• Mama’s Birthday Present

    Francisco ran into the garden. His grandmother was reading a book." Grandma! Grandma!" called Francisco. "Next Sunday is Mama’s birthday! Mama always surprises me with a party for my birthday. Can we surprise Mama with a party?

    "That is a wonderful idea, Francisco," said Grandma. "Today is Monday. If we begin today, we will have seven days to plan a party." "Mama always gives me a present for my birthday," said Francisco. "Whatpresent can I give Mama?" "I don’t know," said Grandma. "But don’t worry. We can make a piñata to break. Your mama will enjoy that." So Grandma and Francisco made a piñata.

    On Tuesday, Francisco wondered about Mama’s present. Francisco went to talk with Papa about Mama’s birthday party. "What present can I give Mama?" asked Francisco. "I don’t know," said Papa. "But don’t worry. I can play my guitar. Your mama will enjoy that." So Papa promised Francisco he would play his guitar.

    On Wednesday, Francisco wondered about Mama’s present. Francisco and his older brother went to invite Señora Molina to Mama’s party. Señora Molina had a tortilla shop. "What present can I give Mama?" asked Francisco. "I don’t know," said Señora Molina. "But don’t worry. I can bring some hot tortillas, fresh off the stove. Your mama will enjoy that." So Señora Molina promised Francisco she would bring hot tortillas, fresh off the stove.

    On Thursday, Francisco wondered about Mama’s present. He went to talk to his friend Gina about it. "What present can I give Mama?" asked Francisco. "I don’t know," said Gina. "But don’t worry. We can make confetti eggs to crack on people’s heads. Your mama will enjoy that." So Gina and Francisco filled and painted the bright confetti eggs.

    On Friday, Francisco wondered about Mama’s present. So he went to speak to Grandpa Pérez. "What present can I give Mama?" asked Francisco. "I don't know," said Grandpa Perez. "But don't worry. We can make some sweet bunuelos."

    On Saturday, Francisco still wondered about his present for Mama. But Francisco had many things to do.  He helped his brothers and sisters look for a place to hang the piñata. He talked to Papa about the songs Papa would play on his guitar.   He talked to Senora Molina about the tortillas she would bring.  He found a safe place to hide Gina's confetti eggs and Grandpa Perez's sweet bunuelos.   Everyone was ready for Mama's surprise.

    On Sunday, everyone came to the party. Mama was very surprised.  Papa played his guitar.  Senora Molina's hot tortillas smelled wonderful. Grandpa's sweet bunuelos tasted wonderful.  Everyone ate and sang and had fun. The children cracked confetti eggs over everyone's heads. Then they all lined up to take a swing at the piñata.

    Everyone looked happy. Everyone except Francisco. "Francisco, what is the matter?" asked Mama. "I did not know what to give you for your birthday, Mama." "Oh, Francisco," said Mama. "This party was the best present you could give me. No, the second best." "Second best?" asked Francisco. "Yes. The best present of all is having my family and friends here with me. That is the most wonderful part of the party!"

    Mama gave Francisco a big hug. Then they all took turns hitting the piñata. The one who broke it was Francisco. And Mama enjoyed that.



    Once upon a time, in a far-off land, over hills and past farms, lived a girl named Cinderella. 

    Cindy, as she was called, was sweet and nice.  Cindy had two sisters. Roz and Gert were not so sweet and nice.  They were mean.  They made Cindy sweep, mop, scrub, and dust all day.

     Each year the prince had a great ball at his castle.  One day, a man came with a note.  The prince asked the sisters to his ball.  “Maybe he will make me his wife!”  Gert clapped her hands.  “No, he will not!  It will be me!” Roz yelled.  “May I go as well?” asked Cindy.  “No!” cried her sisters.  “That rug needs beating.” 

    Cindy watched Roz and Gert try on dresses.  Red!  Green!  White! Pink!  Such nice colors!  And the finest fabric stitched with the finest thread!  All Cindy got was a dirty mop. 

    Cindy watched her sisters drive off.  She tried sweeping.  She tried dusting.  But she felt so sad.  She hung her head and cried. 

