But Brandon didn’t pay any attention. In fact, I don’t think he even heard.

         The minute Brandon’s back was turned a green hippo shoved the lion off the dresser and he toppled onto his head.

       And there he stayed, since he wasn’t quite sure what to do, till the maid found him and put him back.

          When the same thing happened as soon as she had finished tidying up the room and left, he realized you couldn’t really belong to someone who had too many belongings, so he pried himself free in the middle of the night, crept out the front door while everyone was sleeping, and went out looking for somebody he could really belong to.

         The next morning Mrs. Ruggles found him on her porch swing.

         “Rupert, look what I found on our doorstep!” she said to her husband, who was reading the newspaper and didn’t answer because he was hard of hearing. “I’ll keep him for Renny when he comes to visit,” she said wistfully and set the lion gently on Renny’s made-up bed.

         But days passed, and the lion got dusty because Renny, who was the Ruggles’ grandson, had moved with his parents far away.

         “But I want someone to belong to all the time!” roared the lion with no name to no one in particular.

          But no one in particular paid any attention. In fact, I don’t think anyone in particular even heard.

          And so he crept out the front door in the middle of the night while everyone was sleeping and went out looking for somebody to belong to all of the time.

         The next morning Mrs. Marvel found him on her welcome mat.

         “A donation for the hospital!” she exclaimed. “What an adorable lion!” And she stuffed him into a cardboard box piled with clothes and other toys.

         “But I want someone to belong to soon!” roared the lion with no name, as loudly as he could.

          But Mrs. Marvel didn’t pay any attention. In fact, I don’t think she even heard.

          That night he decided to stay put and wait and see what happened next because he was just too tired to go out looking for somebody to belong to soon.

         On Christmas Day he woke up at the foot of a hospital bed, where a sick little girl named Rae was sleeping. When she woke up too and saw him, she struggled up, though she was weak, and took him in her arms and buried her face in his soft mane.

         “What’s his name?” she asked the nurse who came in with her medicine.

         “He’s yours, honey,” said the nurse. “You can name him anything you want.”

         Rae petted him and fussed over him all that day, accidentally spilling hospital food on him at every meal.

          Then she hugged him most of the night, though sometimes in her sleep she squeezed him so tightly she almost choked him, and twice she bumped him onto the floor because she had a fever and flung her arms and legs about.

         But each time he crawled back into bed with her and tucked himself under her arm again. It didn’t bother him a bit getting dirty, being squeezed and accidentally knocked to the floor—it didn’t even bother him when she drooled on him, because he thought that maybe, just maybe, he’d found somebody to belong to.

         When the sun came up the next morning and he yawned and felt himself still cradled in Rae’s arms, he gave a great roar of happiness.

         “Did you hear that?” Rae sleepily asked the nurse who was smoothing down her covers.

         “Hear what?” asked the nurse.

         “Why, he roared!” said Rae.

         “I didn’t hear anything,” said the nurse.

         “I did,” said Rae. “He woke me up. I guess I’ll just have to name you Roary,” she whispered to him, stroking his whiskers. So he roared again, just to let her know how pleased he was with his name.

         And that is the end of the story of the lion who had no name and didn’t belong to anyone—and the beginning of the story of Roary, who belonged to Rae.



     “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again” read the needlepoint proverb over Katy’s bookshelf—a gift her great-aunt Ada had made her. It was the first thing she saw every morning and the last thing she saw before she closed her eyes every night. And as if that weren’t enough, her mom said it, her dad said it, and every teacher she’d ever had said it.

     “But I’m tired of trying!” cried Katy, who couldn’t tie the laces of her roller skates one morning, no matter how many loops she made. So she went out skating with her laces flying—and no sooner did she round the first corner than she tripped over them and fell smack down on the sidewalk.

     “Oh, I’m tired of trying!” she sniffled as she stuck a Band-Aid on her skinned knee, remembering all the other times she’d gotten scrapes trying to learn to skate. “I’m never going to roller skate again!” she said.

     And she dumped her skates in her bedroom closet—and slammed the door.      

     Then she pulled her coloring book out of a drawer and started to color a picture of a fairy. And even though she tried as hard as she could to stay inside the lines, when she was coloring the hair, her black crayon slipped and drew a line right through the fairy’s eye.

