Analogy is a very powerful literary tool. It is hard to imagine what it feels like for someone else to have lots of competing thoughts in their head, but when we read this story it is easy to visualize the surf crashing against rocks and from this to understand, at the least, that Abigail has a lot on her mind!
Of course, the core of the story is the relationship between Abigail and a wild animal. Notice how Abigail describes in detail what they do together and how she describes her feelings, sometimes using analogy to help us understand the relationship. Brooke uses feeling, descriptions, and analogies (describing one thing by comparing it with another) to establish the reality of the beautiful cove where Abigail spends the summer and the reality of her experiences with Alex, the seal. You can pick out examples of each of these techniques in this short story:
Feelings: "Abigail could feel the excitement in her bones."
Description: "The front door was golden yellow, elegantly crafted out of solid oak."
Analogy: "All kinds of ideas collided in her head, like the waves clashing against the barnacle-covered rock."
Project: Write a Story about a Child and an Animal Who Love Each Other
Children and animals go together: cats, dogs, horses, rats, rabbits, hamsters, and mice are some of the common animals who make friends with children.
Like Brooke, clearly establish where the story takes place. Use as much detail as possible to let your reader visualize the scene. Remember that, in addition to seeing, smell is often important to us, as are feelings--how the sand feels between our toes, for expample, and how we feel emotionally about where we are. At the core of the story, though, should be the relationship between the main character and an animal. Describe what they do together and how they feel about each other. Notice how Brooke keeps the seal acting seal-like. Brooke's seal is not a human. The seal moves and acts like a seal! Your animal friend should act like the animal he or she is. Describe movements and motivations that are consistent with a cat or a dog or a mouse or a squirrel or whatever animal you choose as your character's friend.
Written and illustrated by Brooke Hayes, age 12, from Bangor, Maine
From the March/April 1994 issue of Stone Soup
ABIGAIL COULD FEEL the excitement in her bones. She knew that this would be the best summer ever. Abigail was returning from Detroit, Michigan. Her father had been transferred from Islesboro, Maine.
Abigail's father, Mr. Will M. Jeffers, is an architect for the company Bradford O'Day. Abigail's mother, Mrs. Lynn A. Jeffers, is an attorney for the firm Johnson and Murphy.
The two-and-a-half-story white house sat on high ground, peacefully overlooking a stretch of land that led down to a small cove. The old country house was framed with black shutters that shone like quartz in the sun. Jutting out from the window sills were flower boxes that cradled crimson-red geraniums with soft and delicate petals. The front door was golden yellow, ele-gantly crafted out of solid oak. If you were to sit at the living room window, a breath-taking view would enve-lope you. The big stone fireplace was always aglow on cool, damp days.
Abigail breathed in the salty air as her toes tingled in the cool waters of the cove. Ashley, her twin sister, was already in the water. Abigail ran into the house and tried to squeeze on her old black-and-white-striped bathing suit. It was just too small. With disappointment Abigail scurried to her mother's bedroom, where her mother was in the midst of unpacking summer clothes. Abigail explained her dilemma and Mrs. Jeffers suggest-ed a trip to the mainland on the ferry within the next few days to buy a suit.
Abigail felt her bubble of excitement and fun pop like the air dribbling from a balloon. She dragged her feet to the wharf, tripped, and clumsily fell. What a great summer this was evolving into, she thought. Just as she sat down, feeling sorry for herself, something cold and hard rubbed against her skinned shin, tickling her knee. She couldn't imagine what it could be. All kinds of ideas collided in her head, like the waves clash-ing against the barnacle-covered rock. From out of the gray-green water popped a white head for just a few sec-onds. Abigail sat very still in amazement, hoping that this slippery creature would re-appear. With a splash he did. Abigail spoke gently to the young seal. The seal seemed to understand that Abigail wanted to be friends. He barked and wiggled with joy. The horn on the ferry blasted upon its arrival to the island, frightening the young seal back into the sea. Abigail sauntered home, retreating to her cove, wondering whether she would encounter the seal again. Abigail would not share this special event with anyone except the gentle waters of the cove.
The next day, at the same time in the afternoon, she sat very quietly waiting for the seal to appear alongside of her. In no time he did. Abigail patted his sleek fur coat as she gazed into his big black eyes. She whispered to him, "Alex."
Each day Abigail would rendezvous with Alex and bring a bucket of fresh fish, their love and friendship blossoming like wild roses in the ocean air. To remem-ber this budding friendship Abigail was carving a seal out of driftwood she found in her cove.
One evening, having spent a lovely day in the cove and sharing special moments with Alex, Abigail plunked herself down next to her father to watch the news. An alarming weather forecast interrupted her feelings of tranquility. A severe hurricane watch was in effect. Hurricane Chad was moving toward the coast of Maine and it was anticipated to hit Islesboro within the next twenty-four hours. Abigail's first reaction was, what will I do with Alex? She did not sleep well that night thinking of what would happen to her beloved seal.
The next day the Jefferses prepared extensively for the hurricane by buying candles, batteries, and food. They put the flower boxes in the garage, along with the white wicker porch furniture. Abigail hurried to the cove to get the driftwood so it would not be ruined in the storm. She ran to the wharf to whistle Alex in. He did not wiggle with joy as usual, sensing that danger was near. Abigail sat on the wharf stroking Alex's sleek white satiny head, whispering to him that their memo-rable times would last forever in her heart. Abigail dashed up to the house, glancing back at the wharf, with tears streaming down her sunburnt cheeks. Alex barked several times.
Hurricane Chad ripped through Islesboro, flooding roads, damaging homes, causing power outages, and uprooting trees. Extensive repair work had to be done by the residents. When the roads were freed from haz-ardous fallen limbs and broken glass, Abigail sprinted down to the wharf, her heart beating anxiously. She whistled Alex in but heard nothing except the echo of her whistle, rebounding off the barren ledges. Abigail's body trembled with despair. Alex was gone....
The remaining weeks before departing to Detroit were dismal and lonely without Alex. Abigail found a special place in the cove to put the carved driftwood. The gentle waters of the cove would take care of it over the long winter.
As the Jefferses were transporting their belongings onto the ferry, Abigail whistled once more. A white head popped out of the dark waters and rubbed against her hand. She was overjoyed by this unexpected event! The whistle on the ferry blew and it was time for depar-ture. Abigail laid her face next to Alex's cold nose, hoping that he would be there next year.
As the ferry motored out into the glistening waters, away from the wharf, Abigail stared at Alex, their eyes meeting with hope. Abigail winked twice and Alex barked. Would Alex be there next summer to greet Abigail?