    Rap, tap, tap.  Rap, tap, tap.  A wise old woman came in.  She patted Cindy’s hand.  “I will help you go to the ball.”  “But I cannot go in these rags!” Cindy wailed.  “Just wait and see.  I will show you.” Snap! Snap!  Six mice turned into horses. 

    Cinderella went to the ball.  She met the prince.  They twirled and whirled in each other’s arms all night.  Then the chimes started clanging.  Cindy gasped and ran fast.  “Wait!” called the prince. “Stop!”   He did not see where Cindy went.  She had lost her glass slipper on the top step.

     Back at home, Cindy’s sisters made her scrub, sweep, and mop.  She no longer wore her fine dress.  Cindy used her finger to draw a sad face in the dust at her feet.  After she drew it, her tears fell into the dust. 

    Rap, tap, tap.  It was the prince!  “Is this your glass slipper?” he asked Roz.  She tried it.  It did not fit.  Then Gert tried it.  It did not fit.  But it did fit Cinderella.  She and the prince married, and they lived happily ever after.



    A Trip to Washington, D. C.

    Hi!  My name is Metro Mike, and I’m here to show you Washington, D.C.!  Every year people come to this city from all over.  Do you know why?  It is the capital of our country.

    Come with me!  I’ll show you this splendid city.  Sometimes I have a busload of people. But now this coach is just for you.

    In Washington, D.C., the leaders of our country make laws.  Laws are rules we follow. How do those people become our leaders?  We vote for them.  When people vote, they pick who will make the laws that we all follow.

    Our first stop is on your left.  That’s the home of two documents.  One is the Declaration of Independence.  That paper says that Americans have the right to be free.  The other is the U.S. Constitution.  It is a plan for our government.

    Washington, D.C., was named after George Washington, our first President.  The President is the leader of our country.  Many people call George Washington the “Father of Our Country.”

    I’ll slow down here to show you the White House.  This is where the President lives and works now.

    This next road will take us by the Potomac River.  Look up in the sky!  That beautiful bird stands for America.  It is strong and free!

    Did you see that splash?  That bird took a fish to put in its mouth.  Once there weren’t many of these birds in the wild.  Now there are many more.

    Down that street you’ll see lots of flags!  In Washington, D.C., you will see the Stars and Stripes flying in many places.  This red, white, and blue flag also stands for America.

    We are back at the start.  I hope you found Washington, D.C., to be a great city. Come back again soon!


    A Southern Ranch


    The sun isn’t up yet, and high above the land, the moon still gleams in dark skies.  But lights are on in this place.  Another day is starting on the ranch.

    Ranches are places that raise livestock.  Horses, cows, sheep, and goats are livestock.  This ranch raises cows, or cattle.  Ranch hands help look after the livestock and the ranch.

    Ranch hands no longer take cattle up long trails.  Ranch hands may drive pickup trucks. But they are still much like ranch hands long ago. 

    Ranch hands still ride horses and use lassos.  They still care for sick animals.  Ranch hands still watch herds of cattle.

    If cattle go the wrong way, ranch hands must lead them the right way.  In summer, if herds eat all the grass in one place, ranch hands take them to another place.  In winter, ranch hands feed herds hay and grain.

    Roundups take place in spring and fall.  Ranch hands go out in the field and look for cows.  This is not an easy job.  Cows might be standing under a tree or grazing at the bottom of a hill.

    After getting eight or ten cows, ranch hands must keep them together and keep them walking.  Cows might run off.  Ranch hands must chase them and bring them back.

    Ranch hands need well-trained horses for this work.  These horses can be steered by just a touch, and they know cows!

    Ranch hands bring small bunches of cows to the same spot.  Nine or ten become forty or fifty.

    Then ranch hands bring those bigger bunches to another spot.  In time, the herd might number 600 or more.

    Keeping this big herd together is hard.  Some ranch hands ride “point,” or in front.  Some ride “swing,” or on each side.  Some ride “drag,” or in back.  That is a dusty job!

    Ranch hands take the herd to the ranch.  Those cows that are being sold are loaded on trucks and shipped off.  The rest will be sent back to graze on more grass.

