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TITLE: Emma's Journey Home
By Karen Heslink

Target audience: tweens (8-12 yr. olds)
rough draft of ch 1. Plan to do 8-10 chapters.
Emma’s Journey Home
By Karen Heslink

Chapter 1: The Curio Shoppe

Emma grabbed the rainbow painted railing as she skipped up the two steps to Capstone’s Curio Shop. Years ago, Grandpa Capstone had painted the wood railing to make the entrance more noticeable because it was set back and sandwiched between two large buildings on each side. Above the doorway an old-fashioned iron swing sign painted in calligraphy made a bold statement as it jutted out beyond the edges of the newer buildings.

Buyer & Seller of Odd, Unusual, and Rare Items

The small bells on the door handle tinkled as Emma stepped inside. “I’m here, Grandpa. What would you like me to do today?”

Grandpa looked up from his workbench and smiled. “Well Miss Emma, you can start by dusting the back section of the store. I don’t know where all the dust comes from, but it always seems to settle in on all these smaller wonders back here. By the way, how was school today?”

The frown on Emma’s face told Grandpa all he needed to know. He would have a sit down talk with her later to see what was bothering Emma so much about school. He knew it had been hard on her to leave her old school after her parents’ divorce. Emma’s mother, Rachel, had moved them both back to her small hometown in upstate New York. He also knew that the children in Emma’s fourth grade class had been together since kindergarten and many had even played together before that. He sympathized with her need to fit it, to belong. He also knew it would take time and patience, things difficult for a nine-year old to understand.

Emma hung her sweater and book bag on one of the lower branches of the coat rack by the door, grabbed the feather duster off its hook on the wall, and set off towards the back of the shop. She passed by old rocking chairs and wooden furniture, free standing lamps and camping equipment, a shelf stuffed with used dolls and teddy bears, a box full of miniature cars and trucks, a case filled with costume jewelry, and a whole section of glassware. She marveled at all the shapes and sizes and colors. It would be fun to set a table using all those rainbow colors instead of the plain old white stuff that Mom used. She needed some color, some excitement in her life. Right now her life was as boring as the white plates she set on the dinner table each night.

Moving farther and farther back into the shop, she stopped by grandpa’s work bench for a quick hug, not wanting to stay long and talk. She did not want to talk today, especially about school. She hated school. She hated the kids. She hated her teacher. And she especially hated Mr. Lindell, the janitor. Everyday he said the same thing to her, “Hey new girl, made any friends yet?” Why couldn’t he just leave her alone? Why couldn’t he just not say anything to her? At least her classmates didn’t call her new girl. They knew her name even if they never used it to include her in classroom activities or at recess. They just simply ignored her.

When she got to the back of the store, she turned around and stared at the whole length of Grandpa’s store. It was an amazing place filled with so many wonderful things. If only her life could be as wonderful as the store.

“Emma, you be really careful with all those wonders. A lot of them are breakable and some are even irreplaceable.”

“Yes Grandpa, I know. I am being very careful” Emma picked up the wonders one at a time, dusting each one and then the shelf before she set it back down. “Grandpa, why do you call all of these things wonders?”

“Well, Emma, think about it for a minute. A wonder is something amazing. Each item in this store is amazing in its own way. Plus, when your Grandma was alive I would always say to her, ‘I wonder where that came from or I wonder who owned this?’ We just started calling our inventory our wonders. The thing was, Emma, she would make up those most incredible stories about each new item that came into the store. I wish I had written done those stories. Now that she is gone, I can’t even remember them all.

“Oh Grandpa, thanks for telling me that. I didn’t know Grandma very well, but it helps to know that she loved all this stuff as much as you and I do.”

“Well, that she did. Now get back to work girl, or we will be late to dinner!”

Emma turned and began to dust again. This time, though, as she picked up each object she tried to imagine its story. Who, indeed, had owned it? Where did it come from? It was easy for Emma to imagine the stories. She loved to write stories and spent many evening hours writing after her homework was done. She wondered if Grandpa would tell her some of Grandma’s stories

At 4:45 p.m. Grandpa pushed the old broom around the floor like he did every night. Emma put away her feather duster, straightened a few shelves, and flipped the sign that said OPEN to the side that said CLOSED. She grabbed her sweater and book bag while Grandpa turned out the lights. He locked the door, and they walked the three blocks to Grandpa’s house each lost in their own thoughts. Once in the front door, they could hear Emma’s mother in the kitchen. Emma threw her book bag in the corner and her sweater on the nearest chair. “Guess what Mom, I know about Grandma’s wonder stories!” Mom didn’t say anything, but the look she gave Grandpa left Emma wishing she knew what was going on that she didn’t understand. In a “don’t say another thing” voice, Mom told her to set the table, and wash her hands for dinner.
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