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The GraciePress Newsletter - “PeeP!” Chapter 1 - “The Big Hand”

The GraciePress Newsletter - “PeeP!” Chapter 1 - “The Big Hand”
This issue is being sent out with a special “Thank You” to teacher Alison Levine and all of her students! We thank you so much for the interest you have shown in our books and about chickens. You are so special and we flap our wings in appreciation for just how wonderful each of you is! Thank you for making us so happy!
Gracie, Bessie, Blanche, Pearl, Emily, and Amelia

“Are you sure you want that one? The one with the lopsided feathers?” asked the sales clerk. 
I looked more closely at the two baby chicks she was holding in her hands. I could see what she meant.
“If you ask me, there’s something wrong with that one,” she said. “It doesn’t look good enough to me. I’d never take it home and call it mine.”
Then the one she was talking about looked up into my eyes and simply said, “PeeP!”
I wondered if she realized the sales clerk was talking about her.
“I’m sure,” I said. “They look like they belong together.”
I took the two little balls of fluff from her and carefully placed them into a shoebox with fresh straw.
“Suit yourself,” she said and shrugged her shoulders.
“You are so much more than good enough,” I whispered into the small shoebox on the way to the cash register. When I held my ear to the shoebox, I could hear their happy peeping inside.
That spring day, I made two trips to The Feed And Seed Store. On the first trip, I hand-selected the baby chicks to take home with me in a large shoebox. Few things are any cuter, and so I went back for more. Those two were just scooped up by the sales clerk. But without the second trip, there would be no Gracie and Bessie in my life, and you would not be reading this. 
Gracie did look a little different, just as the sales clerk had said. With the others, the feathers above their beaks were even. Gracie’s weren’t, and so her face seemed slightly odd. Even so, you can’t always tell baby chicks or people by how they look.
The first week, a small lump appeared on Gracie’s side near her thigh. As the weeks went by, it grew with her. It kept her from moving like the others. Even so, she did her best to act like them. She wanted to avoid getting picked on or jostled by the more active and assertive chicks who got quite rambunctious at times.
She stayed close to Bessie whenever she could. Bessie would go off to play with the others, but she always came back to Gracie. They slept beside each other, perhaps more by Gracie’s choice at first, but Bessie didn’t mind. It’s just like that with friends.
Most mornings, after the spring showers, I would collect earthworms from under the bricks and logs outside. While the others were enjoying their treats, Gracie stayed back from the excitement. When it was over, she would go to Bessie. Every so often, she was lucky and found a small earthworm the others had overlooked.
Once, I picked her up out of the brooder box and tried hand-feeding an earthworm to her, but she wouldn’t take it. Any of the others would have eagerly gobbled it down. For Gracie, being with Bessie was more important than even a tasty snack. 
Maybe the sales clerk had been right about this timid one, I thought. But as I held her little body in my hands, my heart told me otherwise. 
“You are so much more than good enough,” I said to her.
“PeeP!” she said to me, and so I put her back in the brooder box next to Bessie. 
She snuggled against her best friend and happily looked up at me.
“PeeP!” she said again.
Soon I would learn Gracie’s gentle heart had many more important things to tell me other than just “PeeP!”
Notes for parents and teachers
The three questions above correspond with three levels of comprehension. If a child is reading the chapter, then it’s reading comprehension. If a child is being read to, then it’s listening comprehension.
There are other ways of categorizing comprehension, but this is the simplest way to look at it.
The first is literal comprehension which is about what is right there.
The second is interpretive comprehension which is about what is between the lines.
The third is applied comprehension which is about what is beyond the lines.
One of the Chicken language words you learned in this first section and chapter was “PeeP!” Here is what it means.
You may wonder why “PeeP!” begins and ends with a capital letter. Here is a secret about the Chicken language that Gracie and Bessie want you to know. (You may want to keep all of these words and secrets in a small pocket notebook. Gracie and Bessie would, but they don’t have pockets.)
Here is another fun activity that Gracie and Bessie think you might enjoy. We tried to do it together, but they ate the earthworms before we even got started. If you do this activity, please do not eat the earthworms!
By the way, you will find some good worm-hunting tips in the chapter above. Those tips are especially useful if you don’t want to do a lot of digging in your yard!
For step-by-step details for making this earthworm habitat, visit the page below. There is even an activity sheet with the steps that you can print out.
PeeP! Activities Page: GraciePress
Are you a teacher, parent, grandparent, or someone who is helping a young person along? Would you like to have an issue sent out with a special “Thank you” to a young reader (or readers) at the beginning of the next newsletter?
If so, please let us know!
Use this format: This issue is being sent out with a special “Thank You” to ______. (Can be more than one person.) We thank you so much for ______. (Can be any positive thing.)
Next Week: Chapter 2 - “The Gray Brooder Box”
Thank you for reading!
Gracie, Bessie, Blanche, Pearl, Emily, and Amelia
Did you enjoy this issue?
J.R. Spiers (with help from Gracie)

The GraciePress Newsletter brings you the latest news, stories, illustrations, special offers, and free gifts from Gracie, Bessie, Blanche, Pearl, Emily, and Amelia. They are the inspiration behind all of the books published under The GraciePress imprint.

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From A Small Backyard Garden and A Most Wondrous Place in Portsmouth, Virginia