Saturday, November 23, 2013

"You Gonna Wear That?" Another #MiddleGrade Short Story

Douglas Winslow Cooper and Brian Maher

Nearly ready to go to Jane’s house that Saturday afternoon, Tess came downstairs, where her brother Rick looked at her a little strangely.

“You gonna wear that to Jane‘s house?”


“No she’s not,” her mother said, pointing to the holes in the knees of her blue jeans, “not in those pants.“

“But, Mom….”

“No ‘buts’ about it, Tess, you can look like a ragamuffin to play football or basketball outside, but I will not have you going to your friend’s house looking like a bum.”

“But, Mom….”

“People judge you partly by how you look, how you dress. Daddy wears a uniform at work to show he’s an EMT with the Fire Department. I dress up to teach at school. When you go to someone’s home, it shows respect to them not to look sloppy.”

“But, Mom….”

“Don’t you brush your hair before you go out?”



Tess thought for only a few seconds. “I don’t want to look messy.”

“Right. The same thing applies to how you dress. It should fit the occasion. People treat attractive people better, and dressing appropriately is part of the picture. When you get married, you’ll probably be telling your husband how to dress, and you’ll probably like to dress well so that he thinks you look good, too.”

“Oh, Mom….”

The tempest in a teapot blew over. Tess put on a better pair of jeans. She went to her girlfriend’s house and returned home shortly before dinner. That evening, Tess and Rick and Tim were to be eating alone, because their parents were going to a Fire Department banquet.

Mrs. Williams looked very pretty in her dress for the evening, Tess had to admit.

Mr. Williams came downstairs in slacks and a blazer, over a striped tie and a plaid shirt.

Mother and daughter looked at each other, aghast at the clash between the stripes and plaid, and they said, as one,

“You gonna wear that?”


One of a series of fifty short stories by Douglas Winslow Cooper and
Brian Maher, written primarily for students in the fifth through eighth grades.


Saturday, November 16, 2013

"No Sleep-Overs," a #MiddleGrade Short Story

                        Douglas Winslow Cooper and Brian Maher

“Mom, can I go to the sleep-over at Janie Wilson’s house this Friday night?” That was Tess’s question Tuesday evening.

“No sleep-overs,” was her mother’s reply.

“Why not? Three other girls from my class are going.”

“No sleep-overs!”

“Why not? The Wilsons have a big house, plenty of room. We’ll be safe.”

“Tess, your father and I have a policy for all of our children: no sleep-overs at other people’s homes and almost never here.”


“First, kids rarely get enough sleep at these things. They stay up late talking and fooling around. Second, some parents allow things that we do not, and we can’t prevent them from happening during the sleep-over. If we make a big fuss beforehand, that seems to insult the parents, and we don’t want that, either. Third, we are very careful to keep all of you safe here in our home; other parents may not be quite so careful, and things may happen that would be harmful. Fourth, we don’t want this discussion over and over as each child gets a bit older. No sleep-overs!”

“Oh, Mom!” Tess was not happy.

Just then, fourth-grader Tim came in. “Mom, some of my friends are having a sleep-over at Russell’s house on Saturday night. Can I go?”

“No sleep-overs!”


“Ask your sister.”


One of our series of 50 informative short stories for young readers.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

"Fight or Flight," A Middle-grade Short Story

Douglas Winslow Cooper and Brian Maher

“Tess, what happened to Tim? He has a cut lip and a bruise on his cheek.” her elder brother, Rick, asked.

“He was in a fight after school.”

“What? Why? That’s not like Tim. He almost never fights. What happened?”

“Tim says that two boys tried to steal money from his friend Arnold when they were walking to the store.”

“Stealing is a rotten thing to do. They picked on Arnold because Arnold is a lot smaller than Tim. ”

“They threatened to beat Arnold up if he did not give them his money.”

“Then what happened?”

“Arnold was going to let them take his money, but Tim told him not to and told the boys they would have to fight to get it.”

“That’s Tim, a good friend, and tough when he has to be.”

“It started out as two-against-one, and Tim was losing, but then Arnold got into the fight.”


“Yes, Arnold. Even Tim was surprised!”

“Did they steal the money?”


“Who won?”

“It was a draw. A man in a car stopped and got out and broke up the fight, and the two other kids ran off.”

Tim came through the front door.

“Hi, champ!” Rick said. “I hear you were a hero this afternoon.”

“Well, maybe.”

Tess exclaimed, “Rick and I think you were. You did a brave thing, sticking up for Arnold. You didn’t have to fight, but you did.”

At dinner that night, the Williams family discussed the Big Fight. Both his mother and his father praised Tim.

Mrs. Williams said, “Tim, you did a good thing, sticking up for Arnold, not letting him be robbed.”

Mr. Williams added, “I hope you almost never have to fight, but it is good to know how to fight and to be willing to, when you are fighting for what is right. I was glad that Arnold joined in, glad that he learned from you to stick up for himself. We are all proud of you.”

Tess and Eric agreed and yelled together, “Hooray for Tim!”

Tim blushed.




Saturday, November 2, 2013

Being There

I see my new friend almost every time I visit our local drugstore. He’s the greeter and security guard at the front door. He’s there a lot. Therein lies a tale.

Months ago, I figured he was ex-military. We’d salute each other, and I’d jokingly say, “At ease!” or “As you were!” and we’d both laugh. His good humor and ready smile are contagious.

Waiting for my sister to finish her shopping in the store this afternoon, I struck up a conversation with my new friend, instead of just whizzing by and wishing him a great day.

I said, “You’re here a lot. That’s good, I hope. Why so many hours?”

“The young guy they hired often fails to make it. My boss has to call me in. I get paid time-and-a-half for over-time. My boss wishes he didn’t have to pay me so much, but he needs someone here he can rely on.”