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Innocent of the reason for his parents' gloom, Jimmy seeks out companionship every evening from a small owl who perches in the oak tree outside his apartment. Even though Jimmy knows owls cannot talk, he can understand Pippy...
Innocent of the reason for his parents' gloom, Jimmy seeks out companionship every evening from a small owl who perches in the oak tree outside his apartment. Even though Jimmy knows owls cannot talk, he can understand Pippy perfectly. It is not long before Jimmy's nightly chats with Pippy lead to dreams of remarkable adventures where he can fly and perch in a tree-just like Pippy! As the tiny owl and the vulnerable little boy fly over churches, rooftops, they laugh, scream, and become best friends in no time at all. Now all he has to do is convince his parents that his dreams are not dreams at all.
In this adventurous and inspirational tale, a boy and an owl soon discover the power of friendship and the glory of miracles as dreams and reality unexpectedly meet and cause an unforgettable chain of events.
Light from the swimming pool illuminated an outstretched limb of the tree just enough for the boy to see a small owl perched there, the object of his search. The owl was tiny, no bigger than a toy football, but with a head too large in relation to the body. It sat still as a statue, staring down at the slight boy with its large, black eyes. He knew this to be a screech owl, like one his father showed him recently in a book; his father liked to refer to these as pipsqueak owls because of their small size.
Jimmy saw the owl as he returned from his "garbage duty," as he called it. The small owl, perched on a limb just a few feet above the ground, surprised the boy. He walked towards the limb cautiously, attempting not to scare the bird away. The owl looked down at him with its large dark eyes, showing no desire to fly off.
Jimmy tiptoed closer and closer, hoping it wouldn't fly away, finally stopping almost directly beneath the owl. He was fascinated at the beautiful design of feathers on its breast ranging in color from deep brown to a much lighter tone. "Hello Mr. Owl. You sure are pretty." He said softly in greeting to the visitor. "My name is Jimmy and I live right over there." Jimmy pointed to a sliding glass door leading to his apartment. The owl continued to look down at the boy, apparently unafraid of his presence.
Jimmy talked to the owl for a few minutes and then scurried home, knowing his mother would be mad if he took too long.
The next evening he stalled until late to do his chore and again found the little bird perched in the tree. "Well hello again, Mr. Owl. How are you today?" He asked with a smile. It looked down upon the small-framed, wispy-haired youth and cooed in reply; a deep yet gentle sound, pleasantly invading the boy's ears as if to say 'Hello' in reply.
"Are you always here, Mr. Owl? I looked this afternoon but couldn't see you. Do you live in this tree?" Jimmy asked and again received a very pleasant cooing in reply.
"Mr. Owl, you need to have a name. My dad says you are a Pipsqueak Owl so I am going to name you Pippy. Is that okay with you?" The boy looked up, waiting for an answer.
In response the owl cooed, actually something of a deep whistle and a pigeon's coo combined; a pleasant sound for certain.
"Good, it's settled. You are Pippy and I am Jimmy; but of course you already knew that!" Jimmy smiled up at the owl which continued to look down at the boy.
The small boy walked back and forth underneath the limb on which the owl perched. "Where do you live, Pippy? Do you have a family? I do, I live in that apartment." Jimmy pointed to the sliding glass door that led to his home. "Someday, we are going to move back to a big house in the country where I can have a dog or maybe a cat. But first I have to get well so my parents don't have to worry about me all the time. I am tired a lot but sometimes I feel good and I don't know why they are always worrying."
"We used to live outside of town and my mom promised I would get a dog on my eighth birthday. But then I got sick. For a long time I was so sick I couldn't stand up for very long. No one knew what was wrong with me. I had to quit going to school because I was so weak!"
Pippy coo'd in understanding.
"Then the doctors met with my mom and dad and didn't tell me anything. After a long meeting, my parents just told me I was sick but I would get better. They put me in the hospital for a long time. I hated being there and I couldn't stay awake. My mom and dad both cried; they tried to hide it from me but I could tell they had been crying.
A doctor said I might lose all my hair but I only lost some. Everyone was really nice but I didn't like being there at all. Some days I would receive a treatment and then I would feel even sicker. I told the nurses that and the doctor too but they said it was normal for me to feel sicker after the treatments. My mom would come in and I could tell she had been crying. I told her I was okay but she would start crying and sometimes leave the room."
Jimmy smiled up at the owl whose gaze never left him. "After a long time, they let me come home from the hospital. I am getting better now. I am not so tired anymore. I still get tired sometimes but not like I used to be."
Jimmy talked on and on for almost an hour, telling the owl of his life, his family and his school. The boy talked and the visitor to the courtyard listened, sometimes responding with a coo or a whistle. Just the two of them were present with no one to interrupt their peaceful companionship.
