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Ellen K Hatcher

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Flutterby by Ellen George, ISBN: 978-0-9831738-4-7, Sleepytown Press. Children's Illustrated Book..  
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A Friend for Julia
By Ellen K Hatcher
Monday, February 27, 2006

Rated "G" by the Author.

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A short story that hopes to help young children get a grasp of some of the feelings that go along with being in a wheel chair. We see a little of what the child in the wheelchair feels and also what those observing feel: uncertainty about how to react around someone in a wheelchair.

Kendall Myers was five years old. She had long, straight, brown hair, but she wished it were curly. She tucked it behind her ears and pushed open the door to her Sunday School classroom.

She loved to go to class early because her teacher, Mrs. Ransbottom, always let them play with the toy Bible characters until class started. Her favorite was Esther. She was a queen.

When she stepped into the classroom, she noticed a new girl sitting in the back. She was alone except for her mother, who sat beside her, holding her hand. She kept her head tucked down and didn’t look up.

I bet she’s shy because she doesn’t know anybody, Kendall thought. I’ll go talk to her.

She took one step that way and then noticed the little girl’s chair. It had two big wheels on each side and a handle on the back.

“Oh,” Kendall said quietly. “That’s a wheelchair. I bet she can’t walk.”

She took another step toward her and then stopped again.

I don’t know what to say to a girl in a wheelchair. She dropped her head and turned back to the other children who were playing with the Bible story toys. She kept looking over at the little girl and a wrinkly frown creased her forehead, because she wanted to meet the little girl, but she just didn’t know what to say.

“Children,” Mrs. Ransbottom called out. “I want you to meet our newest classmate. This is Julia Cartmill.” She stood behind her, with her hands on the little girl’s shoulders. “We are very happy to have you, Julia. Aren’t we, children?”

All the boys and girls looked at Julia. They were curious about her chair, but nobody said a word.

Julia looked up, and her face was real red. Kendall thought she saw tears in her eyes. All the time Mrs. Ransbottom was teaching, all Kendall could think about was how sad Julia looked, and that made Kendall feel like crying.

When class was over everyone was running up to their mothers, laughing and talking, but Kendall saw Julia turn to her mommy.

“Mommy.” She said, “I don’t want to come back.”

She was crying.

At lunch, Kendall thought about it and thought about it. She told her mother all about Julia and how bad it made her feel.

“I know Jesus wants me to make it better. What can I do to make it better?” she asked her mother.

Mrs. Myers cocked her head to one side. “I know,” her mother said. “Let’s see if they would like to meet with us tomorrow so you girls can get to be friends.”

“Yay!” Kendall said. “That’s a great idea, Mommy.”

Mrs. Myers called Mrs. Cartmill and they agreed to meet at Julia’s house the next day, because her house was made special so a wheelchair could get in easily.

When Kendall and her mother got to Julia’s house, Mrs. Cartmill showed Kendall back to Julia’s room and left the girls alone.

“Hi!” Kendall said.

Julia kept her head lowered. “Hi,” she mumbled.

Kendall hopped up and sat on the side of Julia’s bed. She hoped Julia would talk, but she just sat there. It felt real funny to just sit there, so Kendall decided to ask Julia what she had been wondering about ever since she saw her yesterday.

“Why are you in a wheel chair?”

Julia gasped and looked at Kendall. “Nobody ever asks me that,” she said.


“I don’t know. Maybe they think I’m too weird?”

“I don’t think you’re weird,” Kendall said. “I think you’re interesting.”

Julia’s face brightened with a smile. “You do?”

“Sure. I’ve never known anybody who had a cool chair like you.”

“Well, I have this chair ‘cause I can’t walk. I had some kinda infection when I was a baby.”

“Oh,” Kendall said. “That’s too bad.” She reached in her jeans pocket and pulled out some bubble gum. “Ya want some?”

Julia smiled again, and nodded her head, reaching out for the gum. They opened the packages and stuffed the treats into their mouths.

“Whad’ya wanna do?” Kendall asked.

“I can’t do much. What do you usually do all day?”

“Oh, I like to play jump rope and tag, but you can’t do that, can you?”

Julia’s smile dropped to a frown. "No."

They sat there for a minute chewing their gum. Kendall blew a big bubble and popped it.

Julia brightened again. “I can do something I bet you can’t do.”

Kendall shifted around to face her. “What?” she asked, smiling and chewing.

“I can say the alphabet backwards.”

Kendall clapped her hands. “Really?”

“Yep. Wanna hear?”


Julia sat forward and cleared her throat. “ZYX-WVU-TSR-QPO-NML-KJI-HGF-EDCBA”

“That is so cool.”

