Sunday, August 31, 2014

Rachel Small: The Story of Cartwheels That Took A Girl To the Ocean

Five-year-old Rachel Small was the tiniest of all her brothers and sisters. 

“I want to go see the ocean!” Rachel would say every morning. 

She had only heard of the ocean, but never seen it face to face. Her older brothers and sisters had all seen the ocean, but they said she was too young.

“You’re too tiny to go to the ocean! Your feet would never be able to get you there!” 

But Rachel was an optimist and very good at believing for the impossible. One morning when she woke up, a light entered her room and filled her body with strength. As she looked in the mirror, she realized that she had grown a few inches in height.

Then she started doing cartwheels throughout the house, and no one could stop her. In fact, she did cartwheels all the way to the ocean’s shore—many miles from her house. 

After a few hours of cartwheels, her wrists and ankles swelled with pain, but she kept going. When she got to the ocean, she did a round off and stood in silence at the crashing of the ocean waves. She ran into the waves, laughing at anyone who told her she was too small.

Because she was not too small for anything; she was Rachel, and her faith was big enough.


Copyright 2015 Jennifer Waters

Hannah Henderson: The Story of A Piano on Wheels

Once there was a grand piano that sat in a piano store for its entire life. Then one day it was put on a moving truck, and it thought it might finally have an owner. It longed for a musician to play sonatas on its beautiful black and white keys. As the piano mover headed down the highway, the piano bounced every time the truck hit a pothole.

When the driver slammed on the breaks at a stoplight, the truck’s back door flew open, and the grand piano was thrust onto a major highway with moving cars and trucks.

“Watch out! Piano on the loose!” the driver yelled, running down the street after the instrument. At full speed, the piano on wheels blazed down the interstate, fearing its life was finished. The piano’s strings tensed up, and the lid clanged and banged against the instrument’s body. The keys on the piano hit their hammers as the body rolled down the highway. 

Not even the piano pedals could stop the rolling motion of the instrument. It seemed like the piano’s wheels had taken over and had no intentions of stopping. After running for at least a mile, the truck driver gave up, yelling: “Goodbye, my friend!”

Down one hill and up another, the piano rolled for more than an hour. It passed by homes, stores, and factories, eventually slowing in a small neighborhood. The piano rolled right up the driveway of 345 Penny Note Lane and didn’t move an inch. 

“Hannah, I think the mailman is here,” Mr. Henderson called to his daughter, mowing the lawn. As Mr. Henderson turned around, the grand piano in the driveway startled him.

He turned off the lawn mower and said: “Hannah, what is this piano doing in the front yard?” Hannah ran out the door and gasped in delight: a piano on wheels had arrived just for her. 

“I’d been praying every day for a piano!” she said. “I knew I was supposed to play music.” Somehow, the piano had known Hannah would cherish the beloved instrument. 

For the rest of its time, the grand piano sat graciously in Hannah’s bedroom. 

She slept under its shiny black body, because she had no room for a bed, only melodies.


Copyright 2015 Jennifer Waters

Bethany Buttercup: The Story of Peanut Butter That Almost Stuck Like Glue

Seven-year-old Bethany Buttercup was always eating peanut butter straight from the jar. She ate so much peanut butter that her father warned her that she would turn into a peanut. The problem was that she ate it right before dinner, so she never ate her regular meal. 

One day, her father finally took the peanut butter jar, put its lid back on, and told her:

“Your tongue is going to be glued to the top of your mouth if you don’t stop eating peanut butter.”

“I didn’t know that peanut butter could be used as glue,” Bethany said to herself.

The next day, Bethany hid in the pantry closet, eating the peanut butter with a wooden spoon. She looked at the broken shelf in front of her and decided that maybe peanut butter could fix it. So, she took the wooden spoon and slathered the peanut butter on the shelf and the wall. Bethany thought the shelf was good-as-new; it stuck to the wall like glue in no time flat. After Bethany put the peanut butter jar back on the shelf, her father opened the pantry door. 

“What in the world are you doing in the pantry with the light off?” he said, turning on the lights. Bethany blinked, and the shelf collapsed on the floor with all the canned goods. 

“I tried to glue the shelf with the peanut butter, Dad!” Bethany said, cleaning up the mess. 

“Peanut butter only works like glue with your tongue! Only with your tongue,” he said. 

“But I just ate almost the whole jar, and my tongue isn’t stuck yet,” Bethany said. 

“Don’t worry, it soon will be, because I’m mixing the peanut butter with the wood glue!” he said.

“Well, I’ll eat the grape jelly from the jar instead of the peanut butter,” Bethany said. “And then I’ll really be able to mend some things around the house with the peanut butter.”

