Lucia Israel, Grade 7, Arden Anglican School
Finalist in the 'Spread The Word 2017' competition
As the children gather in a circle on the mat, the teacher says, “Don’t forget to bring in any cereal boxes you have as soon as possible so that we can get started on our cardboard city. Okay everyone?”
“Yes, Miss Allie!” twenty little boys and girls chant back at her.
As the children file out, one small, pig-tailed girl races over to her waiting mother and squeaks excitedly “Mummy, did you know that we have to bring cereal boxes to preschool?”
“Yes Mia, and I’ve saved one for you this morning! Now go and get your backpack and say goodbye to Miss Allie!”
The next day there are many tears in the car, as Mia realises that she has left her box at home. The next day is the same, and the next.
On Thursday, Miss Allie says, “Now, tomorrow is the last day to bring in your boxes, because we will begin building our city. So anyone who has not brought in a box, please don’t forget tomorrow.” Mia looks down at her toes as she thinks of the cornflakes box sitting on the dining room table at home. That night, she gets the cardboard box and squashes it under her pillow, ready for the morning.
Friday morning is rainy and windy and the traffic is slow. Mia kicks the back of her mum’s seat impatiently – she can’t wait to get to preschool and start her box city. While they are waiting for the traffic lights to go green, Mia looks out of the window and sees a man with a bicycle and a worried expression on his face, standing by the side of the road.
Mia’s mum rolls down the window and calls to ask the man if he needs some help. The man says, “I have just found an injured bird in the gutter and I’m not sure what to do with it! I can’t take it with me on my bike!” As the man fills her mum in on the details, Mia thinks. Slowly, she looks sideways at her cereal box on the seat, and smiles.
When they arrive at the Preschool, Miss Allie asks Mia if she has brought in a box for their project. Mia replies softly, “Yes Miss Allie!”
“Good, are you ready to start building?” enquires Miss Allie.
“No.” Mia whispers, and holds the box for her to see. As they both peer into the grubby, tatty cereal box, Miss Allie gives a small gasp of surprise and delight.
“A man found a poor baby lorikeet that had fallen out of its nest because of the wind and gave it to us as we went past. It’s lucky I forgot my box for three days, isn’t it!?”
“Wow,” exclaims Miss Allie, “You have had a very exciting morning, haven’t you? What’s your little friend’s name?”
Mia thinks for a minute, then grins, “Cornflakes, Miss Allie!”