Saturday, April 25, 2015

Beautiful Ballerina Slippers: The Story of Christina Rose and a Clumsy Rocking Horse

Once there was a girl named Christina Rose who limped since the day she was born. From the time she was a small child, her parents made her wear braces on her legs to help her walk. After ten years of walking with braces, Christina worried she would need them her entire life.

“I hate these braces!” she said to her grandfather, a shoemaker in the local village. 

“Put a rose in your hair,” he said to her. “No one even notices your clumsy legs!” 

Grandfather Renato, who fibbed to her often, gave her roses every morning on the way to school. Christina’s father and mother ran a barbershop in town and never had time to spend with her. Years ago, Christina’s grandfather made her a wooden rocking horse named Sam—who was clumsier than she was.

Unlike other horses, Sam didn’t have feet, he just rocked back and forth in place, and Christina rode him.

“Sam thinks you’re beautiful, and so do I,” her grandfather said, pushing her out the front door of his shop.

Every day after school, Christina rode Sam for hours, putting roses behind his scraggily ears. Sam had become her best friend; maybe he was her only friend, because the other children never played with her.

“Sam, I can tell you anything,” Christina said to him, knowing that her braces didn’t bother the wooden horse.

“I love to listen to your stories,” Sam said to her. 

Of course, no one but Christina knew that Sam could talk. It was a secret, and if she ever told anyone that Sam spoke to her, her parents would think she was lying.

“More than anything, I must be a ballerina,” Christina told Sam. “They’re so graceful. They can dance on their toes!”

“Why yes! I wish I was also a ballet dancer,” Sam said. “Then I could dance with you every night to the music of a harp.” 

From all the years of Christina riding Sam, he had become scratched and scarred, and his saddle was worn. 

“Someday soon, we’ll dance together,” Christina said to Sam, brushing his mane with her hands. 

Then one day when Christina was walking home from school, she stopped by her grandfather’s shop unannounced.

“Grandfather, I must be able to walk without these braces!” Christina said. “How will any boy ever love me? I must be a ballerina with pretty slippers! I need to dance on my toes and pirouette in a tutu . . .”

“I love you . . . I used to be a boy, even though I am now a man,” her grandfather said, looking at her bruised legs.

“The only friend that I have in the whole wide world is Sam, and he’s a rocking horse!” she cried.

“Now that can’t be true,” her grandfather said, looking out the window at children playing ball in the street.

“I’ll see what I can do,” he said to Christina, placing another rose behind her ear. 

Christina stumbled home through the cobbled streets in her braces, tripping in the alley with her schoolbooks.

“Why?” she cried in the middle of the street with everyone watching her. 

By the time she made it home, it was dark enough to only see the moon and the stars in the sky. She threw her books on the floor and walked to her room as fast as she could, throwing her arms around Sam.

“What’s wrong, Christina?” her mother asked, staring at her father in bitter silence as he turned from his daughter. 

“Leave me alone,” Christina said. “It’s obvious what’s wrong. I’m a cripple, and no one loves me . . .”

She sobbed until she could no longer cry anymore and eventually fell asleep on the rocking horse. When Grandfather Renato heard what had happened, he stayed up all night making a pair of pink ballerina toe slippers.

He reinforced the satin ballet shoes with a box to shape the toe, constructing it of many layers of strong glue and material. The slippers were just Christina’s size, to fit her feet without any problem. 

The next morning, Grandfather Renato took the shoes to the village priest asking him to bless the slippers. 

“Whoever wears these beautiful ballerina slippers will rise again,” the priest said, praying over the shoes. He anointed the slippers with oil and swung his incense burner over the satin footwear.

“Thank you, Father,” Grandfather Renato said to the priest, leaving the cathedral with every good intention.

However, before he was able to give the shoes to Christina, the village necromancer stopped him on the street corner. The soothsayer, Sorceress Lucinda, spun spells in her cottage for the desperate people of the village. 

