"Every summer, said the Dragonfly, "Keiko's family vacationed together, a sort of family reunion. Keiko's Mom and Dad, her grandparents, her Aunt Holly and Uncle Ken, and of course, all her cousins would come. One year they rented a houseboat on Lake Mead. The grown-ups and the toddlers sat in the cool water, at the shallow edge of the lake. The grown-ups read books, while the toddlers played in the water. Keiko and her older cousins would slide down a huge yellow water slide, in between taking turns flying about the lake on jet skis.
When they thought Keiko couldn’t hear, Keiko’s grandparents would ask , in very quiet voices, “How is Keiko doing in school?”
Keiko’s mother would answer. “I worry about my Keiko. School should be a wonderful place, but ....”
“She’s falling behind her friends,” said Keiko’s father. "She’s a smart kid, but she freezes up when trying to become a reader. She just can’t grasp learning to read.”
Ever so often, Keiko did overhear. Some of her happiness would disappear and her insides would knot up. She would lose her smile, put on a brave face, and go about playing just as hard as she played before she heard the hurtful words., about how she wasn’t measuring up in school.
The Giant Dragonfly stopped a second to check if everyone was still asleep in Dreamland. His eyes crinkled showing how pleased he was that all boys and girls were fast asleep, and listening to his story.
"Here's where I left off," said the Dragonfly."
After school on school days, Keiko went to her Japanese grandparent’s house. Her grandfather Hero, her grandmother Sachi, and her grandfather’s mother, Narika, worked as farmers. They grew flowers for sale and vegetables to eat. There was an avocado tree and a fish pond and sour stuff stored in pots in the garage. It was all very Japanese, even though they had lived in America many generations, long before Keiko’s mother’s side of the family came to America.
Keiko’s Japanese great-grandmother couldn’t speak English, but Keiko knew a few Japanese words, and she would often sit on her great-grandmother’s lap, where words weren’t important..
At her grandparent’s farm Keiko could forget about school. It was there she often helped her grandfather wrap his cut flowers. It was there Keiko played soccer with her cousins. Her oldest cousin, Chris, was the biggest. He was big and strong and gentle. Keiko’s cousin Jesse, a couple years older than Keiko, was bigger than Keiko. Glory and Keiko were the same size. Touma was the youngest, just a toddler, too small to play soccer.
Keiko’s cousins loved having Keiko on their team, because even though she was a girl, and even though she wasn’t the biggest girl, Keiko had lots of determination and lots of courage.
Keiko’s grandparent’s yard was large and dusty, and watching all around were cats. Ghost Cats, Keiko called them, as they were ghostly-grey with stare-glaring eyes. They did not smile. The cats had a job to do. Their job was to catch all the critters popping out of the ground ready to eat the vegetables and some of the flowers in the garden. The cats would stop looking for the nibbling critters to watch Keiko and her cousins play soccer.
One day, Keiko and her cousins played soccer with a giant rubber ball, almost as big as Keiko. The ball whizzed toward Keiko and Keiko hit the ball with her body. The ball spun where Keiko wanted the ball to go, but it picked up Keiko on the way. Keiko rode on top of that ball until she jumped off the other side. Her cousins, the ghost cats and everyone watching, never forgot how Keiko tackled that giant ball.
“You are one determined girl," laughed Keiko’s grandfather. “You are one great soccer player. By the way, how are things in school?”
“Just the same,” answered Keiko. And off Keiko went ducking her grandfather’s question. And, once again Keiko lost more of her happiness. Not even playing soccer with her cousins could take the hurt away. Her cousins did great in school. Keiko was a child the world overlooked -- a child who gets left behind.
"Then one day," said the Dragonfly with a twinkle in his eye, "A miracle happened."
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