Wednesday, April 26, 2006

A Random Reading Passage

I have nothing interesting to write about, so I thought I'd share one of my latest reading passages. This one is for the State of Pennsylvania's 3rd grade achievement test, so keep in mind the intended audience is 9 years old.

The Street Vendor

Saturdays are the best. I get to sleep in, and I always wake up to the smell of pancakes. When I finally get up, Daddy’s sitting at the kitchen table. “’Mornin’, sleepyhead,” my Daddy always says. On Saturdays I get to put as much syrup as I want on my flapjacks. Daddy pretends not to notice how my pancakes are drowning. He just winks and sips his coffee.

Later in the day, I have to go to my piano lesson. Daddy holds my hand as we walk through the city. Mrs. Kutz’s studio is seven blocks from our apartment. I have my lesson while my dad read his newspaper. After an hour, Mrs. Kutz always says, “Bravo, Amelia! You are playing nicely!” My dad smiles, folds up his newspaper, and holds out his hand. Arm in arm, we walk home.

My favorite part of Saturday is walking through the city. Sometimes I close my eyes and let Daddy’s hand guide me. When my eyes are closed, I can hear things I don’t usually notice. I can always hear the cars honking and the people shouting. But when my eyes are closed, I notice how the pigeons talk to each other while they sit on the benches. I notice how the bell on Wilson’s Grocery door sounds different than the bell at the hardware store.

Sometimes when I listen real close, I can hear the squeaky wheels on the Hot Dog Man’s cart. The Hot Dog Man is a street vendor. He has a cart on wheels with a big, striped umbrella for shade. He stands next to his cart on the corner and shouts, “Hot dogs! Get your hot dogs here!”

Every Saturday on the way home from piano lessons, we stop at the Hot Dog Man’s cart. When the street vendor sees us coming, he stops shouting. He smiles at me and says, “’What’ll it be, little lady?” This seems like a silly question to me. I ask for a hot dog and Daddy gets one too. I like mine plain, but Daddy puts mustard on his. We sit down on a bench and eat our lunch.

One day after eating our hot dogs, I had a thought.

“What’s the Hot Dog Man’s name?” I asked my dad.

“I don’t know, sweetie. Why?”

“Because we talk to him every Saturday, but we don’t know his name,” I said. This bothered me because I know everyone’s name. The boy who delivers the newspaper is Harold. The mail carrier is Anna. I even know the name of the lady who cuts my hair, and I don’t like getting haircuts.

I thought and thought, and finally I decided to find out. I marched right up to the Hot Dog Man. He was yelling, “Hot dogs! Get your hot dogs here!” But when he saw me, he leaned over and said, “You still hungry, little lady?”

I took a deep breath and asked, “What’s your name?” The Hot Dog Man looked surprised. He raised his eyebrows, and then he burst out laughing. Finally, he shook my hand and said, “The name’s Gary, little lady.” I smiled and ran back to Daddy.

We still see the Hot Dog Man every Saturday. We always buy two hot dogs, and we always sit on the bench to eat them. The street vendor still calls me “little lady.” But now, I can say, “Thank you, Gary,” when he hands me my hot dog. Then Gary always winks at me, like we have a secret.


Stephanie said...

I'm having flashbacks to elementary school achievement tests as read this, and finding myself imagining what the questions would probably be. Looney!

Amy Soupiset said...

Wow Chelsea! You are such a great writer. I just read your story out loud to Paul as well and he liked it, too. I am glad that you have found a job that really uses your talent as a writer. I think that you need to think about writing children's books. Thanks for sharing!

David said...

Just wanted a random reading as I wait for my coffee. But this just made me melt. Thank you.