“So, you think the prayer of that priest is going to give your granddaughter the ability to dance?” she said.

“What do you know about my Christina Rose and her ballerina slippers?” he said, holding the shoes close to his chest.

“I know that if you really wanted her to dance that I would have to cook the shoes in my brew,” the Sorceress said.

“Do you think that would really work?” Grandfather Renato asked. “My granddaughter is so sad . . .”

“I’m sure it will work, but she’ll never ever be able to take the slippers off her feet again,” the Sorceress said.

“Well, that would be better than wearing braces her entire life,” Christina’s grandfather said, thinking over his options.

“Take the slippers and cook them in your brew. I will come back for them before sunset,” he said, handing her the shoes.

As the witch walked away with Christina’s ballerina slippers, Grandfather Renato ran back to the church to pray. When he arrived at the Sorceress’ cottage at sunset, she handed him the previously pink slippers, which were now black.

“Give them to your granddaughter, and she’ll dance forever!” the necromancer said, cackling.

Grandfather Renato hurried to find his granddaughter—who was of course sitting on Sam, her faithful rocking horse. 

“I made these beautiful ballerina slippers for you last night,” Grandfather Renato said, handing them to Christina.

Before her grandfather could even explain that the slippers could never be removed once put on her feet, she grabbed the shoes and shoved them across her toes and tied the black ribbons as tight as possible.

Then the braces fell off her legs, and she danced across the bedroom floor with tears in her eyes. 

“Grandfather, I can’t believe that you made such beautiful ballerina slippers just for me!” she said. 

“Yes . . . but I forgot to tell you that you will never be able to take them off . . . it’s the only condition,” he said. 

“I will never take them off!” she said. “Why would I ever even want to take them off?” 

“Of course,” her grandfather said, looking at Sam, the wooden rocking horse that had loved her even with her braces.

As days turned into weeks and months, Christina put a blanket over Sam and shoved him into the corner. She danced her way through the village to much acclaim and had forgotten that she ever rode Sam and told him secrets.

Soon after that, the Sorceress—full of jealousy for Christina’s dancing—hung a black silk tutu on her window at night. 

“It’s only because of me that you can dance,” the witch whispered, angry for never receiving credit for the slippers.

“This dress is for you, child,” the necromancer said, sticking her head through Christina’s bedroom window. 

“Wear the dress with the shoes, and you’ll dance like never before,” the Sorceress said, cracking a smile.

“Why thank you!” Christina said. “I believe we’ve never met . . . such kindness from a stranger . . .”

The next morning, Christina danced through her grandfather’s shop in the black tutu with her ballerina shoes.

“I am happier than I’ve ever been in my entire life,” she said to her grandfather, as she did an arabesque. 

She stood on one leg and raised her other leg behind her body and extended it in a straight line. Before she knew what happened, she felt like she was suffocating and collapsed to the floor, breaking both ankles.

“Child!” Grandfather Renato cried, running to her in tears. He exchanged the black tutu for a red robe with roses on it. 

“This is all my fault. The witch cursed the shoes. The tutu must be cursed as well,” he said, scooping Christina in his arms. “I thought the slippers would help you dance. I didn’t know what I was doing. God, forgive me.”

Grandfather Renato carried her to the priest’s cathedral in tears, praying that her ankles would be healed. With the broken ankles came a high temperature, and her grandfather feared she had an infection and would die.

“Please save my Christina Rose,” the grandfather said. “Sorceress Lucinda cursed her. It’s all my fault.”

“Your faith has made you well. Go in peace,” the priest prayed with confidence, anointing her with perfumed oil.  

“What faith?” Grandfather Renato cried, carrying Christina out of the church. “I have no faith. That’s the problem.”

“But I have faith, Grandfather,” Christina whispered. “I have faith that I can still dance . . .”

As Grandfather Renato tucked Christina into her bed at home, her parents wept at the thought she might die.

