Wanda Wannabee and the Secret Seeds

“Wanda Wannabee and the Secret Seeds” is a story in the Wanda series. Also available are “Wanda Wannabee and the Fox in the Hollow” and “Wanda Wannabee and the Rainbow.” Below is an excerpt from “Wanda Wannabee and the Secret Seeds.” Scroll through to read the excerpt and see where children have the opportunity to become “co-authors” and illustrators by filling in the blanks and drawing their own pictures. The numbers at the blank spaces coincide with a numbered word/phrase reference list at the end of the story. This is to give children some creative help if they are having a problem finding a word or word combinations.

Wanda Wannabee and the Secret Seeds

Wanda sat high up on a large branch, hidden behind the ,(1) (2) leaves of the old oak tree.  It was one of Wanda’s favorite spots.  She liked to sit still as a (3) and quiet as an (4) while she listened to the chatter (5) of the birds and the rustling of leaves in the   (6) breezes of a summer morning.

     This morning, Wanda listened to the excited voices of her sister Wilma and her cousin Belle.  They were talking about the County Fair, held every year in early fall.   Their voices drifted up like (7) to Wanda in her (8) hiding place.  Wilma was talking about the spring lamb she was raising to show at the Fair.  He’s gentle as a   (9) and soft as a , (10) and “I’ve named him  , ” (11)  Wilma declared.  “I just know he’s going to win a Blue Ribbon.”  Father says he’s the sweetest lamb he’s ever seen.

     “I’m sewing a lovely (12) and (13) quilt, and each piece is shaped like a star, ” (14)  Belle said.  “My mother said my stitches are neat as a , (15) and she’s sure I’ll bring home a Blue Ribbon this year.”

     Wanda sat in her hidden world and let the words spin away like (16) (17) . (18)  She had nothing at all to show at the Fair and she felt sad as a . (19)  “I wannabe the one to bring home a blue ribbon,”  Wanda grumbled dejectedly to herself.  She had no (20) and mother said her stitches  (when she tried to sew) looked lopsided and lumpy as a . (21)

     Wanda knew her mother would be busy as a (22) the week before the Fair.  She would climb up to the top of the hill behind the house where the berry bushes grew wild and thick as

. (23)  Soon, with baskets filled to overflowing, she would set the pot boiling on the stove with water and sugar, and when the bubbles began popping like ,(25) she would add the berries.  Wanda loved the (26) smell of mother’s homemade jams and jellies.  For days the house took on the scent of . (27)  When the jams were done, mother would set out the ingredients for her berry pies.  The table would be piled high with (28) flour, (29) eggs, and (30) butter.  Mother always won at least one Blue Ribbon at the Fair.

     Wanda’s father spent every spare minute, all summer long, grooming the ,(31) (32) bull named .  (33) He fed him and brushed him and talked to him gently, the way an (34) talks to a .(35)   He practiced leading the bull around the large fenced in field on a rope. Wanda and her sister and cousin were never allowed anywhere near the bull, for father said he was unpredictable as a .(36) Every year father brought home a Blue Ribbon.

     Wanda pulled a leaf from the tree and crumbled it . (37)  For days now, she had thought and thought until her head felt like a . (38)  But no matter how hard she thought, she couldn’t think of anything to enter at the Fair.  After a while, Wanda realized that the voices of Wilma and Belle were fading like (39) as they moved across the meadow, their heads bent together like two hens (40) in a . (41)  Slowly Wanda uncurled her cramped legs and stretched her arms above her head.  Then quickly and surely like a , (42) she scrambled down out of the tree. She liked to hold on to the bottom branch, and swing back and forth before finally letting go, and dropping like a (43) to the (44) grass below.  Kicking at small stones, her head bent, Wanda walked (45) back to her house.  Her tummy , (46) softly reminding her that lunch was probably waiting for her on the (47) kitchen table.

