Saturday, September 24, 2016

Overhearing Another Plan

Mrs. Taylor’s class filed through the lunch line. I sat down between Efren and Ryan. We have to sit boy/girl in the cafeteria since we tend to get loud.

Amy leaned around Efren. “Hey, Chloe, how did your plan work out with Mrs. Smith and Mr. Brooks?”

“So great. I think it worked. I taped the notes to their doors. Then I left Mrs. Smith’s dog, Rosy, for Mr. Brooks. I told him I didn’t have time to return her so he would have to. I rushed back to my house and spied on the two of them. When Mrs. Smith opened her door, the two of them talked and then just laughed. And you know what?”

“No, what?” Amy’s eyebrows rose.

“They went into Mrs. Smith’s house and they were laughing.”

“Sounds like you did a good job getting them together,” Efren said.

I nodded. “I’m thinking you’re right.”

I skipped through the door that afternoon, happy with myself. After dropping my backpack in its place in the kitchen, I jumped onto the stool.

Momma pushed some grapes and a drink closer to me. The doorbell rang. Momma held up one finger. “I’ll be right back.”

I wondered who that could be at this time. Suddenly, Mr. Brooks’ voice carried into the kitchen. He was saying something about Mrs. Smith. I eased off the stool and stood at the corner. Was he going to tell Momma how much he loved Mrs. Smith because of the notes?

“Mrs. Parker, I’m truly concerned for little Rosy. I mean, Mrs. Smith obviously can’t take care of her like she should. Why, she has asked Chloe to walk and exercise her. Being a former veterinarian, I think Rosy would be better off with me. I will have to trick Mrs. Smith into letting me take Rosy. Mrs. Smith did write me a note to say she likes me. I don’t think she’ll even catch on to my plan.”

What? Mr. Brooks can’t take Mrs. Smith’s dog from her. She needs Rosy.

“Whatever will you do?” Momma said.

“Tomorrow evening Mrs. Smith has asked me to supper at about five o’clock. I plan to talk to her and trick her then.”

“Mr. Brooks, you have to do what you feel is right.”

I can’t believe Momma is saying that. How can tricking poor Mrs. Smith out of her dog be the right thing?

The front door closed. I rushed back to my stool and started eating again. I could barely swallow. I had to do something to protect Mrs. Smith.

I tried my best all evening to act normal. I didn’t want Momma to know I had listened in on her conversation with Mr. Brooks. I didn’t agree with her or Mr. Brooks. Tricking Mrs. Smith was not the right thing to do.

On the playground the next day, I told my friends about what Mr. Brooks had said.

“You’ve got to do something,” Ryan said.

“Yeah, in a way, this is a little bit your fault,” said Weston.

“What? My fault?”

Amy patted my back. “You did help Mrs. Smith fall in love with Mr. Brooks.”

“But I didn’t know he wouldn’t like her back. I didn’t know he was gonna turn out to be a bad guy.”

“So, what are you going to do?” Jill spoke up.

“The only thing I can do. I’ll have to go to that supper tonight and set Mr. Brooks straight and tell Mrs. Smith the truth.” I bit my lip. “I sure hope Mrs. Smith’s feelings aren’t hurt too bad.”

Why did Weston say that this was a little bit of Chloe's fault?

If you were Chloe, what would you do? 

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Putting the Plan into Action

I needed a little more help with the details of my plan to get Mrs. Smith and Mr. Brooks together. I shivered a bit. All this falling in the love stuff gave me the heebie geebies, but if it would help Mrs. Smith be nice all the time, it was worth it.

The line leader opened the door to the playground, and everyone whisked out.

“Hey, guys, I need some help.” I waved my hand for some friends to join me.

“What’s up, Chloe?” Kelly said.

“Well, I’m planning on sending notes to Mrs. Smith and Mr. Brooks from each other like y’all suggested. But I’m not quite sure how to word them. I do know that my momma has a box full of love notes that she and my daddy wrote to each other when they were younger.”

“Yeah, you should use two of those notes. It worked for your mom and dad, right? They got married.” Angela shrugged.

“You’re right, Angela.”

“You know, you should cover your parents’ names. You could use a little piece of paper and glue them down,” Belinda said.

I nodded. “Good idea.” I tapped my mouth with my finger, thinking. “The notes probably won’t have anything about meeting each other.”

“You could take Mrs. Smith’s dog to Mr. Brooks’ house, and he’d have to return her,” Emalie spoke up.

“Perfect. Now I just have to put the plan into action. I’ll let you know how things go.”


After school, I slipped upstairs and into Momma and Daddy’s bedroom while Momma made supper. Momma had showed me the love note box not long ago. I eased the closet door open and pushed back her hanging dresses a bit. There it is. I snatched the shoebox and sprinted to my bedroom, shutting the door quietly behind me.

