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TITLE: Sammy and the Sparrow

This is a children's picture book for ages five through nine. I'd appreciate your input!
An orange sliver of sun welcomed the day—slowly growing into a large round lantern that shed its light on every corner of the small town where Sammy lived. It was summer, and Sammy was ready to make the most of every minute. He would have run out to the creek in his plaid red pajamas if his mother didn’t sweetly remind him that he couldn’t leave the house until he had regular clothes on.

As soon as he could find a clean pair of shorts and a comfortable orange shirt, Sammy grabbed his lunch and ran to his favorite place. From up in the big oak tree, Sammy could see the calm waters of the creek below and the comforting outline of his little red house behind him. All around him, the trees were bristling with excitement, and birds were busy about their daily tasks.

Just as Sammy was about to lean his head against the tree trunk and drift into an early morning nap, some familiar voices startled him awake. His friends Nathan and Daniel were announcing a day filled with exciting plans: movies, then bowling and maybe some roller skating. Would he like to come along?

It didn’t take long for Sammy to settle on his day’s agenda. The wind, the trees and the birds would be his companions for the day. He was getting tired already, anyhow—and his bones were starting to feel achy. After listening to a series of objections, Sammy leaned his head back and closed his eyes. He didn’t hear his friends when they finally walked away.

A noisy thud awoke Sammy from his comfortable nap. Looking down from his perch on the tree, he saw that his sack lunch had fallen to the ground below. Climbing down to assess the damages, he observed that his sandwich was squashed by the can of juice that fell on top of it. He wasn’t really too hungry, so he didn’t mind.

Short of breath and too weary to climb back up, Sammy sat cross-legged next to the tree—and soon realized he was not alone. A lone sparrow approached Sammy cautiously, eyeing the remains of his lunch. Sammy stared at his small companion, and the little sparrow stared back, moving its head from side to side. After a few quiet minutes, the sparrow approached more confidently—seeming to have decided that Sammy was not a threat to its safety.

As it hopped closer, Sammy noticed that his new friend was only using one of its feet. The sight of this injured little creature made Sammy’s heart swell with compassion. He reached in his pocket and grabbed a leftover bag of sunflower seeds, offering them to the bird.

It didn’t take long before other sparrows came to join the meal. Sammy left the sparrow and its friends to eat the remaining seeds while he walked over to the creek. Listening to the birds happily chirping behind him, he sat on his favorite stone and dangled his feet in the water.

He was still tired and wanted to fall asleep again, but a commotion distracted him. A loud hissing noise and the sound of flapping wings caused Sammy to turn in the direction of the tree where he was sitting. The neighbor’s tabby cat had scared all the sparrows away—except one.

The cat looked hungrily at the little sparrow, sizing up a potential meal—but Sammy came running as quickly as he could. The cat took off running, and Sammy scooped the bird up. It wasn’t until now that Sammy noticed one of its wings was also injured. Taking his new friend tenderly in his hands, Sammy returned to his house to find a box where he could keep the bird.

Day after day, Sammy nursed his little companion back to health. In time, the sparrow was well enough to walk and fly on its own again. After several days, Sammy reluctantly brought the sparrow outside—knowing it needed to be with its family.

Tears filled his eyes as Sammy thought that this might be his last time ever seeing his little friend. But every day when Sammy went to his favorite tree, the sparrow was there waiting for him. Because Sammy was now so tired all the time, his friends didn’t come around too much any more. The little sparrow was his only friend.

When Sammy read a book, the sparrow would perch on the corner; when Sammy went fishing, the sparrow would sit on his shoulder. Anything Sammy would do, the sparrow would join him—until one day, when Sammy was too tired to do anything at all.

Weeks passed, and Sammy spent most of his time resting in his room. He missed his little friend. Then one day, Sammy noticed a family of birds building a nest in the tree outside his window. Taking a closer look, he realized it was his sparrow friend and its family. It took all his strength, but Sammy tried to give a whistle to call his friend. The sparrow looked at him, tilting its head, and Sammy was sure he saw a tiny smile on its beak.

After convincing his mom to move his bed by the window, Sammy spent most of his days watching the little bird family. Sometimes Sammy could not lift his head, but he would turn to see the sparrow watching him.

Summer faded and the trees displayed their brilliant colors. Though Sammy usually loved the fall, this year it only made him sad. He couldn’t go back to school, and he hadn’t seen his friends in a long time. Watching the leaves fall from the trees outside made him even sadder. What was it like to be a leaf, not knowing when it would be time to let go of the tree and fall to the ground? Sammy was scared for himself, and for his sparrow friend. What would happen when winter came?

When winter did finally come, Sammy noticed that the sparrow and his family were still in the tree. Why didn’t they fly away to a warmer place, like the other birds? Sammy was worried they would not survive the bitter cold.

Snow continued to fall, and Sammy became so sick that he had to go to the hospital. He was there for a long time, but every day he thought about his sparrow friend. Was there any way it could find food on the ground covered with snow? Sammy wished he could go home to help, but he could not even move from his bed.

One day, Sammy looked in the mirror and noticed that his hair was starting to fall out. He began to get worried. If this sickness could take his hair, what else would it do to him? Would he ever get to go home? Would he ever see his sparrow friend again?

When Sammy told his mom what he was so worried about, she showed him a Bible verse about the sparrows. It said that God cared about the smallest creatures of the earth—like little sparrows, and that He cares so much about his children that He knows how many hairs are on each child’s head. And it said not to worry, because His children are worth more to Him than many sparrows.

For the first night in a long time, Sammy had a peaceful sleep. He dreamed beautiful dreams of flowing creeks and billowing trees. He dreamed of sparrows and rainbows, and he saw the hand of God reaching down to care for his little friend.

Soon the trees were budding with new life. On one beautiful spring day, the doctor came and told Sammy that it was time to go home. Sammy couldn’t contain his excitement. He’d been feeling better, and was longing to go home and see what had become of the sparrow and its family.

When they finally arrived home, Sammy burst through the door and ran straight to his room. Outside the window, in the tree now filled with beautiful flowers, the sparrow family was in its nest. Sammy leaned his head out the window and tried to whistle a sweet tune to his little friend. The sparrow came happily to the windowsill and turned its head side to side, just as it had when it first met Sammy. And Sammy knew that what he read in the Bible was true. God cares about the sparrows. And more than that, He cares about His children.
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