     Wanda sat in her chair and (48) chewed her (49) sandwich without much enthusiasm. “What’s wrong, Wanda?” asked her father.  “You’re acting like a (50) without a .” (51)

     “Yes, Wanda,” her mother added, “you’ve been wandering around the last few days like a (52)    (53) . (54)  Whatever is the matter with you? Are you feeling ill?  “No,” Wanda replied . (55)   “It’s just, well, that I’m the only one with nothing to show at the Fair.  Wilma has her lamb, and Belle has her quilt.  Father has his bull and you have your pies and jams.  I don’t have anything.”  Wanda’s voice ended with what sounded like a . (56)

     “Is that all that’s bothering you!” Father exclaimed with a loud . (57)  “You meet me in the barn after you finish your chores, and I think I can solve your problem.”  “You can?” Wanda’s voice was as excited as a . (58) “You really can?  How, Father?”  Wanda asked.

“Meet me at the barn and you’ll see,” her father replied with a (59) smile.

     Wanda (60) her lunch just as fast as she could.  Still chewing the last bite, she

(61) out the door, (62) down the steps, and began her chores of weeding the

(63) vegetable garden, and sweeping off the back porch.  She finished fast as a (64) and ran fast as a (65) to the , (66) (67) barn.

     Wanda loved the barn.  Inside it was quiet as a (68) and the scent of hay and horses and hard work mingled with the smells of leather harnesses and saddles.  Sunlight filtered in through cracks in the sides and roof, and caught dust (69) in its (70) rays.  Wanda could hear her father (71) softly as he worked . “I’m here, Father,” Wanda called out.  “Did you finish all your chores?”  “Yes, every one. There’s not a single weed left in the garden, and the porch is as clean as __.”(72)  Wanda wanted to ask her father what it was he had for her to show at the Fair, but just then her father’s voice sang out.  “Do you see that small burlap sack on the shelf near the door?”  “Yes,” Wanda replied.  “Bring it here, then,” Father said, “and I’ll show you what you can take to the Fair.”

     Wanda looked down at the (73) sack in her hand.  It weighed no more than a . (74)  She rubbed her fingers over the burlap and felt something hard and flat inside the sack.  Whatever could it be, Wanda thought, as she placed the small package into her father’s (76) hand.  “Hold out your palm, Wanda,” Father said.  Wanda held out her hand, and her father spilled the contents of the sack into her palm.  There, in her hand, Wanda saw three flat seeds. They were no larger than a , (77) and were rounded on one end and came to a (78) point on the other.  “There you go, Wanda, there’s what you can bring to the Fair.”  Wanda looked from her hand, still open wide holding the seeds, to her father’s face. “Is it a joke, Father?” Wanda asked in a (79) voice.  “No, Wanda, it’s not a joke. It’s a beginning.  Plant those seeds.  Plant them where the soil is (80) and (81) and where they will be protected from (82) winds and (83) summer storms.  Make sure they get plenty of (84) sunlight and (85) water.  Keep the weeds away.  Care for them every day the way a (86) cares for a . (87)  If you do all that I’ve told you, I promise you’ll have something (88) to show at the Fair.

     Wanda thanked her father without much enthusiasm.  She looked again at the seeds in her hand and felt a huge wave of (89) wash over her.  There couldn’t be anything all that

(90) about these three small seeds.  Certainly they couldn’t be nearly as (91) as a lamb or quilt or jams and pies or a , (92) (93) bull that weighed nearly as much as a . (94)

     Still, it’s all I have, Wanda thought to herself, and set about looking for the perfect spot to plant her seeds.  She thought about planting them on the sunny side of the barn, but was afraid one of the horses might (95) huge hoof on them and crush them like a hammer crushes an

(96) finger.  She thought about the garden, but that was already filled with plants that would be harvested later in the summer, and be cooked and preserved, and eaten all winter long.  Finally, Wanda settled on a spot out in the far corner of the meadow near the (97) stream.

There was an , (98) (99) rock that rose up out of the meadow like a ,(100) and Wanda decided she would plant her seeds on the south side of the rock where they would get plenty of (101) sunshine, and be safe from (102) storms that blew in from the north.

