tall teacher pulled down a white screen that covered the blackboard.
He flicked on an overhead projector, and a large black curl appeared
on the screen:
....Almost at once, a hand-shadow alligator crawled in from the
left side of the screen.
....“Uh-uh, Sarah,” the tall teacher said, and Sarah,
who sat next to the overhead, pulled her hand off the glass.
....“Now class, who can name this punctuation mark?”
the teacher asked.
....“A comma,” two third-graders called out.
.... “No, pretend this mark is floating above the writing
line,” said the teacher.
....“A flying comma?” came a reply.
....The tall teacher frowned. “No, this punctuation mark
is called an apostrophe. A-pos-tro-phe.”
....“A-pos-tro-phe,” the class repeated.
...At this point, a hand-shadow dog appeared from the bottom of
the screen. Sarah, with one hand on the glass again, spread her
pinkie to make the shadow dog open its mouth. The teacher rapped
Sarah’s hand with a knuckle and the dog vanished.
...“Now, an apostrophe helps form a possessive,” the
tall teacher went on. “Pos-ses-sive.”
.....“Pos-ses-sive,” the class echoed.
.....“When an apostrophe comes before an s, it shows that
something belongs to someone. Like this.”
....A second transparency appeared on the screen: Walter’s
.....Moments afterward, a hand-shadow rabbit hopped over the word.
Sarah had formed her hand as if making the OK sign. When she wiggled
her third and fourth fingers, the shadow rabbit’s ears wiggled
.....The tall teacher flipped off the overhead projector, erasing
both word and rabbit. “So much for possessives and our shadow
puppet show,” he said. “Now take out your English
workbooks, class, and complete page seventeen about apostrophes.”
.....Sarah opened her desk. “Apostrophes are my favorite
punctuation mark,” she said. “It shows what things
belong to me.”
.....Sarah’s desk was the most well-stocked desk in the
classroom at the end of the hall. Dozens of pencils, three-sizes
of scissors, four rulers, three kinds of glue, paper clips, pencil
grips, and colored pens of every color lay in neat rows between
stacks of folders and reams of notebook paper. And on every item
in that desk was a sparkly sticker that said Sarah.
Sarah took the cap off a black felt pen. “Sarah apostrophe
S is better,” she said, adding ’s to each sticker.
“What’s mine is mine.”
.....Myra leaned over towards Sarah’s desk. She pointed
to the thick notebook labeled Sarah’s
Binder. “Psst. Can I borrow a sheet of paper?”
.....“What do you think I am, a library?” said Sarah.
“I have just enough paper for me.”
.....“Sarah, I need a tissue,” said Kimberly, who
held a hand over her nose.
.....Sarah touched a tall box marked Sarah’s
Kleenex. “Sorry, I have none to spare.”
.....Next Matthew, who sat behind Sarah, asked, “Do you
have a Jungle Green crayon?”
Sarah picked up her carton of Sarah’s
120 Crayons. “Nope. I keep all my crayons in
alphabetical order, and I don’t want them messed up.”
.....Indeed Sarah had many things in her desk. But, as her classmates
were learning, she hated to share them. The boxes of erasers,
packs of note cards, and bundles of felt pens were off limits
to anyone but her. Even at recess, although Sarah had two new
jump ropes, she never let anyone touch the spare. During free
time, no one could read the extra paperbacks in her backpack,
and at lunch she’d throw away leftover fish crackers and
raisins rather than offering them to others.
.....“Sarah apostrophe S,” she said, writing the final
’s inside her desk. “What’s mine is only for
.....Sarah took out her Sarah’s
Workbook, a Sarah’s
Pencil, and a Sarah’s
Eraser. With her Sarah’s
Sharpener she put a point on the pencil and leaning
on Sarah’s Notebook began to work.
.....Meanwhile, in front of the classroom, the white screen remained
down. After filling in the first workbook blank, Sarah happened
to look up. On the screen something caught her eye. It appeared
for only a second, but she was certain what it was, her hand-shadow
.....“That’s funny,” she said, checking the
projector next to her. “The overhead is off, and the glass
.....When Sarah finished her workbook work, she opened her desk
to take out Sarah’s Drawing Pad.