I opened the lid and pulled out a couple of pages. I unfolded the first letter and read.

Dear Charis,
You look so pretty today. I really like you and hope you like me too. Would you like to go with me and be my girlfriend? Please let me know.
Love, Preston

“That might work,” I whispered to myself.

I opened the letter just below it.

Dear Preston,
You are so nice. I would like to be your girlfriend and go with you.
Love, Charis

These were perfect. I quickly shoved the lid back on top of the shoebox and tiptoed to Momma’s closet. I pushed it inside and ran back to my room.

I cut four small pieces of paper and glued them over the names. I used my best printing to write out Louise and Roy. It felt funny to write their first names.

I put the notes into envelopes and wrote the names on the front. The mail had already run today. How could I get these notes into their hands? I giggled. I was like an undercover detective or something.

“I know.” I would tape Mrs. Smith’s note from Mr. Brooks on her door and knock and run. Then I’ll tape on Mr. Brooks’ door and ring the doorbell. I could give him time to read it then walk Rosy over and leave her. I rubbed my hands together.

I slipped out and had the notes taped to their two doors lickety-split. Barely pulling the curtain back, I watched Mr. Brooks open his door and pull off the note.

“Momma, I’m gonna go play with Rosy a few minutes.” I hurried out the back door and across the back yard.

I knocked on Mrs. Smith’s door. She slid it open. I didn’t give her time to say anything. “Is it all right if I play and exercise Rosy for a little bit?”

“Okay. I think I may sit on the porch and watch you.”

“Oh, are you sure you don’t have some work to do inside?”

Mrs. Smith cocked her head to the side. “Why do you ask?”

I shrugged. “No reason.”

“I’ll just put on my other shoes.”

Rosy ran out and jumped up and down.

“Come on, girl.” I took off down the deck steps and into the yard.

I turned back around. Mrs. Smith pushed the door shut and walked away from the window. Now was my chance. I strapped the leash onto Rosy’s collar and bolted toward Mr. Brooks’ house. I eased the glass door open and looped the leash around the handle and closed it back. I rang the doorbell and rushed behind one of his bushes.

The door opened. “Hey, little dog. Aren’t you Rosy? Mrs. Smith’s dog?”

Just then I popped out from behind the bush and put both my hands on my chest. “Oh, thank goodness. You found Louise, I mean, Mrs. Smith’s dog.”

Mr. Brooks grinned. “Yes, I certainly did.”

“I’ve got to get home for supper. Could you take her back to Mrs. Smith for me?”

“Of course.” He pulled his front door shut behind him and held to Rosy’s leash. “You wouldn’t know how she got here, would you?”

I shrugged several times. “Momma says she is a spirited little dog. And don’t be fooled by her short legs. She can run fast.” I took off across the street. “Thanks for taking her back. You probably should walk her around to Mrs. Smith’s back porch.”

I dashed around to the back of my house and hurried onto the deck. I squatted down and peeked through one of the deck railings.

Mr. Brooks walked up Mrs. Smith’s deck steps and knocked on her door. Mrs. Smith was definitely not mad at him for having Rosy. They were laughing. Both of them glanced toward my house and I ducked down low. Then Mr. Brooks followed Mrs. Smith and Rosy into her house.

I clapped my hands. “This is working better than I thought.”

“What is working?” Momma said.

As I turned around, she was standing behind me.

I stood up. What should I say? Momma would never approve of me meddling. That was her word for poking your nose in where it doesn’t belong. But this was a good thing. Both Mr. Brooks and Mrs. Smith looked really happy.

“Anyway, you need to wash up for supper. Did you exercise Rosy?” Momma opened the door wider.

“Yep, I exercised her real good.”


Chloe knows that her momma wouldn't want her to be meddling in other people's business. What does that mean? 

Should Chloe be meddling in Mr. Brooks' and Mrs. Smith's business? Why or why not? 

What do you think will happen next?

Saturday, September 10, 2016


Momma rushed into the house on Thursday afternoon. "Chloe, you need to finish any homework you have early. We're having guests for supper."

"Who's coming?"

"Mr. Brooks and Mrs. Smith."

"You mean the Mrs. Smith from next door?"

"Yes." Momma hurried to the kitchen.

I followed close behind her. "Who's Mr. Brooks?"

"He's the nice man who just moved in across the street. I thought it would be nice to welcome him to the neighborhood."

"But Mrs. Smith isn't new to the neighborhood."

"No, but the two of them are about the same age. It will be nice for them to get acquainted."

I shrugged. "Okay."


Later Momma and Daddy were setting the table, and the doorbell rang.

"I'll get it." I sprinted to the door and pulled it open.

Mrs. Smith stood there on what Momma calls the front stoop with a blue dress on.

"Where's your fluffy pink robe?" That's about all I had ever seen her wear.