     “Oh, I’m tired of trying!” cried Katy. “I’m never going to color again!”

     And she threw her coloring book into her bedroom closet, along with her roller skates—and she slammed the door. 

      Then she went outside to shoot a few baskets.. She took careful aim and tossed her basketball as high as she could, but it bounced off the rim of the net and banged her on the head.

     “Oh, I’m tired of trying!” cried Katy. “I’m never going to play basketball again!”

     And she threw her basketball into her bedroom closet, along with her coloring book and her roller skates—and she slammed the door.

     Next she went inside to play a tune on her toy piano. And she played it perfectly till she got near the end. Then her little finger, the one that always made mistakes, missed the right note and hit the wrong one and ruined the whole song.

     “Oh, I’m tired of trying!” cried Katy. “I’m never going to play the piano again!”

     And she shoved her toy piano into her bedroom closet, along with her basketball and her coloring book and her roller skates—and she slammed the door.

     Then she got out her printing workbook and did a page of  T’s. They looked fine while she was doing them, but when she held up the workbook after she was done, she noticed that all the tops were crooked. Of course, she tried to erase those crooked tops, but when they were gone, she saw that she’d rubbed holes right through the paper.

     “Oh, I’m tired of trying!” cried Katy. “I’m never going to print again!”

     And she crammed her workbook into her bedroom closet, along with her toy piano and her basketball and her coloring book and her roller skates—and she slammed the door.

     Then she got out her new storybook and started to read, till she came to a word she couldn’t sound out—the word was circle, but she’d forgotten that c has two sounds, and so she pronounced it kirkle. And since she didn’t know what a kirkle was, she couldn’t go on.

     “Oh, I’m tired of trying!” cried Katy. “I’m never going to read again!” 

     And she stuffed her storybook into her bedroom closet, along with her workbook and her toy piano and her basketball and her coloring book and her roller skates—and she slammed the door.

     Then she went and sat on her bed and watched the second hand on the clock ticking time away. Later she lay on the floor, studying an ant that was climbing up and down over the fringe on her rug. Still later, she sprawled on her back on her quilt in order to keep her eye on a crack in the ceiling, just to see if it would widen.

     It was nearly supper time when, all of a sudden, she jumped up and threw open her closet door—and grabbed her storybook and her workbook and her toy piano and her basketball and her coloring book and her roller skates.

     “What are you up to?” her mother asked when she saw Katy setting things neatly out on her desk—and under it.

     “I’m getting everything ready for tomorrow!” Katy cried happily. “Because I’m tired of being tired of …”





I’d lost my left mitten; my fingers were cold.

A snowstorm was coming, we all had been told.

I went up the hill; I went at a trot.

A cup of hot cocoa would sure help a lot.


I looked at the sky. Now snowflakes were falling.

The clouds were so dark! The blue jays were calling.

Above me I saw what was first just a speck

that quickly got bigger. I said, “What the heck?”


Whatever it was, it was coming down fast.

It looked like an egg at the moment it passed

in front of my eyes—and crashed on a rock.

But rather than smashing, it bounced—to my shock.


An egg that could bounce? I doubted my eyes.

And when I ran over, another surprise!

The egg that I picked up was blue with red spots

that turned green, then yellow, then shrank to black dots.


could take it with me, but would that be wise?

I wondered while watching the spots changing size—

as big as a quarter, as small as a dime,

as tiny as freckles I get all the time.

What in the world was inside such a thing?

Had it been dropped by a bird on the wing?

The wind was now rising, the snow in my eyes.

I took the egg with me, hiked over the rise,

and once I was home, safe and sound in my room,

I talked to the egg and sang it a tune.

My baby doll blanket I tucked all around it,

and, thinking my dad might get mad if he found it,

I hid it behind a big doll in the chest

with most of my toys, then lay down to rest.

“You’re too young for a pet,” my father has said.

“They need to be trained, and petted, and fed.”

But I’d like to try to take care of a pet.

The more that I practice, the better I’ll get!


When later I checked to see how the egg was,

from under the blanket there came an odd buzz.

I lifted it up—and with a small pop,

what looked like a tail popped out of the top!

It curled around once, this curious thing,

and curled and curled right into a spring.

Upside-down the egg flipped and started to hop

like a pogo stick rider, until it went plop

and fell on the floor. But it picked itself up,

hopping until it got stuck in a cup.