“Why didn’t you just leave well enough alone? What if God meant for her to wear those braces?” Christina’s mother said.

“She was fine just playing with that clumsy, old rocking horse all day. She didn’t need to dance,” her father said.

“I am the only one who has ever really loved her,” said a loud, brave voice from the corner of the room.

“What?” Grandfather Renato said, pulling the cover off Sam, Christina’s wooden rocking horse. The voice was so loud that Christina sat up in bed, pulled off her covers, and stood up.

“Sam, I love you!” she cried to the clumsy, wooden rocking horse, remembering how she wanted to dance with him.

The moment she kissed him on the cheek, she was transformed into a tall slender woman, wearing pink ballet toe shoes. Then Sam changed into a tall fit man in a blue body suit wearing his own gentleman ballet slippers. Sam grabbed Christina, put a rose in her hair, kissed her, and danced with her across the village. 

When the Sorceress heard what had happened—that a clumsy rocking horse had answered the priest’s prayer—the witch collapsed dead in the street with remorse, and Grandfather Renato never doubted his faith again. 

The parents of sweet Christina finally decided to love her and accept her for the graceful person that she had always been.

Christina Rose and Sam Danseur danced together in beautiful ballerina slippers for the rest of their lives, and so did their children.


Copyright 2016 Jennifer Waters

Dedicated to Great Uncle Charlie Grim for the "clumsy" wooden rocking horse that he carved.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Handprints: The Story of Juliana Nelsen and Her Artistic Wit

Handprints on the walls,

Thumbprints on the ceiling,

Footprints on the floor

Are really quite revealing: 

Who I am, and where I’ve been,

What I’ve done, and what I give,

With everywhere I’ve ever gone

And proof of how I live.

You can call me Juliana,

And Nelsen is my last name.

I’m almost 12 years old, 

And I put my handprints in a frame.

I made them out of red clay,

To say that I was here.  

So, I’ll always be remembered

By people far and near.

When I look at them closely, 

I can see original design.

I like to touch and hold things.

My fingerprints are mine. 

The print is not the same

As anyone else’s hand.

It’s the reason why I’m me.

I’m sure you can understand.

When you look at my handprints,

You can tell that I like rhyme.

I like reason and Mathematics,

And Michelangelo any old time. 

I like ice cream and whipped cream,

And chocolate soda floats. 

I like symphonies and ballet,

And sophisticated quotes. 

I like sunrise and blue skies,

And fields of yellow daisies.

I like dancing and dreaming,

And doodling crazies.

My parents are both artists,

Who work in paint and clay.

I’m a budding artist, too.

I work on drawings every day.

But lately, I like handprints. 

Of each shape and tiny size.

I started with my own hand

Because I found that wise.

But now I’ll take your handprints,

If you would lend your palm.

You can show them to your friends,

And give them to your mom. 

When they see your handprints,

They will know just who you are,

And you’ll always be remembered,

Like a silver shooting star.

So, make your first impression,

Now once and done forever.

Your handprints are a painting. 

Oh, how extra super clever!

Write your name in the clay,

At the bottom of your print.

Don’t write too small,

Or your mom will have to squint.

Between the first and last name,

Use your middle initial,

Or spell out the whole name,

If you want to make it official.

Everyone will know you, 

That you are you alone.

A masterpiece of fine art,

To which there is no clone.

By looking at your handprints,

The world will know your likes,

And your dislikes and your favorites,

And when your heart says: “Yikes!”

If you really want the world

To notice that you’re unique,

Cover your hands with paint

And use this one technique:

Leave a trail of handprints

In the colors of the rainbow.

Use your fingers and your toes.

You can even use your elbow.

You can also use your handprints

To make much larger paintings.

A string of hearts or flowers

Could be very entertaining.

Your handprints can be wings

For an angel taking flight,

Or turtles with their shells

That hardly ever bite, 

Or a butterfly that soars

Through the springtime sky,

Or the sun in the heavens

That makes you blink your eye.