“Bethany, please, it takes a hammer and nails to properly fix anything,” her father said.


Copyright 2015 Jennifer Waters

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Happy Face Pancakes: The Story of Debby Davis and Her Sweet Secret

Every morning, seven-year-old Debbie Davis woke up ready for pancakes. Not omelets or waffles or oatmeal or blueberry muffins, definitely not toast, but pancakes. According to Debbie, the secret to a good day was making a happy face on her pancakes.

“I’m hungry!” she said, pouring sugary maple syrup over a hot stack of cakes. 

No matter what the day would bring, Debbie always started it with a smile. That way Debbie could keep smiling throughout the day, even if it was a hard one. 

“Smile as big as you can!” she said, deciding how to construct a face on her cakes. 

There were various ways to make faces on pancakes, so it never got boring. Bananas, kiwi, oranges, blueberries, and of course chocolate chips, could be used for eyes. Strawberries were best used for the nose, along with cherries, pears, or a clump of raspberries. 

Sometimes a patch of butter could be used as a nose, although it would eventually melt. Whip cream with a bunch of chocolate chips and sauce made a wonderful smile. On some occasions, Debbie used sunny side up eggs as eyes on her pancakes.

“Googly eyes taste so good!” she said, arranging the egg eyes. “Now for some bacon!”

“Bacon might make a beautiful smile, but it’s not so good for you, Debbie,” her father said.

“It’s crunchy and salty, not as sweet as the other fruits and candies,” she said, eating it anyhow. 

Depending on the nearest holiday, Debbie might use peppermints or candy corns. During the Fourth of July, she made a red, white, and blue grin from ear-to-pancake-ear. If Debbie was running late, and she could not make a pancake smile, it was never a good day. She would always come home from school crying or upset about something. 

“I’m never going back to school again! I hate learning a bunch of nonsense,” Debbie said. So, Mrs. Davis knew that Debbie had to have her pancakes, or the day would just not go right.  Whenever Debbie had friends that were sad at school, she told them about pancakes.

“Sssh! It’s our secret. It works every single time,” she told friends, knowing they would share the magic. If her friends didn’t believe her, she invited them over for dinner pancakes. 

On those days, Debbie was extra happy, because she got to make two smiles in one day. 

“Hooray! I don’t have to eat the leftover lasagna again,” Debbie said, hugging her friends. Vegetables of all shapes and sizes could be used with stacked whole-wheat pancakes. Broccoli, squash, peppers, and carrots made large and glowing eyes. Aside from a sliced hot dog, a big piece of sausage made the best dinner pancake nose. Green beans, spinach, or peas could carefully create a very large smile. 

“I can’t believe the magic of Happy Face Pancakes!” her friends said, asking for seconds. Debbie’s friends were amazed how much better they felt after breakfast or dinner pancakes.

“Even though I told you it was a secret, make sure you tell a friend who seems sad or blue,” she told everyone. “You’ll only end up smiling twice as big as you would have if you kept the magic to yourself.”


Copyright 2015 Jennifer Waters

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Too Amazing For Me: Clap Your Hand Over Your Mouth

An eagle in the sky,

A snake on a rock,

A ship on the sea,

Too amazing for me.


A man with a maiden,

A servant who is king,

A woman who is loved,

Too amazing for me.


Then there are the ants,

Creatures of little strength.

Then there are the badgers,

Creatures of little power.

Clap your hand over your mouth.

Too amazing for me.


A lion that is mighty,

A strutting cockeyed rooster,

A he-goat that is fearless,

Too amazing for me.


Then there are the locusts,

Who never ruled a kingdom.

Then there are the lizards,

Who can be found in a palace.

Clap your hand over your mouth.

Too amazing for me.


Have you ever seen a king 

With his army all around him?

He retreats for nothing.

Isn’t that something?


Clap your hand over your mouth.

Too amazing for me.


Clap your hand over your mouth.

Too amazing for me.


Copyright 2015 Jennifer Waters

Emily Friendly: The Story of a Jubilant Girl Who Was Grounded

One summer morning, Emily Friendly’s mom finished washing the laundry. She stuck her head out the window of the laundry room and called to her daughter.

“Honey, will you grab the clothespins and hang the clothes outside?” Mrs. Friendly said to Emily. 

Ten-year-old Emily loved to read, sitting outside all day in the sun devouring stories. Sometimes, she would find inspiration and write her own stories in her journal.

