Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Flat Stanley Flies

A few weeks ago I received a letter from my six-year old nephew, Quinn, asking me to assist him with a school project. This was an unusual request because Quinn lives 2,000 miles away in New Jersey. Also, Quinn and I don't really speak too much about school when we get together every summer for our week on the beach in Cape May. Our conversations usually are about the important things in life, like waves, hermit crabs, ice cream and bugs.

I was overjoyed that Quinn's project was book-related so that I could add some professional expertise. Ever since he was born, I have been sending him books. Quinn and his sister Evelyn probably have one of the biggest collections of picture book samples in North America. Last summer, Quinn was fascinated by Lynn Reid Banks' Indian in the Cupboard. I was so thrilled by his jump to chapter books that I began counting down the days until I could introduce him to Philip Roth. However, my wife tells me that six is a bit too young for Portnoy's Complaint. Regardless of what Quinn and his sister read, I'm just hoping to create a couple of dedicated readers.

Here is our correspondence:

Dear Uncl Arsie,

In scool, we read a book about a boy who was flattened by a bulleten board. His nam is Flat Stanley, and he can travel in an envlobe. I am mailing my Flat Stanley to you. Please take him somewhere and writ back telling me where he went. If you have pictures or postcards, please send them too. I will take Flat Stanley back to school and share his adventures with my class. Please send him back by Friday, March 14, 2008. Thank you for your help.

Love Quinn.

Dear Quinn,

Aunt Emily and I took Flat Stanley on many adventures during his time in Colorado. We kept trying to figure out just what he’d enjoy the most. Was he a sports fan? Was he an athlete? Did he like to eat? Did he want to visit other children’s book characters? Did he want a thrill that he’d never forget? You might have noticed that, unlike you and your sister Evelyn, he doesn’t say much, and also his face rarely changes expressions. He smiles at everything. We had to guess what he liked and didn’t like.

We took him to a University of Colorado women’s basketball game. Your Aunt Emily is a big fan of the team and Flat Stanley seemed to enjoy rooting for the Buffalos. Perhaps he was too enthusiastic in his cheering. Another fan, sitting behind us, told Flat Stanley to sit down because he was blocking his view.

A few days later it seemed that Flat Stanley was a bit lonely. He wasn’t talking to us and if you look at him upside down, then his smile becomes a frown. We didn’t want him to be sad. We all went down to the bookstore and he saw some of his friends, including the Cat in the Hat and Fancy Nancy. I introduced him to my buddy, Russell the Sheep. Doesn’t he look much happier in the photo we took of him in front of the bookstore?

We became concerned that Flat Stanley wasn’t getting any exercise. When you and your sister visit, you guys are running all over the place, climbing on rocks and making snow forts. Flat Stanley just sat around our house all day. Maybe he got some exercise while Aunt Emily and I were at work, but we never saw him move a muscle on his own. One day we all went to Beach Park to get Flat Stanley some exercise. The funny thing about Beach Park is that there is no beach and no ocean. It was okay because they had rocks. Flat Stanley turned out to be quite a climber. He also hiked in the mountain foothills.

We introduced Flat Stanley to our friends Stephanie and Elliot and they were quite surprised about how skinny he was. We explained that he was flattened by a bulletin board. Elliot said that was no excuse for his staying so thin. They said that we should have fattened him up. I told them I don’t know what he likes to eat. Stephanie said, not to worry, that she would make a cake that children’s book characters always enjoy. Here’s a picture of not-so-Flat Stanley after he ate more than half of Stephanie’s Pig Pickin’ Cake. It’s made with oranges and pineapples and has a whipped cream frosting.

For Stanley’s goodbye, we decided to give him a thrill he’d never forget. We found a paraglider willing to take Flat Stanley up for a ride. The paraglider flew off the cliff like a giant bird, and Flat Stanley had to hang on for dear life. They soared high up in the air and flew for over ten minutes before landing in a park almost a mile away.

Well, it’s been fun having Flat Stanley visit us. Maybe we’ll see him this summer.


Uncle Arsen


lady t said...

Aww,that is so cute! Your nephew is a very lucky boy,indeed.

Claudia said...

OMG - I loved Flat Stanley as a kid! So glad to hear he is still hip!