     Wanda poked three holes in the (103) soil.  She placed the seeds (104) into the holes and (105) brushed the dirt back over them.  She tugged and pulled at the (106) weeds that grew near the rock until her small seed garden was clean and neat and weed free.  Then Wanda raced back to the house for a (107) bucket so she could water her seeds. Back at the stream, she filled the bucket with the , (108) (109) water that seemed to be (110) as it bubbled along over rocks and pebbles.  She watered the soil where she had planted her seeds, hung her bucket on the limb of a tree, so that it would be there when she needed it, and headed back to the house wondering about the three (111) seeds.

     Every morning, Wanda woke with the mystery of three flat seeds (112) in her head.  She would (113) down her breakfast and race out the front door, not stopping until she reached the spot where her seeds still rested quietly under the dirt like . (114)  On the sixth morning, Wanda knelt down to water the seeds and noticed three tiny cracks in the soil.  They looked like (115) wriggling across the ground.  Wanda felt her heart beat a little (116) in her chest. 

     By the end of the second week, small (117) shoots had begun (118) up out of the ground.  With each day that passed, the small plants grew larger, and delicate (119) heart shaped leaves appeared along the (120) stalks.  All through the long summer days, Wanda cared for her plants.  Each day two of the plants grew taller, and the once tiny leaves were now large as ,(121) and moved gracefully like (122) in the summer breezes.

One of the plants, however, had begun to sag like an ,(123) and its leaves had become brown around the edges, and wrinkled like .(124)  One day it simply stopped growing altogether, and crumbled to the ground like a . (125)  Wanda was sad and confused. She had taken just as good care of that plant as she had of the other two, but somehow it hadn’t helped.  She went to her father, hoping he could explain.

“Why, Father, did the plant die? I don’t understand.”

     Wanda’s father thought for a moment and then placed his hand (126) on Wanda’s

shoulder.  “Not all things that are born are strong enough to survive, Wanda.  The plant needed to do its part, and perhaps, it just wasn’t able.  You take good care of the other two and let’s see what happens.”

     Wanda wasn’t sure she grasped all of what her father had meant, but she went back to the (127) task of caring for her plants.  Soon the stalks were as large around as Wanda’s arm, and she had to bend her head all the way back to see to the top.   At the very top of each plant, tight green buds were forming.  They looked like (128) as they sat (129)

atop the (130) stems.

     The summer days tumbled by quickly like , (131) and soon Wanda’s plants had begun to blossom.  At first, they opened up slowly, like ,(132) but then they seemed to drink in the (133) sunshine, like thirsty (134) at a swift flowing stream.  One glorious day, Wanda found her plants had (135) turned into (136)

sunflowers.

     That night, as Wanda lay sleeping, (137) storm came crashing (138) in over the mountains.  The thunder (139) like ,(140) and lightning lit up the sky like

.(141)  The rains (142) out of (144) (145) clouds, like (145) crashing on the roof, the trees and the ground.  When Wanda went to her garden the next morning, only one sunflower still stood. Its proud head held high like a .(146)  The other flower lay wet and broken on the muddy grass.

     The morning of the Fair, Wanda and her father went out together to the meadow and carefully dug up the sunflower.  Wand held a (147) (148) pot steady, into which her father placed the large dirt ball surrounding the roots of the sunflower.  The roots were tangled together like  .(149)  Carefully, Wanda and her father lifted the pot, and placed it into a (150) wheel barrel, so that they could wheel it back to the yard where the truck was parked and waiting.

     After the lamb and the quilt, and the jams and pies, and Wanda’s sunflower were all (151) placed in the truck, Father brought out (152) the bull. And after much persuading, finally got him into the trailer, which was attached to the back of the truck.  It seemed to Wanda, that it took forever before her father settled himself with a (153) behind the wheel, and they took off for the Fair.

     The Fair grounds were alive with people and animals rushing around like (154) in a

.(155)  The air was filled with a jumble of smells, (156) and (157) and .(158)   The noise was (159) with people ,(160) and horses and sheep and cows and goats and chickens, all joining together in a (161) of sound.

