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'Good at Heart'

Two brave little girls inspire us all.

April 20, 2003|Jennifer James
(Reuben Mu?oz, Los Angeles…)

"IN spite of everything, I still believe that people are really good at heart."

Jenny stopped reading and looked up at her grandfather. "Do you know who said that, Grandpa? A young girl who was in hiding with her family. Bad people wanted to take them away to some kind of camp."

"I have read that book," said Grandpa softly.

"How could she say that people are really good at heart?" Jenny asked.

"Because people were risking their lives to make sure the family was protected from the Nazis," explained Grandpa.

"Her name was Anne Frank," Jenny stated. "We have been reading her diary at school."

"I know about her, little one. She was a brave child. Throughout history there have been brave little girls. Do you remember in school when you studied about slavery in America?" asked Grandpa.

"Yes. That was a bad time. People were brought over here from Africa and forced to work against their will," Jenny replied.

"I just finished reading a story about a child who was brought to the British colony of Massachusetts as a slave. She was probably about 7 years old," Grandpa looked over his glasses at Jenny to see her reaction.

"Younger than I am! How brave she must have been!" Jenny exclaimed.

"She was sold into the wealthy Wheatley household in Boston," said Grandpa.

"Where were her parents, Grandpa?" asked Jenny.

"Nobody knows," Grandpa replied.

"I never knew my parents, so I know how that feels," Jenny said sadly. "Who was she?"

"They named the little girl Phillis. She grew up to become the first African American to publish a book."

"She became a writer?" Jenny asked.

"Yes, she was a famous poet," Grandpa explained. "You see, the Wheatleys discovered how intelligent little Phillis was. Mrs. Wheatley saw to it she was taught English, Latin and Greek and raised her almost as if she were her own child."

"Mrs. Wheatley must have loved Phillis the same way you love me," Jenny whispered. "I am glad you want to raise me."

Grandpa's eyes filled with tears.

"So, people really are good at heart, aren't they, Grandpa?"

"Most of them, little one, most of them."

Author's note: To learn more about these brave children and the people who helped them, read "Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl" and "Revolutionary Poet: A Story About Phillis Wheatley" by Maryann N. Weidt.

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