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Boko and the Big Red Bag
By Chris Young
Trafford PublishingCopyright © 2013 Chris Young
All right reserved.
Chapter OneBoko was a book; he had spent the last two years of his life sitting on the third shelf of the children's section of the library. Now here he was, standing in Emily's sitting room, on the shelf next to the television set. Beside him was his new book friend, Sylvie. Her story was very popular with young children, telling of a magic tree and of the fairies and animals who lived among the branches and within the hollows of the big strong trunk.
Boko had an exciting tale to tell too. Once upon a time, there were two children who went on holiday with their parents to a small island. They explored all over the island, and one day, they found a hidden cave in which they discovered some small items of lost treasure and had many adventures scrambling through underground tunnels leading to an old, ruined, and deserted castle. There, they found secret doors leading to a small sandy beach and the remains of an old pirate ship.
Lots of children had loved to read Boko's story, but he had been badly treated and had become torn and shabby and quite sad until, one day, Emily's two grandchildren, Ella and Peter, with their friend Stephen, borrowed Boko from the library and discovered he could talk. Although he was not really allowed to speak to humans (it was an important book law), he broke the rules one day because he was tired of being misused, and he wanted to tell the children how unhappy he was when his readers hurt him, especially when the corners of his pages were turned down, and how bruised he was from people using him as a step. He was sad too that his jacket was torn. Ella and Peter took Boko home to their Gran's house, where he told them about his travels and the children who had owned him. He learned that the children's Gran was his original owner, who was more than happy to be reunited with her favorite childhood book.
The following Saturday, Emily returned Boko to the library, but she was delighted to be told that as he was old and shabby, he could no longer be put back on the shelf, but if she wanted to make a donation to a fund for new books, she could keep Boko and take him home!
Of course, the fact that Boko could talk was a secret, but he was company for Emily, and she often chatted to him while she was dusting or tidying up the living room and whenever Peter and Ella came to visit. It was during one of his conversations with Emily that he told her he had spent so much time in children's backpacks or suitcases, he had seen very little of the places he had been taken to. When she heard this, Emily had a good idea!
"You know what, Boko?" she said. "I think I will go into town and buy some fabric and some clear plastic. Then I can make a bag big enough to take you with me when I go out for the day. Then you will be able to see where we are going."
"Oh! That would be wonderful," said Boko. "Can Sylvie come too?"
"Yes," said Emily, "we can all go. In fact, why don't I go today, and then it will be made by the time Ella and Peter come for the weekend."
Emily, having finished her housework, picked up her purse and keys and drove into town. She parked her car and walked over to the fabric shop. There was a huge display of colorful fabrics, and Emily chose a red one, which was waterproof and strong enough to hold the books. She also bought a clear plastic material, which she would put on one side of the bag so that Boko and Sylvie would have a nice window. The bag would also have pockets inside for keys, tissues, and a cell phone. The last thing she bought was a zipper so that everything in her bag would be safe and wouldn't fall out.
It had started to rain as Emily walked back to her car, so instead of working in her garden as she had planned, she decided to get out her sewing machine and begin making the bag.
Boko and Sylvie watched as Emily cut out the shape and stitched the material. They were thrilled when they saw their big window and couldn't wait for their first outing.
"When can we go in the bag, Emily?" asked Boko.
"Well, this weekend, Peter and Ella are coming, and I thought we could go for a picnic," said Emily. "That will be fun because I have a friend who has a farm a few miles out of town, and we will all have a chance to see the animals and enjoy the fresh air."
"How long does it take to get there?" asked Sylvie, who was a little bit nervous of traveling, not having been very far.
"About an hour," said Emily. "The farm is on the other side of the river from here, so we have to take the ferry."
"What's a ferry?" asked Boko.
"It is a small boat, and we can drive the car onto it, and it will take us across the river. Instead of driving miles out of our way to get to the bridge, it will save a lot of time," said Emily.
Both books looked at each other and talked about the coming weekend while Emily packed away her sewing machine and inspected the new bag. There was plenty of room in it, and she knew the books would be safe and dry if it rained.
The rest of the week went by quite quickly as Emily made plans for the picnic. She decided to make lots of cookies and a cake and would ask Ella to help her make sandwiches and hard-boil some eggs.
Chapter TwoOn Saturday morning, the sun was shining when Peter and Ella arrived at their Gran's house. She hugged them both, and then they all went into the living room to say hello to Boko and Sylvie.
Boko giggled with delight when he saw the children. "Your Gran has made a lovely new bag. It's bright red and has a big window so that we can see where we are going," he said. "There is plenty of room for Sylvie too and lots of other things."
"Oh! That sounds super. Can we see it, Gran?"