I pulled the egg out with a twist and a tug.

It went back to hopping around on my rug,

and “boing” was the sound that it made as it went.

It bounced off my headboard and made a small dent

but kept right on hopping without even knowing

what was around it or where it was going.


Under a table, it tried a big hop,

banged its crown hard and still wouldn’t stop.

It swayed back and forth as if it were dizzy,

but five seconds later, it got very busy

boinging across my whole room to find out

how big it was and a little about

all of the things that stood in the way.

And that’s how it spent the rest of the day!


That night, hearing voices, I told the egg, “Hush!”

and hid it away in my chest in a rush.

As soon as the voices had faded away,

I checked on my egg and, to my dismay,

it was now a dull gray, and I couldn’t see spots—

not even close up. Not the tiniest dots.


There was even a moment I thought it was dead—

a worry I tried to get out of my head.

It’s sleeping, I thought. I should leave it alone.

From then on it stayed as gray as a stone.

I told it, “Sleep tight!” when I went off to bed

but woke in the night with a feeling of dread.


                                                              DAY TWO—IT CAN SEE


Today I rose early and ran to the chest,

lifting the lid while I hoped for the best,

little expecting what greeted my eyes:

My egg had a beard and had tripled in size!

Now it was bluer—and clearly alive.

I counted the spots I could see. There were five.

But then the “beard “moved—and what should I see?

A wide-open eye that was staring at me!

The “beard” was its lashes—I saw it blink twice—

and though it looked funny, I tried to be nice.

The eye looked afraid, as if I was scary.

I smiled and said that my nickname was Carrie.


Now maybe my teeth were what gave it a fright.

It shut its one eye—it squeezed it up tight—

and all of its colorful spots turned quite white.

Again and again, I said, “I don’t bite!”

But that’s how it stayed from morning till night.


I went to bed late but still couldn’t sleep.

More than an hour I spent counting sheep.

Tossing and turning, I couldn’t relax—

an egg with a spring and one eye and no cracks?


Why had I thought it was okay to take it?

Is it still a mistake if you try to un-make it?

I’ll put the “egg” back so who lost it can find it.

The outdoors is cold, but the “egg” might not mind it.

But what if it freezes? I’ll be the one blamed.

I’ll feel so sorry! I’ll feel so ashamed!

I should make up my mind—that much I knew

but still didn’t know quite what I should do.


                                          DAY THREE—IP GOES EXPLORING


When next I looked in on my “egg,” it was sleeping.

The blanket was wet, so it might have been weeping.

It wasn’t an egg at all was my guess—

and its “shell” was really its skin, more or less.

If it wasn’t an egg, then it needed a name,

something to call it that wasn’t too lame,

something for someone who’s one of a kind—

a name that is cute and that no one would mind.

I’ll call the thing “Ip,” instead of just “it.”

(Don’t ask me why. “Ip” just seems to fit.)

Ip likes to be blue, so I’ll say it’s a “he.”

But that’s just for now—for who knows who he’ll be?


I pulled back the blanket and saw something queer

sprout out of Ip’s side—it looked like an ear!

To see if it was, I started to hum.

Ip peeked out to see where the sound had come from.

I hummed on and on, and his ear lifted higher.

Skinny and pointed, it looked like a spire.

It must be an ear! I couldn’t be wrong—

for Ip started buzzing like singing along.

And while I was wondering what else he would do,

Another ear sprouted, so now he had two!

As soon as I gently set Ip on the floor,

with two happy hops, he set out to explore.

The more that he hopped, the higher he got.

(His hopping improved, but his landings did not.

He was a bit clumsy and knocked down some things.

It might have been better if he’d sprouted wings.)


Now he was eager to see all he could:

my kite in the corner, my flute made of wood,

an unfinished puzzle, a bug on the wall,

the darts and the target I bought at the mall,

the view from my window, my tree house, the shed,

as well as some things that were under my bed—

like lots of dust bunnies, a mitten, a spoon,

a puppet, a ruler, a marble, a prune.

Ip studied my stuffies, like Furby, my bear,

and Roary, my lion—but didn’t stop there.

He seemed quite excited to see my whole “zoo,”

my elephant Toot and my mouse Pipsqueak too.


But later that morning it started to hail,

to batter my window, like hammers and nails.

