If you listen carefully and believe, invisible friends become real and stuffed bears can talk.
In this sequel to I Am the Quigglebush Bear, Alexander T. Bear spends Thanksgiving with 5-year-old Cory. Cory is the youngest member of the Quigglebush family. He is upset that his mother must go to away for a year to do her job. Alexander shares family stories of camels and blizzards, balloons and hurricanes, love and Christmas angels. He helps Cory understand that to be a hero is a Quigglebush family tradition.
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Cory Trent threw himself on the bed next to me. He growled and buried his head in the pillow. The whole family was together for the Quigglebush family Thanksgiving.
"I donít want her to go, Alexander," Cory said. He rolled onto his side and looked at me. "Why does she have to go back? She went away before I was born and she went away again just last year."
"Whoís going where?" I asked, not sure what was happening.
Iíd learned long ago it was best to find out what was going on before saying anything. After nearly 90 years living with this family, I have learned a few things, but I am not a mind reader. Thankfully, Cory was still young enough to talk to me and understand when I talked back.
"Mom just told everyone that she is going to Iraq next month! She canít go! Sheíll miss Christmas and everything!" Cory cried. "Will you go with her? Or will you stay here with me?"
I was not sure what to say. My job was to comfort and be a friend to the littlest members of the Quigglebush family. I was also sent when the grown ups had to go and face dangerous adventures.
"Itís hard to tell," I said. "After all, your mom will need me over there. But after our last trip to Iraq she might want to take a younger, stronger bear."
"Why? What happened?" Cory asked.
"Well, it all started with a truck window and a curious camel," I said.
In 1990, Karen and I were working in the Saudi Arabian desert. Karen and a man named Chip handed cases of water out of the back of their truck to U.S. Army tank people. This was our twentieth trip into the desert since arriving in the Middle East three months before. We each had a job to do. Karen drove. Chip complained. I kept them company. This trip would be no different than the last nineteen. Those Iraqi soldiers didnít have a chance with me on duty.
From my perch on the truckís dashboard, I heard the Bedouinsí language, but I didnít understand a word of it. They were probably hoping to trade with the convoy. It happened every time the trucks stopped. Groups of desert people appeared out of nowhere with camels, horses, goats and all their belongings with them.
I faced the back of the truck so I couldnít see too much.
The noise came from my left just before something clamped onto my arm.
Now I was used to Karen and Chip picking me up. They were gentle. They even hugged me tight when homesickness was especially hard to live with. After all, we were on the other side of the world from our families.
No one had ever grabbed me up by one arm before. Not even when I was a new teddy bear, years and years before. I would have yelled for Karen, but everyone knows teddy bears canít talk to grownups, only to little kids who still believe. But I listened and comforted Karen and her friends when they needed me.
I floated out the window of the truck, dangling by my shoulder a long, long way from the sand and gray road. I couldnít even see who was carrying me. All I saw was desert and sand and sky.
"Karen, that camel has your furry friend," a deep voice shouted from behind me.
Karen raced toward us and grabbed me by my other arm and both legs. I wished I didnít have to see Karen struggle with my kidnapper. It wasnít a pretty sight.
"Let go of him, you idiot camel!" Karen demanded. Releasing my legs, she smacked my kidnapper, then pulled me free. I felt something tear in my shoulder.
"Oh, Alexander, your shoulder!" She cried as she hugged me close. "Chip, get the first aid kit. We have to patch Alexander up before all his stuffing bleeds out."
I wondered if a stuffed bear could die from losing his stuffing. No, Karen would fix me up. She and her father and the rest of her family had taken care of me just as Iíd taken care of them for years and years and years.
That night when we got back to our tent Karen laid me on her bunk. She brushed away her tears as she unwrapped the white bandage from my shoulder.
"I donít know what got into that camel. Normally they stay away from the trucks. I guess youíll have to stay here from now on. Itís too dangerous in the truck. I just hope you keep protecting me, even though youíre not with me."
She picked up her needle and thread and stitched my torn shoulder seam back together. The green thread and big stitches closed the hole, but were ugly against my brown wool fur.
"Well my friend, I guess youíll just have to wear a bandage for a while, at least until we get home and take proper care of that wound."
Karen bandaged my shoulder with a white dressing pad and some tape. She was careful to keep the chain that held my silver dogtag free from the bandage. The tag read
Alexander T. Bear
Quigglebush Family Hero
Veteran of many trips abroad
"There. Now you look like the hero we all know you are," she said.
Before Cory could say anything, someone bounced on the foot of the bed.
"Hey, whatcha doing?" an older girlís voice asked.