Read an Excerpt
The Summer of Saving Peep
Three things in human life are important. The first is to be kind. The second is to be kind. And the third is to be kind.
One sunny afternoon in June, my sister Jenny and I were walking home from school when we noticed a loud chirping coming from an empty trashcan on the curb. We walked over to it and peered inside. A sad little sparrow was sitting at the bottom of the trashcan, chirping his heart out. His right wing stuck out from his body at a strange angle. Jenny said it was probably broken. She reached in and cupped the bird in her hands, cooing to him so he wouldn't be scared. The sparrow chirped all the way to our house, his little, fuzzy head poking through Jenny’s fingers.
My mom took one look at the little bird and said, “No way! I’m not having another animal in the house.” But once she got a closer look at those big, sad eyes and heard that pathetic chirping, her heart melted. We were counting on that.
Mom sent me into the bathroom for tape and an eyedropper and gently set the sparrow on the kitchen table to get a better look at him. She said his right wing was definitely broken, so she designed a splint out of a Popsicle stick and carefully taped it to his wing. Our dog, Buttons, kept trying to get a look at the bird, but we shooed her away.
Once the splint was on, we fed the bird water with an eyedropper and gave him bits of bread and berries. At first he wouldn't eat, but then after awhile, he wouldn't stop.
The little bird earned the name Peep. We kept him in an old hamster cage, former home of Pepper, the hamster, who’d recently passed away from old age. Every night, we put a towel over the cage, and Peep went right to sleep. And every morning, we put his cage outside and opened the door so he could wander around and get some fresh air. Peep couldn't fly, which seemed to frustrate him. He wasn't used to walking everywhere. Eventually, Peep made friends with Buttons. I swear it's true! Peep would jump onto Button’s back for a free ride around the back yard.
After awhile, Peep's wing got better, and Mom told us it was probably time to take off the splint. We put Peep on the kitchen table, and Mom cut off most of the splint with little scissors. She couldn't get all of it, so there were bits of white tape stuck to his wing, but he didn't seem to mind. He started flapping his wing like crazy, and the next morning when we opened the cage door, he flew about fifty feet into the air before coming back. We watched from the ground like proud parents. From then on, Peep flew further each morning, but he always came back.
Two weeks later, on a Sunday morning, when Jenny let Peep out of his cage, he just kept flying. We left his cage outside with the door open, but he never came home all that day. As it became dark, we faced the truth that Peep would never come back. My mom said he probably found some other sparrows and decided it was time to be with his own kind. My eyes filled with tears, and so did Jenny’s. We all missed Peep a lot—even Buttons, who paced around in front of his cage every morning for weeks.
A few months later, Jenny and I were walking home from school, and a sparrow landed on a low tree branch just ahead of where we were walking. We both stopped and stared at it, amazed. The bird had little bits of white tape stuck to his right wing.
Jenny and I didn't say a word to each other. Peep sat on the branch chirping at us for a couple of seconds, and then he flew off. We watched him join a little flock of sparrows and disappear into the sky with them. We decided that it wasn't one of those crazy coincidences. Peep had come to say a proper good-bye and to thank us for saving his life.
When you carry out acts of kindness, you get a wonderful feeling inside. It is as though something inside your body responds and says, yes, this is how I ought to feel.
Whoosh! Ahhhh . . . the sound of my sled sliding on top of the snow! It was what I had been looking forward to ever since the beginning of winter.
It was a long hike up to the top of the snow hill, the snow crunching under my boots. My arms ached from pulling the sled. The wind tore at my face, and my eyes filled with tears from the cold wind. But it would all be worth it in a minute.
I got to the top of the hill and lay stomach-down on the sled to begin the fast trip down. Everything was a blur as I flew down the hill. Whoosh! There's that great sound! Then I saw something out of the corner of my eye.
When I got to the bottom of the hill, I looked around for what had caught my attention. Then, I saw a woman pushing a shopping cart. The snow-covered sidewalk made it hard for her to walk. As she got closer, I noticed that she had on several thin coats and a couple of hats, and her fingers were showing through her gloves. I knew in an instant that she was a homeless person. She looked very tired, cold and helpless. My heart sank. How could I be enjoying this weather that someone else was dreading?
I watched her struggle to push the cart. I wanted to help her, but what could I do? Then I remembered the church at the top of the hill.
I ran up the hill, dragging the sled through the parking lot and into the church. I saw a man cleaning the floor, and I told him about the woman. He followed me outside. The woman was still struggling up the sidewalk with the cart. The man walked up to her and told her not to be afraid, that he worked at the church and he could help her. He said that the church was taking in homeless people for the weekend, and she was welcome to come inside, have something to eat and get warm.
The homeless woman looked so grateful! I felt so good that I couldn’t stop smiling.
When I went outside, snow was falling softly, and it made me feel peaceful. Once again, I lay on my stomach and started down the hill. Only this time, the wind seemed gentle, my eyes didn’t water from the cold, and I felt warm inside. What a great day!
-Alese Bagdol, 11
©2006. All rights reserved. Reprinted from Chicken Soup for the Kids Soul 2 . No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means, without the written permission of the publisher. Publisher: Health Communications, Inc., 3201 SW 15th Street, Deerfield Beach, FL 33442.