Excerpt from Lost and Found and Found Again: A Math Mystery

We Encounter Hitalittle

Bear Dog had been waiting for me at the door. He was talking to an old man who appeared to be able to understand dog talk. 

Bear said, “Here comes my friend.” 

            And the old man answered, “I’ll open the door. It’s a little big for you and your buddy.”

            “Thanks,” Bear Dog replied. 

The old man nodded and winked his right eye. I waved to him, and he waved back. Then, Bear and I started our walk home.

            “He was very nice. Could he understand what you were saying?” I asked.

“Yes. Some humans understand everything I say, especially the old ones. That old one’s name is Pete, and he said he has lived with a little cocker spaniel named Samantha for sixteen years. When he told me that, I said, ‘Sixteen . . . that would be a lot of cookies.’ Of course, he didn’t know what I was talking about. He seemed a little confused. I was going to explain about my learning to count with cookies, but you came.”

“A cocker spaniel named Samantha? What is a cocker spaniel?” I asked, and then added, “Would you like a lollipop?” I had been looking at the lollipops in my bag trying to decide which one to eat first.

            “No thank you,” Bear answered pleasantly. Then he continued, “A cocker spaniel is a certain kind of d .  .  . .” Suddenly he stopped talking! He stopped walking too! 

            I looked up in time to see the boy we had met earlier, the one who had been eating out of a bowl! He slowly stepped from behind a shrub . . . but he didn’t have a bowl this time! No! He had a big stick!  And he kept smacking the side of the stick across the palm of his left hand! He walked slowly toward us! 

            “Hey! You!” he snarled. “Do you live with that mutt?’

Mutt?” I thought to myself. “What is he talking about?”    

             “What’s your name?” he snarled again.

             I just stared at him.

            “You got a problem? Maybe you don’t have a tongue! Maybe you don’t know how to talk! I asked your name!”

            “Just smile,” Bear Dog whispered. “Just smile and tell him your name.”

            I smiled. I smiled real big, but when I opened my mouth to speak, I couldn’t make a sound!

            “Got a wise guy here, eh? Well, maybe if I tell the wise guy my name, maybe he’ll tell me his. Is that what you want? You want me to tell you my name? Sure . . . sure, I’ll tell you my name. It’s Hitalittle. Did you hear me? Hitalittle! Or do you have ear problems too?”

            “No, no . . .” I answered softly.

            “No? No?” the boy questioned. “Ya! Ya! My name’s Hitalittle, and do you know why my name’s Hitalittle?”

            “Noooo.” I managed to answer.

            “Well, it’s easy to figure out,” he said slowly. It’s because I HIT A LITTLE!”  

            As he said this, the boy hit Bear Dog with the stick!

            Bear yipped in pain and looked confused! He staggered backward a little but then turned quickly and raced away with his tail tucked between his legs!

            “Why did you do that? Bear didn’t do anything to you?” I asked in a shaky voice. I could barely breathe.

            “What? What?” Hitalittle demanded. “Are you asking me a question? But you haven’t answered my question! If you want me to answer your question, you have to answer my question!”                             

“Question? Question?” I thought to myself. “What question did he ask?” I couldn’t think! I couldn’t think at all! I looked for Bear Dog, but tears filled my eyes and made it difficult to see. I blinked to clear them away, and they squeezed out and rolled down my cheeks. I was having a very difficult time breathing.

            “Oh, what’s this? Tears?” Hitalittle asked in a sassy sweet voice. “Ya, that’s what I thought. You’re a little baby, a little cry baby. What’s your name, little cry baby? Hey, little cry baby, what’s your name?”

            I gasped for air and tried to answer. “My name is Tai . . . .” That is all I said. I had been looking down at the sidewalk and it started spinning. I fell to my knees. I could see nothing, only blackness. 

Then, I did see something. I saw a little girl wading in shallow water at the edge of a river. She was picking up small stones and putting them in the pocket of her dress. She had blond hair and was smiling. 

“Oh, this is a nice one,” she said.  She held the stone up so that I could see it.“It’s an agate.” She bent down to pick up another stone, and then suddenly, she vanished! 

            The next thing I remember was feeling something tugging at my arm. I turned and looked into the furry brown face of a river creature. It had beady black eyes and was pulling at me, trying to drag me!  I screamed and screamed again! As I screamed and stared in the creature’s furry face, it slowly transformed into the face of HITALITTLE!!  

The bully was pulling at my arm and shouting, “Hey you! Kid! Shut up!” But I kept screaming! He let go of my arm and said, “Okay, I’m going! I’m going!” As he turned and walked away, I heard him mumble, “What a wimp!”

I lay sprawled on the sidewalk.  I couldn’t move, but I could hear Bear Dog shouting. He had been hiding quite a distance away between a house and a garage.

            “Don’t just lay there! Get up!” he hollered. We’ve got to get out of here! He’ll come back!”

            The urgency in Bear’s voice made me scramble to my feet. I grabbed the sucker bag and ran! But as I ran, I heard feet pounding against the cement behind me! The sound kept coming closer and closer! Someone was running, running after me! I pumped my legs as fast as they would go! My throat burned! I could hardly breathe! I knew I couldn’t run any faster, but the pounding kept getting closer! Then, just when I thought I would collapse, Bear Dog raced past and shouted over his shoulder, “There’s his house! Don’t look! Just run!”

After passing Hitalittle’s house, I slowed down. My side was hurting very badly. “We’re almost home! Can we stop for a while?” I pleaded.

            “No!” Bear called back. “We’ll stop after we get inside!”

************************

Lost and Found and Found Again: A Math Mystery is a unique child’s story that seamlessly weaves primary level mathematics into a fantasy adventure. Ideal as a classroom read-aloud, for homeschool math instruction, or pleasure reading. Mathematics that focuses on solving word problems and developing number sense is carefully sequenced to correspond with the developmental stages of children’s thinking as outlined by Cognitively Guided Instruction. A dice game accompanies this 164 pp book (book and game $25, tax and shipping included). To purchase, contact the author at hankes@uwosh.edu.

Published by Judelaine

I am a believer in the Great Mystery, the Life Force, the Divinity of Universal Love. I believe that long before Earth existed physically, it existed in the mind of the Supreme Scientist. Why was Earth called into existence? That's a mystery to ponder.

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