“Sure, Mom!” Emily called back to her mother, placing her bookmark at her stopping point. Emily pushed three pens behind her ears, climbed from her chair, and ran up the back steps. All she could think about is how the book she was reading was going to end. Possibly, the story should have a different ending than the author’s original idea.

Regardless of her racing mind, she piled her mom’s wet clothes in a plastic laundry basket. Then she kissed her mother on the cheek, as her mom finished cleaning up the laundry room. “Love you, Mom!” Emily said as she grabbed a cushion of sharp pins and put them in the basket. 

Emily left the traditional wooden clips for securing clothes to a clothesline on the counter. Then she ran down the back steps and darted out into the warm mid-morning sun. 

“What beautiful tall trees!” Emily said, walking right past the clothesline hung between two Elms. She pulled the pincushion from the basket and pinned the wet clothes to the trees.

One by one, she stuck pins through the shirts, pants, skirts, and even underwear into the tree bark. Then she stood back, standing in awe of her wonderful artistic accomplishment. It was almost as though she painted the trees with clothes, and they charmingly blew in the wind. 

“What in the world did you do with my clothes?” Mrs. Friendly yelled from the window. “Why didn’t you hang the clothes on the clothesline like you’ve seen me do for years?”

“It seemed like a better ending to the story, Mom! You told me to grab the pins,” Emily said. “I only did what you said . . . can’t you see the beauty in my ending to the story!”

“Oh, please! You read too many books, and you have too many pens,” her mom cried. “You are grounded! Now do something practical and hang the clothes with the wooden pins!”

“I’m grounded now!” Emily yelled, as she plopped herself on the ground. 

While sitting in the grass, she considered how she fulfilled her mother’s latest request. There was always a new story to read and write, and the ending could never be what you expected.


Copyright 2015 Jennifer Waters

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Strawberry the Cow: The Story of Miracle Milk Straight from the Udder

Strawberry the Cow wasn’t always named after a sweet tasting red fruit. He meandered on McCorkle Farm like any old black-and-white beast. His tail swatted the flies that bothered him in the hot summer sun. He ate the tall green grass and drank from the brook that ran over rocks and moss. 

One lazy August afternoon, the neighbor girl decided to pet the cow’s soft nose. She gathered a handful of strawberries from her pail and fed the cow. Her father planted a strawberry patch every summer, and she liked to harvest the berries. The cow enjoyed the strawberries so much that the girl fed him strawberries every afternoon. One day, Mr. McCorkle made a stunning announcement: there was a miracle. His cow of many years started making strawberry milk straight from the udders. It tasted sweeter than any milk that Mr. McCorkle had ever swallowed. He told the neighbors that it was almost like the hen that laid the golden egg. 

In no time, he would certainly be richer than the Queen of England. The girl chuckled to herself and decided to keep her strawberry miracle a secret. When autumn came and the girl’s strawberry patch dried up, Mr. McCorkle had a dilemma. The cow no longer produced the strawberry milk that Mr. McCorkle advertised everywhere. Mr. McCorkle was so distraught that he almost closed his entire farm in embarrassment. Business dropped, and the farmer looked like a fool that created fairy stories.

As the seasons changed and the summer approached, the girl was excited for the annual strawberry patch. She hoped that Mr. McCorkle’s cow would produce the miracle strawberry milk again. So, she fed him strawberries each afternoon before dinner, like she did the previous summer. Before she knew it, Mr. McCorkle was reporting to the local newspaper that the miracle had returned. Mr. McCorkle named his cow “Strawberry” and announced that she only made strawberry milk in the summer. The farmer bottled the milk and sold it for twice the price as the normal pasteurized milk. People came from miles around, lining up every morning from dawn until dusk to drink the miracle. 

As long as Strawberry the Cow lived, the girl—who grew up to be a woman—fed the cow every summer. The woman never told the farmer that she had been feeding the cow her father’s strawberries. She was glad enough to be a miracle if it gave the farmer added faith and happy endings.


Copyright 2015 Jennifer Waters

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Cupcake the Walrus: The Story of Lilith Flores and Her Freckles

Seven-year-old Lilith Flores spent every noontime recess alone on the playground. Although she had beautiful light orange-blond hair, she had enormous freckles. Her very fair skin made her freckles stand out so much that it looked like she had a rash. The other boys and girls on the playground made fun of her and never included her in their games.

Until one day, when Lilith was soaring on the swing set, she noticed a walrus on the swing next to her. The chubby walrus looked lonely with its blubber, long tusks, and whiskers. No one else on the playground talked to the walrus either, Lilith thought to herself. 

“Hello, Mr. Walrus, my name is Lilith. I am in the second grade and would love to be friends!” The walrus chuckled and hopped from the swing to find his lunchbox beneath the sliding board. 