There it was again. Sarah’s hand-shadow rabbit, its finger
ears wiggling, was hopping across the inside of her desktop.
.....“It’s one of those tricks of the eye,”
she told herself. “Like the white spots you see after someone
takes your picture.
.....As she spoke, the hand shadow began to flicker. It flowed
off her desk, across the floor, past her classmate’s feet,
and under the coat closet door.
.....“Nope. That’s no eye trick,” Sarah said.
“That’s my hand shadow, and somehow it can move around
this room without me.”
.....Not until recesstime could Sarah enter the closet and look
for the Shadow Rabbit. She found it flickering on the wall above
the hook where her backpack hung. Next to the hand shadow were
three words printed in black: Sarah’s
.....“Hey, Shadow Rabbit, did you write that?” asked
Sarah. “I knew my shadow could follow me to school and skip
rope with me on the playground. But I never knew it could write
possessives. Sarah apostrophe S. Thank you very much. I hate sharing
.....The hand shadow flickered again. Sliding along the wall,
it flowed out of the coat closet and into the empty classroom.
Sarah followed it. While passing the sink, she saw more new writing.
was on a sponge. Sarah’s
Soap circled the soap bottle, and Sarah’s
Towels crossed the paper towel dispenser.
.....“Thanks again, Shadow Rabbit,” said Sarah. “As
the teacher said, the possessives show that those things belong
.....Sarah watched her hand shadow hop around the classroom walls.
Everywhere it stopped more black writing appeared. A corner of
the bulletin board read Sarah’s
Corner. A pillow on the reading corner rug read Sarah’s
Pillow, and a bookshelf said Sarah’s
.....“Mine, mine, mine!” she said, pointing to each
item. “Shadow Rabbit, could I have my own chair at the reading
table, too? A red one please. I hate sharing chairs.”
.....Instantly Sarah’s Chair
appeared on a red seatback.
.....“And mine,” she said, following her hand shadow
out into the hall.
..... As the Shadow Rabbit hopped along the hallway walls,
Sarah’s Fountain, Sarah’s
Bulletin Board, and Sarah’s
appeared on each object.
.....“Mine! Mine! Mine!” Sarah called out.
.....When her hand shadow reached the playground door, it zipped
.....“Hey, wait for me!” said Sarah.
.....On the playground, she felt in the best possible mood.
.....“Mine!” she shouted when Sarah’s
Wall appeared on a kickball wall.
.....“Mine!” she said, as a Sarah’s
Shade sign popped up on her favorite shady spot under
the oak tree.
.....“Mine! Mine!” she sang out, racing past Sarah’s
Swing and Sarah’s
.....The rest of the W.T. Melon students stared at Sarah in bewilderment.
.....“Sarah, can I borrow a Hula-Hoop?” said Tanya,
standing by rack with Sarah’s Hula-Hoops
printed on it.
.....“Read the sign, those are mine,” said Sarah.
.....“Sarah, can we use your four-square court?” asked
Alex, straddling a white asphalt line labeled Sarah’s
.....“Sorry no trespassing on my property.”
.....When the Playground Lady blew her silver whistle to end recess,
the third-graders lined up at the door. Now a sign above the doorway
read Sarah’s Entrance.
.....“Sarah, can your class go in through your door,”
the Playground Lady asked.
.....“Nope, that door is for the private use of me and my
shadow,” Sarah said, strutting through the doorway alone.
.....In the hallway, Sarah watched her hand-shadow rabbit add
more possessives. Sarah’s Office
appeared on the former school office door. Sarah’s
Lounge replaced the Teachers’ Lounge, and the
previous Girls’ Room became Sarah’s
.....Yet, although Sarah was thrilled to see her name on everything,
something was wrong. As she stepped down Sarah’s Hallway,
she said to the flickering shadow on the wall, “Funny, the
hallway seems so empty. I never thought I could be lonely in the
.....Peeking into Sarah’s Lunchroom,
Sarah saw Sarah’s Table,
Sarah’s Trays, Sarah’s
Silverwares, Sarah’s Napkins,
Sarah’s Milk, and
.....“Maybe you’re getting a little out of hand, Shady
Rabbit,” Sarah said. “Where’s everyone else
going to eat?”