Your handprints could be leaves

On a tall and mighty tree,

And your fingers the fins 

Of a fish in the sea,

Or the legs of a giraffe

As he’s stretching his neck,

Or the feathers of a flamingo

As he boards a boat deck. 

You could even make a stamp

From your handprint mark,

Or a quilt for your bed

To keep warm in the dark,

Or write your name on a shirt

For pajamas in the night.

When you wake in the morning,

You’ll feel extra cheery and bright.

When you look at your handprints,

You can see a larger meaning.

It’s a picture with a purpose

That has a brilliant leaning.

Your hands are always growing,

Just like your whole life story. 

So be proud of your handprints

In all their wonderful glory. 

They’re on display in a gallery

Of never-ending ageless art.

From babies to old folks,

Handprints are from the heart.

When I’m age one hundred and one,

I’ll see my prints from age twelve,

And I’ll remember being young,

Collecting things to shelve.

But my handprints, like my heart,

Will almost be the same. 

Just a little bigger with time,

And they’ll still be in a frame.


Copyright 2017 Jennifer Waters

Monday, April 20, 2015

HOOPS TIME synopsis

A talented but arrogant young basketball star learns to lead, to share, and to love.

Young basketball star Johnny B. Good knows he’s great; so does Nancy the college president’s daughter, but Johnny ignores her. An injury takes him out of the game, and Johnny bounces around trying unsuccessfully to find a new profession until Nancy gets him a coaching job at the college. Through trial-and-error and with Nancy’s encouragement, Johnny eventually learns how to lead, to inspire his players, and to love the young woman who has always believed in him.   

Johnny B. Good is at Lehigh College on a basketball scholarship for the Mountain Eagles men's team. Nancy Jones, daughter of the college president, is pursuing a degree in education and has a serious crush on Johnny. She’s there at all the games supporting him, but he seldom notices her. Shortly after being drafted into the NBA, an injury takes Johnny out of the game forever.

At first, he thinks he might try to be an on-air sportscaster, but he does not have a broadcast journalism background and would have to take an unpaid internship to start the different career. Then he tries teaching business and history classes at a local community college but is bored and uninterested in teaching students who do not take his class seriously. After he erupts at the students, he is fired.

As a last resort, when Johnny is just about to move back home with his mother, Nancy’s father calls on behalf of Nancy to ask him to coach the basketball team. Nancy is now an assistant professor at the college. The president gives his condolences to Johnny for his sports injury and wishes Johnny had a long career in the NBA but coaching the college team seems to be a perfect fit. After a moment of silence, Johnny agrees to take the job.

Johnny is hard on the lax, unmotivated team; but Nancy confronts him and begs him to be friends with the team players, instead of bullying them. Her encouragement works, and Johnny actually begins to take notice of the young woman who has always been his biggest fan and now also it seems, his best friend.

Little by little, Johnny’s coaching gets better, and so does the team. The college has its most successful basketball team ever. And when Nancy agrees to marry him, Johnny becomes a winner for the rest of his life.

Copyright 2022 Jennifer Waters

Sunday, April 19, 2015


Even a humble Christmas gift can save a family—and a community.

Bartholomew Dozen is a baker who helps feed even those who can’t afford his bread. A stranger welcomed into his home at Christmas gifts Bartholomew with a special pretzel recipe. Though local thugs damage Bartholomew’s bakery, he thrives by selling the newest best thing—Pretzels!

Bartholomew Dozen’s small bakery is next to noisy train tracks leading to the Wild West. Travelers often jump off the trains and stop by for a loaf of fresh bread. The bakery also attracts thieves and looting in the neighborhood has grown in recent years. Each Christmas Eve, Bartholomew hosts a meal for the poor, spreading holiday joy and cheer. Even when strangers steal from him, he tries to overlook the theft, grateful for the goodness in his life. Every morning his wife Catharine gets up early and helps prepare the dough for the oven. One winter afternoon the week before Christmas, a stranger wanders into the bakery wearing an old leather jacket, a black hat, and shiny silver spurs on his leather boots. The hobo asks Bartholomew for a job, but Bartholomew has no job to offer him. Instead, he asks the stranger to stay for dinner.

