The Birthday Box with Leopard Postage Stamp by Abigail Charles
Illustrated by Rosemarie Gillen
On just another dreary Tuesday afternoon, a brown paper package arrived at the Meadowberry household. It was tiny, smaller than a deck of playing cards. The package was addressed to Henry. Henry had never seen before stamps with twin leopard cubs with golden eyes.
“Open it,” his mother said. “It’s from your Uncle Frank. Must be an early birthday gift.”
The package was stamped FRAGILE so Henry knew to open it gently. He peeled away the tape and stringy slowly and the brown paper fell to the floor. A slender wooden box was inside. It said “Zooks Great Magnifier.”
“More surprises? That Uncle Frank is always up to something,” his mother said.
Henry opened the box. It squeaked a little. He groaned.
“It’s just a magnifying glass,” Henry held it up for his mother to see. The smallest magnifying glass he’d ever seen. With an engraved silver handle with a “Z”.
A small piece of paper fluttered to the floor, landing on one of Henry’s sneakers.
“What’s that?” his mother asked.
Henry picked it up. “Operating instructions for Zooks Greatest Magnifier.”
“Well at least Uncle Frank remembered your birthday. Try to enjoy his present. He did pick it out especially for you,” his mother reminded him. “Do you want waffles or pancakes?”
“Pancakes please,” Henry responded.
Henry could see his mother flipping pancakes in funny shapes.
He went back to looking at the tiny instruction book. Who would send a kid a magnifying glass for a birthday gift? Henry opened the instruction book.
Congratulations on owning your fine Zooks Greatest Magnifier. Use it gently and with care. Always remember to follow the rules.
1. Request before you magnify.
2. Magnify items one at a time.
3. Hold upright to magnify, tip upside down to shrink.
4. Always keep magnifier in its box when not in use.
“This is worse than Great Aunt Gertie’s handmade socks,” he muttered.
“Your pancakes are ready,” his mother said.
Could he use the magnifier on his pancakes? What would he see? Henry pulled out the magnifier.
“Pancakes, can I magnify you?” Henry asked. He felt very silly doing this. Not surprisingly, the pancakes didn’t say a thing.
The pancakes seemed to wiggle. In the blink of an eye, his pancakes grew to three times their original size.
Henry dropped the magnifier on the table in surprise. “This is much different from Great Aunt Gertie’s socks.”
He ate a few bites of his super large pancakes but Henry was thinking about all of the exciting things he could magnify. His toy cars and trucks! The dog! His older brother too. Well maybe not his older brother after all. Some things should stay their regular size.
Henry looked at his toys. Where should he start? The rules said to magnify one at a time so he must be choosy. Henry saw his favorite teddy bear sitting in the corner.
“Theo, can I magnify you?” Henry asked. He tipped the magnifier upside down. The teddy bear didn’t say a thing but Henry didn’t expect the bear to. And just like the pancakes, the bear wriggled for a moment and then shrank to three times its regular size.
Henry picked up the teddy bear in the palm of his hand. Once a bear who was so large it sat in the corner of his room, he now could hold it with a single hand. Uncle Frank’s birthday present was the most interesting one he’d ever seen.
“Happy birthday little brother,” John said. “What a great bear. Is that one of your birthday gifts?”
“Sort of. Uncle Frank sent me this,” Henry said, holding up the magnifier. “It makes things larger or smaller than they really are.”
“Well I hope you’ll like my present after something that exciting,” John said. He held out `a gift wrapped box. “This is something I know you’ll like.”
Henry opened it. He smiled wide as he pulled the wrapping paper away to show a new baseball mitt. “This is great. Will you teach me how to catch and throw?” Henry asked.
John laughed. “Sure. Let me get my mitt and we can practice now,” John said.
Henry put the magnifier down on the table and went outside to play catch with his brother. They played catch until the sun was ready to set.
“Dinnertime!” his mother called.
Henry put his mitt down. But his magnifier was no where to be found. He looked and looked but couldn’t find it anywhere. Not with any of his toys or in any room of the house. Much to his surprise, Theo the bear had also returned to regular size.
“I can’t find my magnifier,” Henry said as he came down the stairs.
“Did you follow the instructions?” his mother asked as she set the salad on the table. “I know Uncle Frank is very particular about instructions.”
Henry sat in his chair. “Well, almost,” he said.
He thought for a minute. His stomach churned as he remembered what the instruction book had said.
“Oh, no.” He looked up at his mother. “I was supposed to keep it in its box. Maybe it’s gone for good.”
“Don’t worry, Henry,” his mother comforted him. “It may still turn up.”
For the next four days Henry kept looking. Then, while he was eating breakfast, the mail arrived. A note came with twin leopard cubs with golden eyes on the postage stamps. It was a thick cream colored note written in bright green pen. It said:
Your Zook’s magnifier has arrived at our factory. Perhaps you did not follow the instructions to always keep it in the box? It will be returned to you if you follow these instructions exactly.
1. Turn around three times.
2. Look high then look low.
3. Look under your bed pillow.
4. Remember to follow the rules.
Henry dashed upstairs and reached for his pillow. Then he looked at the letter again. “I must follow these instructions,” he said.
He took a deep breath and turned around three times. With the room spinning ever so slightly, he looked up at the ceiling, then down at the floor and picked up his pillow. He smiled. There, nestled in the folds of his sheet was his magnifier.
Author Bio: Shari L Klase is a writer and poet, who loves to write stories for children. She has been published in Stories for Children Magazine, The Kids Ark, and Guardian Angel Kids. Writing is not a hobby for her. It is seen as a gift and a passion.
Illustrator Bio: Sue Babcock is the Director of Kids’Magination, the managing editor or Liquid Imagination (www.liquid-imagination.com), and the fiction editor for Silver Blade (www.silverblade.net).