Another evening he spent well over an hour chatting with this new friend. Realizing how long he was out, he scampered back to his apartment.
This time, his extra time outside of the apartment wasn't unnoticed and his mother changed everything. When he came in his mother said worriedly. "What took you so long? We were worried about you."
Jimmy didn't know what to say. "I'm sorry mom. I was out in the courtyard looking around."
"Was there anyone else out there?" She asked protectively of her petite son.
"No, just me. It's nice outside and I was just walking around."
"Well, I don't want you going out so late anymore. Take out the garbage early and come right back."
His mother's orders meant he would have to do his chore as soon as dinner finished or possibly before dinner. This upset Jimmy for he wasn't sure his new friend would be waiting for him so early.
Jimmy came up with a plan; deciding to go to bed as early as possible, wait for his parents to go to their rooms and then to sneak quietly out of the apartment. Then he could find and talk to his new friend, Pippy for as long as he wanted.
The next night, he was very excited about this new plan; he could hardly wait to see if the owl would be in the tree. A full 30 minutes before he normally went to his room, he climbed into his bed, "Mom, come kiss me good night." He called waiting for his mother to kiss him as she did every evening. She opened the door to see her son already in bed which surprised her. "Are you feeling okay, honey?" She asked in a soft, gentle voice.
"Yes, just tired." He replied, not knowing what else to say to fool his ever-cautious mother.
A cloud of seriousness crossed her face and she placed the back of her hand on his forehead searching for signs of illness; when she could not find any, she kissed him softly in the same area. "Goodnight, my love." She said and walked softly out of the room.
Jimmy closed his eyes, pretending to be going to sleep. He listened to his mother's footsteps as she went down the hall, hoping she and his dad would go to their room early and read as they often did.
Finally hearing her open and close the door to his parents' bedroom, he opened his eyes. He listened carefully for any other noise from within the apartment for a few minutes, seeming like eternity to him and then, quietly, he slipped out of the apartment to search for his new found friend.
Sure enough the owl was waiting for him. "Good evening, Pippy." Jimmy said sounding as formal as he could. "I am sorry I am late but my parents won't let me take out the garbage after dark anymore. So I had to sneak out."
The owl looked down at the ever-so-small boy and answered with a very pleasant and understanding coo that met the boy's ears.
"Pippy, come here. Fly down to me." Jimmy said looking up at it.
The owl responded again with a deep coo.
"Why won't you fly down to me?" Jimmy asked as if the owl's response was negative.
The owl, watching him intently, turned his head to parrot the movement of the boy as he walked back and forth beneath the limb. Perched only a few feet from the boy's head, he seemed not to have any fear, only curiosity.
"Pippy, be my friend. Come light on my head and we'll go walking around. It will be so fun, Pippy! All my friends will laugh and want you to ride on their heads. But you won't, right Pippy? And we'll be best friends, always." The owl sat on his perch, listening intently and watching the little boy.
Jimmy talked on and on and the owl cooed in response.
* * *
This time, though, Pippy and Jimmy weren't alone. As Jimmy talked up into the tree, his mother, Linda, quietly watched her son from their balcony, trying to hear what he was saying. She could tell he talked to someone or something above the pool and she strained to see who it could be. After several minutes his father joined Linda.
"Who is he talking to?" Larry asked.
"I don't know. I didn't even hear him get out of bed. I don't know who he is with."
For a moment Larry watched the boy talking up into the tree. "It's a cat I believe. There has been a tom cat around the garbage lately. I bet Jimmy saw him and actually waited for us to go to bed. I think this is a good thing. It's what I would have done when I was eight and most boys do the same thing."
"But he's not like most boys. He's not like any other boys I know." Linda said chokingly as she watched her son. Tears streaked down her cheeks and she cried silently, not allowing the sobs to overtake her. 'Why did it have to be her son? Why did such a thing have to happen to Jimmy? He was so young.' As she thought about this, the sobbing became uncontrolled and she could not think of anything at all and held her face in her hands.
Larry put his arms around his wife and held her close. "It's not over. We have to show him our strength for him to have his own." Larry said quietly as he consoled his wife.
The tears, flowing freely down her cheeks, were no longer rare and seemingly a daily part of Linda's life.
She often thought of the beginning and could hear the doctor uttering the words "Jimmy has Leukemia, a very aggressive form of cancer." At these words, her world imploded and she struggled to keep her life from spiraling out of control.
Prior to those words their family was perfect. Jimmy, their only son, was born late in life to Larry and Linda. She had a career to develop and enjoyed it. She couldn't imagine a better world. Then, just after her 30th birthday, Jimmy came along and her life was so much fuller. She quit her job to be home with her son without a second thought. Their world was full of happiness. She loved to laugh, she loved her family and she only cried during sad movies. Their lives were perfect.