Gran went to fetch the new bag and told the children that she would use it the next day when she planned to take them for a picnic.
"I have another surprise for you too," said Gran. "I have invited Stephen. He will come this afternoon after lunch. He is going to the library first to get Big Book so that we can all be together."
Big Book had his place next to Boko in the library and still lived there, but Ella and Peter's friend Stephen had been at the library the day they discovered the books could talk, and ever since, he had brought Big Book with him whenever he was invited to Gran's. Of course, Boko was thrilled at the thought of seeing his friend again, so while he waited for him to arrive and the children went into the kitchen to have some lunch, he told Sylvie about some of his adventures and how he and Big Book used to watch everyone coming and going at the library until the day Peter picked him off the shelf and his life had changed forever.
Stephen arrived just after two o'clock. "I've brought Big Book," he said. "He won't be very happy because I had to put him in my overnight bag, so I'll just get him out, and then he can go and talk to Boko and Sylvie. Oh! And these are for you," Stephen added, handing a lovely bunch of pink carnations to Gran. "I bought them with my own pocket money to say thank you for having me."
"That is sweet of you, dear, thank you," Gran said, giving Stephen a hug. "I'll just go and put them in some water while you all go and chat in the living room, and then I will come and tell you about tomorrow. I'd like you to help too, if you wouldn't mind. There will be paper plates and cups and some spoons and forks to pack. They can all go into the picnic basket, ready for our trip, and then in the morning, Ella can help me make the sandwiches. We must make the lemonade too."
Gran disappeared into the kitchen, and the children all went into the living room so that Big Book and Boko could catch up on their news. Boko told Big Book about the new travel bag, and Big Book told them all how a little girl had borrowed him from the library and made the paper flower and the bird on his page 18. The little girl had been in the hospital and made it as a thank-you present for the nurse who looked after her.
"That was a lovely thing to do," said Ella. "It's always nice to have a thank-you gift.
A few minutes later, Gran came and joined them. Everyone made themselves comfortable, and they talked about going to the farm.
"Are there any horses there?" asked Stephen.
"I seem to remember there are two horses and a donkey," said Gran. "Mr. Anderson rescued the donkey when he saw how thin it was and how badly treated he had been. The man who owned him kept hitting him with a stick when the donkey was too tired and weak to move very quickly. He has a wonderful home now, though, and isn't forced to work anymore."
"Can we take some apples for the horses?" asked Ella.
"No, dear, I think we should give them some carrots instead," said Gran, remembering how she had been told that apples can make horses quite ill, and it was better not to give them very often and only if the owner allowed it.
"There is a big orchard next to the farmyard, and there is an old cart there with seats, so we can have our picnic there. It is so funny watching the ducks and geese running to and fro, and maybe Mrs. Anderson will let you collect the eggs. There are always a lot of them! There are only seven cows now, so you can watch them being milked, but she told me that there are three new calves, so they will be taking some of the milk from their mothers too."
"I can't wait to see them," Stephen said. "Won't we have a lot to tell our friends at school?" he laughed.
"Yes," said Peter, "but we must remember never to tell the secret about Boko, Sylvie, and Big Book being able to talk."
"I'd never do that," Stephen said seriously. "Not that anyone would believe us anyway," he added, smiling at the thought.
Everyone laughed and talked at once about the farm and their outing the next day. Gran suggested that the boys go and get the big basket and blanket from the cupboard in the garage; the blanket could be used to sit on so they didn't get splinters from the old cart. Peter collected the paper plates and cups, and Stephen packed them carefully in the basket, ready for the morning. Ella sat making a list so that they didn't forget anything, and Gran made the lemonade. "I'm sure we will all be thirsty," she said as she put it in the refrigerator until the morning.
By the time the children had finished helping Gran and enjoyed the macaroni and cheese she had made for their supper, they decided to go to bed quite early as all the excitement had made them quite tired. They thanked Gran and said good night to Boko, Sylvie, and Big Book, who were still talking about the journey tomorrow in Gran's new bag.
"Emily," said Boko, "do you think we could sleep in the new bag tonight just to try it out? Then we would be ready to go in the morning."
"I don't see why not," she answered, smiling. "There is plenty of room, so you should be comfortable. I'm going to sit and read for a while, and then you can tell me what it's like in the new bag."
Emily carefully put Big Book, Boko, and Sylvie in the bag. "Would you rather stand up or lie down?" she asked.
"I thing lying down would be best," said Boko. "I know we will be standing a lot tomorrow." Big Book and Sylvie agreed, so Emily gently laid the bag on the table and wished them good night.
Excerpted from Boko and the Big Red Bag by Chris Young Copyright © 2013 by Chris Young. Excerpted by permission of Trafford Publishing. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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