     Wilma led her lamb off to the lamb pens.  Belle (162) over to the tent, where the blankets and homemade dolls and quilts would be judged.  Father struggled with (163) the bull, who it seemed, did not now want to come out of the trailer he had fought so hard not to go into in the first place.  With a (164) pull, and a (165) command, Father eventually got the (166) bull onto the Fair grounds, and moving in the right direction. Wanda helped her mother bring her pies and jams over to a large open tent near the entrance to the Fair, where everyone could see them and smell their (167) aroma, as soon as they came through the gate.

     Wanda (168) pushed the wheel barrel with her sunflower, standing (169)

and ,(170) down off the ramp set up on the back of the truck. She wheeled it over to the outdoor display of homegrown flowers, fruits and vegetables.  The flowers and fruits and vegetables of every size and color looked like a ,(171) gleaming in the (172) morning sunshine.

     The day passed swiftly, and finally it was time for the judges to select a winning flower.  Like

,(173) they strutted up and down the aisles, looking at this flower, sniffing at that, and whispering together like .(174)  When they got to Wanda’s flower, the shortest judge cleared his throat and declared, “Why that’s the biggest, tallest sunflower I have ever seen, Wanda.”  “Thank you,” Wanda replied .(175)  It seemed to Wanda, that it took as long as (176) for them to reach a decision.  The short, round-faced judge picked up the Blue Ribbon from the table, and walked (177) down the aisle.  Wanda’s heart thumped in her chest like a .(178)  When the judge stopped in front of the sunflower, Wanda’s heart nearly (179) out of her chest.  “Wanda Wannabee, you have certainly grown

an (180) sunflower, and we are delighted to present you with the Blue Ribbon,” the judge announced in a (181) voice, so that everyone could hear.  The crowd which had gathered to watch the judging, (182) loudly.  Wanda felt proud as a , as the judge placed the Blue Ribbon in her hand. “Thank you,” Wanda stammered, “Thank you so much!”

     It was dark as ,(184) and a very tired, but (185) Wanda, snuggled closer to her mother as the truck made its way back home.  Mother was (186) clutching two ribbons; one for her blackberry surprise jam, and one for her strawberry pie.  Wilma’s lamb had won a second place ribbon, and the judges had said they hope to see the (187) little lamb back the following year, when she would be full grown.  Wilma had attached the ribbon to the (188) wool on (189) back.  Belle’s quilt had come in third, and though a bit ,(190) she too had a ribbon to take home with her, and was already planning what she would make for next year’s Fair.

     Father had no ribbon and a very sore foot.  The bull, it seemed, had not been in the mood to participate in the day’s festivities.  When Father had led him into the ring for the judging, he had charged at the (191) judge, who had (192) out over the fence, tumbling this way and that.  Then, being as unpredictable as Father had always predicted he could be, he had

turned around, (193) hard on Father’s foot.  After about the fifth time Father told the story, he finally managed a small chuckle, remembering the commotion and the faces of the judges, and

then he had laughed out loud with all of the family, (194) joining in.

     That night Wanda lay in her bed tired, but unable to fall asleep.  She had placed the Blue Ribbon on the end of her bed, where she could see it as soon as she woke up in the morning.  Over and

over in her head, she remembered every minute of the (195) day at the Fair.  She remembered, too, back to when her father had given her the (196) seeds.  She recalled

how (197) she had felt as they had started growing.  She thought about how one seed had not been (198) enough to grow, and how one, though ,(199) had still been broken like ,(200) beneath the (201) storm  It had been a (202)  adventure growing the flowers, and Wanda’s heart felt full of .(203)  Wanda’s eyes grew heavy, and as she lay on the edge of sleep, she imagined planting dozens of seeds the following summer.  She would select the very (204) flower to take to the Fair.  Any maybe, it would win another Blue Ribbon.

     As Wanda’s eyes closed, and sleep settled over her like a ,(205) it was not Blue Ribbons that filled her dreams.  It was the glorious, golden glow of ,(206) (207) sunflowers, filling up the little meadow near the (208) stream.  Wanda smiled contentedly, and drifted deeply into her happy dreams.