    Roundup has ended.  After so much time on horseback, weary ranch hands can rest.  They eat and talk and laugh.  Then it’s back to work on the ranch.




    Peter’s Chair

              Peter stretched as high as he could.  There!  His tall building was finished.

              CRASH!  Down it came. “Shhhh!” called his mother.  “You’ll have to play more quietly.  Remember, we have a new baby in the house.”

              Peter looked into his sister Susie’s room.  His mother was fussing around the cradle.

              “That’s my cradle,” he thought, “and they painted it pink!”

              “Hi, Peter,” said his father.  “Would you like to help paint Sister’s high chair?”

              “It’s my high chair,” whispered Peter. He saw his crib and muttered, “My crib. It’s painted pink too.”

              Not far away stood his old chair.

              “They didn’t paint that yet!” Peter shouted.

              He picked it up and ran to his room.

              “Let’s run away, Willie,” he said.  Peter filled a shopping bag with cookies and dog biscuits.

              “We’ll take my blue chair, my toy crocodile, and the picture of me when I was a baby.”

              Willie got his bone.

              They went outside and stood in front of his house.

              “This is a good place,” said Peter.  He arranged his things very nicely and decided to sit in his chair for a while. But he couldn’t fit in the chair.  He was too big!

              His mother came to the window and called, “Won’t you come back to us, Peter dear?  We have something very special for lunch.”

              Peter and Willie made believe they didn’t hear.  But Peter got an idea.

              Soon his mother saw signs that Peter was home.  “That rascal is hiding behind the curtain,” she said happily.

              She moved the curtain away.  But he wasn’t there!”

              “Here I am” shouted Peter.Peter sat in a grown-up chair.  His father sat next to him.

              “Daddy,” said Peter, “let’s paint the little chair pink for Susie.”



    Henry and Mudge

    and Mrs. Hopper’s House


    Valentine’s Day was coming.  Henry and his big dog Mudge loved Valentine’s Day because of the candy.  They liked the candy hearts that said “You’re swell” and “Oh, dear” and things like that.

    Henry read the words, and Mudge licked them off.  They were a good team. 

    On this Valentine’s Day Henry’s father and Henry’s mother were going to a Sweetheart Dance.  Henry and Mudge would be staying with Mrs. Hopper.

    Mrs. Hopper lived across the street in a big stone house with droopy trees and dark windows and a gargoyle on the door.  Henry liked Mrs. Hopper.  But he did not like her house.

    “Are you sure Mudge and I can’t come to the Sweetheart Dance?” Henry asked his father.   “Only if you both promise to wear a tuxedo and shiny black shoes and waltz to ‘The Blue Danube,’” said Henry’s father.

    Henry looked at Mudge and tried to imagine him in a tuxedo and shiny black shoes, waltzing to “The Blue Danube.”  “I think we’d better go to Mrs. Hopper’s,” Henry said.  “Good idea,” said Henry’s father.  “Because Mudge only knows how to tap-dance,” Henry said with a grin.

    Mrs. Hopper wasn’t like anyone Henry had ever met.  She played the violin for him.  She served him tea.  She told him about her father, who had been a famous actor.  She was very kind to Mudge.  She cooked him a bowl of oatmeal and gave him his own loaf of French bread.

    After the tea and music and oatmeal, Mrs. Hopper took them upstairs.  She opened a room that had been her father’s.  “Wow!” said Henry.  The room was full of costumes.  There were silk capes and tall hats and shiny coats.  There were canes and swords and umbrellas. There were wigs.  Mrs. Hopper put a wig on Mudge.  “You look like a poodle, Mudge!” said Henry.  Mudge wagged and wagged.

    Henry and Mudge and Mrs. Hopper spent most of the evening in the costume room.  They had a wonderful time.  And when Henry’s parents came back from the dance, were they ever surprised.  Mudge was a poodle, and Henry was a man!  Henry wore a tuxedo and a hat and shiny black shoes.  “I bet you didn’t know I was this handsome,” Henry told his dad. And everyone laughed and laughed.