Bobby didn't talk much in class. When he did speak, the other children often made fun of him because he stammered. His words just wouldn't come out right. They twisted around his tongue like slimy snakes.
People called Bobby special. He thought they meant he was dumb. Schoolwork wasn't easy for him, but Bobby never gave up on anything. He kept at things until he understood them.
Bobby didn't always like school, but they did learn lots of interesting things in Mrs. Meeker's class. His teacher brought objects to school he'd never seen before: coins from other countries or pictures of strange animals like kangaroos from Australia. Then she would talk about these unusual things. Her words made them come alive.
Today, Mrs. Meeker looked from one student to another.
"Class, we are going to talk about the four seasons of the year," she said. "Who can tell me what the first season of the year is?"
Winter, Bobby answered in his mind. But he did not say the word aloud. Instead, he let the other children answer.
"What colors do you see in winter?" Mrs. Meeker asked.
White, Bobby answered in his head. He picked up his crayons and began to draw on a blank sheet of paper.
Bobby thought about the snowman he'd built with his dad. Mom had given him black buttons to use for eyes. His sister, Jenny, had placed a carrot on the snowman's face for a nose.
Bobby drew himself into the picture, except he wasn't Bobby. He was Crayon Kid, and he looked like a superhero.
Bobby imagined the scene coming to life. When another kid—a big boy—hurled a hard snowball at Jenny, Crayon Kid stepped in and caught it.
"Thank you," Jenny said with a grateful smile.
"What season comes after winter?" Mrs. Meeker asked, interrupting his fantasy.
Spring, Bobby answered in his head. Many children called out the answer, but he stayed silent.
"What colors do you see in spring?" Mrs. Meeker asked.
"What colors don't you see?" Jeff answered, and the class laughed.
Even Mrs. Meeker smiled. Jeff always had something clever to say.
Bobby was drawing fast again—a spring scene this time: Dad was mowing. Jenny was on a swing. Mom was planting in the garden.
Bobby drew Crayon Kid into the picture. Crayon Kid was strong and brave, not like Bobby. He wasn't afraid of anything or anyone. He could talk like Jeff, and say smart things that made people laugh.
Bobby imagined Dad tripping and falling over a rock. The lawnmower whirled out of control, but Crayon Kid was ready. He caught the lawnmower and finished the mowing.
"Thank you," Dad said gratefully.
"What season follows spring?" Mrs. Meeker asked.
Summer, Bobby thought.
While Mrs. Meeker talked with the students about what they liked to do in summer, Bobby imagined being outside—riding his bicycle or swimming in the backyard pool when it was hot. He drew himself and his family in summer. He even drew Jeff playing outside with him. Jeff almost drowned in the pool, but Crayon Kid jumped in and rescued him.
"Thanks for saving me," Jeff said.
Jeff admired Crayon Kid. Everyone did. Crayon Kid was brave and fearless. He was confident and always knew the right things to say and do.
"What is the fourth season of the year?" Mrs. Meeker asked.
Autumn, Bobby thought. He imagined gathering falling leaves together and jumping in a pile of them. Their many colors—red, yellow, orange and brown—jumbled and mixed together.
Bobby was drawing again. Jeff ran out into the street after a soccer ball. Crayon Kid ran after him and pulled him to safety just as a car was about to hit him.
"Crayon Kid, you're the best," Jeff said.
"Bobby," Mrs. Meeker said, "You haven't said a single word. Have you been listening?"
Bobby nodded his head.
"What is your favorite season?"
Bobby took a deep breath and let it out slowly. He was afraid to speak—afraid of being laughed at. But he didn't want to feel scared anymore. He looked at his pictures. He was Crayon Kid.
"I-I like all the seasons." Bobby took a deep breath, refusing to let the words choke in his throat. He remembered his speech teacher's encouragement. He wasn't going to give into the stutter. "Each season is different but special."
Two girls giggled. Mrs. Meeker frowned at them.
"What a smart thing to say! As Bobby has observed, each season is different and special, just as each snowflake is different and special, just as each child is different and special."
Mrs. Meeker finished the lesson by telling the class to draw and color a picture of their favorite season. Looking at his paper Bobby smiled. But this time, he didn't need Crayon Kid. He'd draw himself instead!