The Oh! Zone
by Kathy Sattem Rygg
What happens to a balloon when it floats away? Or to a plastic bag when it’s windy out? How high can a bubble go before it pops? If you accidentally let go of the string on your kite, where does it sail off to? What about a bird’s feather? And how far can a butterfly–fly?
Sam decided he just had to know, so he thought up a plan. He climbed onto the trampoline in his backyard and started to bounce. Then he jumped harder. The more he jumped, the higher he went. Pretty soon he was high as the trees! But he wasn’t quite high enough yet.
Sam really bent his knees and jumped as hard as he could. He sprang right over the house next door! He didn’t stop there, he kept going higher. He zoomed straight up into the sky and had to dodge a hawk! He finally slowed down where the edge of the sky meets outer space. He hovered mid-air and glanced around at this strange land.
Rainbow-colored houses lined the street. Towering trees reached higher than the clouds. Bright flowers bloomed before his eyes. Sam took a step forward with his foot. The air felt like solid ground. Where was he? It must be the place where floating things go!
Suddenly, a black kite in the shape of a shark swooped in. A long, white string hung off the end of it. Sam grinned. He loved kites! He grabbed the string and before he had a chance to wrap it around his hand, the kite soared straight up into the air!
“Whoaaaaa!” The kite lunged and dove with Sam trailing behind. It skimmed the tops of the houses then took Sam swirling up. He closed his eyes just as they were about to plunge into a fluffy, white cloud. Sam thought he had gone head first into a pile of pillows. He opened his eyes as millions of silky, white feathers fell around him like confetti. Oh! The clouds were made of feathers! Sam laughed and threw a handful into the air.
He barely had a chance to brush himself off before the kite lurched up again. This time it circled around and around. Sam’s head started to get dizzy, and he noticed a huge tree directly ahead. Sam closed his eyes again. He was afraid they would crash into the tree! But the only thing Sam felt were tiny wet kisses on his cheeks.
He opened his eyes to shiny clear bubbles gently perched on the end of the tree branches. Oh! The tree had bubbles instead of leaves! Sam still clung to the kite string, and with the other hand he reached out and poked a bubble. Oh no! It popped! But seconds later, a new bubble appeared in its place. Sam popped at least 20 more, and instantly 20 new ones sprang back up.
Sam wanted to stay and play with the bubble tree, but the shark kite took off again. Sam clung to the kite as the breeze cooled his face. The kite turned and made a nose dive straight down for one of the houses below. Sam squeezed his eyes shut especially tight this time. Suddenly the kite stopped and started to wiggle. Sam jiggled from side to side, harder and harder. Finally, the kite shook him off.
“Ahhhhhh!” Sam landed on something squishy and gently bounced up, back down, and back up again. He opened his eyes. He was inside one of the houses. Oh! It was a balloon house! Sam was surrounded by big, bright balloons. It was like a giant bounce house! He hopped, jumped, leapt and tumbled throughout the balloon house. He bounced so much his legs got wobbly like noodles. Finally he bounded to the front door and climbed out of the house.
A bright field of flowers greeted him. Sam ran out into the field. Suddenly, flower petals started twirling around him and taking off into the air! Oh! They were actually butterflies! Sam chased the orange and black Monarchs all the way down the street until they settled into another field in front of a different balloon house.
Sam grinned from ear to ear at this amazing world. He couldn’t believe he had found it! Suddenly, he worried how would he ever get back? He was so high up and the ground was so far down. Just then a clear plastic bag blew up against his leg. He reached down and grabbed it by the handles. Then in one swift movement, the bag jerked up, taking Sam with it!
Sam held onto it with his arms stretched straight above his head. The bag filled with air and billowed like a parachute. It sailed away from the floating world and slowly started sailing down. This time Sam didn’t close his eyes. He gently floated down until he spotted his house below! He tilted his parachute for a smooth landing. Sam plopped down on his trampoline. He scrambled off and ran inside the house. He couldn’t wait to tell his mom where he went!
“Mom! Guess what? I jumped higher than a plane! I saw balloons and kites, feathers and butterflies! I saw where things go when they float too high!”
“That’s nice, dear. I’m glad you had fun. Now it’s time to do your homework.” She plucked a white feather out of Sam’s hair.
Sam slumped at the kitchen table. He couldn’t possibly do his homework. He kept thinking about that awesome land! He knew it had a name, he just couldn’t remember it. He knew they studied it in science class. It was that layer of the sky that looks dark blue. Oh, what was it called? Finally! That was it! Sam figured it out. When things go too high, they end up in the Oh! Zone!
1. What did Sam want to find out?
2. How did he get to the strange land with rainbow houses?
3. What were the clouds made of?
4. How did he get back down to his house?