“Thanks,” Julia said, sitting back and blowing a bubble of her own.

“Can you do anything else?”

“Sometimes I make up funny songs to cheer me up.”

“Cool. Can I hear some?”

“Sure. You know Old McDonald?”

“Yeah, I love that song.”

“I change the words to make it funny. You ready?”

Kendall giggled. “Yeah.”

“There is so much I can do.
Like visiting the city zoo
With a baby monkey here
And a baby zebra there
Here a lion
There a tiger
Everywhere a baby llama
There is so much I can do.

Kendall threw herself back onto the bed, laughing. “That is so funny. Do you have any more?”

“Lots.” Julia adjusted herself in her chair. “You know that song about the doggy in the window?’

“Yes,” Kendall said holding her hand over her mouth to keep in the giggles.

“How much is that wheelchair in the window (squeak squeak)
The one with the sparkle-y rail
With the shiny wheels
And the pack on the back
I do wish that it were for sale. (squeak squeak)”

“Ha-ha-ha-ha. Julia, you are so smart."

Julia just grinned.

Kendall frowned and pursed her lips. “I guess when you can’t use your legs, Jesus gives you something else that makes you kinda … special.”

Julia clapped her hands. “You think so?”

“I do,” Kendall declared. “Let’s do some more.”


When their mothers came back to get them, Kendall and Julia were huddled together giggling.

“What’s going on, girls?” Mrs. Myers asked, smiling at the happy girls.

The girls looked at each other and their shoulders shook up and down as they laughed at their plan. “Just wait till next Sunday in Sunday school.” Kendall said.

Mrs. Cartmill’s eyebrows raised. “Do you want to go back, Julia?”

Julia bobbed her head up and down.

The mothers looked at each other, and Mrs. Cartmill just shrugged. “Okay. We’ll do it.”

The next Sunday, Kendall took the handles to Julia’s wheelchair out of Mrs. Cartmill’s hands. “I'll push her in,” she said.

Mrs. Cartmill stepped back.

“Mrs. Ransbottom? May I introduce my new friend, this week?”

“Of course,” the teacher said.

All the boys and girls turned to look at the little girl in the strange chair.

“Ah-hem.” Kendall cleared her throat. “This is my new friend, Julia. She’s in a wheelchair ‘cause ahe can’t walk, but Jesus made her special.”

They all kept staring.

“She makes up songs. She made one about us. Wanna hear it?”

“Yeah!” the children called out.

Kendall pulled her chair beside Julia and they sang to the tune of “The Farmer in the Dell.”

“The girl in the chair
The girl in the chair
hi-ho-the derry-o
The girl in the chair

The girl needs a friend
The girl needs a friend
hi-ho-the derry-o
The girl needs a friend

Jesus gives her one
Jesus gives her one
hi-ho-the derry-o
Jesus gives her one

They have so much fun
They have so much fun
hi-ho-the derry-o
They have so much fun”

The boys and girls laughed and crowded around.

“Can we touch your chair?”

“Yes, sure, “Julia said.

“Can you write a song for us?”

“Sure I can.”

“You wanna come to my birhday party at Billy Bob’s?”

“I sure do.”

Kendall stood watching as her new friend began to fit in with the other kids. Her smile reached from one ear to the next. She knew that she had done what Jesus wanted.


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Reviewed by David Thompson 3/1/2006

What a wonderful story and beautiful message for teaching others how to react when faced with similar circumstances. Being a former teacher myself, I'm certain this could serve as a vital tool for helping children. The story is very touching, and, quite honestly, I think you are onto something here. We'd like to see more of this from you. I see it has struck a chord with some others as well. Keep up the good work.

From the hills of West Virginia,

David Lee Thompson
Reviewed by Birgit and Roger Pratcher 2/28/2006
A most beautiful, loving story, written in such a wonderful way, deeply touching.
Birgit and Roger
Reviewed by Karla Dorman, The StormSpinner 2/28/2006

A most wonderous story of acceptance; beautifully written. Well done!

Like my twin, Karen, I, too, am disabled.

(((HUGS))) and love, Karla.
Reviewed by Karen Lynn Vidra, The Texas Tornado 2/28/2006

This story touched me deeply. That is all it takes: to reach out to a friend in need. An early childhood lesson on accepting differences in others; what a wonderful message! Very well done; brava!

(((HUGS))) and love, your friend in Tx., Karen Lynn. :D

I write a lot about disability issues myself; a lot of my main characters have some kind of disability (not ALL do, but the majority of them do). :) (I am physically disabled: arthritis, use a crutch for walking, also have hearing problems, and wear glasses.)

Saving this beautiful, heartwarming story; thanks for sharing it! :)

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