This thin, pocket-sized book — no title on its cover — whose brittle pages made soft crackling protests when opened easily drew me into its long-gone world. I’d expected an accountant’s ledger, columns of faded numbers, given its drab earthy brown-green cover, but to my delight instead there on the inside flap was a bookplate bearing “Harry W” carefully penciled in beginner’s cursive. The next page proclaimed this the “Book of Short Stories” with the oddly enticing notice “printed and bound under supervision of K.E. Killeen, Director of Handiwork”. Perhaps you’ve met a “Director of Handiwork”, but I have not. The next page obligingly revealed all by way of a peppily sweet introduction which began with this greeting:
How do you do! I am the little book that you have made.
This at least explained what I held: a collection of stories written by fifth graders. It ended with the date: February 18, 1931.
I can only speak for myself, but kid’s writings are always revealing and a great find, but that a school district published, during the Great Depression no less, a collection of fifth grader’s stories, book reports, and odd poems struck me as, well, it struck me. In a great way.
Here then are all of the stories found in this 63-page book. There are 86 in all. Some no more than four or five sentences, others span pages, but charmers all, some offering a few sweet surprises. At times the excercise of making this site felt like a typing or stenography test, I have tried to leave in only the book’s typos and odd punctuations, but have probably introduced a few of my own: forgive me.