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Shingaling a wonder stor.., p.10
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       Shingaling: A Wonder Story, p.10

           R. J. Palacio
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  He looked up. For a second, I thought I saw the tiniest bit of disappointment in his eyes. “It has, on a few occasions, gone to a couple of students who’ve done a community service project together,” he answered, scratching his forehead. “But in the case of Auggie and you, I think, the reasons he would be getting it are so different from the reasons you would be—”

  “No, I’m not talking about Auggie and me,” I interrupted. “I think Summer should get that award.”


  “She’s been such an amazing friend to Auggie all year long,” I explained. “And not because you asked her to be his welcome buddy, like with me and Jack. She just did it! It’s like what you just said about kindness.”

  Mr. Tushman nodded, like he was really listening to what I was saying.

  “I mean, I’ve been nice to Auggie,” I said, “but Summer was kind. That’s like nice to the tenth power or something. Do you know what I mean?”

  “I know exactly what you mean,” he answered, smiling.

  I nodded. “Good.”

  “I really appreciate your telling me all this, Charlotte,” he said. “You’ve given me much to think about.”


  He was looking at me and nodding slowly, like he was debating something in his head. “Let me ask you something, though,” he said, pausing as if he were trying to find the right words. “Do you think Summer would want a medal just for being friends with Auggie?”

  The moment he said it, I knew exactly what he meant.

  “Oh!” I said. “Wait a minute. You’re right. She wouldn’t.”

  For some reason, the image of Maya baring her teeth at the Savanna table across the room popped into my head.

  Friends definitely aren’t about the medals.

  “But let me think about it tonight,” he said, getting up.

  “No, you’re right,” I answered. “It’s good the way you had it.”

  “You sure?”

  I nodded. “Thanks again, Mr. Tushman. See you tomorrow.”

  “See you tomorrow, Charlotte.”

  We shook hands again, but this time he took my hand in both of his own.

  “Just so you know,” he said. “Being nice is the first step toward being kind. It’s a pretty awesome start. I’m supremely proud of you, Charlotte.”

  Maybe he knew it and maybe he didn’t, but for someone like me, words like that are worth all the medals in the world.

  How Ximena Rocked Her Speech

  Good morning, Dr. Jansen, Mr. Tushman, Dean Rubin, fellow students, faculty, teachers, and parents.

  I’m honored to have been asked to give the commencement speech on behalf of the fifth grade this year. As I look around at all the happy faces, I feel so lucky to be here. As some of you know, this was my first year at Beecher Prep. I won’t lie: I was a little nervous about coming here at first! I knew that some kids have been here since kindergarten, and I was afraid I wouldn’t make friends. But it turns out that a lot of my classmates were also new to the school, like me. And even the kids who have been here a while, well, middle school is a brand-new ball game for everyone. It’s definitely been a learning experience for all of us. With some bumps along the way. Some hits and misses. But it’s been a wonderful ride.

  Earlier this year, I was asked to perform in a dance choreographed by Mrs. Atanabi for the Beecher Prep Benefit. It was amazing for me. My fellow dancers and I worked really hard to learn how to dance together as one. That takes a lot of time. And trust. Now, you may not know this about me, but as someone who’s gone to a lot of different new schools over the years, trust hasn’t always been easy for me to give people. But I really learned to trust these girls. I realized I could be myself with them. And I’ll always be grateful for that.

  I think what I’m most looking forward to next year, my fellow fifth graders, is building that trust with all of you. My hope is, as we start sixth grade, as we get older and wiser, that we all learn to trust each other enough so that we can truly be ourselves, and accept each other for who we really are.

  Thank you.

  How I Finally Introduced Myself

  I had texted Summer and Ximena the day I saw Gordy Johnson getting on an uptown bus, and we were all thrilled to know he was alive and well. There was so much else going on at the time, though, that we really hadn’t had the chance to talk about it too much. We got excited, kept our eyes peeled to see if we’d spot him again somewhere else in the neighborhood, but we never did. He was gone. Again.

  The next time I saw him wasn’t until the beginning of July. Suddenly he was there again, sitting in front of the A&P supermarket awning, playing the same songs on his accordion that he had always played, his black Labrador lying down in front of him.

  I watched him for a few minutes. I studied his open eyes, remembering how they used to scare me. I watched his fingers tapping the buttons on the accordion. It’s such a mysterious instrument to me. He was playing “Those Were the Days.” My favorite song.

  I went up to him when he was finished.

  “Hi,” I said.

  He smiled in my direction. “Hello.”

  “I’m glad you’re back!” I said.

  “Thank you, missy!” he said.

  “Where did you go?”

  “Oh well,” he said, “I went to stay with my daughter down south for a spell. These New York City winters are getting tough on these old bones of mine.”

  “It was a cold winter, that’s for sure,” I said.

  “That’s for sure!”

  “Your dog’s name is Joni, right?”

  “That’s right.”

  “And your name is Gordy Johnson?”

  He tilted his head. “Am I so famous that you know my name?” he asked, cackling.

  “My friend Summer Dawson knows you,” I answered.

  He looked up, trying to think of who I might have been talking about.

  “Her father was in the marines?” I explained. “He died a few years ago. Sergeant Dawson?”

  “Sergeant Dawson!” he said. “Of course I remember him. Glorious man. Sad news. I remember that family well. You tell that little girl I say hello, okay? She was a sweet child.”

  “I will,” I answered. “We had actually tried to find you. Summer and I were worried about you when you weren’t here anymore.”

  “Oh, honey,” he said. “You don’t needs to worry about me. I make my way around all right. I’m not homeless or anything. I got a place of my own uptown. I just like to have something to do with myself, to get out with Joni. I take the express bus in the morning right outside my building. Get out at the last stop. It’s a nice ride. I come here out of habit, you know? Nice people here, like Sergeant Dawson was. I like to play for them. You like my music?”

  “Yes!” I said.

  “Well, that’s why I’m out here playing, girl!” he said excitedly. “To brighten up people’s days.”

  I nodded happily.

  “Okay,” I said. “Thank you, Mr. Johnson.”

  “You can call me Gordy.”

  “I’m Charlotte, by the way.”

  “Nice to meet you, Charlotte,” he said.

  He extended his hand. I shook it.

  “I better go now,” I said. “It was nice talking to you.”

  “Bye-bye, Charlotte.”

  “Bye-bye, Mr. Johnson.”

  I reached into my pocket, pulled out a dollar bill, and dropped it into his accordion case.


  “God bless America!” said Gordy Johnson.



  R. J. Palacio, Shingaling: A Wonder Story

  (Series: # )




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