Monday, February 15, 2010


"Gather round grandkids, and you will hear,
Of your beginnings back many a year.
We'll have to visit some foreign lands,

But Time-TravelinOma has made the plans."

(The following is an excerpt from my introductory chapter to Bagley Beginnings:
A young adult chapter book where we meet ancestors from Medieval England.)


“Did you bring the Oma kit?” asked Jessi, searching for the familiar red and blue box Oma always brought when she came to baby-sit.

The little girls fluttered as Oma took off her coat, scarf and shoes. “I want to play with the buttons,” said Ashley. When she couldn’t find the yellow tin filled with balloon and heart-shaped buttons, she started foraging through Oma’s purse.


“Not so fast, Ladybug,” said Oma. “I brought something new.” Out of her pocket Oma took a blue paisley silk hankie. Wrapped inside was a Matryoshka doll.

Oma had a shelf in her apartment with a collection of Matryoshka nesting dolls. Most of them looked like Russian peasant grandmothers, with yellow scarves, rosy cheeks and flowered aprons. Her grandkids loved opening them one by one and making a parade of the various figures inside, lining them up from biggest to littlest.

Matryoshka Dolls

Some of the Matryoshkas had five dolls inside, some had seven and one had thirteen, with only a sliver of wood for the tiniest doll. But the Matryoshka Oma unwrapped was different. “Opa had this one specially made for me,” Oma told the girls. “It’s supposed to be magic.”


Chloë looked it over carefully. The doll had short chestnut hair, green eyes and red glasses perched on the end of her roundish nose. “This is strange,” said Chloë. “Her bandana isn’t tied under her chin. It’s around her head, like a sweat-band.” The other girls pushed in closer to see. “Oma, she looks just like you!”

“How many dolls are inside?” asked Jess. Oma had been wondering the same thing. She’d already counted twice and come up with a different number each time. The smallest doll was stuck and Oma wondered if there could be even more dolls inside it.

Taking them apart, Chloë noticed that every doll had a unique costume. Several were boys: one wore brown linen pants with suspenders, another had funny tights and a short wool tunic tied with a rope. A woman had a fur collar with a rabbit’s head still attached, and a girl wore a long dress with a shorter, sleeveless dress over it.

“Thirty one, thirty two, thirty three,” counted Ashley. “There couldn’t be that many,” said Oma. “Let’s start again.”

Just then Ashley came to a doll that was stuck. “I’ll try to twist it open,” said Oma. “It has something inside . . . it’s sticky like chapstick but it smells like lemons and licorice, lilacs and leaves. Sniff it girls. I think it’s a perfume holder. This must be the magic part.”

Oma had no idea just how magic it was. As they each inhaled the heady scents, they felt dizzy, remembering sun burnt days, nippy nights, sweet and sour all at once. The aromas recalled impressions so far back in their memories they couldn’t even identify them. Abruptly something jolted them out of their reverie.

“Yuck! What’s that?” “It stinks!” Oma looked around for the offending odor. “What happened?” asked Jess. “Where are we?”

The past is a foreign country—they do things differently there.

(Tune in tomorrow for the conclusion of chapter one.)

Links to related posts:

Oma Kits

Button Box

Matryoshka Dolls

*Homework: (Link your assignments via a comment so I can see what you're up to.)

~How do you imagine time-travel could work. Ask your kids or grandkids for suggestions, and pass them on to me.

~If you could travel back in time, where would you go and why?

~If you were up writing at 3:04 in the morning, day after day, what would you be writing about?


kenju said...

I have to know....what stinks???

The Grandmother Here said...

I expect lots of things stunk in Medieval England. Horses. Houses. Gutters running with yuck. Arm pits.

the wrath of khandrea said...

um, why are you putting your masterpiece on the internet? get it published, and make us pay to read it!

Christie said...

Excellent beginning, Oma! Can't wait to read the rest.