Listen as you read:

by Susan A Katz & Sharon Ruchman | Wanda Wannabee and the Secret Seeds

WORDPHRASE REFERENCES
  1. large, great, pretty
  2. green, soft, satiny
  3. statue, stone, tree trunk
  4. whisper, secret, mouse
  5. whistling, chirping,chattering
  6. gentle, timid, light
  7. smoke, mist, steam
  8. secret, special, wondrous
  9. kitten, breeze, cloud
  10. cotton ball, flower petal, sigh
  11. Fluffy, Puff, Dandelion
  12. blue, white, yellow
  13. color
  14. heart, circle, square
  15. braid, a parade, haystack
  16. dust on the wind
  17. clouds in a storm
  18. mist in the meadow
  19. rain cloud, tear, lost puppy
  20. adorable, frisky, friendly
  21. a bowl of oatmeal, a stormy sea, a toad’s back
  22. farmer, teacher, bee
  23. a forest, a cornfield, weeds in a garden
  24. huge iron, black
  25. popcorn, balloons, fire crackers
  26. tempting, mouthwatering, sweet
  27. a garden, perfume, a bakery
  28. fluffy, puffy, powdery
  29. hen’s brown, shiny white, smooth
  30. golden, creamy, shiny
  31. large, huge, great
  32. black, angry, frightening
  33. Hercules, Thunder, Trouble
  34. teacher, father, mother
  35. student, child, baby
  36. tornado, hurricane, bee hive
  37. dejectedly, angrily, absentmindedly
  38. computer, pincushion, encyclopedia
  39. shadows, daylight, fog
  40. birds, puppies, lefters
  41. nest, basket, word
  42. squirrel, woodpecker, monkey
  43. pebble, leaf, (an) acorn
  44. soft, warm, sweet smelling
  45. glumly, reluctantly, slowly
  46. grumbled, growled, complained
  47. large, familiar, wooden
  48. slowly, sluggishly, carefully
  49. peanut butter and jelly, chicken, ham
  50. boy, bird, farmer
  51. friend, nest, field
  52. little, lonely, small
  53. lost, sad, gray
  54. boy, puppy, cloud
  55. quietly, softly, unhappily
  56. sigh, sob, hiccup
  57. chuckle, laugh, voice
  58. party, circus, playground
  59. small, soft, gently
  60. gobbled, munched, devoured
  61. raced, galloped, bolted
  62. jumped, careened, hurtled
  63. overgrown, lush, enormous
  64. lightning bolt, firecracker, whiz
  65. cheetah, rabbit, deer
  66. big, homey, large
  67. red, brown, wooden
  68. secret, whisper, school room
  69. dancing, swirling, spiraling
  70. golden shimmering, brilliant
  71. whistling, humming, singing
  72. a laundered sheet, a fresh snow fall, mother’s kitchen
  73. tiny, wee, little
  74. feather, snowflake, teardrop
  75. large, huge, warm
  76. tanned, weathered, familiar
  77. penny, pear, marble
  78. sharp, needle-like, pencil
  79. troubled, (an) uncertain, meek
  80. dark, rich, soft
  81. welcoming, brown, black
  82. fierce, destructive, strong
  83. sudden, angry, frightening
  84. bright, golden, hot
  85. cool, clear, fresh
  86. mother, cow, robin
  87. child, calf, fledgling
  88. awesome, unique, spectacular
  89. disappointment, disbelief, sadness
  90. special, terrific, wonderful
  91. wondrous, desirable, delightful
  92. huge, giant, gigantic
  93. brown, black, fierce
  94. mountain, tractor, barn
  95. stamp, step, stomp
  96. nail, board, thumb
  97. rushing, cheerful, giggling
  98. round, large, hefty
  99. gray, speckled, reddish
  100. church steeple, giant, telephone pole
  101. brilliant, hot, glistening
  102. nasty, troublesome, naughty
  103. warm, friendly, nourishing
  104. carefully, slowly, cautiously
  105. gently, quickly, lightly
  106. stubborn, annoying, resistant
  107. small, wooden, large
  108. icy, cold, clear
