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'The Man in Grandma's Cupboard'

Grandma has a man in her kitchen cupboard. His name is Dr. Jensen. One day when my sister and I were at Grandma's house, we knocked over her big fern. Dirt spilled out on her carpet. Grandma came running. "Paul, Cindy," she said. "What's going on?"

I pointed at Cindy. "It was her fault."

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Cindy's eyes got big. "Was not."

"Was," I said. Louder.

"Wasn't," Cindy said. Even louder.

Grandma put up a hand. "It's time to talk to Dr. Jensen." She led us to the kitchen where she opened a cupboard door.

"Dr. Jensen?" she called. "We need to speak with you." She listened for a second, then said to us, "He wants to know how it happened."

"She pushed me into the fern." I pointed again at Cindy.

Cindy snorted. "Well, you tripped me."

Grandma poked her head into the cupboard. "Dr. Jensen? What do you think?" She listened, then looked at us. "He wants to know how it got started."

I couldn't see anything except dishes in the cupboard. But I answered anyway. "Cindy took the book I was reading."

Cindy glared at me. "I didn't know you were reading it."

I glared at her. "You could have asked."

"Why?" Cindy demanded. "It was just sitting there. You could have said to leave it alone."

Grandma put her head into the cupboard again. "Dr. Jensen?" She listened, then said, "He says you've already figured it out. You could have asked and said rather than tripped and pushed. If you'd talked, the fern wouldn't have been knocked over."

I looked at Cindy. She looked at me. "I'm sorry," I said. "Let's go clean up the dirt."

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"OK," she said. "I didn't mean to take your book."

The next day at school, I was playing with my friends. Dale threw a ball that hit me hard on the shoulder.

I ran toward him. I was going to sock him.

He put up his fists.

All the other kids stopped playing to watch. This could be a major playground fight.

Then I stopped. What would Dr. Jensen say about this?

I looked at Dale. "You didn't mean to hit me, did you?" I asked.

Dale looked surprised. "No," he said. "Why would I want to hit you? You're my friend."

I grinned. "OK, friend. Let's play."

On the way home from school I stopped at Grandma's. I winked at her. "That Dr. Jensen is one smart guy."

She winked back. "Isn't he, though?" she agreed.

Hear this story read aloud at www.latimes.com/kids or by calling (800) LATIMES, Ext. 4KIDS ([800] 528-4637, Ext. 45437).

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