"Class, this is Mr. Laurent, our visiting author. He'll help you with story ideas," Miss Silver said. Her smile settled like a rainbow over her grade three students.
"Mr. Laurent, could you help us get our stories published?" asked Kathryn.
"Be patient," said Miss Silver. "There will be time for questions later."
"Thank you for inviting me," said their visitor. "Now, I want you to look out the window and tell me what you see."
Miss Silver scratched her head, and sat down. Brandon counted four trees. Cindy watched clouds turn into shapes.
"When I close my eyes I see a bird's nest. With babies waiting for dinner!" Leah shouted.
"Very good," said Mr. Laurent, pointing at the ceiling. "That's the kind of imagination a writer needs. Now, let's sit in a circle on the floor."
Mr. Laurent told him about himself, his family and how as a young child he wanted to travel and meet people. "Then I wrote about people and places in my adventures."
Each child's ear opened wider than the ocean, not wishing to miss a word. They squirmed in their seats waiting to ask a bucket full of questions.
Finally, they hurled them as spears with question marks on the end. Raised hands waiting their turn, wagged like pussy willows blowing in the wind.
"I like your drawings of animals and birds," he said.
"Miss Silver says it's important to know about Nova Scotia," Paul spoke up."
"That's the subject I wish to speak about," Mr. Laurent grinned. "Camping and hiking in a province made up mostly of woods is part of your heritage. And Nature is full of stories to help your imagination."
Everyone shouted in agreement.
"Tell me about your favorite animal or bird," Mr. Laurent asked.
Andrea read from her notebook about her cat, "Minou."
"I want to tell you about my chubby Goldfinch," David began. Some children spoke about their dogs. Others read poems and stories about horses, snakes and chickadees.
"Ever hear limbs creak and poplar leaves rustle?" Mr. Laurent asked.
"YES!!" was an ocean wave of answers.
"Do you remember other sounds in the woods?" their visitor asked.
"Yes! Yes!" everyone answered.
"Pretend you're there, right now," Mr. Laurent said.
From around the class sounds began slowly then more were added. "WHOOSHIE" was like the wind puffing mightily in the forest. And splashing sounds could be from a young child charging through a stream.
Jody pranced around like a deer. Ryan and Anthony hopped around like two fluffy rabbits. Tyler howled because he was a chasing wolf. Marcie, Travis and Colin flapped arms as a family of eagles.
Everyone jumped when Cody bellowed like a moose. Other children scampered like squirrels, and wiggled noses at each other.
Mr. Laurent imitated loons greeting an early morning mist. "Their high-pitched sounds are like steps leading upwards into the sky," he said.
His lips made bubbling sounds. "It's the call of a mother deer for her fawn. They use different sounds than your parents" he laughed."
"And a raccoon's "CHIRRR" is a greeting to a friend!" Sasha shouted. Animal and bird noises came from every corner in the room.
"A hand clap is like the warning sound of a beaver, " Matthew added. "They slap their tails when they dive into Maple Lake."
"He knows because his family lives in the country," whispered Miss Silver. Her head twisted from side to side, her eyeballs popping as she watched her students.
Children crawled like snakes. Others were a pack of coyotes. Sam and Margaret hunched over like raccoons, pawing at the air.
Vida and Baxter "caw-cawed," like crows. Chelsea and Courtney stood on desks arms raised, as spruce tree branches.
Little Brendan wasn't afraid of the confusion. He already heard most of these sounds, since his dad often took him hiking and canoeing.
Of all the noises, "Chick-a-Dee-Dee-Dee" sounded more real than all the rest. Except for Tracey who cried loudly after bumping her nose on the floor while pretending to peck seed.
Some children imagined they were rays of sunshine peeking between tree branches. Others with fingers dripping from the aquarium, acted as rain clouds.
A few were pointing as moonbeams, in the silence of the night. The classroom was no longer a place with neat rows of chairs and desks.
It was quite messy with all the excitement. Children were scattered around the floor like pillow feathers. Forgotten were schoolbooks, arithmetic, memory tests and homework.
Everyone enjoyed their make-believe forest, surrounded by memories of blue sky and windy lakes. Someone had even drawn a little creek on the blackboard with tadpoles and water spiders.
Mr. Laurent walked into the center of the room, one hand raised for silence. Everyone stopped what they were doing. And waited. "Did you have fun?" he asked.
"YESSS!!" was a deafening answer.
Then he sat down.
Miss Silver's face lit up, almost every tooth showing. "It's finally over," she mumbled.
As if someone waved a magic wand, everything changed. The classroom was no longer a forest with moss, trees, animals or even bird sounds. Once again it was filled with desks, books and blackboard notes.
Mr. Laurent smiled. Everyone else did too.
Then Melanie "quacked" like a happy duck.
* * *
Richard & Esther Provencher 2008
NOTE: Both co-authors would like to have an e-book publisher publish this story as a picture book one day. R&E
My wife, Esther and I are "born-again" and enjoy sharing our writing. It is a Christian Outreach for us. Our E-mail is: firstname.lastname@example.org. You are invited to visit our website at: www.wsprog.com/rp/. Free downloads available. We live in Truro, Nova Scotia, Canada. Please pray for one another.