CHECKER CHOW© – HIS WAR PROTEST
On the hottest, sunniest, longest day of the year, I always walk to the county fair with my big brother Joel. But this year, I am walking by myself.
At the fair grounds, I feel like the only kid without a friend to hang out with. I even have to ride the wobbly carousel horse no one else wanted.
On the Ferris Wheel, my seat stopped at the top. The people on the ground look like ants. It is scary and I wish Joel was sitting next to me, holding my hand like he always does.
It just isn’t the same without Joel.
With my last dollar, I buy a ticket for the Lucky Duck contest. Hundreds of yellow, plastic ducks bob in and out of the water.
I choose a lonely duck floating by itself because I feel sorry for him. It’s underbelly reads, “Pick the animal of your choice!”
A single turtle with a silly orange hat sat In the middle of a hundred bears. He looked like he was smiling at me, asking me to take him home. I pulled the turtle off the shelf and held him close to my heart. His red and white checkered back was soft and furry. The tag read, “My name is Checker Chow.”
Checker Chow and I walked the long road home together. When I went to bed, I wasn’t lonely that night. Checker Chow kept me company while I dreamed of Joel flying home.
When the leaves on the trees turned red and yellow, I wrote Joel a letter.
Checker Chow watches the war on television with me. We see the guns. Are you scared?
It really scares Checker Chow to see children running to hide from the bombs. Do you run and hide, Joel?
Checker Chow wipes my tears when I see the buildings destroyed. Do you cry?
Please come home soon. I love you.
The mail truck left tracks in the snow when it delivered Joel’s reply. Checker Chow and I ran to the mailbox.
Yes, I get scared when I hear the explosions close by. Sometimes I cry when I have to shoot my gun.
But, I have a new friend too. He is another soldier like me. His name is Mark. We look out for each other, just like Checker Chow is looking after you.
Try not to worry about me. I’ll be home before the next country fair.
I love you always,
When the snow melted and the daffodils sprouted from the ground, Joel kept his promise.
He flew home on an airplane with other soldiers who were returning to their families too.
Checker Chow peeked his head out of my backpack while I tied a yellow ribbon around the front yard tree trunk to welcome Joel home.
I thought when my big brother returned home everything would be the same. But, I was wrong. Joel came home with a limp and without his smile. His friend, Mark, was killed in the war.
Checker Chow and I went to the funeral with Joel. I held Joel’s hand as he said goodbye to his friend.
I knew what I had to do.
I kissed Checker Chow on the nose and he smiled at me. Checker Chow agreed. I laid Checker Chow on top of the casket covered by the American Flag. “You know what to do, Checker Chow,” I said.
Tears ran down Joel’s face and he finally smiled. He hugged me tight. He hugged me so tight, I had to catch my breath.
We walked out of the church together and down the long road home.
Checker Chow and Mark will look out for each other.
And, I’m going to take care of my big brother, Joel.
Written and barely illustrated
WAR PROTEST – EXPLAINED
(Or, Stuffed Animals Against War)
This story is very loosely based on the real Checker Chow who is now tattered and 40 years old! He spends most of his days in my Grandma and Grandpa’s bureau drawer with the second Velveteen Rabbit. Velveteen truly understands Checker Chow. They are both lovingly wrapped together in the baby blanket that was started when I was a baby, but not finished until the early 90s…finished by me.
Checker Chow and I did find each other at the Lucky Duck stand at the county fair in El Dorado Springs, Missouri when I was 9 years old. I didn’t walk there. I drove in the back seat of my grandparent’s car with my little sister, Brigitte.
Checker Chow and the first Velveteen Rabbit were my constant companions during hard times throughout my childhood and adulthood.
I didn’t have a big brother named Joel who fought in a war. Joel didn’t have a friend who died in the war. But, if there had been a Joel and a friend who died in the war, Checker Chow would have gladly volunteered to help. That’s just his style. He is an awesome dude.
Checker Chow wants everyone to know he doesn’t approve of violence or war to solve human problems. He believes in love, compassion and dialogue – even though his mother (that would be me) isn’t always good at these three things. Checker Chow believes in sharing resources and treating every human like a brother and sister. He also believes it is never too late to make a change.
Dear Very Important Agent(s) and Editor(s) who hold my writing career in their hands,
War kills and maims soldiers all over the world – forever altering their lives and the lives of their siblings, families and friends.
When Joel shipped away to fight, he left his little sister Juliet to live her days wondering what will happen to her brother. She makes an unexpected new friend and, together, they enjoy the changing seasons until Joel comes home.
My children’s picture book, CHECKER CHOW – HIS WAR PROTEST, is a moment in time honoring the impact of war on children and the grief families experience when a young soldier falls. Hope shines throughout the story without lecturing.
I am a member of SCBWI and working with an established Developmental Editor. Along with a self-published children’s picture book, THE FERRY, I blog regularly on my website named SOUL TONIC IN WORD AND VISION. In addition, I have written a screenplay that made it into the quarter finals in two Hollywood contests.
At your request, I can provide additional samples of children’s non-fiction and human interest picture book manuscripts in support of my ongoing ability to produce relevant stories for the times. It is my intention to secure an agent, which would free me to write and work with publishers to promote my children’s books.
Thank you very much for your time and attention.