Issue Eight - February 2005

Gum-Shoe Jasper

By Jodi Fragnoli

‘So what new adventure will you begin today?’ asked Jasper’s mom before sending him off to school.
‘Oh, I dunno, Mom,’ was his reply.
‘Well, if you plan on saving the world today don’t forget you have to walk the dog before dinner time!’
‘I won’t forget, Mom.’
And off he went on his way down the street.

As Jasper walked down 22nd Street he realized that his right shoe was making a clinking noise every time it hit the ground and when he lifted his foot up he had to pull with a little force. He stopped on the sidewalk and looked at the bottom of his shoe and to his surprise he found that he had stepped on a piece of chewed up bubble gum and the gum had picked up a shiny silver earring.
‘Well,’ said Jasper, ‘I wonder who’s earring this is?’
He put it away in his little red pouch and kept walking.

When he got to the end of 22nd Street he turned left on Around Street. Once again, he noticed that there was a strange feeling when he put his right shoe down on the cement. So he lifted up his foot and found that he had picked up something with his gummy shoe again. It looked like a wheel to a car. Only this wheel was much to small to fit to any car Jasper had ever seen. ‘This must belong to a toy car of some kind,’ he said, and he put it in his little red pouch along with the shiny silver earring.

Jasper was almost to the gate to his school playground when someone yelled behind him, ‘Hey kid! Your shoe is leaving marks on the sidewalk!’ And sure enough, Jasper looked and saw that there was a trail of white lines following him. So again, he looked at the bottom of his shoe and this time he found that he had stepped on a piece of white chalk and it was making marks with every step. He pulled the chalk out of the gum wad and put it in his little red pouch along with the shiny silver earring and the wheel that belonged to a toy car.

Finally, Jasper arrived at the door of his classroom and he noticed that once more there was something not-quite-right about the way his foot felt on the ground. He looked down to the bottom of his shoe again and this time he found a sealed envelope. The envelope said ‘Happy Birthday!’ on it, so Jasper knew that it must have a birthday card inside. ‘I wonder whose birthday it is today?’ said Jasper quietly to himself. He opened his little red pouch that contained the shiny silver earring, the wheel that belonged to a toy car, the piece of white chalk and he put the birthday card in it too.

Jasper sat at his desk and tried to follow along with what his teacher was saying but he found his mind wandering to the mysteries in his little red pouch. He just couldn’t figure out what it was that he was going to do about the shiny silver earring, the wheel that belonged to a toy car, the piece of white chalk and the birthday card. He knew he should try to find out who they belonged to and return them, but how would he do it?

Before long it was time for gym class. Jasper went along with the rest of his classmates down to the gym, where Mr. Whatsons was waiting. Jasper normally saw a cheerful grin on Mr. Whatsons face, but today he looked pretty gloomy.
‘Okay kids, today we’re going to play everyone’s favourite game,’ said Mr. Whatson’s.
‘Yay! Kickball!’ shouted one boy.
‘Basketball, all right!’ yelled another.
‘No! Jump-rope!’ replied another student.
The kids had open-gym time and while everyone played all sorts of games and laughed and had fun, Jasper noticed that Mr. Whatsons just sat at his desk and looked really sad. Jasper wanted to know what was upsetting him so he put down his jump-rope and walked over to him.
‘Hey Mr. Whatsons,’ said Jasper, ‘Why are you not playing with us today?’
‘Oh, I don’t know, Jasper. I guess I’m just not in the mood for fun today.’
‘Not in the mood for fun? But Mr. Whatsons, you are always having fun! Why do you not want to today?’
‘Well, Jasper, it’s just that today is my birthday and I thought that maybe the teachers and the students would have wanted to throw a big birthday party for me. But, it seems that no one even remembered. I haven’t even heard one ‘Happy Birthday’ yet.’
‘Happy Birthday, Mr. Whatsons.’ said Jasper, ‘And Mr. Whatsons . . . I dont’ think they forgot about it.’
‘Thanks Jasper, that’s very kind of you.’ And he asked, ‘But why do you think that?’
‘You’ll see soon enough, Mr. Whatsons,’ replied Jasper. And he quickly walked out of Mr. Whatsons room.

‘Now I know who you belong to!’ said Jasper as he grabbed the little red pouch with the shiny silver earring, the wheel that belonged to a toy car, the piece of white chalk and took out the birthday card and set it on a table near the door of the gym. Then he went back to class with the rest of the students.

