Listen and read-along with this adventrous story by, Rachel Lopez.
“Goal!” Maple shouted as she sent the ball sailing into the net with a mighty kick.
“Next goal wins!”
Stella was spending the afternoon with her friends Maple and Max, who seemed to be always playing soccer. Personally, Stella would rather be reading or painting, but an afternoon of soccer at the twins’ house was better than helping her mom to clean out the garage. So here she was.
Stella and Maple had been good friends ever since preschool. That was the year that kids had first started to give Stella funny looks, sometimes pointing and whispering. That was also the year she
discovered that not everyone knows sign language. Stella could still recall how Maple had asked her one day about “those thingies” in her ears. She had explained that they were called hearing aids, and they
helped her to be able to hear.
“I can teach you some sign language,” she’d said. Stella giggled now, remembering Maple’s response: “Cool. Come over after school and teach me how to talk through sign. Then after that, we can catch frogs and put them in my brother’s shoes.”
From that day, a friendship built around mischief and adventure had blossomed.
Stella snapped back to attention as Max tried to dribble the ball past her. Not to be outdone, Stella swiftly kicked the ball away from him, sending it over the hill, rolling down past the tree line.
“Get it!” Max cried, as the kids all flew down the hill in pursuit of the ball.
“It can’t be far,” stated Max. They spread out looking for it in the thick underbrush. Kicking through the leaves, they inched their way farther into the woods, away from the twins’ back yard.
“Ew, a mouse!” Maple cried, jumping back as something darted past her in the leaves.
“That’s no mouse. Catch it!” Max shouted, and they bounded after it.
Following the mysterious critter, they came to a creek.
“I didn’t even know this was here!” Maple said.
The kids looked at each other and back towards the house. They could no longer see their house through the trees, and dusky clouds had rolled in without their noticing. Max said what was all on their minds: “We should probably go back.”
Turning around disappointedly, Stella glanced back over her shoulder one last time — then stopped in her tracks.
She grabbed Maple’s arm and motioned towards the creek, where they saw a tiny red hat rise slowly from behind a branch. The hat was pulled down over the head of a small man with short arms and legs, and a round tummy. The little man was no larger than a mushroom, with a long, pointed beard.
“It’s a gnome!” Max declared. The gnome gingerly crept towards them, glancing back and forth
nervously between the kids and the creek.
“I’ve heard of gnomes before but didn’t know they really existed! Right here in our own woods!” Maple
gasped in surprise.
Stella took a step forward, peering at the shy creature. He seemed to want something from them but
did not know how to communicate it.
“Are you hurt?” she whispered. “Are you lost?”
The gnome continued pacing back and forth, upset, and glancing repeatedly at the creek. Turning to her
friends, Stella signed, “Should we try to catch him?”
At this moment, the gnome grew excited. He jumped forward, motioning with his hands. Stella clapped her hands with delight.
“Look – he is talking to us through sign language!” Stella laughed, “and he definitely does NOT want to be caught!”
Stella knelt in front of the gnome, watching his tiny arms and hands move in sign.
“He needs to cross the creek to get home,” she announced.
The kids looked around for a solution. The creek was not too wide. Max found a long branch, and with some help from the girls, they propped it over the creek like a bridge.
Happily, the gnome hopped on the branch and started across the creek. Before stepping onto the other side, he stopped and waved at the kids. Looking at Stella, he signed “Thank you, friend.” She smiled back warmly, waving goodbye as he climbed up and disappeared into a hollow tree stump.
“Boy, I’d sure love to see his home!” Maple exclaimed.
“I have a feeling we will be back,” smiled Max. “But for now, let’s get back to OUR homes, or we’ll never be allowed in the woods again!”
Together the kids headed back towards the house, each marveling at what they had discovered, and wondering what other secrets were kept within these woods.
Back at the twins’ house, Stella waved goodbye and headed across the street to her own home. She was already counting down the minutes until she could return tomorrow!
About the Author
“Hello from Rachel Lopez! As a mother to four children, one mastiff dog and a handful of chickens, life is never dull around my home in Minnesota. My ideal day would include eating a bowl of cookie dough on a hammock surrounded by blooming gardens. In reality, I am likely eating cookie dough, shaking my head at another one of my failed attempts to garden, while chaos ensues around me. I find that life brings many opportunities for tears of frustration or of laughter, and I try to choose the latter. Most of all, I have peace remembering that I am a child of God. All I can hope for is to pass His love onto my family and those around me. That would be even better than a successful garden.”
Check out my Instagram page.
Categories: Audio Stories/Poems
This is such a cute story!!!