As Peter Jesse introduces himself, a sudden crash sounds from the back of the store.
A young boy slips out the side door with handfuls of bread, knocking over bags of flour.
Bartholomew runs to the cash register only to find the drawer hanging open with wads of cash missing. As Peter helps clean up, Bartholomew hopes the young boy will return what he stole, but he realizes the boy might desperately need the food and money. That night Catharine prepares dinner and Bartholomew places a candy cane at each setting. Peter pulls a slip of paper from his pocket and stares at it as though it is sacred. It is his family’s pretzel recipe. Peter explains that pretzels look like children’s arms folded in prayer. The three holes in every pretzel represent the Trinity—the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Pretzels bring prosperity to everyone who eats them, especially couples getting married or “tying the knot.” Children can hang pretzels on Christmas trees and wear them around their necks on New Year’s Eve. He asks the Dozens to make pretzels in his honor. 

Bartholomew places the recipe in his jacket. Bartholomew walks Peter to the front door and watches from the window as he walks toward the train. As Peter passes the bakery next to their home, Bartholomew notices another broken window in the shop. On Christmas Eve, Bartholomew and his family hold their annual holiday meal for anyone in need. After dinner, the entire family goes to church and sings Christmas carols all the way home. Early Christmas morning, a neighbor bangs on the Dozens’ front door. Bartholomew opens the door to find a thief running from his bakery’s entrance. Then a flame of fire bursts the bakery window and tears through the roof of the building. Despite the entire neighborhood dousing the bakery with water, much of the building goes up in smoke. Then the wind blows the pretzel recipe from Bartholomew’s jacket pocket, and he grabs it at once. Instead of losing everything, neighbors who ate fresh bread at Bartholomew’s bakery help him rebuild and make money through pretzels. Customers line up to try the pretzels—which Bartholomew insists always bring blessings. Soon Bartholomew stops making loaves of bread. He has more success with pretzels than he could imagine. The Good Shepherd sent him a Christmas angel with a pretzel recipe for children everywhere.

Copyright 2022 Jennifer Waters

Friday, April 17, 2015


Handwritten letters bind young lovers together despite hardships and tragic loss, from grade school through World War II and into a life-long marriage. 

Dorothy falls for lively Wilson at age 11, passing notes in church and growing up in Pennsylvania. Despite parental doubts and the separations imposed by World War II, they become engaged and promise to marry after the war. Their love letters cross the oceans while Dorothy maintains her job and her care of the family as Wilson serves in England, Panama, and Japan. Finally returning home, Wilson proposes, and he and Dorothy marry and live a long life together, thanks to the handwritten letters that kept them close despite all odds.

Young Dorothea Mildred Mengel walks three miles to church every Sunday, where she meets unruly and charming Wilson Moyer, three years older. He passes her notes which she keeps between the pages of her Bible. While Dorothy grieves the loss of her father, her mother is on her third husband. The young girl worries that this one will also die, leaving her mother alone with seven children. She tries to forget her foreboding feelings, but Dorothy always worries that something bad will happen, like when she was struck by lightning at age 12. Dorothy and Wilson attend different one-room schools so only see each other at church. After 8th grade Dorothy does housework for wealthy families as Wilson builds railroad boxcars. When older, they go to dances and movies with other teens and are happiest when with each other.

Wilson is drafted into World War II and leaves for basic training. Dorothy gets a job in a factory putting buttons and snaps on baby clothes. He comes home on leave and romances Dorothy. Then he’s sent overseas but promises to write as often as possible and get married as soon as he returns, though her parents and others worry he could die in the war. For almost four years, Wilson and Dorothy write love letters. She never shows his to anyone. Though she continues a social life, she has no other boyfriends. Dorothy’s mother dies suddenly of a stroke, leaving her heartbroken and responsible for running the home and caring for her young siblings, while still working at the button and snaps factory.