Ip’s eyelid was drooping; he barely could hop.

As loud as the storm was, he came to a stop,

and over he flopped, quite deeply asleep.

It’s better this way; my secret will keep,

I thought as I hid him away for a nap

and took one myself with a book in my lap.

At bedtime Ip still was asleep in the chest,

his spots changing color! He’s dreaming, I guessed.


                                                 DAY FOUR—IP IS NAUGHTY


I opened my eyes to the bright light of day—

and a very loud buzzing a few feet away.

Something was up! Was Ip still all right?

I jumped to my feet and to my delight,

I saw something awesome the moment I did:

three claws poking out from under the lid—

a thumb and two fingers, which adds up to three.

A three-fingered hand was now waving at me!

And here I’d thought Ip was some sort of a bird!

Now I was…well, ”dumbstruck” is the word!

But once I had set Ip back down on the ground,

one by one, he grabbed things that were scattered around,

then aimed at the chest and tossed them inside—

my clothes on the floor and my new Barbie bride.

He hopped off to get both Roary and Toot,

then added a Glue Stick, two dice, and a boot.

He seemed to be saying, “Now these things are mine!”

He’s playing a game! I thought at the time.

I admit that I giggled a little at first,

until Ip got worse…and worse…and worse!


He threw items into the chest willy-nilly.

Some of his choices I found rather silly:

a brown apple core that he cannot eat,

two bedroom slippers, though he has no feet,

a flute he can’t play with only one hand,

and what does he need with the blue rubber band?

Although he can’t read, a book that’s quite scary,

a scrunchie and hairbrush, though he isn’t hairy.

And what use is Kleenex if you have no nose?

Still, these are some of the things that he chose.


I let him go on till the pile got so high

the lid wouldn’t close. Then I said with a sigh,

“Some of these things we will have to put back.

Let’s start with the clothes that go into that sack.”

But Ip’s spots turned red; his one eye did too.

His buzz sounded mad as he threw in a shoe.

I snatched it back, he grabbed the heel.

The quick tug-of-war that we had was for real.

I won in the end, but I didn’t feel good.

How could I get Ip to do what he should?


“The chest is too full!” I said. “Where will you sleep?

How can you sleep on top of a heap?”

But Ip gave me one of his innocent looks,

then purposely knocked down a pile of books.

“Ip, it’s the best, safest place you can be,

since no one goes in there except you and me.”

(I didn’t want to tell him my worry about

what they would do if my parents found out.)

With two hops, he knocked all my games off a shelf

and afterwards looked rather pleased with himself.


“Please, Ip!” I pleaded. “You need to be good!

We’ll have lots more fun, if only you would!

I’ll teach you so many cool things we can do—

lots of great games we can play with just two…”


He swept off the stuffies on top of my trunk:

Whiz Kid, my owl, and Stinky, my skunk.

Stinky, to me, is the cutest of all!

Headfirst in my goldfish bowl, I watched him fall.

Thank goodness the bowl didn’t crash to the floor,

for next came a very loud knock on my door!

I heard my mom’s voice asking, “Are you okay?”

“I knocked down some stuff” was all I dared say.


Because Ip was scared by the knock on the door,

I supposed that he wouldn’t be bad anymore.

But once Mom was gone, he snatched up my phone!

“You’ll break it!” I cried. “Please leave it alone!”

He wouldn’t give it back, so I chased him around.

“I’ll trade you,” I said,for a dollar I found!”

But he wouldn’t trade—and since he wouldn’t stop,

I chased him until I was ready to drop!


By my bed was the box my new lamp had come in.

Grabbing a flap, I swung it at him.

I caught him inside, then slammed the box down

and held it ten seconds—tight to the ground.

When I peeked under it, Ip was so still!

His eyelid was closed, but I waited until

I’d made enough room for him inside the chest—

and then tucked him in. We both needed a rest!

I put a big plant on the lid just in case,

and after my nap, I cleaned up the place.


                                                 DAY FIVE—I PLAY TEACHER


That night I slept soundly, I’m happy to say,

and woke up quite hopeful. It was a new day!

I opened the chest, a little on guard…

Out came a hand that pinched me—hard!

“Do that again, and you’ll have to stay

inside the chest,” I said, “all of today.”

Out came the hand again, trying to pinch!

