“Pumpernickel doesn’t have a dime to her name!” called her father, poking fun at her namesake. “She clearly only has a nickel, not a penny or a quarter. But if I had a nickel for every freckle she has . . .”
Ever since she was first born, eight-year-old Pumpernickel had more freckles than spots on a Dalmatian. Her nose and cheeks were full of tiny curious dots the color of sweet rye bread.
“What if I started to grow more freckles?” Pumpernickel wondered. “Then, I’d have even more nickels.”
“It doesn’t really work that way, honey,” Pumpernickel’s mom said. “Freckles and money are not related.”
“Well, they might be if I had my picture on a cereal box,” Pumpernickel dreamed. “If a famous photographer saw how darn cute I am, then the whole world just might want to give me nickels for my freckles. I’m cuter than President Thomas Jefferson on nickels, and our house is cozier than Monticello.”
Pumpernickel held up the Puffs Cereal box, pointing out the adorable smiling girl with braids featured on it.
“Don’t look too closely, but there’s a contest on that cereal box to have your picture featured on it for a whole month,” her father said, rolling his eyes and biting his lip. “You’d probably never want to enter that!”
“Enter that! I’m going to win it,” Pumpernickel cheered, running to get the family camera.
She promptly smiled as big as she could, and her dad snapped pictures of Pumpernickel one after the other.
“We’ll put these photos in the mail tomorrow after I get them developed,” her father promised.
“Try not to get your hopes up,” Pumpernickel’s mom warned her. “Contests are so fickle.”
“I’ll forget about it for now,” Pumpernickel said with a disappointed look on her face. “I’m probably not cute enough to be on a cereal box, but it sure would be nice for someone to notice me . . .”
Months later, when Pumpernickel had almost despaired at being featured on the Puffs Cereal box, she was wandering through the grocery store with her mom. For weeks, she had been lamenting not hearing a word from the Puffs Cereal contest. Then, as she reached for her favorite cereal, she noticed a familiar face.
“It’s me!” she cried. “I made it to the big time! The nickels are going to start rolling in now!”
Pumpernickel’s mom stared in disbelief at the cereal box. “I’m going to tell your father to open a bank account just for you when I get home. It can pay your college tuition. You’re not wasting your nickels.”
“But mom . . . I think I’m going to be an actress,” Pumpernickel insisted, running through the store, handing out Puffs Cereal to the customers in the aisles and in the cash register lines. “This is just the beginning!”
Copyright 2019 Jennifer Waters