“Would you like a cupcake? I have plenty to share in all the best flavors,” he said. 

“I would love a cupcake, especially one with colorful sprinkles,” Lilith said. 

After that day, Cupcake the Walrus and Lilith ate cakes under the sliding board during every recess. Since all the other children wanted to eat cupcakes, too, Lilith suddenly had many new friends. It never mattered any more that Lilith had freckles all over her fair-skinned face.

Freckles were almost like sprinkles on cupcakes, and cupcakes were too tasty to pass up from a walrus. 


Copyright 2015 Jennifer Waters

Monday, August 4, 2014

Mr. Ferret and the Preposterous Porcupine: The Story of Weasel and a Rodent

Once there was a weasel named Mr. Ferret, who was a lifelong bachelor, and he liked to tell a rodent named Mr. Porcupine, who married for true love, that he was the most preposterous creature that he had ever met.        

Every morning Mr. Ferret would pass by Mr. Porcupine’s tree and say: “You are preposterous! You are prickly and fat! I am slender and sleek, and I have beautiful pink eyes and a stunning mask. I wake up at dawn every morning and work until dusk. You sleep in the day, and you are up all night! What a lazy thing! At least I go hunting for rabbits. All you do is eat twigs! You and your quills are always bruising someone!”

Mr. Porcupine pretended not to hear Mr. Ferret. Of course, the porcupine was supposed to be asleep in the day. Every ounce of Mr. Porcupine’s flesh wanted to throw his quills at the ferret. His father had taught him to send his sharp spines like daggers at ferrets, but Mr. Porcupine was afraid that Mr. Ferret might get hurt, or in the very least someone around him might lose an eye. 

He didn’t understand why Mr. Ferret insisted on pointing fingers at him every morning. Mr. Porcupine had never done anything other than offer him clover and bark, and when leaves and herbs did not calm him, Mr. Porcupine stayed in hiding, especially when Mr. Ferret left behind his potent body odor of rotten eggs. So, Mr. Porcupine kissed Mrs. Porcupine and drifted back to sleep.

One morning, many mornings later, Mr. Ferret passed by the porcupine’s tree. Mr. Ferret called out all sorts of taunting insults like his usual banter. Mostly, Mr. Porcupine had ignored Mr. Ferret, feeling sorry for him. 

On this particular dawn, Mr. Porcupine called back to him: “You might want to keep an eye open for the wolves. I saw them late last night. They were scouring for food under the blood-red moon and would love to eat you.”

“Don’t be ridiculous. They would surely eat you instead!” Mr. Ferret cried. 

Mrs. Porcupine whispered: “Maybe this is how we get rid of Mr. Ferret once and for all!” 

“Honey, don’t say that. One day he will see the error of his ways,” Mr. Porcupine said. He tried to warn Mr. Ferret. It was the ferret’s fault if he did not pay attention. All of a sudden, a pack of wolves came over the bank, growling in anger.

As Mr. Porcupine looked from his tree, every quill on his body rose in defense. The wolves charged through the forest, heading right for the weasel. 

“Mr. Ferret, watch out! Run for your life,” Mr. Porcupine cried to him. 

Instead, Mr. Ferret started a little dance–the weasel war dance: “I will dance past all my enemies, and they will do me no harm!” So, he hopped and bumped sideways, clicking and hissing. He squeaked this way and that, showing his teeth, and leaving hairballs at his feet. 

Mr. Porcupine shook at the thought of Mr. Ferret’s demise. Although he could not stand Mr. Ferret, he would miss their morning routine. Oftentimes, Mr. Porcupine wondered if Mr. Ferret really wanted to be friends, but he didn’t know how to properly express his true feelings.

As the wolves approached, Mrs. Porcupine covered her head under the tree branch and cried. In anguish about the wolves and their teeth, Mr. Porcupine took a deep breath and sent his quills spinning from the tree through the cool morning air. He secretly hoped that the sharp spines would poke out the eyes of the wolves, and Mr. Ferret could have enough time to run away before he was devoured. 

Of course, Mr. Ferret’s weasel war dance did nothing but make him look like an easy target. As Mr. Porcupine’s quills flew toward the wolves, he hoped he had good aim. Before the wolves knew what happened, the quills hit the pack like daggers. 

The lead wolf said: “Why didn’t you see that preposterous porcupine out on the limb?” 

Another wolf said: “Me? Why didn’t you see him? I can’t do everything at once.” 

As the wolves whimpered back over the bank, Mr. Ferret kept dancing. 

“The weasel war dance works every time!” he said. 

