Youngsters will quickly relate to this story because each one of them has probably felt like Charlie at one time or another - summer vacation, lonely and bored. However Ted Kooser has created a warm tale with a tad of mystery that young ones will find enchanting. He was the U.S. Poet Laureate from 2004 - 2006, and many will find a rhythm in his prose as he describes Charlie’s summer adventure.
Every summer Charlie visits his grandparents’ farm while his parents go on his vacation.
We all know that running a farm is a busy task, so Charlie spent much of his time alone. He amused himself by playing along a stream that ran through the valley - he caught tadpoles, maybe a baby turtle. There was also an old bridge that crossed the stream and Charlie often tossed stones into the water from that bridge.
Then one day he found that if he hit the bridge railing with a good size stone the entire bridge rang like a bell. That sound went down the entire valley and in a little while it came back but sounding different, faint but distinctly different. Charlie thought it was just an echo. Then another day when he hit the railing an echo came back and then a second sound just like the first time.
He told his grand mother what had happened and she said it was probably an echo of the echo. Charlie didn’t think so; was someone answering his ring with one of their own? There’s nothing better than a good mystery when you’re lonely and bored.
Barry Root’s watercolor paintings are as always a pleasure to behold and add greatly to the atmosphere created by the text.