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Pedaling Home 

The Independent Weekly's first Are We There Yet?!!?: Kids Stories for the Road short story contest was meant to motivate our adult readers to submit stories that could be read to kids. Our theme was travel: Summer vacation is, after all, a time to get away, to romp and play before school starts again, whether to grandma's house, or a journey to another city, state, country, or continent... Our winning submission, "Pedaling Home," written by Marijo Makufka and illustrated by her husband, Michael Fels, was wonderful fun. We liked Petey. Bones made us laugh. And Baby Bird's findings were "shiny" and "bright." Illustrated submissions were not a requirement of our contest--in fact, a bound, illustrated copy, was one of our contest prizes. We had artists who sent us their portfolios for consideration and over 30 writers who submitted their imaginative tales. In the end, Marijo, who is a writing teacher at Guilford College and Elon University, and Michael, who teaches art courses at Elon University, touched us with their delightfully colorful story. We hope you (and your kids, of course!) enjoy reading it as much as we did. And now, with no further delay, "Pedaling Home." --olufunke moses

Home was boring.

During the summer, Petey, Bones and Baby Bird decided they would travel somewhere new every day.

"Won't you miss your bed? Won't you miss your food and water bowls?" their mom and dad asked.

"No," Petey smirked, turning his face away from his comfortable circle bed.

"No," Bones sighed, looking away from the food in her bowl.

"CHIRP! No! CHIRP!" Baby Bird squawked. And she just groomed her wing.

Bones pedaled her bike to the front door. Petey got in the side car. Baby Bird hopped onto Bones' head.

At Hillsborough Park, they jumped from the bike to explore the possibilities. What fun!

Petey sniffed the ground, especially around the picnic tables.

Bones played ball with some children.

Baby Bird perched on the edge of a trash can, picking up shiny pieces of foil and bright bits of paper.

All was fine and dandy until a bee stung Petey's nose...

...and Bones punctured a ball, sending the children off screaming and wailing...

...and Baby Bird got startled by a big crow flying overhead.

They pedaled home as quickly as they could.

That night they said, "Oh well," greedily eating their dinner before snuggling into their soft and wonderful bed. "There will be a better adventure tomorrow!"

The next morning they rose early. "Are you sure you won't miss your bed? Are you sure you won't miss your food and water bowls?" their mom and dad asked.

"No," Petey condescended, turning his face away from his comfortable circle bed.

"No," Bones whimpered, looking away from the food in her bowl.

"CHIRP! No! CHIRP!" Baby Bird squawked. And she just groomed her foot.

At the Chapel Hill swimming pool, they jumped from the bike to explore the possibilities, What fun!

Petey waded a bit in the shallow end and then stretched out in the sun.

Bones played with the children, sliding down the slide and jumping off the diving board.

Baby Bird perched on the edge of the concession stand, picking up shiny pieces of foil and bright bits of paper.

All was fine and dandy until a stray Frisbee hit Petey in the head...

...and Bones got a belly full of water doing a cannonball off the dive...

...and Baby Bird got startled by a big kite flying overhead.

They pedaled home as quickly as they could.

That night they said, "Oh well," greedily eating their dinner before snuggling into their soft and wonderful bed. "There will be a better adventure tomorrow!"

The next morning, they rose early.

"Are you absolutely sure you won't miss your bed? Are you absolutely sure you won't miss your food and water bowls?" their mom and dad asked.

"I won't," Petey sniffed, turning his face away from his comfortable circle bed.

"I won't," Bones whined, looking away from the food in her bowl.

"CHIRP! I won't! CHIRP!" Baby Bird squawked. And she just groomed her tail.

At the Durham carnival, they jumped from the bike to explore the possibilities. What fun!

Petey followed some people who were eating.

He followed a man eating a hot dog. He followed a teenaged girl eating french fries. He followed some children eating candy apples.

Bones played with the children, throwing darts and tossing rings.

Baby Bird perched on the edge of the lucky ducky game, picking up shiny pieces of foil and bright bits of paper.

All was fine and dandy until an angry man, trying to enjoy his sausage sandwich, told Petey to "SCRAM!"...

...and Bones got so excited throwing darts that she bit her own tongue...

...and Baby Bird got startled by a bunch of balloons flying overhead.

They pedaled home as quickly as they could.

That night they said, "Oh well," greedily eating their dinner before snuggling into the soft and wonderful bed. "There will be a better adventure tomorrow!"

The next morning, they rose early.

"Are you sure you won't miss your bed? Are you sure you won't miss your food and water bowls?" their mom and dad asked.

"No," Petey patronized, turning his face away from his comfortable circle bed.

"No," Bones pulled, looking away from the food in her bowl.

"CHIRP! No! CHIRP!" Baby Bird squawked. And she just groomed her back.

At the Raleigh Adventure Park, they jumped from the bike to explore the possibilities. What fun!

Petey put quarters in the photo booth, striking poses.

Bones played laser tag with the children.

Baby Bird perched on the edge of the ticket-redeeming counter, picking up shiny pieces of foil and bright bits of paper.

All was fine and dandy until Petey became dizzy from all the camera flashes...

...and Bones ran into a wall nose-first...

...and Baby Bird got startled by a big sign swaying overhead.

They pedaled home as quickly as they could.

That night, before greedily eating their dinner, Petey made an executive decision. "We'll travel inside our house tomorrow!"

The next morning, they rose early.

"Let's travel to our food bowls!" Petey shouted. "What fun!"

"Let's travel to our beds!" Bones hollered. "What fun!"

"CHIRP! Let's groom ourselves! CHIRP!" Baby Bird squawked. "What fun!"

Petey and Bones tried not to roll their eyes.

"Home is fun!" they all whooped.

Their mom and dad were very happy, adding "Sometimes all the traveling you have to do is right within your own home."

With that, they hunkered down for some serious scratching and petting.

"Home is fun!" indeed.

  • Winner of our Are We There Yet? kids stories contest

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