Brady the Book Sailor came out of our brainstorming sessions for the Roald Dahl Imaginormous contest — and took on a life of his own! This story turned into a love letter to the authors and characters who have inspired my real-life Brady the Book Sailor to become such an excellent reader! He’s already at a second grade level – which makes for a super happy Auntie! (Visit auntiekimberly.com for more content.)
Pirate Grapebeard was a friendly pirate. His friends called him GrapeB. His beard was actually a bunch of grapes. He could pluck one of the grapes from the bunch and eat it – and then “pop” – another grape would grow in its place. He sailed the oceans in the land of Eadray in his bathtub ship, always in search of chocolate coins, his favorite treat.
Whenever Pirate Grapebeard passed another ship, the people in the other ship would yell, “toss us some grapes, GrapeB!” He would pluck some grapes out of his beard and toss them to the other ship! “Thanks, GrapeB!” his friends would say. “You’re welcome,” GrapeB would reply.
One day, GrapeB landed his bathtub ship on a remote island. He decided to get out and explore, to see if he could find some chocolate coins. Then right there on the shore, he saw a giant book lying on the ground. He thought, “I wonder if there are any chocolate coins in this book!” He got down on his hands and knees, and put his nose right on the pages of the book. And then something really weird happened – GrapeB fell IN to the book!
But he didn’t see any chocolate coins. Instead, GrapeB was in a hallway. There were two young boys walking towards him, and then a third boy came sprinting up the hallway behind them. “Harold! George!” the third boy yelled.
The first two boys looked at the third boy. “Hi there, Brady,” they said at the same time.
“You guys,” said Brady, who was out of breath from running, “You’d better get to the playground now! Some kids were singing ‘If You’re Happy And You Know It, Clap Your Hands’. But then they changed the words to, ‘If You’re Happy And You Know It, Snap Your Fingers.’ And just then, Mr. Krupp was walking by and he turned into…”
From far outside the school, the three boys and GrapeB could hear someone singing “Tra la laaaaaaaaa!”
“Uh, oh, we can guess what happened after that,” said Harold.
“Yep, we’d better go,” said George. “Thanks for the warning, Brady!”
“You’re welcome,” said Brady.
Brady looked at GrapeB and said, “Oh, hello. My name is Brady.”
Just then, a large bald man wearing nothing but white underpants and a red cape went running down the hallway. George and Harold were behind him, running as fast as they could, trying to catch up.
“Ummm…why is that grown man only wearing underwear and a cape?” asked GrapeB.
“It’s kind of a long story,” said Brady. “I’m a Book Sailor. Are you a Book Sailor, too?”
“My name’s GrapeB. And I know that regular sailors explore the ocean, but I don’t know what a Book Sailor is or how I got here. I was looking for chocolate coins on an island, when I fell into a book, and here I am. Except that I don’t know where ‘here’ is.”
“Well,” said Brady, “a Book Sailor is someone with a magic purple library card. Instead of sailing in the ocean, we can go sailing in our imagination. When we hold the magic card and close our eyes and concentrate really hard on a story, we open our eyes and we are INSIDE the story. Right now, we are at Jerome Horowitz Elementary School, which is from a series of books called Captain Underpants.”
“Gosh, said GrapeB, “I don’t have a magic purple library card, so I guess I’m not a Book Sailor. Can you help me get home?”
“I’ve never tried to take anyone else Book Sailing with me,” said Brady, “but I will try my hardest to help you. Here, grab my magic purple library card, close your eyes, and think really hard about the story you want to sail to.”
Brady and GrapeB each held one side of the purple library card, and they squeezed their eyes shut and concentrated hard.
When they opened their eyes, they were in a little boy’s room. The boy was working on an art project, and there were crayons scattered everywhere.
“Hi, Brady,” said the little boy.
“Hi Brady,” said all the crayons.
“GAAAAAAAAAAAAAA,” said GrapeB. “ARE THOSE CRAYONS TALKING?????”
“Of course the crayons can talk,” said Brady. “Anything can happen in a story!”
Brady said hello to the little boy, whose name was Duncan, and greeted each of the crayons by name. Most of them had color names like Yellow and Orange (who were smushed together for some reason) and Turquoise (who was stuck to a stinky sock). But one of them was named Esteban the Magnificent.