Astounded and befuddled, Mr. Porcupine didn’t know what to say. 

So, he climbed down the tree with not one quill intact and said: “It was I, not your silly weasel war dance, that saved your life.”

“Leave my husband alone. You are full of trouble,” Mrs. Porcupine called to the ferret.

Mr. Ferret gasped! “Oh my, your husband must have seen that I had shut my eyes while dancing. I’m sure he’s lying. His quills would never be sharp enough to save my life.”

Of course, Mr. Porcupine was hoping for a better response than that. So, he climbed back up his tree, and he shut his own eyes. He was so glad he had a big heart. Otherwise, he might not be able to bear the nasty comments from Mr. Ferret.

“Never do anything like that for him again,” Mrs. Porcupine said. 

“Oh, Mr. Porcupine, you are the most preposterous creature I have ever seen! You’re naked! And you have no way to defend yourself. What did happen to your quills?” the ferret yelled. Then Mr. Ferret took a step backward and landed on a single porcupine quill: “Aah! Mr. Porcupine, you are preposterous! Preposterous! You are so preposterous that you just might be my best friend.” 

Mr. Porcupine was already snoring on a tree branch, hoping his quills would grow back soon. He decided to ignore Mr. Ferret, like he did on most mornings, and maybe one day the weasel would save his preposterous porcupine life in return. And it would not be with the weasel war dance, because it didn’t work anyway.


Copyright 2014 Jennifer Waters

The Other Side of the Basement: The Story of Tabitha Rainwater and Gentleness the Dragon

Tabitha Rainwater is my whole name.

I’m age 12 if it matters to you, all the same.

I might as well live in Timbuktu.  

My town is called Sunshine, even though I’m blue. 

‘Cause down the stairs and into the basement,

My parents hide things that need replacement.

At first glance, it’s a normal room, 

With a table, a couch, and a short wicker broom.

But then a door lingers with its handles and hinges.

When I look at its size, my little toe cringes.  

On the other side of the basement door, 

Is a dangerous place that you fear to explore. 

Tractors need parts; benches need screws.

Carpets need cleaning—so much to reuse.

Trunks store old clothes. Piles of chairs. 

Bed frames are bent. Guitars need repairs.

It’s supposed to store things like boxes and books.

The last time I looked, I found a dragon with hooks. 

His toenails were so long that he could hang from the ceiling. 

As hard as I tried, this gave me a really bad feeling. 

I tried to tell Mama. I tried to tell Dad. 

No one would listen. It made my heart sad.

One day its tail slid beneath the door. 

Mama wasn’t watching the basement floor. 

I wondered if the monster needed a snack. 

I had to keep him kind, or he might attack. 

So, I ran up the stairs to the kitchen table. 

I grabbed a banana to keep him stable. 

I ran back to the basement and stood by the door.

I hoped I would live another month more. 

I creaked open the door and peered into the dark.

The room looked scary, mean, and stark. 

I stood there for a moment, searching for the dragon.

All I saw was my broken three-wheeled wagon. 

“Where are you, Dragon? I brought a treat!

I thought you might need something good to eat.”

Then I felt a thud, a scrape, and a smack.

Every time he moved; the dragon got flack. 

He stepped from the corner and hung his head. 

Mounds of trash fell, and his right wing bled.  

Before he could breathe wrath and fire, 

I gave him the fruit and tried not to perspire.

Then I looked for a bandage to mend his wing.

I used ten newspapers and hoped it didn’t sting.

I wanted to ask him how he found my basement, 

Especially the other side that felt like displacement. 

If he had a tunnel that led him back to his cave,

Maybe I could go with him if I was feeling brave. 

Then he stepped to the side, and I saw a hole.

It must have been his tunnel that he dug like a mole.

I dove down the passage without a second thought. 

Who cared about the junk that my parents had bought!

All of a sudden, he followed my lead.

I tried to walk slowly, but he had his own speed. 

When I came to the end of the long, cold channel,

I wished I had brought my jacket with flannel. 

I poked my head into his dark, empty den.

He had no Mama or Papa. I looked again. 

No wonder he liked the other side of the basement. 

He was probably waiting for some sort of placement. 

He needed a buddy to dig in the dirt. 

I imagined his feelings must have been hurt. 

It’d been more than a day since he flew in the air,

And somehow that seemed sort of unfair.

So, I jumped on his back, and we took to the wind.

I knew Mama and Daddy would soon be chagrined.

I held on tight and tried not to look down.

My family and home would now be renown. 

We soared ‘bove the clouds and up to heaven.

The minutes it took to get home were seven. 

I counted the seconds on my hands and my toes.