"Well, child, that's not appropriate for supper." Her brow crinkled.

"Mrs. Smith, come on in," Momma said from behind me.

Just as I pushed the door shut, the door bell rang again.

"That must be Mr. Brooks. Open the door, please, Chloe." Momma stepped forward. "It is Mr. Brooks. Come on in." She smiled and turned sideways. "Have you met our neighbor, Mrs. Smith?"

Mr. Brooks took Mrs. Smith's hand. "I don't think I've had the pleasure."

Mrs. Smith grinned and nodded her head to him like he was a king or something. "Pleasure's all mine, Mr. Brooks."

Is this Mrs. Smith? She is smiling and speaking in a kind way. 

Daddy walked around the corner. "Mr. Brooks, glad to see you again. And Mrs. Smith, it's always nice to see you."

What? Someone is playing a trick on me, right? 

Daddy led us all to the dining room table. Daddy didn't sit in his normal chair. Instead, Mr. Brooks sat on the end and Mrs. Smith sat on one side next to him and Daddy on the other side. Momma was across from Daddy and next to Mrs. Smith. And I was all the way on the other end.

"Everything is ready. We'll just say a blessing and eat." Momma looked at Daddy.

Daddy prayed then offered Mrs. Smith the platter with chicken. "Mrs. Smith, I do hope you like chicken."

Mrs. Smith smiled. "Why of course. This looks absolutely delicious."

My mouth dropped open. Never had I seen Mrs. Smith be so polite. She had always been a bucket dipper.

Momma wiped her mouth with her napkin. "So, Mr. Brooks, what line of work are you in?"

Mr. Brooks sat up straight. "Was I in. I'm retired now. I was a veterinarian. Mostly what they called large animals. I lived out in Grainger County. I served the people who had cows, horses, sheep, and even alpacas."

"Did you take care of puppy dogs?" I just had to know.

Mr. Brooks' eyes almost disappeared when he smiled. "Yes, Chloe. I did see an occasional dog. Some of the people had working dogs on their farms. They had to stay healthy to help with herding and such."

"I would like to be a vegetarian someday."

"Sweetheart, that's veterinarian." Momma nodded at me.

"Right." I pointed to Mrs. Smith. "Mrs. Smith has a dog named Rosy. I had to take care of her once while Mrs. Smith was in the hospital. Rosy is really smart. I still help Mrs. Smith with her."

Mr. Brooks looked at Mrs. Smith and his eyebrows rose. "Really? Are you an animal lover?"

Mrs. Smith giggled. "Well, not all kinds. I grew up on a farm and don't much care to do some of those dirty chores anymore, if you know what I mean." She giggled again.

Mr. Brooks patted her shoulder and chuckled. "I do know exactly what you mean."

Momma looked across the table at Daddy and winked. Now, what was that about?

"Mrs. Smith," Mr. Brooks started.

Mrs. Smith interrupted. "Please call me Louise."


"Louise it is. Please call me Roy. I'm just wondering if you were a hard-working homemaker or were you employed outside the home?"

"Oh, I was a school teacher. Second grade."

What? She said she didn't care much for kids.

Mr. Brooks glanced at his watch. "It is getting close to this old fogey's bedtime." He looked at Mrs. Smith. "May I escort you home?" He stood and offered his hand.

Mrs. Smith put her hand in his and stood. "That would be lovely."


I couldn't wait to get to the playground. I wanted to talk to my friends about what had happened with Mrs. Smith last night.

I caught up to a group. "Hey, I want you all to help me figure something out."

Leonardo shrugged. "What is it?"

I explained about last night's supper and the change in Mrs. Smith.

Several of the girls answered at the same time. "They must like each other. You know, falling in love."

I wrinkled my nose but then thought about it. "You know, I sure do like how Mrs. Smith acts when Mr. Brooks is around. And I just like Mr. Brooks. He was an animal doctor."

Dylan stepped closer to me. "You could maybe make sure they got together. Help them a little bit."

"What do you mean?"

Everybody started spouting out ideas at once. "Bake some cookies and give them to Mr. Brooks from Mrs. Smith."

"Send a gift to Mrs. Smith from Mr. Brooks and a gift to Mr. Brooks from Mrs. Smith."

"Maybe messages to each other in their mail boxes."

"The messages could tell them to meet some place."

I smiled. "I knew y'all would have good ideas for me." I rubbed my hands together. "I've got some work to do."


Why do you think Mrs. Smith was so much nicer when Mr. Brooks was around?

Why was Chloe surprised to learn that Mrs. Smith had been a teacher?

Do you think it is a good idea for Chloe to help Mrs. Smith and Mr. Brooks get together? Why or why not? What could go wrong?

Saturday, September 3, 2016

Turn Your Pout Inside Out

"Momma, Mrs. Taylor reminded us that we have a long weekend coming up. We have Monday off."

