The little book had been happy before.
It had been happy when it was first written. It had been happy when it was first printed. And it had been happy when it first found a place on the shelf of a bookstore among many other books.
But it had never been so happy like today.
Because today it was tucked in the arms of a little boy who was traveling to an island surrounded by a sea as blue and wide as the big blue sky.
In fact, the little book was so happy it hardly noticed when the wind picked up.
And it remained happy even when the boat began to roll from side to side.
Only when the words on its pages began to move around and change places did it begin to worry. But then it thought how nice it felt to be held by that little boy and it became happy again.
Then the boy had a terrible idea.
Despite the rough weather he decided to read the book before reaching the island.
But as he opened the little book a gust of wind swept through the pages, blowing its the letters like autumn leaves in the air.
“Help! My A’s and O’s are flying off!” shouted the little book.
The boy tried to react, but the wind was so much stronger and with a new rush it grabbed the little book out of his hands, lifted it high over the boat and hurled it overboard.
The little book fought hard with the big waves, but couldn’t stay on the surface forever.
“What am I doing here?” wondered the little book as it landed on the bottom of the sea.
“I was about to ask the same question,” said a goldfish that swam in circles inside a small plastic bag on the sandy floor of the sea.
“How long have you been down here?” the little book wanted to know.
“Hm…” hesitated the goldfish, before replying: “I can’t remember.”
“Ok,” said the little book, trying hard not to sound disappointed. “But is this bag your home?”
“Oh, is this another trick question?” replied the goldfish confused, before asking: “What do you think?”
“Hang on. I know all about you!” said a little sea horse to the goldfish, as it came out of an old rubber tire that was also home to mussels, anemones and starfish. “You, my friend, are a freshwater fish. And you don’t belong in these waters.”
“Then I must come up with a plan to get out of here,” replied the goldfish. But before it completed its lap around the bag it had forgotten all about it.
“Would you please stop swimming in circles for a moment?” said the little book to the goldfish. “You‘re making me dizzy and I can’t think myself of a plan!”
“A plan for what?” asked the goldfish.
“Oh, forget it!” replied the little book with a heavy heart, and let itself sink deeper and deeper into the soft sand.
Then one day a large stingray showed up and lay on the spot where the little book was buried.
“What a sweet little thing!” it said surprised, taking it for a relative. “But where is your tail? And why can’t you move your fins? Are you injured? Or lazy?”
“Oh no, it’s not what you think!” said the little book.
“Do you want to hear my story?”
“I sure do!” replied the stingray. And from that day they became the best of friends.
Thanks to the stingray the little book learned to use its covers and ride the currents even as it carried the goldfish on its back.
But as fun as it all was, the little book still had a wish: to reach the land of the people who read books.
“I will be sorry to see you go,” said the stingray. “But if you must, just follow the sea bottom to its end. And remember: even the deepest, darkest sea will end up to a shore.”
The way to the coast proved longer and harder than expected.
With the goldfish on its back, the little book surfed the undercurrents over steep slopes and rugged ridges, broad plains and deep trenches, never forgetting the stingray’s words.
And when it finally reached a pebble beach, the little book collapsed on the stones, overwhelmed with joy and happiness.
When it finally came back to its senses the little book saw a girl standing over it.
“Mom! Look what I found!” she screamed.
The little book got all excited from the thought of being held again. But the girl only had eyes for the goldfish.
“Look how it’s shining, mom!” she said. “Can we take it home?” And without waiting for an answer, she ran away with the goldfish, leaving the little book behind.
The little book had been sad before. But when the girl returned the following day to look for more goldfish in plastic bags, it got even sadder.
“It doesn’t get more sad than this” it said, as it watched the girl walk away with empty hands. “And on this shore I can’t even hide myself in the sand.”
The girl didn’t show up again, until the day she returned together with her class.
“Today is Recycling Day” the teacher said. “Let’s see what treasures you can find!”
I am a treasure, thought the little book, as the girl finally picked it up.
But then she showed it around.
“Here is a book without any pages! Like a treasure chest without a treasure!” And as the children laughed, the little book wished she had never picked it up.
“But it still has two good covers” said the teacher to the class. “So this is what we’ll do: we’ll give this old treasure chest a brand new treasure. Each day, each of you will write on a piece of paper what made your day special for you. And we will keep your stories here,” she said, showing everyone the little book. “In your personal treasure chest!”
“So I am a treasure after all!” said the little book as it filled up with pages and pages of wonderful children’s anecdotes and stories.
And when at the end of the school year the teacher picked it up again, read all those stories to her class and the children screamed with pride and joy, the little book finally understood:
This was what it was doing there.