What the dragon was thinking, nobody knows.

He set foot in my yard and caused a great quake.

The front lawn was split. The whole house did shake. 

Mama opened the door, and loudly she cried,

“Why me? Oh my gosh! I feel like I lied.

The dragon was hiding in the basement for years.

I didn’t tell you in case you shed tears.

Your father disliked him and locked him away.

He piled high broken things to keep him at bay.”

In a moment, the trash in the house all made sense. 

My daddy thought the mess would be used for defense. 

But really, we missed out on a two-winged friend. 

Now I had a pet, and the nightmare could end. 

Tomorrow, I would call for a big garbage truck. 

The other side of the basement would be no more amuck.

Gentleness is now my pet dragon’s name,

So, no one can play a game of shame or blame. 

My dragon will have his own bedroom and nest. 

We’ll be one happy family with monster-sized zest.


Copyright 2014 Jennifer Waters

Dedicated to my parents, Darlene and John Waters, for giving me their other side of the basement as inspiration. 

Kisses: The Life of Milton S. Hershey

Milton Hershey grew up a simple farm boy in Pennsylvania. His mother Fanny read the Good Book to him every day. His father Henry taught him to dream and take chances. Milton watched his father struggle to make money in oil and trout fishing. So, his first job was in a candy shop, where he could learn to make caramels.

After years of being an apprentice, Milton opened his own caramel company. His Aunt Mattie believed in him so much that she paid to set up the business, but business was tough, and Milton ended up going bankrupt more than once. Milton finally got his caramel company going when a British importer made a large order. A local banker gave Milton the money he needed to fulfill the shipment of candy. After that, business started booming, and Milton tasted sweet success. 

While selling caramels in New York, he met a beautiful woman named Kitty Sweeney. After a whirlwind romance, they married and planned to have many children. With the success of Milton’s Lancaster Caramel Company, he started to make chocolate. He made creamy milk chocolate that melts beneath your tongue and was as rich as butter. After he sold the caramel business, he built the Hershey Chocolate Company. He based his factory in the cornfields of Pennsylvania, where dairy farmers raised cows.

At his new factory, he made chocolate candy bars and kisses. The factory had so many workers that he had to build a town. So, he founded the town of Hershey for his workers and their families. The town had a zoo, a trolley, a baseball field, a school, a hospital, and churches. Each worker had an original home, distinct and unique. As Milton’s chocolate company became more and more successful, Kitty’s health began to fail, and she could not have children. She was so sad; she wanted to start a family with Milton.

Then she had the idea to start the Hershey Industrial School for orphan boys. Boys applied from all over the country; Nelson and Irvin were the first boys accepted. Milton aimed to raise boys that were productive members of society with good virtues. He taught them to work hard and live by the Golden Rule: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”

Milton’s Wall Street competitors became angry that he gave money to orphans. They told him to stop being so generous and try to make a larger profit with his money. Kitty loved the boys so much, as though they were her own children. However, her body deteriorated, and she could no longer walk and rode in a wheelchair. One day when Kitty and Milton were resting at the ocean, Milton got called away for business, and he left Kitty at the beach house with her nurse. Kitty got restless and decided that she should go back to Hershey with Milton.

As her nurse drove home, Kitty forgot to roll up the windows. She could not feel the cold air on her skin, and her body became frostbitten. The nurse stopped the car at the closest hotel and got a room for the night. By the time Milton arrived in the morning, Kitty was close to dying. She asked him for a glass of champagne, and when he returned, Kitty had passed away. Milton dropped to his knees crying and crying; he was stricken with grief.

In Kitty’s honor, Milton gave his entire fortune of $60 million to his orphan school. He wanted the school to last for many years to come. Milton’s competitors and Wall Street bankers were so jealous of his successes. The bankers wanted to destroy his town and company. They tried to put themselves in charge of his company by buying the controlling stock. The scheme didn’t work though; because the stock market crashed, the deal fell through. Milton was so happy that outsiders never took control of his town and company.

In time, Hershey Chocolate reached enormous global success. Now Milton was known for his generosity all over this great big world. During World War II, Milton even found a way to serve his country with chocolate. He produced Ration D Bars and Tropical Chocolate Bars for the U.S. military. Today, the Hershey Company is a global leader in chocolate production. The Milton Hershey School serves many orphan boys and girls. Milton has been a father to many generations through his sweet milk chocolate. All it took was one man with a big dream, and a heart full of love and kisses. 


Copyright 2014 Jennifer Waters

Singing Lessons: The Life of Helen Keller

Fourteen-year-old Helen Keller bustled through Grand Central Station. Although she could not hear or see, she could sense her surroundings. All the feelings and smells were new–rough edges and big city fumes.

