Meet Penny. Exuberant, talented, well-liked Penny.
Penny lived in a very unusual town next to the ocean, and because she read books every day, she was almost perfectly happy in every way.
Except for one. You see, Penny loved to fish. And she didn’t know if she should love it so much, especially since she’d never learned to swim. But often, she’d hear a voice—maybe God’s, she thought–pushing her to go fishing. So, she figured, it must be okay.
Now one day, she read in a book that real fishermen could catch a lot of fish. She decided to take her bait bucket and ole pole down to the dock. She’d never been to the dock before because as you know, she couldn’t swim. But that was where all the best fishermen were.
And what did she find when she got there? No one was fishing. Instead, everyone was talking about boats and nets and bigger hooks and amazing catches. They said Penny needed a boat. Penny only wanted to fish, but if she needed a boat, she decided she would fish for it.
Finally, she got one. And she set out to fish. (Picture a massive hook with scads of barbs and lures caught on a great big boat.)
With her boat, she knew she’d be a better fisher than ever. And she was. A few people warned her she should learn to swim, but she was too excited. So she set out and almost immediately she got a couple bites. In nearly no time at all, Penny had reeled in the biggest, strangest looking fish she had ever seen. And Penny was ecstatic.
But the strange fish turned out to be a bossipotomus. He grabbed the wheel and soon, they were speeding out to sea. “Leave it to me!” he yelled. “I’ll show you the biggest catch you ever had!” Penny just wanted to fish. She tried to hold on.
Out in the deepest water, the boat stopped. The water was sparkling with fish. She knew very well she would drown if she fell in, so she stayed back and clutched her pole. How could her ole pole catch so many fish? she wondered.
But the scary beast was so excited. He raced to Penny, grabbed her pole and threw it into the water. Hundreds of bright, silvery fish jumped, glistening in the sun. He pulled out a giant net and shoved it at Penny. “This is what you need now!” he boomed, but all Penny could do was stare, too shocked even to resist as he pushed her to the side of the boat.
“This is it!” her huge friend shouted. But Penny couldn’t hear him. Penny had already begun to sink. For as she’d thrown the net over her head, it carried her over the side with it, and together Penny and net plunged into the cold water. In a flash, most of the fish darted away. The new boat driver growled and quickly chased after them, leaving Penny thrashing against the tangled ropes.
“I knew you didn’t have what it takes,” the bossipotomus called. Penny couldn’t hear him, but she already knew it too. As she sank deeper and deeper, she thought of fishing at the shore with her trusty ole pole.
Just then, she noticed something strange. She wasn’t sinking anymore! And her ole pole was in front of her. A few shimmering fish swam around her. And they were pushing the net off of her head! And now they were showing her how to push her way to the surface. She followed, using her little arms as fins and kicking her legs like a big tail, faster and faster until she nearly shot out of the water, gasping for breath. The fish led her as she sputtered her way to safety, back to the shore, still dragging her ole pole behind her.
Today, even though she learned to swim like a fish, Penny still fishes from her old spot on the shore, with the ole pole. And she uses not a hook, but a book. (Picture the funniest fish book you ever saw, dangling from a string.) She catches the most fish of anyone, but she doesn’t keep any of them. Once in a while she looks out over the water to see if she can spot a crazy animal speeding around in a noisy boat she once caught that opened her eyes, but very nearly cost her life.
And sometimes others hear the amazing story and will find Penny. Many ask her how she catches so many fish just sitting on the shore. She always smiles and tells them the same thing. “The trick is to learn to be happy while you wait. After that, it’s only a question of which books to use.”