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With thanks to my generous students at the Conseil scolaire francophone. And special thanks to Kirsten Pendreigh and Faziah Gamaz for their guidance.
An Excerpt from “Lark Holds the Key”
“It was a giant rat!” Badir said, spreading his hands wide apart.
“Rats are not that big,” Nate said. “They’re only this big.” He held his hands closer together to show Badir the size of a rat in Canada.
“I saw him! He was swimming in the small lake near my home,” insisted Badir.
“A lake? We live in the city, Badir. There is no lake around here.”
“A little lake,” Badir tried to explain, spreading his arms out again.
“Right,” said Nate. “You saw a rat the size of a poodle in a little lake. Now I’ve heard everything!”
Badir sighed. No one believed him. But the previous night he had seen the rat swimming in the water. He’d been taking a walk with his mother in Hinge Park. His mother had sat on a bench with the twins while Badir explored the paths around the park. There were songbirds in the trees and flowers blooming in the gardens.
Badir had just walked over a bridge when he heard the rustling of leaves and saw some bushes shaking back and forth. He walked farther along the path, and when he rounded the bend, he saw it.
A giant rat was swimming in the water with a stick in its mouth! It had dark-brown fur, a little black nose and small ears flattened against the side of its head. The rat was a really good swimmer. Badir ran back to get his mother.
“I don’t see it, Badir,” she said, after she followed him over the bridge. They looked and looked, but the rat had disappeared.
“It was huge!” Badir said.
“I’m sure it was,” she said.
After recess there was math. Badir was good with numbers.
“Numbers are so easy!” Badir said.
Marlene sighed. “You shouldn’t brag.”
“Brag? What does brag mean?” asked Badir.
“When you’re good at something and you let everyone know about it,” Marlene said, rolling her eyes.
“But I am good at numbers!” said Badir. He took out his pencil and started writing down the answers to the addition problems. “My brain is like a calculator. I can add these numbers in my head.”
Mr. George, the teacher, stood beside Badir and watched him write down his answers.