Since that day at the doctor's office, seldom did a laugh escape her. There was nothing to laugh about.
Larry interrupted her thoughts, "he's fighting; he's not as weak as he was. He seems so much stronger now than he was just a few weeks ago." Larry held her even tighter as they watched their young son talking to some hidden creature in the tree.
"I know, but I am so scared. I can't control my emotions and cry all the time." She said. "Look at how I embarrassed you at the grocery store today."
"You didn't embarrass me." He kissed her tear ridden cheek, tasting the saltiness of the river of tears. "I do the same thing; I cry too. I just know we have to be strong for him. What happened at the grocery store is normal, absolutely normal."
She grabbed three boxes and then reality returned; remembering all that occurred in the last few weeks, she realized the irony of stocking up on his favorite cereal. Jimmy's doctor had painted a bleak picture for his future. Although he said there was always a chance, his doubt was obvious.
Suddenly overwhelmed by tears, she sat down in the middle of the aisle and cried. She let the tears flow freely as they often did and sat like a child in the middle of the store.
A stock boy rushed over. "Are you alright ma'am? Did you fall? Are you hurt?" He asked all the normally appropriate questions.
She tried to compose herself enough to speak but could only allow emotion filled sobs to slip away. Finally she looked up for only a few seconds and sobbed. "Why Jimmy? Why does it have to be Jimmy? God, he's only eight-years old; eight-years old!" Then unable to speak anymore, her body racked by the uncontrollable emotions, she gave up fighting the emotions and buried her face in her hands.
Soon the assistant manager appeared. He recognized Linda immediately. "Help me get her up," he said to the stock boy. Together they lifted her to her feet.
The stock boy stood gaping at the sobbing lady and his boss in utter bewilderment. "Go back to your duties," his boss curtly ordered him.
Guiding her to the backroom, the manager helped her sit in a chair. She slumped into the chair appearing to be without a rigid spine, her body soft and slumped like a piece of play- do. Her hands covering her face, she rocked herself like a small child would rock itself to sleep.
The assistant manager phoned her husband. "Larry, you need to come down to the market. Linda is too upset to drive home," he said as calmly as he could.
Larry didn't question his friend for he too felt the stress of the situation. He arrived shortly and rushed over to hold her in his arms. "It's okay. Come on, I'll take you home."
"It's not fair," she sobbed. "How can our only child have Leukemia? How can this happen to us?
"No, no it isn't, but it's the lot we've drawn. We have to try to be strong for Jimmy. It will be hard but we must hold our emotions together."
She looked up at her husband and tried to smile through the sobs. "I don't know why God is doing this to us," she stated now sullen and angry at God with eyes suddenly drying up and appearing crazed.
Larry turned his attention to his friend, the assistant manager, "I appreciate your calling. It is a hard time in our lives," he said thanking the manager while tears filled his own eyes.
The stock boy appeared but no words passed. Apparently even he understood the sadness befallen on the lives of Jimmy's parents.
Once in the car, Larry held his wife as tight as he could. He kissed the paths the tears had taken as they flowed freely down her face. "The doctors haven't given up. We can't either. We have to be strong for our boy. If he sees you don't have any hope, then he won't either.
Linda thought of the last visit with Jimmy's doctor. He had asked Jimmy to leave the room and go to the vending area to get a snack, allowing him to talk in private to the parents. The doctor, young, only in his mid-30s, with perfect white teeth and deep glossy brown hair, obviously styled professionally, tried to put on his most serious face, "I'm sorry. The cancer isn't spreading anymore but it isn't in remission either. Leukemia is sometimes very aggressive and, I'm sorry, your son's case falls into that category."
Both parents, with their eyes wet from the budding tears, sat silently interpreting the words of the specialist. Linda searched his eyes for some light of hope but could not find any and she finally looked to the floor which provided the same comfort as the doctor's eyes did.
"Is there nothing we can do?" Larry asked, feeling the darkness of despair clouding his heart.
The doctor paused, meeting Larry's eyes and solemnly stated, "Jimmy's too weak to treat with radiation and," pausing again, looking from one parent to the other and back again to the man whom he believed to be the strength of the couple, "honestly I am not sure it would do him any good."
Excerpted from Pippy by Robert Wilson Copyright © 2011 by Robert Wilson. Excerpted by permission of iUniverse, Inc.. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Posted February 10, 2012
He brought the power of faith and prayer into a tragic situation, something that lots of children's books are lacking, but also made me laugh with some of their adventures. This book is a great read for young and old. I have given coppies to my 8 and 11 year old nieces, 12 year old nephew,and 14 year old son.They all have loved it!
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