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March 6, 2011

'Whirling Dervish'

March 06, 2011|By Alexandria Coronado
  • "Whirling Dervish"
"Whirling Dervish" (Ken Min )

Franklin Fisher "Ish" Fitzgerald and his dad lived in the big city. But one day they were in the country for the Lyon family's town fair. Wonderful smells and sounds filled the air. Kids in jeans and T-shirts ran everywhere.

Ish was in his Sunday best. He felt like an alien.

"Come on," his dad prodded.

Just then, a boy with two huge front teeth ran up. "Hey, Ish, I'm Buck Lyon! Remember me? C'mon, let's go!" Buck tugged him away and ran to the top of a grassy green hill. Ish lagged behind.

"Try to stay clean!" his dad called after him.

Mr. Lyon and his mane of hair stood at the top of the hill with a stopwatch.

"The new leader has 52 seconds!" he called to kids at the bottom. Cheers erupted as a blond boy strutted around like a rooster.

"OK, Pop, we're in! Time us!"

Ish watched intently as Buck quickly lied down in the grass, log-like. Then, he crossed his arms over his chest and crossed his legs at his ankles.

When Mr. Lyon yelled, "Ready! Set! Go!" Buck rolled side-over-side, super fast, to the bottom of the hill.

"We have a tie!" Mr. Lyon yelled.

Buck smiled and bolted back up the hill as his friends whooped and hollered.

"Why didn't you go, Ish? You were supposed to race me!"

Ish blinked, confused. "I don't know how."

"Oh!" Buck said. "It's easy! Just stretch out on the grass, but start on your side instead of your back. It's faster. Also, it helps if you point your toes and cross your arms over your chest. Come on, Ish, try it!"

Buck's enthusiasm was catching. Ish found himself on his side in the grass, toes pointed, arms crossed.

When Mr. Lyon yelled, "Ready! Set! Go!" Ish rolled down the hill.

He stood up unsteadily at the bottom. He brushed the grass out of his hair and off his clothes. Would his dad be mad?

"Awesome, Ish!" Buck beamed.

They ran up the hill as two more kids careened down.

"We have a new leader with 45 seconds!" Mr. Lyon called excitedly.

All afternoon, kids tried to beat 45 seconds. Ish noticed who was faster and why. He liked Buck's technique best.

Finally, it was his turn again.

When Mr. Lyon called, "Ready!" Ish sucked in a giant breath; on "Set!" he flipped onto his side; and on "Go!" he flung his tiny body down the hill.

He was dizzy, dirty and worried. What if his dad saw him?

Mr. Lyon waved excitedly. "Ish is in second place! Get up here for the final race!"

Ish walked slowly up the hill, thinking. He'd noticed flaws in his opponent's technique.

They took their places.

The sun glinted off Mr. Lyon's stopwatch.

"Ready! Set! Go!"

Ish was so dizzy he felt sick. He shut his eyes tight to stop the spinning. He heard cheers and when he opened his eyes, he saw his dad, Mr. Lyon and Buck kneeling over him.

"Ish, are you OK? Say something!" His Dad looked worried, not upset.

"I feel like I'm going to throw up."

Dad's face split into a big grin. "Mr. Lyon said he's never seen anyone go so fast!"

"He's our very own whirling dervish," Mr. Lyon laughed.

His dad swung Ish up onto his shoulders as the kids around him cheered.

"You aren't mad at me for getting dirty?" he whispered in his dad's ear.

"Mad? I'm proud of you! Besides, Mr. Lyon has clean jeans and a T-shirt for you. But before you change, I'll race you down the hill!"

Special thanks to Ken Min for his illustration. To see more of his work, visit

Special thanks to Ken Min for this week's illustration. To see more of her work, visit

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