I stood my ground. You can’t make me flinch,

I thought to myself as a new hand appeared.

But what happened next was not what I feared.


Hand number Two grabbed One by the wrist,

jerking it back. Then One made a fist

and tried everything it could do to break free.

Should I step in and play referee?

I wondered while watching arms twisting and turning.

The fight was so fierce, my tummy was churning.

Which hand would win? The naughty or nice?

I knew that if One won, we’d all pay a price.


Ip watched the fight with a look of distress,

unable to stop either hand was my guess.

The closest of contests it looked like to me,

and all I could do was watch, wait, and see.

Once, for an instant, the first hand broke free.

The second hand grabbed it immediately.

Still, I was surprised when the mean hand gave in

so all of a sudden. No doubt with a grin,

I shook the nice hand, saying, “Nice to meet you!”

Ip looked relieved, and I bet I did too.

“When hands work together, there’s tons you can do!”

I said, “If you want, I can teach you a few!”

Since both of my parents were out for the day,

we had lots of time and new places to play.

The day passed so quickly, it seemed like time flew!

These are some things that I taught Ip to do: 

          – How to play Pick-up Sticks, marbles, and darts

          – How to play card games like Go Fish and Hearts

          – How to use scissors and Scotch tape and soap 

          – How to change patterns in my kaleidoscope

          – How to make things out of paper, like planes,

                snowflakes and crowns, booklets and chains

          – How to draw butterflies, flowers, and stars

          – How to twist open the tight lids on jars

          – How to do summersaults, stand on your head,

                sew up a hole with a needle and thread

          – How to make snowballs and have a fun fight

          – Which hand is left and which hand is right


We made a big snowman. I gave it my cap,

then wondered out loud, “Is it time for your nap?”

Ip shook himself “no”—but while he might deny it,

inside, he was ready to do something quiet.

We finished my puzzle in less an hour.

Then tier by tier, we made a tall tower

of cards. It was tricky—my hands shook a bit.

Ip did much better, I have to admit.


And when it got dark, I showed him the stars

and pointed out planets: Venus and Mars.

At bedtime I told him a story or two—

the scariest, funniest, best ones I knew!

When he got sleepy, he hopped to the chest

all by himself. He didn’t protest.




I woke before dawn and thought right away

of all of the fun that we’d had yesterday.

Now it was time to tell Mom and Dad.

I hoped that they wouldn’t be too very mad.


After a while, I opened my eyes—

I’d felt something poke me—and to my surprise

it was Ip. Once again he had tripled in size,

for now he was almost as big as a chair!

At first the most I could do was just stare.

The longer I did, the bigger he grew.

Could I be dreaming? Or could this be true?


Ip waved toward the window. What did he mean?

He started to buzz—with hurry it seemed.

I dashed to the window, though I was in doubt,

and threw it wide open. He tried to squeeze out,

wiggling and twisting and turning about.

But try as he would, he got stuck halfway through.

Now I was frantic. What else could we do?

His buzz was so loud I thought someone would hear—

at least anyone who was anywhere near,

which maybe was good because Ip was in trouble.

I was afraid he might pop like a bubble!


I searched for the heaviest object in sight.

My dresser! I thought, and with all of my might,

I pushed it in front of the window so Ip

could brace his spring on it. The dresser then tipped

and crashed to the floor as Ip thrust himself out

with one mighty “hop.” I let out a shout,

expecting to see that he’d landed below.

But when I looked down, I saw that wasn’t so.


                   Floating above our snowman, he was

buzzing away with his happiest buzz,

his spots turning colors, the brightest ones yet.

Thinking how lucky it was that we’d met,

I watched as abruptly Ip started to rise

faster and faster, bound for the skies.

Up, up he went like a hot-air balloon

and kept right on waving—and waving—till soon

he was so high above me he looked like the moon.

Then smaller and smaller and smaller he got

until he was only the tiniest spot—

just like he’d looked when he came from the sky.

I supposed I would feel a bit sad by and by.

And though I’ve no clue about how, where, or when,

I know in my heart that I’ll see Ip again.

And if anyone says I’m not telling the truth

about Ip and me, I’ve got selfies as proof!