.....Sarah followed her hand shadow down the hall, past the empty
Sarah’s Gym and vacant
Sarah’s Library, to
the classroom at the end of the hall. A sign on the door read:
.....Sarah walked in and flipped on a Sarah’s
“Sarah apostrophe S,” she muttered, reading the words
scribbled around the classroom like graffiti.
Sarah’s Pencil Sharpener
Sarah’s Reading Table
Sarah’s Art Cupboard
.....Sarah sat down in Sarah’s
Desk and stared out Sarah’s
Window. She saw her class sitting on the far end of
the soccer field, the only spot that didn’t say Sarah’s
Baseball Field, Sarah’s Basketball Court, Sarah’s
Climbing Structure, or Sarah’s
.....The tall teacher entered the classroom. Around his neck hung
a cardboard sign that said Sarah’s
.....“Now, Sarah, take out a piece of Sarah’s
Paper and a Sarah’s
Pencil, and get ready for the next Sarah’s
Assignment,” he said.
.....“But shouldn’t we wait for the rest of the class?”
.....Sarah’s teacher’s swept a hand around the classroom.
“Those possessives prove that you possess all the possessions
in here, Sarah,” he said. “And your class knows how
you hate sharing them.”
.....For the next hour Sarah worked in her Sarah’s
Math Book. As her hand shadow wrote
Sarah’s Lights, Sarah’s Floor,
and Sarah’s Ceiling
around the room, she looked longingly out Sarah’s
Window. How she missed her classmates. She missed
their clatter and chatter. She even missed hearing them ask her
.....“It’s funny, Shadow Rabbit,” Sarah called
out. “I hate sharing my stuff, but I hate even more not
having anyone to share my stuff with.”
.....“Time for Sarah’s Music,”
announced Sarah’s Teacher. “And I know
Sarah’s Music Instructor has prepared a
special Sarah’s Lesson
just for Sarah. So take out your Sarah’s
recorder and head down to Sarah’s
.....“And I’m also beginning to hate the word Sarah’s,”
.....Sarah’s Teacher exited Sarah’s
Classroom, but Sarah remained in Sarah’s
Chair. Opening Sarah’s
Desk, she took out her largest Sarah’s
Eraser. She leaned over and erased Sarah’s
Overhead from the side of the projector. At once the
Shadow Rabbit hopped up and rewrote it.
.....“Sorry, shadow,” Sarah said, flipping on the
overhead. “No more Sarah apostrophe S’s. You’re
OK company, but I prefer my regular friends. Now I know that to
keep them around, I should keep from saying mine.”
.....Sarah placed her hand on the overhead glass and made the
OK sign. The Shadow Rabbit appeared on the white screen. Wiggling
her fingers, Sarah opened her hand, and the dark rabbit turned
to black handprint. She moved her hand back and forth and the
shadow hand waved good-bye.
.....Next, Sarah rose from her desk with her eraser. She raced
around the room erasing all the possessives. Away went Sarah’s
Rug, Sarah’s Science Shelf, Sarah’s Wall Plug,
and Sarah’s Dictionary.
After the classroom words were gone, she hurried out to the hall
and removed the writing out there. She did the same in the gym,
library, and lunchroom. Finally she ran out the playground door
and rubbed out Sarah’s Entrance.
.....By the time the third-graders came filing back into the classroom
at the end of the hall, Sarah was sitting in her seat, peeling
off the sparkly stickers from inside her desk.
.....The tall teacher entered the room no longer wearing Sarah’s
name. “All right class, let’s continue our lesson
about apostrophes from this morning,” he said. “Besides
possessives, apostrophes are also used to form contractions. In
a contraction, two words share letters to make one word.”
.....During the lesson, Matthew leaned toward Sarah. “Can
I borrow a lemon-yellow crayon?” he asked.
.....Sarah took out her crayon carton. “Sure, all my stuff
is up for grabs.” But before handing over the entire box,
she added, “Just one thing, Matthew. My crayons are arranged
in alphabetical order. So please don’t mess that up.”