“Why is his name Esteban the Magnificent?” whispered GrapeB.
“It’s kind of a long story,” Brady whispered back.
“Would you like to stay and color something with us?” asked Duncan.
“Next time, I would love to stay and color with you,” said Brady. “But right now, I am trying to help my friend GrapeB get back to his bathtub ship.”
Brady looked at GrapeB. “Let’s try again,” he said, holding out the magic purple library card. “Hold onto the card and think REALLY hard about going back to your bathtub ship story.”
When they opened their eyes, they were standing in front of a school bus. There was a pigeon by the door of the bus.
“Hi Brady,” the pigeon said.
GrapeB thought it was really weird that a pigeon could talk, but then he realized they were probably in another story.
“Can I drive the bus?” the pigeon asked Brady.
“Ummm…I really don’t think that would be a good idea,” said Brady. “Talk to you later, Pigeon!”
“Brady,” GrapeB said, “Why does that pigeon want to drive the bus?”
“It’s kind of a long story,” said Brady. Then he held out the purple library card to GrapeB and told him to grab on to it again.
They thought really hard about the bathtub ship, and opened their eyes. This time, they were in another little boy’s bedroom! The little boy had a fly sitting on his shoulder.
“Oh, hi Buzz!” Brady said. “Hi, Fly Guy”.
“Hi Brady,” said Buzz.
“Buzzzzzzzzz,” said Fly Guy.
Buzz said, “Would you like to play hide and seek with Fly Guy and me?”
Brady said, “I will definitely come back to play hide and seek with you sometime, but right now, I’m trying to get my friend GrapeB back to his own story.”
“Why is that kid playing hide and seek with a fly?” whispered GrapeB.
“It’s kind of a long story,” Brady whispered back. “Grab the card and let’s try again.”
They both closed their eyes and concentrated really hard. When they opened their eyes, they were standing next to a chocolate river. Several tiny orange men went running by. “Hi, Brady,” they all said.
“Hello, Oompa Loompas,” Brady said.
“Oompa WHAT???” said GrapeB.
“They are Oompa Loompas,” Brady said. “They help Mr. Wonka with his chocolate factory.”
“How are things going at the factory?” Brady asked one of the Oompa Loompas.
“Very good, Mr. Brady,” the Oompa Loompa said. We blocked off a small part of the chocolate river so you can drink without falling in! Would you and your friend like to try it?”
“Oh, yes,” said Brady. He and GrapeB walked to the drinking place and took big gulps of liquid chocolate. GrapeB got chocolate all over his beard!
Brady said to the Oompa Loompas, “Thanks for letting us drink from the chocolate river, but we’d better get going. I’m trying to help my friend GrapeB get home.”
“Would you like a stick of gum before you go?” the Oompa Loompas asked.
“Ummmmmm…no, thank you,” said Brady. He knew better than to chew a piece of gum that came from Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory.
“How come you didn’t want the gum?” GrapeB asked.
“It’s a long story,” said Brady. “Here, take the card. Let’s try again.”
They both closed their eyes and concentrated really hard. When they opened their eyes, they were in a forest.
“Oh, no,” said GrapeB, “this doesn’t look like my island OR my bathtub ship.” He started to take a step forward.
Suddenly, Brady, yelled, “STOP!”
“Thank you for listening,” Brady said. “You have to be very careful where you step here, because this story is LEGO Return of the Jedi. If you look down, you can see all the LEGO minifigs.”
GrapeB looked down, and there were LEGO minifigs everywhere.
Two of the minifigs crawled up Brady’s leg, hopped on to his arm, and then walked up to his shoulder.
“Hi LEGO Minifig Luke, Hi LEGO Minifig Princess Leia,” Brady said. “This is my new friend GrapeB.”
“Hi Brady, Hi GrapeB,” Luke said. “We were just having a party with the LEGO minifig Ewoks because we blew up the LEGO minifig New Death Star.”
“Great job,” said Brady.
“Would you like to stay and join the party?” asked Leia.
“That sounds fun,” Brady said, “but I’m trying to help my friend GrapeB get back home.”
