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The Adventures of Sandy and Laz

A story for Simon Vodosek
By Matt Kaplan and Caroline Helton
January 13, 2002

Part I: Boy Meets Bug

Once upon a time, there was a little boy named Sandy who loved to collect ladybugs. Every morning, when Sandy woke up, he would have a yummy breakfast, and then he would ask his mommy and daddy for a special jar, which he would use to collect ladybugs out in the courtyard, the garden and the fields. Sometimes his little sister Mimi would go with him and help him.

When Sandy had collected a nice bunch of ladybugs, he would take them back to his house and pour them out of the jar and let them crawl around and enjoy the special playground he had built for them. The playground sat on the picnic table, and was made of little twigs, leaves and bits of string. There was a tiny swing, a balance beam, and a slide with a bump in the middle. Mostly, the ladybugs would crawl around for a little while and then fly off back to their homes.

One day, Sandy went out in the morning on his usual ladybug safari. But that day, there were no ladybugs to be found-not in the courtyard, or the garden, or the fields. Even Sandy's sister Mimi (who could spot a ladybug clear across the field) gave up and wandered back home. After a while, Sandy decided that he'd go back home and try again after lunch.

Just as he opened the door to his house, he happened to look down at the picnic table, and he was amazed at what he saw: there was one little ladybug swinging on the miniature swing in the ladybug playground. Sandy closed the door and sat down at the picnic table to get a closer look. He had never seen any of the ladybugs he brought home really play on the swing before. But this one seemed to be having a great time-it was sitting up on the seat (which Sandy had made out of a willow leaf) and it was kicking its legs as it swung higher and higher. Sandy even thought he heard the ladybug squealing with delight! Sandy moved closer to the swinging bug to find out what the noise was, and was very surprised to hear the ladybug singing this song in a tiny voice:

    "Let's go fly a kite,
    Up to the highest heights!
    Let's go fly a kite
    And send it soaring"

And then suddenly, the ladybug stopped singing and said to Sandy, "Hey! What are you doing just sitting there? Why don't you sing along?" At first Sandy thought it was all just his imagination, but then the bug spoke up again. "What's the matter? Haven't you ever seen Mary Poppins? It's my favorite-I'll teach it to you." And so the two of them sang the rest of that song, and several others as well.

When they finished singing, the ladybug said to Sandy, "Hey, you're pretty good-you learn fast. What's your name?"

"Sandy," he answered. "What's yours?"

"Lazslo, but my friends call me Laz. Where'd you get this great playground? I might have to go out and get one-it's just the right size for me."

"I made it," said Sandy proudly. "I bring ladybugs here all the time, but none of them have ever used the swing before!"

"I bet you've never played on this playground, either," said Laz.

"Of course not," said Sandy. "I'm too big."

"Well, Sandy, this is your lucky day. Just close your eyes and count to three."

Sandy hesitated, but then thought to himself, "Why not?" So he closed his eyes and counted to three, and when he opened his eyes again, he was standing in the middle of the ladybug playground with Laz, who was now bigger than Sandy.

Laz said, "Climb up on my back and hop on the swing!" And so Sandy and Laz had a great time together, playing on the swing, sliding on the slide and singing songs from their favorite movies.

After a while, Sandy's mom came out on the porch and called for him to come in and eat lunch, so Sandy said, "I guess I'd better go in now. Can you make me big again?"

"Sure," said Laz. "Just close your eyes and count backwards from three."

When Sandy was big again, he said to Laz, "I could put you in my jar and you could come in with me!"

"No thanks," said Laz. "I was never a big fan of jars-it's hard to climb around on the glass. Tell you what: I'll meet you here again tomorrow, bright and early."

"Okay, I'll ask my mom to pack a picnic. That way we can play together all day long."

"It's a deal!" said Laz. And with that, he fluttered his wings and flew off into the sky. Sandy could hardly wait to see what adventures they would have tomorrow!

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