The Magic Bubble Trip

by Ingrid & Dieter Schubert

James lived in a big apartment building. The woods behind the building, however, were where James could usually be found. In the woods was a pond full of frogs, and James loved frogs.
One Saturday morning when James came back from the pond, he sneaked into the bathroom and locked the door. Soon there was the sound of running water and after that a strange noise. Ploop ...ploop ...ploop ...ploop.
"What's going on in there?" asked James' father.
James' father and mother didn't have the foggiest idea. His mother peeked through the keyhole.
She saw James playing with his frogs. One at a time they were leaping from his head in to the bath tub. Ploop.
"Goodness James!" his parents cried. "An apartment is no place for frogs. They belong in the pond not inside."
"But they like it here. I know they do," said James.
His parents, however, insisted that he return them to the pond immediately.
Back in his room James felt very sad, for he missed his frog friends. He sat on his bed and blew bubbles as he usually did when something bothered him. He began to day dream, thinking of frogs and other things.
Just then, something strange happened. Something very strange.
One of the soap bubbles began to grow bigger and bigger and bigger. When it had grown so large that it had completely surrounded James, it started to float out of the window, carrying him along with it!
At first James was afraid but soon began to enjoy the bubble ride, for he could see everything. The bubble floated higher and higher, on and on.
Finally it began to float downward. Below him James saw a medow with funny looking mounds on it. It was here that the bubble gently landed.
Up close the mounds turned out to be hundreds of grassy frogs piled on top of each other.
"Hello, hello," croaked the giant frogs. "Who are you?"
"I'm James, but why do you make these piles yourselves, and why are you covered with grass?"
"We pile up high to get a better view," said the frogs. "And as fof the grass? Well, we're grass frogs! And anyway, you have grass on the top of your head too, even if it is all dried up."
"That's not grass," laughed James,"that's my hair!"
Soon James was playing games with the grass frogs, who were extemely playful. The game he liked best waswhen the frogs sat on each other to make a high tower so he could climb to the top and jump down. He did this at least twenty times.
"Now I'll show you some thing," James said, and he began to jump on one leg. The frogs tried to copy him but being used to jumping on four legs found it difficultto jump on just one.
While James wasjumping up and down, things fell out of his pockets: A screwdriver, soap for blowing bubbles, a wing nut, a spoon (a bit bent), an old nail (a little bent too), a button and all sorts of other objects.
"What are those? the frogs asked.
"They're just things I like to save. Odds and ends that might come in handy someday."
"Then we bet you'd like Mr. Odds-and-Ends," they said. "He collects old stuff just like you do."
"I'd love to meet him, " said James.
Then he blew a bubble big enough for himself and a grass frog to show him the way. They floated along until the grass frog told James to land near an enormous junkyard.
Next to the junkyard was a colorful but very odd looking house. From inside the house James heard the sound of hammering. He walked over to see what was going on.
"Are you Mr. Odds-and-Ends?" James asked.
"That's me alright! But who are you?"
"I'm James," he said.
"Well come in James," Mr Odds-and-Ends said with a smile.
Inside James was delighted to see a room full of wonderful toys. Mr Odds-and-Ends had constructed them himself out of this and that, and he told James exactly what he used to make each one. The toy that James liked the most was a grass frog made f rom matchboxes, buttons and green wool.
"If you like these, then let me show you the best thing of all," said Mr. Odds-and-Ends, and he took James to a large shed behind the house.
"It is my Heli-plane," he declared. "The only problem is that I need a small part to tighten its left wing before it can fly. I've looked every where, but I can't find the right part."
"How about this?" James asked, showing Mr Odds-and-Ends the wing nut from his pocket.
"That's it! That's it!" cried Mr. Odds-and-Ends. "That's exactly what it needs to fly." He took the wing nut from James and, as a thank you, gave him the matchbox grass frog.
"Come on." said Mr-Odds-and-Ends to James after he finished tightening the wing "I'll take you home in the Heli-plane."
"Great," said James, who climbed aboard after saying goodbye to his grass frog friend.
The Heli-plane flew beautifully. Mr. Odds-and-Ends was an expert pilot. He did loop the loops and other flying tricks until at last they arrived at James' home. Stairs extended from the Heli-plane to the windowsill of the apartment, and, after saying goodbye and thank you, James walked down the stairs and into his room.
Waiting inside was the biggest surprise of James' life. His parents, who had never wantedfrogs in the house, were now playing cheerfully on the floor with several giant grass frogs!
A big smile broke out on James' face. He couldn't believe his eyes. He never felt happier.
Sometimes life can seem wonderful, he thought. Sometimes it can seem too good to be true.

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

Kevin J. O'Brien
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Revised: January 14, 1996