  109. fresh, refreshing, pure
  110. laughing, whispering, giggling
  111. mysterious, unusual, special
  112. whirling, twirling, teasing
  113. gulp, hurry, stuff
  114. un-hatched eggs, sleepy kittens, secrets
  115. worms, snakes, caterpillars
  116. faster, harder, quicker
  117. green, white, fragile
  118. pushing, stretching, popping
  119. dainty, happy, handsome
  120. tender, delicate, slender
  121. dinner plates, bird’s wings, flags
  122. dancers, hawks, butterflies
  123. tired old man, a flag with no wind, heavy clothes line
  124. raisin, prune, (a) rhinoceros
  125. broken egg shell, fall leaf, dead tree
  126. gently, comfortingly, lovingly
  127. daily, important, exciting
  128. owls, tight fists, crowns
  129. quietly, patiently, somberly
  130. graceful, swaying, thickening
  131. waterfalls, laughter, playful children
  132. sleepy eyes, yawning kittens, spring days
  133. luscious, liquid, delicious
  134. doe, fawn, frog
  135. majestically, magically, joyfully
  136. exquisite, enormous, glorious
  137. ferocious, fierce, (an) enraged
  138. growling, clawing, galloping
  139. boomed, grumbled, crashed
  140. a drum, an angry lion, cymbals
  141. light bulbs, firecrackers, campfire flames
  142. smashed, thumped, stamped
  143. dark, fat, black
  144. ominous, gray, furious
  145. heavy boots, hammers, stone
  146. king, soldier, dream
  147. large, round, sturdy
  148. wooden, black, brown
  149. (a) braid, uncombed hair, spaghetti
  150. red, wooden, old
  151. carefully, cautiously, lovingly
  152. Hercules, etc.
  153. sigh, grunt, snort
  154. ants, bees, hornets
  155. anthill, hive nest
  156. hay, cotton candy, hot dogs
  157. cattle, lemonade, popcorn
  158. horses, hamburgers, French fries
  159. deafening, clamoring, huge
  160. calling yelling, laughing
  161. chorus, song, (an) uproar
  162. trotted, sauntered, raced
  163. Hercules, etc.
  164. giant, hefty, stupendous
  165. yelled, hollered, loud
  166. stubborn, unwilling, annoyed
  167. luscious, mouthwatering, tempting
  168. gingerly, excitedly, cautiously
  169. tall, straight, high
  170. graceful, proud, dignified
  171. rainbow, garden, grocery store
  172. brilliant, hot, blazing
  173. pigeons, soldiers, a parade
  174. children, wind and leaves, birds in a nest
  175. enthusiastically, excitedly, proudly
  176. forever, night, an exam
  177. deliberately, importantly, slowly
  178. drum, a ticking clock, heavy fist
  179. exploded, pounded, burst
  180. magnificent, unique, special
  181. looming, loud, blaring
  182. cheered, clapped, approved
  183. a gold medal, a champion, a hero
  184. midnight, a cave, a cavern
  185. joyful, happy, delighted
  186. ecstatically, contentedly, merrily
  187. energetic, lovely, lighthearted
  188. curly, fluffy, springy
  189. Puff’s, etc.
  190. disappointed, sad, displeased
  191. frightened, startled, terrified
  192. jumped, scrambled, hurtled
  193. stomped, stepped smashed
  194. gleefully, uproariously, happily
  195. stupendous, satisfying, fun
  196. mystery, unexciting, ordinary looking
  197. anxious, nervous, impatient
  198. healthy, strong, determined
  199. eager, enthusiastic, robust
  200. eggshell, a piece of glass, cookie
  201. boot, heel, temper
  202. amazing determined, triumphant
  203. special, wondrous, grand
  204. more special, more wondrous, grander
  205. blanket, curtain, mist
  206. dreams fantasies, wonders
  207. perfect, regal, flawless
  208. laughing, happy, bubbly