Next Jasper went to Ms. Charlotte’s room for Geography. Jasper had never really liked Ms. Charlotte. He thought she was mean and was pretty sure that she didn’t like him either. She thought he spent too much time exploring and having adventures and not enough time playing with the other kids. Jasper’s mom told him that Ms. Charlotte just didn’t understand that he had a different way of having fun.

As Jasper sat and learned about the area around where he lived, he noticed something strange; Ms. Charlotte was using big sheets of paper to draw out things for the class, instead of using the blackboard. This was definitely not normal. Jasper looked around the room and his eyes stopped at he blackboard. He knew he had found why Ms. Charlotte was using the big sheets of paper.
‘Ms. Charlotte,’ Jasper said raising his hand, ‘I think I may have found something of yours.’
‘What is it now Jasper?’ she replied.
He picked up his red pouch with the shiny silver earring, the wheel that belonged to a toy car, and took out the piece of white chalk. Jasper walked up to Ms. Charlotte’s desk and gave her the chalk. ‘I found this on my way to school this morning,’ said Jasper. ‘I think it might be yours.’
‘Well, so it is,’ she replied. ‘Thank you, Jasper, very much.’

Jasper went back to his desk and looked into his little red pouch and saw that he only had two more mysteries left to solve: the shiny silver earring and the wheel that belonged to a toy car. After lunch it was time for show-and-tell. The teacher would call on each of the students one by one to show the class what they brought and tell the class why it was important to them.
‘Sam,’ said the teacher to the quiet blue-eyed boy in the back of he room, ‘it’s your turn to go now.’
‘Mrs. Sawyer,’ replied Sam, ‘my show-and-tell, well . . . it kind of broke.’
‘How did that happen?’ asked Mrs. Sawyer.
‘A piece fell off, and I can’t find it to put it back on,’ Sam answered.
Jasper had an idea where the next piece of the puzzle fit in.
‘Hey, Sam!’ said Jasper, ‘What kind of show-and-tell did you bring?’
‘I brought my favourite yellow toy car, ‘ said Sam. ‘It’s special because my dad gave it to me for my birthday.’

Jasper picked up his little red pouch that had the shiny silver earring and the wheel that belonged to a toy car and walked over to Sam.
‘Here, ‘ said Jasper as he handed Sam the wheel to the toy car. ‘I found this on the sidewalk on my way to school this morning.’
Sam took the wheel from Jasper’s hand and snapped it back into place. ‘Cool!’ said Sam. ‘Thanks, Jasper.’ And he finished his show-and-tell.

Jasper was very glad that he had been able to find the owners to the birthday card, the piece of white chalk, and the wheel that belongs to a toy car, but he still had the shiny silver earring in his little red pouch. School was almost over and Jasper wanted to find who’s earring he had before the day ended. During recess Jasper went around and said: ‘Hello’ to all of the teachers and quickly looked at their ears to see if they were missing an earring, but none of them were. Then the bell rang for all the kids to get on the bus and head home. As Jasper passed by the bus on his way to the gate of the school he said: ‘Hello’ to Ms. Wendell, the bus driver, and saw that she only had only one shiny silver earring in her ear.

‘Ms. Wendell,’ said Jasper. ‘Are you missing a shiny silver earring?’
‘Yes. I lost it this morning,’ she said.
Jasper reached into his little red pouch and pulled out the shiny silver earring that he had found on his way to school and gave it to Ms. Wendell.
‘You found it!’ said Ms. Wendell, ‘Thank you Jasper.’
‘Your welcome. I’m glad I could help,’ replied Jasper.

Since his little red pouch was empty he walked through the gate onto Around Street and started home to walk the dog before dinner time. Jasper thought about how he had been able to cheer up Mr. Whatsons by finding the birthday card, and how since he had helped out Ms. Charlotte by finding her piece of white chalk, maybe now she would be a little nicer to him. He was pleased that Sam could give his show-and-tell to the class because he had found the wheel that belonged to the toy car, and that Ms. Wendell had her shiny silver earring back. Jasper told his mom about his adventure when he got home and she said, ‘So it looks like you did save the world today, Jasper.’ And in a way he did.

©2005 by Jodi Fragnoli