The cool reading place
It was a super-hot day in Ecuador, Brazil. It was so hot that a girl’s ice cream cone turned to soup. The girl’s name was Lily, and she was eight years old. Lily was wearing a bright red pair of shorts and a purple tank-top. Whew, thought Lily. It sure is scorching today. Ah, what am I thinking? Every day is baking. I already have blisters from the days that were so blistering.
“It’s time to come home.”
“I’m coming, Mom,” replied Lily.
She stomped into the house with her melted ice cream cone still in her hands. She threw it out and grabbed the utensils from her mom’s sweaty hand and set the table. Later when her dad came home from work, Lily gave him a big sweaty hug. Their dog, Blister, jumped up to lick Dad. When they all settled down, her mom broke some really good news. “Lily, guess what your school assigned you to do?”
“What?” asked Lily.
“The school said that the Grade Three students weren’t getting enough reading practice, so they’re assigning you homework,” replied her mom.
“What? Come on.”
“No, no, Lily. You’re going to like this,” assured her mom. “It’s reading. You like to read, don’t you?”
Sure. Lily liked to read. Just not in the burning hot weather all year round.
“Sure. I like to read. But I have nowhere to read.”
Her mom smiled, “We will find a place.”
Far away by a forest there was a pond. By the pond wept a willow tree. “Oh, Willow, no one wants to read under your branches,” said Wood. “Everyone likes me because I am a home to many.”
“Someone will come. I have faith,” assured Willow, for that was the weeping willow’s name. Willow was a very optimistic tree, so she did not get down easily.
“Pffffft. I know that no one will come,” replied Wood. “No one.”
Willow sighed. Wood would never learn.
Back at Lily’s house, Lily found herself looking on her mom’s shelf for a book. She sighed. Her mom’s shelf seemed as big as a tractor shed, so she assumed she would never find a book. Lily’s hands whizzed past all sorts of books until she stopped at a particular one. The book was called The Wind in the Willows. “Now that’s a book I want to read,” Lily smiled.
Back by the pond, Willow looked sadly at the pond, wondering when someone would come. I know someone will come, thought Willow. I know.
“No, I am not going to read it on the bus!” yelled Lily. “I will throw up once I get to school!”
“You will not!” yelled her mother. They were having a big argument over where Lily was going to read.
“I’ll find a place to read it. Don’t you worry!” called Lily as she walked out of the house. “Don’t you worry!”
Lily walked down the road and sat on the curb. She had to think. Now let’s see. I can’t read at school. No, no definitely not there. Aha! thought Lily. I’ll go read by the pond! So Lily walked down the weary path near her house to the pond.
Willow looked up to see a little girl walking down the dusty road to the pond. “Look! Someone has come!” Willow yelled happily.
“Yes, come and venture in my woods,” said Wood.
“Oh, we’ll see about that,” replied Willow. By now the mysterious girl was standing right next to Willow.
“Oh perfect! There’s a willow tree here. I’ll read under it!” exclaimed Lily. “I have finally found a place to read! And a willow tree! I love willow trees!” Willow smiled. Lily settled under the droopy tree and started to read The Wind in the Willows.
“See,” said Willow with triumph. “I told you someone would come.”
Willow smiled. Wood finally would learn.
Lily came to Willow the next day. And the day after that. And every day! One day Lily came home to find her mom standing at the door grinning. “What’s the good news?” Lily asked.
“Oh, it’s something your dad and I discussed.”
Lily gulped. This wasn’t going to be good.
“What?” Lily couldn’t believe her ears. Was this true?
“Yes,” her mom said, reading her mind. “It’s true. We are going to cut down all the weeping willow trees.”
“But why?” Lily fought back tears.
“Because,” said her dad, “our boss said we will get $1,000 for getting rid of them.”
“Do you always do what your boss tells you to do?” muttered Lily.
Willow was so happy. She finally had someone swinging on her branches and reading in her shade. Finally, someone had come.
Lily ran off the bus. She didn’t stop until she got to Willow. “I have bad news, my friend. My parents are cutting down all the weeping willow trees!” Willow’s heart skipped a beat. “You may be the only survivor,” Lily continued. “But don’t worry, I’ll find a way!” She sat down to think.
Lily came home with a plan. It would only work at night. She set the table immediately and wolfed down her dinner. Then she went to bed, but she stayed awake until her parents were in bed. She quietly went down the stairs and snuck up to her parents’ laptop. She turned it on. All I need to do is delete their offer. They haven’t accepted it yet. Now I have to hope. Lily smiled.
Lily came home from school, went to read and to assure Willow everything would be okay. When she sat down for dinner, her parents, who were grumpy, said, “This may be good news to you, Lily. But somehow our offer was deleted. So we won’t be cutting down the willow trees after all.”
Lily smiled. All it took was a little thinking and a little action to save her Willow from destruction.