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The Drops That Stain

By: Sara F.
California, Age 13

One day, a very long time ago, before there were people, animals roamed the Earth. Each type of animal species had their own family. One group of animals, more commonly known as insects, were the ladybugs. These ladybugs were little red beetles with a fancy name. Just red, nothing special.
Mr. and Mrs. Ladybug had four children. Kyle, Kylie, Kaylie, and Jim. They all lived in Pest Paradise, a community of insects, who were all friends among each other. The worms liked the butterflies; the spiders likes the roaches.
Once a year, around harvest season, the bugs had a neighborhood picnic. Each household brought a yummy dish, which the whole family loved to prepare.
''Mother? Can I help you with anything?'' asked the oldest son, Kyle, and went to work in the kitchen.
''Mom? Do you need any help?'' asked the oldest daughter, Kylie, and also went to work in the kitchen.
''Mommy? Can I help you cook anything?'' asked the youngest daughter, Kaylie, and she too went to work in the kitchen.
But little Jim was way too busy!
After hours of preparation, the food was finally ready. The Ladybug family went to the nearby park where the outing was to be held. Mr. Ladybug noticed the overcast sky, but thought nothing of it.
''Today is going to be a fun day!'' he thought to himself, as he walked over to his buddies. The whole insect society was there. Baby bugs, teenage bugs, and adult bugs. All of them eating each dish, laughing, and playing.
Everything was going wonderfully when all of a sudden the clouds darkened and a clap of lightning blasted across the sky. Every single one of the parents' first instincts was to call for their children. Mr. and Mrs. Ladybug shouted out,
''Kyle! Kylie! Kaylie! Jim!''
The couple looked around and in the crowd of chaotic young ones, they spotted three their own. Kyle, Kylie, and Kaylie ran up next to their parents.
But little Jim was way too busy!
Mr. and Mrs. Ladybug couldn't wait any longer. They rushed to their underground home with three of their four children. They couldn't risk getting wet.
Meanwhile, Jim realized he was all alone and headed for home. By this time, the clouds had released a drizzle of rain. There was no way he could hide from the wetness. One raindrop to the next. His back started to get small dots where the water soaked in. When he eventually arrived home, his family rejoiced and wrapped him up in a towel.
''Oh my! What are these black spots on your back, sweety?'' questioned Mrs. Ladybug.
''They got there because of the water drops.'' answered little Jim.
''And that's why you are not allowed ever to get wet!'' scolded his father.
''We think it looks nice!'' exclaimed Kyle, Kylie, and Kaylie in unison.
''Yeah, it is!'' Jim agreed.
When Jim grew up and had his own children, they also had the black spots. And their children and so on. So that is why ladybugs all over the world today are all red with black dots. They aren't just beetles with a fancy name anymore. No, they're much more than that!


Author's comments

Dear Sara:
What a wonderful ''porquoi pas'' story. We call ''porquoi pas'' (which is French) the stories that explain how something came to be.
This is one of the best stories written by young writers that i have read in a long time. Congratulations!
I like everything about the story, so I'll just comment on a few things:
1. You made your characters very alive by giving them names, and great names too!, by letting us know where they lived and what they were doing, but particularly by letting them speak.
2. Your characters are even more real because you individualized them. While the two older sincerely want to help, the next who is too little to help want to imitate the older siblings, but J., oh, no, he's too busy on his own. That was excellently done.
3. Your pacing is also very good. You do not rush at any time, but at the same time you stay focused on the main story. This is something not always easy to achieve. You've done it very well. You ''move the story'' as writers would say, and the reader stays with you because your pacing is just right.
4. The theme, of course, is always of upmost importance. And yours is fun. How did ladybugs get their spots? I never knew it before, thanks for informing me.
5. Beginning and ending -- you stayed out of the obvious, the repeated formula of asking the question ''Why did... How did...?'' and rather created your own personal way of tying beginning and end.
Finally, your setting was very nicely developed. CONGRATULATIONS ... You have the makings of a good writer. Keep at it. I will be looking forward reading more things written by you. You can always find me at my website
Your author friend, Alma Flor Ada