Her trusted teacher, Annie Sullivan, helped her stumble through the crowd. Only a few years ago, Annie taught Helen to speak through sign language. Instead of spoken words, she used hand signals to communicate. Like Jacob wrestled with the angel in the Bible, Annie fought with Helen for days. Annie would not give up until Helen received the blessing of communication.

Helen spelled her first word, W-A-T-E-R, to Annie at the pump in her Alabama yard. After learning the alphabet for sign language and Braille, Helen wanted to learn to talk. Although her speaking voice appeared miraculously, it sounded harsh and forced. So, Helen decided to study at The Wright-Humason School in New York.

More than any class at the school, singing lessons would help Helen learn to talk better. Everyone at church sings Psalms and hymns. Helen was always nervous to make a noise. Even with a joyful noise, she was too afraid that the congregation would make fun of her. Singing lessons would be the most intimidating of all Helen’s subjects at school, but they would also be the most rewarding if she could master the subject.

At the beginning of each singing lesson, Helen sat at the piano and felt its vibrations. She put her cheek on the soundboard to sense its rhythm and pressed the pedals. She embraced the piano as a friend and sensed its music, hoping to share in its beauty. At every lesson, her teacher, Dr. Thomas Humason, directed Helen’s breathing. Although she gave her best effort, she made very little progress. She was so disappointed. She kept her hands on Dr. Humason’s throat or on the piano as he played. Helen became confused easily, mistaking one note for another. She needed to learn better control of vowel and consonant sounds. 

The young student struggled to breathe from deep in her stomach, and not her chest. She longed to sing and had heard about opera singers who sounded like bluebirds. Helen wondered what the call of an eagle sounded like and tried to mimic it. Despite much practice, she was embarrassed and unsure she wanted to continue. 

As Helen struggled with her singing lessons, Annie became friends with other professors. She studied new techniques to help Helen learn more clever ways of speaking. Instead of just placing her hands on Dr. Humason’s throat, Helen placed them on his lips. Although her lip-reading improved, she still could not understand rapid speech. Helen wanted so much to be able to talk and sing like other people. Some days, she felt trapped in her own body, limited by her simple sign language. 

In between her singing lessons, Helen’s teachers took her on fields trips for inspiration. Helen visited the symphony, where she could feel the music through her feet. The orchestra welled up in her soul, and she felt lighter than air. On Washington’s birthday, Helen’s class went to a dog show at Madison Square Garden. The barking sounds of the dogs felt almost the same as the orchestra to Helen. She found the bulldogs the most fascinating with their unique bark. 

After the dog show, Dr. Humason took Helen to the Metropolitan Club. Helen felt as though she did not fit in with the wealthy New York crowd. She found it hard to communicate with them, so she sat next to her friend: the piano. Instead of talking to the crowd, she enjoyed the piano’s pulse and rhythm. On the way back to the school, Helen asked Dr. Humason if she could take piano lessons. Helen thought that the piano lessons would help her progress in singing. Before each singing lesson, Helen sat at the school’s piano and hummed notes. She tried to feel the tone from the piano so that it would come through her voice. As she pounded on the piano in frustration, she imagined writing wonderful songs. 

One Saturday, her teachers planned a special trip for the entire class: A visit to Bedloe’s Island to see Bartholdi’s Statute of Liberty–a free woman. Liberty was a gigantic figure in Greek draperies that held a torch in her right hand. Although Helen could not see Liberty, just the idea of her gave Helen motivation. She put one foot after the other up the staircase of Lady Liberty. As she walked straight to the top, Helen was more determined than ever to sing clearly. Even though Helen wanted other people to approve of her voice, as long as Helen liked her own singing, it did not matter what anyone else thought. When she reached the top of the stairs, Helen felt the sun on her face. As the wind blew through her hair, she embraced the freedom to sing.

Even though Helen could not speak the same way everyone else did, it was all right, and she was good enough. She was free, just like Lady Liberty. At every singing lesson from then on, Helen imagined that she had a beautiful voice. No one would judge her anymore; the freedom of singing was enough. 


Copyright 2014 Jennifer Waters

Inspired by my fifth grade English teacher Miss Miller, where I studied about Helen Keller and learned the sign language alphabet.

Father Christmas: The Story of St. Nicholas

One brisk winter night an angel appeared 

To a toy maker named Nicholas, with his pipe and his beard.

Gabriel said, “Glory! To the children you go!

Take care of each tot from their head to their toe.

Their families don’t want them, but I know you do.