Wilson serves in England rebuilding bombed bridges. After the Nazi’s surrender, he sails to the Panama Canal, where he spends much time cleaning the ship and writing letters to Dorothy. The ship is headed for Japan, where he is especially worried that he will face combat and die in a costly invasion of the mainland. However, after arriving at the Panama Canal, Wilson receives word that the United States has dropped atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and the war is finally over. Despite the war ending, Wilson’s ship still heads to the Japanese Islands for clean-up efforts. He helps to send American weapons in Japan back to the United States. Wilson writes Dorothy and promises her that he will soon be home. After months in Japan, Wilson does fly home. The day after he returns in February 1946, he comes to Dorothy and asks her to marry him. After all the years together and apart, bound by their letters, they marry on June 22, 1946, at the church where they first met. For her entire life, Dorothy never shows anyone the love letters—except her granddaughter. She gives her Bible and the love letters to her granddaughter after Wilson has passed away, and Dorothy is sure that she will also soon die. She tells her granddaughter to keep the letters as a promise of true love.

Copyright 2022 Jennifer Waters

Wednesday, April 1, 2015


Anyone can change if they have determination, vision, and guidance—even a turtle who wants to be a princess.

A young turtle desperately desires to be a princess, if only she can shed the shell that keeps her from becoming who she dreams to be. A turtle who made it to being a mermaid advises her to eat starfish that fell from the stars, avoid the evil sharks, and her dream can become a reality. Braving the scary ocean depths and the ravenous sharks, the turtle eats the magical starfish and is transformed into a princess. 

Once there was a turtle who wishes she could get rid of her very heavy shell. She meets a mermaid who was also once a turtle. The mermaid tells the turtle to swim to the bottom of the ocean and eat as many starfish as possible as they had fallen straight from heaven long ago in a meteorite shower and have magic powers. Any turtle can change with determination, vision, and guidance. But the mermaid warns that there are evil sharks that also want the magic. The mermaid wasn’t determined enough and only ate enough starfish to become a mermaid. At least she tried, and being a mermaid is better than being a turtle. The turtle promises the mermaid to eat as many starfish as she can, and to never give up.

So the turtle dives into the raging ocean waves, swims to the sea floor, and eats one sparkling starfish after another, even when she isn’t hungry. When sharks come swooping past, the turtle hides in its shell. After the turtle eats every starfish in sight, she wonders why she still has her shell. Then she sees one last starfish. As she catches it in her mouth, a shark chomps on one of its pointy legs. Looking at its great white teeth, the turtle wants to swim away and forget her dream but remembers her promise to the mermaid to never give up. With all her strength, the turtle wrestles with the shark and fervently wishes to shed her shell once and for all. A sudden gush of water sends the turtle spinning across the ocean floor with the starfish in its mouth and the shark spinning in the other direction, giving the turtle time to eat the starfish. As she bravely faces the shark, a light rises from her back, blinding the shark. The light is so strong that it breaks off her shell, and she grows a human body with long arms and legs. She swims as fast as she can to the top of the sea.

On the shore, she stands up straight and tall, running to the mermaid. “I’m free of my shell! I never gave up. I ate every starfish on the ocean floor!” she beams. “I’m sure I’m a princess. Now I must find my prince,” she sighs. The mermaid nods to an admiring sailor docking his boat nearby and tells the princess to take the name Princess Yeruti because it means turtledove. The turtle’s shell has become almost like wings to free her to soar for her dreams. Princess Yeruti whispers to the mermaid that she will never forget her. Then the princess and the handsome sailor set off into the sunset, hand in hand. Princess Yeruti tries to tell the sailor that she was once a turtle, but he never believes her for a second.

Copyright 2022 Jennifer Waters