Once upon a time there lived a very old dragon. He was so old that his wings were too stiff to fly. And when it came to breathing fire, all he could manage was a puff of smoke…so he was considered pretty much a has-been by the other dragons that lived on Draco Isle. (Well, that was what dragons called it, anyway; the giants who lived there called it by another name.) In his youth the very old dragon had been called Burnwald the Bold, but now he was called Burnwald the Bald because he’d lost all the scales on the top of his head.

Now, you might think that Draco Isle was a small piece of land, but its name was misleading. It was so big, in fact, that you or I would have called it a continent, and many thousands of dragons roamed there. The mightiest of these was Fangvold the Fearsome, who didn’t need a crown to announce that he was king of his kind. So brilliant were his rainbow scales, so large and sharp his ivory teeth, that other dragons bowed their heads in respect whenever he flew past. Though he was the most ferocious of dragons, he was a tender father to his son, who was that rarest of rare creatures, a silver dragon.

Now, a silver dragon only came along once every five hundred years or so and was believed to bring good luck. According to the ancient lore, if anything bad happened to a silver dragon, all dragonkind was doomed to hundreds of years of misfortune…until the next silver dragon came along. So dragons fiercely protected a silver member of their kind—to make sure that no harm ever came to it. But silver dragons were especially hard to protect because of one unusual trait. When a silver dragon cried, its tears, instead of drying where they fell, crystallized into diamonds. So you can imagine how many greedy giants would have liked to get their hands on one of them. And that’s the story I’m about to tell…because one finally did—a giant, I mean.

Near the Colossal Caverns—a system of huge caves where Fangvold, his young son, and a dozen of his dragon guards made their home—there was a lake. Here the dragons gathered every evening before retiring to their own caves.

One year in late summer, when the slumber thistles had gone to seed, a giant by the name of Rothfer the Wrathful collected as many of the seeds as he could find. He put them in a stout barrel and stomped on them for days on end with his callused feet until they were all crushed to powder. He wore a rag for a mask, of course, so the powder didn’t affect him. You see, the seeds of the slumber thistle would cause anyone who breathed them in to fall into a deep sleep.

Then, on an evening when the wind was right, Rothfer climbed to the top of a gigantic oak near the lake and dumped out the contents of a large sack, letting the wind carry the powder across the water. Soon the dragons on the other side grew drowsy, and one by one they drifted off to sleep. When Rothfer saw that all were slumbering, including the little silver dragon, he climbed down from the tree.

As he trudged among the snoring dragons, he chuckled loudly, not even bothering to be quiet. He grabbed the silver dragon roughly and dumped him into the now empty sack, then headed back to his castle.

The following morning, when the dragons all woke, Fangvold was outraged to find his son missing. He sent all twelve of his dragon guards out in twelve different directions to search the forest until they found him. They asked every woodland creature they came across—including a couple of bears, several beavers, and dozens of squirrels and rabbits—if they’d seen the young dragon and if they had any idea about what might have happened to him. One of them even asked Burnwald, when they found him resting in the sun at the mouth of his cave. (He lived in a cave so small he could barely turn around in it and so damp that no other dragon had wanted it.)

Anyway, Burnwald told the guard that he hadn’t seen the young dragon either. Though enfeebled, he had the wisdom that comes with age, however—and in the middle of the next night, he started awake with an idea; it occurred to him to ask the woodland creatures who slept by day and only came out at night. And, sure enough, an owl offered that the previous evening, she had seen a giant carrying a sack over his shoulder, coming from the direction of the lake.

Well, the only giant who lived in the area was Rothfer the Wrathful, but no dragon had ever gone anywhere near his castle because of his violent temper. So huge was Rothfer that no dragon had ever dared take him on. So Burnwald was more than a little nervous when he set off in the morning for Rothfer’s castle, but he was determined to make the most of this opportunity to prove himself—to show the world that he was still capable of heroic deeds.

As luck would have it, when he neared the castle, he saw the giant heading off in the opposite direction. And no sooner had he passed through the entrance than he heard the sound of crying. Now, the very old dragon was a little deaf, but the hearing of a dragon is so acute that he was still able to hear better than you or I can. As quietly as possible, he crept through a maze of hallways, listening at every door. If other giants were in the castle, he didn’t want to rouse them. Eventually he followed the sound of the crying down a steep staircase that descended deep into the earth. At the bottom, he came to the wooden door of a dungeon.