"Yep, that's right. When I pick you up after school tomorrow, you'll have an extra day to your weekend."

"Do you think Katie could come over? We haven't been able to get together since school started. And we don't get to see each other much at school since she is in another first grade class."

"Honey, I'm afraid Katie probably won't be able to come over." Momma's face looked sad.

"But why?"

Momma sat down next to me at the kitchen counter. Her face was sad and serious at the same time. My tummy tightened up.

"Sweetheart, Katie and her family are moving to another city."

"What? She is moving away?" I folded my arms over my chest and poked out my bottom lip.

"I'm afraid so. Her daddy got transferred in his job." Momma smoothed my hair. "But she won't be so far away that you can't get together during the summer sometimes. We could go visit her and she can come visit you here."

"Wow, that's a long time to wait to see her." I slid off the stool and shuffled to my room.


I plopped down in my chair and blew out a burst of air.

"Hey, Chloe, why do you have a pouty face?" Bryson said.

"Well, my friend Katie is moving away. I'm really sad. Maybe even a little mad that she has to leave." I plunked my elbows onto the table. "I can't have her over until summer break because she will be too far away. I can't believe that her daddy got a new job and she won't be here for me to play with or spend the night together with."

Mrs. Taylor walked up to my table. "Sounds like you feel a little sorry for yourself there, Chloe."

"Yeah, you should feel sorry for Katie. She's the one who has to go to a new house and a new school and make new friends." McKenzie shrugged.

"You're right. And I should understand more than anybody. I had to move last year."

Bryson held up his pointer finger like he had an idea. "You should do something to help Katie."

"Yeah. You could write to her and tell her some ideas for moving to a new place. I mean, since you did it last year." McKenzie's brows rose.

"Oh, what a good idea, guys. I'll do a type of journal. I could include pictures and stuff that we did. Then I can tell her things she can do to help her when she goes to her new school and new house. I could call it, Moving to a New School by Chloe Ann Parker."

"You can also write her letters. I've done that before," McKenzie said.

"Thanks. You all are right. I shouldn't be such a pout pout. It's Katie who is moving. I'll get right to work on my book for her when I get home."


As soon as I walked into our house that afternoon, I hurried to get everything I would need to make the special book for Katie. "Momma, do you have one of those notebooks I can use?"

"I think so. What do you need it for?"

I explained about the idea that Bryson and McKenzie had helped me think up.

"Honey, that's a great idea. I have some pictures of you two. I'll bring those to you also."

"Thanks, Momma."

I worked really hard all evening and even through some of the day on Saturday. Finally I was ready to share it with Momma. She was in the den, studying for her Sunday school lesson.

"Momma, I want to show you the book I made for Katie. Do you think you can make sure she gets it? I want it to help her while she is moving."

"I believe I can do that without a problem."

I opened the first part of the book. "This has pictures of things we did together. I wrote about each one." I pointed to one picture. "Remember this one?"

Momma grinned and nodded.

"This is when we played hairdresser, and you fixed our hair."

I flipped to the next section. "This part tells her some things to do that might help her at her new school and house. Like right here I tell her if she feels rocks in her stomach on the first day, she should carry her backpack around in case she needs to puke. That way she won't puke on her teacher or her new friends."

Momma pointed to another spot. "What is this?"

"That's where I reminded her to be a bucket filler. That way she can make friends. See, I drew her a little bucket with hearts and stars." I flipped back toward the back. "This is a place I told her she could write or draw pictures she wanted to remember."

"Wow, Honey, I think that is a great gift for Katie. She'll love it."

"I hope so. I am still sad about Katie moving away, but I know I need to help her feel better. It's not her fault she has to move. And I know how she feels."

"That's called empathy. You know how she feels because you've had to do the same thing. Empathy is a very important thing to learn. It really can encourage us to help others."

"I hope Katie will have a nice teacher like Mrs. Taylor and nice friends like I've made." I closed the journal book. "But I did warn her to check out her neighbor and be very careful if it is a grumpy-bear old lady like Mrs. Smith next door."

Momma chuckled. "Chloe, be nice."


When Chloe finds out that her friend Katie is moving, she feels sorry for herself. She finally realizes that she needs to feel sorry for Katie. Has there been a time you have felt sorry for yourself? Explain.

Chloe decides to do something to help Katie. She makes her a book of memories and then includes advice for her. If your friend was moving, what could you do? Is there something you could make for your friend to encourage him or her?

Chloe's momma tells her that she is learning empathy. Empathy is experiencing the feelings of another person like they are your own. When you feel empathy, you might feel urged to help another person. Why do you think Momma tells Chloe that empathy is an important thing to learn?

If you could write a letter to Katie to encourage her as she is moving, what would it say? Write out the letter.