“OK, come back and see us sometime,” said Luke.
“I sure will,” said Brady, “I love Star Wars!”
“What’s a Death Star?” asked GrapeB.
“It’s kind of a long story,” said Brady. “Let’s try this again,” he said, and he held out the magic purple library card.
They both held onto the magic purple library card and squeezed their eyes shut and concentrated hard.
When they opened their eyes, they were in front of a huge castle. There was a boy with dark hair and glasses and a lighting-bolt shaped mark on his forehead.
“This is definitely not my island or my bathtub ship,” said GrapeB. “What story are we in?”
“Gosh,” said Brady, “I don’t know. I’ve never been here before.”
“Hi Brady,” said the boy with the lightning bolt shaped mark on his forehead.
“Ummm…how did you know my name?” Brady asked.
“I’m Harry Potter,” said the boy. Your Auntie Kimberly comes here all the time. She is always talking about how awesome you are and showing us pictures of the cool stuff that you guys do, like dressing up as Superman and Wonder Woman for Halloween and making up stories for the Roald Dahl Imaginormous contest. Auntie Kimberly told me that you have a magic purple library card. I have a magic wand, but a magic purple library card sounds even cooler.”
“It is really cool,” said Brady, “except that I’m trying to help my friend GrapeB get back home to his bathtub ship, and it doesn’t seem to be working.”
“Well,” said Harry Potter, “magic purple library cards usually only work for one person. But maybe if your friend GrapeB told you HIS story, and you imagined that story really hard, then it could take you there.”
“Great idea,” said Brady. “Thanks!”
“No problem,” said Harry Potter. “Goodbye, Brady! See you back here at Hogwarts Castle in a few years!”
“What’s Hogwarts Castle?” Brady and GrapeB asked at the same time.
“It’s kind of a long story,” said Harry Potter. “Actually, it’s a really long story. But I know you’ll like it when you are a little older.”
As Harry Potter walked back to Hogwarts Castle, GrapeB took Harry Potter’s advice and told Brady his own story. He told him about the bathtub ship and sailing the seas of Eadray and how he used to pluck grapes out of his beard and toss them to his friends on other ships and how much he liked searching for chocolate coins. As GrapeB told the story and realized how much he missed his home and his friends, a tear slid down his cheek and dropped onto the purple library card. Then the purple library card got bigger and bigger and started to glow with a golden light!
“Wow,” said Brady. “It’s never done that before! Quick, grab the card now!”
They both grabbed on to the card, squeezed their eyes shut, and concentrated really hard on the bathtub ship. When they opened their eyes, they were back on the island!
They could see GrapeB’s ship docked on the shore! And where the book had been before, there was a huge treasure chest overflowing with gold chocolate coins!
“Thank you Brady,” GrapeB said. “I don’t know how I can ever repay you!”
“Well,” said Brady, “grapes are my favorite fruit, and I love chocolate coins!”
GrapeB laughed. He grabbed a bucket from his ship, then plucked some grapes from his beard and dropped them in the bucket. He added a big scoop of chocolate coins from the treasure chest to the bucket and handed the bucket to Brady.
“I guess you’ll be wanting to go back to your home, Brady” said GrapeB, “but I hope that now that you know my story, you’ll come back to visit me.”
“Of course,” said Brady. “I’d love to take a ride in your bathtub ship sometime!”
Then Brady held on to the magic library card and closed his eyes and imagined his own house with his Mommy and Daddy and his dog Bailey and his bedroom and playroom with all of his favorite toys like SuperBear and Buzz Lightyear and the Batcave. And when he opened his eyes, he was back at home, sitting on his own bed with the Superman bedspread. The magic library card had shrunk to normal size and turned back to purple.
Brady picked out one of the grapes from the bucket and held it up. It was still covered in chocolate from when he and GrapeB drank out of the chocolate river! Brady ate the chocolate covered grape, and it was the yummiest thing he had ever tasted.
“I can’t wait to go back to the chocolate factory tomorrow and tell Mr. Wonka about the chocolate-covered grapes,” thought Brady. “Having a magic library card sure is awesome! I love being a Book Sailor!”
As he grew up, Brady read lots and lots of books.
And he lived happily ever after.