He threw himself against it, hoping to break it down—and when that didn’t work, he tried to bite off the lock. Unfortunately, he’d lost all his teeth, and gumming it didn’t work either. Then he had a bright idea—if only he could manage to breathe a little fire, maybe he could burn the door down. Well, he huffed and puffed for half an hour, trying with all his might to produce at least one tiny tongue of flame. By then the smoke was so thick he couldn’t see a foot in front of him, and finally he had no choice but to give up. He was too old to ever be a hero again, he realized sadly; someone else was going to have to rescue the little dragon.

With a heavy heart, he climbed back up the stone steps. Now that harm had come to a silver dragon—it had been kidnapped and imprisoned, after all—who knew what misfortune lay ahead for all dragonkind? he thought miserably. With no luck on their side, maybe Fangvold and his guards would fail to free the little dragon too.

What Burnwald didn’t know was that amid all that thick smoke he’d exhaled, he’d breathed one tiny spark that had lit the door on fire. As he neared the top of the stairs, he thought he heard a crackling sound coming from behind him…and when he glanced back, he saw that the dungeon door was aflame.

With an agility he didn’t know he had anymore, he raced back down the steps and kicked the burning door down with one thrust of his foot.

He found the little silver dragon surrounded by a heap of diamonds, so he must have been doing a lot of crying. The little dragon was so glad to see Burnwald that he cried some more, for joy, his teardrops tinkling when they hit the floor. Then he climbed onto the old dragon’s back, as little dragons instinctively do when they can’t fly yet, and Burnwald raced back up those stairs like a dragon half his age.

But when they reached the entrance to the castle, who should they see but the Rothfer—headed straight for them, waving a terrible club with spikes all over it. Well, sometimes in a crisis we can do things we could never do under ordinary circumstances. An emergency makes our bodies stronger and faster and our minds sharper. All in a moment the very old dragon realized that, being no match for the giant, he had no choice but to fly. And to his own amazement, with the first few beats of his stiff wings, he cleared the ground. A moment later he and his passenger were soaring over the giant’s head. Roaring with rage, Rothfer threw his club at them, since they were too high to reach—but he missed them by a mile.

They were nearly back to the Colossal Caverns when the old dragon felt his strength give out suddenly and he crashed to the ground. Fortunately, they were flying low enough that he only broke a few bones, while the little dragon was unharmed. They landed with such a loud thud that within minutes the dragon guards, who were out searching again, found them.

Burnwald was carried back to the Colossal Caverns and welcomed as a hero. It wasn’t long before his broken bones had healed well enough that he could have made his way home to his cave. But Fangvold wouldn’t hear of it. He insisted Burnwald the Bold stay on in the Colossal Caverns and gave him the very best of caves for his own. From then on the very old dragon was treated with reverence by all of dragonkind…and he was loved by the little silver dragon as a grandpa.



For his birthday Stevie got what he wanted most—a real, grown-up hammer and a tool apron his mother made him. He hadn’t told anyone about the nail he’d found in a drawer of his father’s toolbox—at least, not the whole story. He’d heard it jingle when he opened the drawer—and this is what it seemed to say: “I’m a very important nail—and I’ve got better things to do than hang around in some old toolbox. All I need is someone to hammer me in straight and true.”

So, the morning after his birthday, Stevie put on his tool apron with a loop for his hammer and a pocket for the very important nail—and added some smaller nails in case it needed help. Then he set out down the street to find something important for that nail to do.

“Make sure you ask for permission first!” his dad called after him.

“And remember not to run with your hammer!” called his mom.

So Stevie waved to show that he’d heard.

He hadn’t gone very far when he spotted a flier with the picture of a parrot. It was tacked to a telephone pole. “Lost,” it said. “Oh, no!” he thought sadly, remembering how he’d felt when his horny toad ran away. And though he scanned the treetops for a flash of bright wings, all he saw was a scolding bluejay.

So he turned on his heel, about to walk away, when he heard the very important nail start to jingle in his pocket as though it had something important to say. “Wow! You’re right!” cried Stevie after a moment of thought. “That flier could come loose and blow away. Then whoever found the parrot wouldn’t know who it belonged to! This could be just the job for us.” So he checked to make sure the flier was tacked down tight—and it wasn’t until he was satisfied that he went on his way.

In Parker Carter’s front yard, Parker’s dog Peewee lay outside his doghouse, trying madly to scratch a flea behind his ear.