Go be their father, a father that’s true.”

Nicholas fell to the floor with prayers and a gasp.

He grabbed his coin purse; his coat he did grasp.

He ran past each home in the village that night.

He put coins in their shoes in the misty moonlight. 

Shoes by the windows, shoes by the doors,

So, children had money for food in the stores.

The next night he pondered their need for some sweets,

For toy trains and candy, for holiday treats.

So, he tiptoed through town with his gifts in a sack.

He left toys and candy; no child would lack.

On Sunday at Mass, the toy maker sang

The songs from the hymnal; the church bells he rang.

He sat on the steps of the cathedral with glee

And told stories of reindeer that flew ‘bove the tree.

When the priest heard the stories, he told Nicholas, “Be quiet!

Snowmen are evil! Fairy elves start a riot!

Put your money in the plate that comes ‘round the church.

Stop making up lies, the devil might perch.”

But Nicholas heard prayers of his neighbor at Mass,

Who asked God for dowries, for his daughters, alas!

He worried his children would never find mates.

They each needed a suitor, and then wedding dates.

So, the toymaker dressed in a red velvet cloak,

Filled purses with coins, for the poor common folk.

He climbed on the roof of the faithful man’s home.

He saw flying reindeer; through the sky they did roam.

Down the chimney he dropped the purses with faith— 

That stockings would catch them, as Gabriel would saith.

Then he climbed from the rooftop, walked away in the snow,

‘Til the poor father found him, and said, “I can’t take this, no!”

Nicholas refused and said, “I’ll give, not receive.

Your good Christian daughters will be married Christmas Eve.”

The common man fell to his knees as he cried,

“Jesus and Mary! The groom and the bride!

This man is a saint! A father that’s blest!

He is Father Christmas; just look how he’s dressed!”

When the parish priest heard of the poor daughters’ gifts,

He tracked Nicholas down, as he took his night shifts.

The priest hoped the women in the village would not wed.

“More nuns for the parish, who bake daily bread!”

The next day he ordered the parish to return

Any gift from a stranger that they did not earn.

The priest canceled Christmas; he called off the Mass.

“No weddings this Christmas!” His words cut like glass.

If children felt hungry, he told them a lie: 

“Oh, pray so much harder, it’s your fault you can’t buy 

Food for your tummies. You must have sinned.

Children are trouble. Your hinds should be skinned.”

But Nicholas said, “Children will eat!

The women will marry, not live on the street!

I gave the presents! They won’t be returned!

Love is a gift! It cannot be earned!”

The priest said, “He’s lying! He stole what he gave.

Someone arrest him! Make him behave.”

Nicholas ran for his life, and he doubted he met

An angel from heaven. He tried to forget.

But that night in his sleep, the angel appeared.

Gabriel said, “Wake now! The Lord be revered. 

The priest will be caught for the evil he did. 

You are Father Christmas. Your name won’t be hid.

Vow now to listen, and heed what I say.

You’ll soon be a hero. Celebrate Christmas day!”

The week after Christmas, the priest set a trap. 

He waited ‘til Nicholas dozed for his nap. 

He lured women and children to the old dusty church.

With orphans as hostage, no parents could search. 

He told the women God put him in charge.

His heart was small, and his crime very large. 

Once the women and children were tied up in tears, 

The priest filled them up with all kinds of fears.

He sent word to Nicholas for a mighty high ransom.

The letter was ugly, his handwriting unhandsome.

When Nicholas read of the capture at hand,

He climbed the church steeple, and he took command. 

He jumped down the chimney and landed feet first.

He sent up a prayer; he would not think the worst.

As he crawled from the fireplace, in soot and in dust,

He wrestled the priest and fought in disgust.

‘Til he swung back the doors and cheered in relief!

A soldier and guard dog fixed the problem—in brief.  

Now the children were free! The women were blessed!

Father Christmas said, “Dear ones, do not be distressed!

The liar has left now. You are no more the least.

Let’s sing and be merry! Let’s go have a feast!

A new priest will come to the village in weeks.

Since I’m Father Christmas, I’ll pinch children’s cheeks.

I’ll marry the women on each Christmas Eve.

No one will cry. Yes, no one will grieve.”

When weeks turned to months, and months turned to years,

And no priest arrived, Father Christmas made cheers!

He saved all the children and married the girls 

To chivalrous suitors with diamonds and pearls.

And when he remembered what Gabriel foretold, 

Nicholas looked up to heaven and gave thanks so bold.

Each year he made toys and filled up his pack. 

He wore out his cloak and never looked back. 


Copyright 2013 Jennifer Waters