In the middle of the first week of school, Mrs. Oliphant reminded us of the date and theme of Miss Read’s School Fall Fair.
“This year the fair hopes to raise enough money to plant trees in the yard and buy energy- saving lightbulbs for the entire school,” she said. “Our class has been assigned four different booths to sell green- themed products. Let’s come up with some great ideas.”
Natalie Pringle raised her hand. “I can bring two dozen copies of the new DVD Captain Nature,” she called out.
Natalie’s father owns Dave’s DVDs on Third Avenue.
“Fantastic,” Mrs. Oliphant said. “Team one, DVDs and CDs with a nature theme.”
“How about books?” Mimi Prescott asked. “I can get forty copies of the best seller Earth on a High Wire.”
Mimi’s mother is Betsy of Betsy’s Books on Madison.
“Excellent,” Mrs. Oliphant agreed, adding green- themed books to her list.
“I’m sure many of you will find items to add to Natalie and Mimi’s teams.” She looked around the room. “Any other team ideas?”
Posey Bloom raised her hand. “Plants, flowers, and shrubs.”
Posey’s grandparents own Posey’s Blooms on Fifth.
Mrs. Oliphant beamed. “How many of you could bring in a cutting from a plant to help out Posey’s team?”
Several hands went up.
Mrs. Oliphant smiled at the rest of us. “I bet if you search your rooms, all of you will come up with something you no longer need that could be recycled and would make a great green gift.”
Something in my room that I no longer needed that would make a great green gift? I pictured my room.
There wasn’t a thing I didn’t need.
Except maybe . . .
I remembered the pail full of smelly shells and rocks I had tossed in the back of my closet at the end of summer. Things I had picked up at the beach. My mother called this stuff “nature’s gifts.”
I raised my hand.
“What about nature’s gifts?” I asked.
“What about them?” Mrs. Oliphant looked puzzled.
“Rocks, shells, and sea glass I found on the beach,” I explained, thinking how I would need to give them a little touch- up with nail polish to make them look as shiny as they had when they were wet.
“An imaginative idea!” Mrs. Oliphant said. “In fact, we can call your team ‘Nature’s Gifts.’ ” Now we have four good teams to choose from. Think about which one you want to join, get together, select a captain, and collect the items you will offer for sale in your booth.”
I couldn’t believe it. I had come up with a team theme.
“Remember, working as a team means sharing ideas and getting along as a group,” Mrs. Oliphant said.
I looked around the room and hoped somebody would sign up to share ideas and get along with me.
At lunch Christy McCurry leaned across the table and put her face next to mine. “Nature’s Gifts?” she scoffed. “I think I’ll go with Natalie or Mimi’s
“That’s a good plan,” I said, “if you have no imagination.”
“I have an imagination,” Hermione Wong piped up. “I also have rock samples from a nature walk that I don’t think anybody would pay a nickel for.”
“Rocks?” I remembered the ones I’d seen in the gift shop near my aunt’s beach house. “I think you mean doorstops and paperweights painted with happy faces and flowers, then personalized with people’s names.” I closed my eyes and smiled. “Imagination.”
“Maybe I could sell my last batch of fudge,” Debby Prusock teased. “It came out hard as a rock.”
“Stones that melt in your mouth,” Hermione joked.
Even though they laughed, I opened my notebook and wrote this down. Suddenly everyone was so quiet I could practically hear their brains
“How about driftwood?” Keisha Wilson called out from the end of the table.
“Woodwork by waves,” I said.
Then everyone started talking at the same time, remembering all kinds of rainy day projects from camp that were collecting dust in the back of a
I could hardly write fast enough. “These are all Nature’s Gifts,” I said, remembering the team name Mrs. Oliphant had suggested.
“You should call my brother, Donald,” Christy suggested. “His ammonite collection is huge. How many fossilized sea creatures does one person need anyway? I bet he could spare a few for a good cause.”
A good cause? Had Christy changed her mind about my team?
“Ammonites.” I wrote this down, happy to have any excuse to call Christy’s cool older brother.
Excerpted from Watch Out World - Rosy Cole is Going Green by Sheila Greenwald.
Copyright © 2010 by Sheila Greenwald.
Published in February 2010 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux, LLC.
All rights reserved. This work is protected under copyright laws and
reproduction is strictly prohibited. Permission to reproduce the material in
any manner or medium must be secured from the Publisher.