“Here, I’ll scratch it for you,” said Stevie helpfully, and he did such a good job that Peewee licked his hands. Then Stevie gave Peewee a pat—and the doghouse, too, because he liked its red shingles.

But when he turned on his heel, about to walk away, he heard the very important nail start to jingle in his pocket again and this is what he thought it was saying: “What if a shingle came loose? That roof could leak…”

”And poor Peewee would get soaked in the very next rain!” cried Stevie. “Maybe this is just the job for us.” So he checked out all the shingles to make sure none were loose, and it wasn’t until he was satisfied that he went on his way.

Next he passed Mr. Malarky’s house. Mr. Malarky loved flowers and grew them everywhere, even in fancy pots on a shelf under his window. There were pansies and petunias and things Stevie couldn’t pronounce. Stevie stood on his tiptoes, trying to smell them—but even though his mom insisted he was growing like a weed, he still couldn’t quite reach. So he turned to the irises beside him, instead, which smelled pretty good if you sniffed them hard enough.

Then he turned on his heel, about to walk away, when he heard the very important nail start to jingle in his pocket again. “What if that shelf came loose?” it seemed to say.

“Why, all the pots of flowers would fall and smash to pieces!” cried Stevie. “Maybe this is the job we’ve been looking for!” So he checked the shelf to make sure it wasn’t loose, and it wasn’t until he was satisfied that he went on his way.

When he passed Holly Hotchkins’ house, he stopped to watch a chattering squirrel perched on the third step to Holly’s treehouse.

“Catch me if you can!” it taunted Catkins, Holly’s old tomcat, who was crouching on the ground. Stevie knew the squirrel was too fast for Catkins, but Catkins never seemed to remember this, though he’d chased that squirrel enough times.

So Stevie waited until Catkins sprang, and the squirrel shot like an arrow to the top of the tree, then laughed down at them—because now Catkins was hanging onto a treehouse step, afraid to go up or down because his old claws weren’t very sharp any more. So Stevie lifted Catkins gently down and set him on the grass.

“Why don’t you chase snails instead?” he suggested. “They aren’t so hard to catch.”

He’d turned on his heel, about to walk away, when he heard the very important nail start to jingle in his pocket. “What if that step came loose?” he could have sworn it said.

“Oh, my gosh!” gasped Stevie. “Holly could slip and fall—and break an arm or a leg!” So he double-checked the step to make sure it wasn’t loose, and it wasn’t until he was satisfied that he went on his way.

On and on he walked, until he started to feel hungry and began to wonder what was for lunch. Still, he wasn’t ready to give up and go home. When he came to a house he’d never seen before—because he’d never walked this far—he pressed his face against the old picket fence and peered into the backyard. There in the grass he saw a rabbit and five baby bunnies hopping all around. They were so cute that for a moment he forgot all about the very important nail and finding something important for it to do.

When he finally remembered, he sighed, because now he was too hungry to go any farther. He’d just turned on his heel to head for home when he heard the very important nail start to jingle in his pocket. “What if a fence board came loose?” he was quite sure it was saying.

“Yeah, those bunnies could get out and run into the street and get hit by a car!” cried Stevie, forgetting all about lunch. And the very next moment, out of the corner of his eye, he saw something squeeze through the fence. In a flash, he darted over and scooped up a little black and white bunny. A board had come loose and left a gap in the fence, just like the very important nail had warned him.

Then the front door opened and Stevie recognized Fanny Farthing from school. She had cute golden freckles and a purple mouth, from the grape popsicle she was holding.

Soon the whole family had gathered to hear about the rescue. “How can we ever thank you?” said Fanny’s mom.

“Would you like to take that bunny home when it’s old enough?” Fanny asked shyly.

“Would I!” Stevie grinned, his eyes lighting up. “But I’ll have to ask my mom and dad first.”

“I guess I’d better go fix that fence,” said Mr. Farthing.

“I can do it,” Stevie offered, and he felt his heart pounding as he reached into his apron pocket for the very important nail.

So this is the job for us, he thought, to fix that fence and keep those bunnies safe! And though he didn’t say it out loud, the nail rolled into his hand as if it understood.

Then everybody bent down to watch while Stevie knelt down before that loose fence board and, with his new hammer, drove in the very important nail, straight and true.