2 VOCABULARY COLLECTION: a group of things gathered together CONCERN: serious interestEXCLAIMED: spoken or shouted suddenly with feelingFIGURE: a form, outline, or shapeGOALIE: the player who defends the goalVENDERS: people who sell things
4 Bernardi ran hard, kicking the ball toward the goal. Hisarms pumping and his heartracing. He didn’t care thathe was the only boy on thefield not wearing a schooluniform.
5 He loved soccer and his one concern was making a goal.With a final kick so powerfulthat it knocked him on hisback, Bernardi sent the ballflying past the goalie and intothe net.
6 Bernardi lay on the grassy field, catching his breath. A boy helpedhim up, then ran after the othersgoing into the school.
7 Bernardi wished he could go to school like the other children. Heliked to learn, and thought he couldbe a good student. Besides, then hecould play soccer every day, not justwhen the schoolboys needed anextra player.
8 Bernardi lived with his grandfather, Babu, and theydid not have enough moneyfor school. Slowly Bernardiwalked home.
9 When Bernardi walked in, Babu gave him a hug. Thiswas how he said hello,because an illness had takenhis voice a long time ago.
10 “Hello, Babu,” Bernardi said. “I made a goal today.”Bernardi loved telling Babuhis soccer stories.
11 Babu made a figure of wood. He pulled a string, and the figure’sjointed arms and legs popped upand down, making Bernardi laugh.Babu was a toy maker.
12 He had only to look at anobject and he knew whattoy it would become, suchas an airplane from a tincan or a whistle from ascrap of wood.
13 After Babu made his toys Bernardi would sell them.Together they made enoughmoney to live on.
14 Babu made tea for Bernardi and himself. After they finished,Bernardi took an old bag frombeside the door, waved good-byeto Babu, and set off for themarket.
15 As he walked, Bernardi hummed a tune. It was a song that Babuhad sung when he had his voice.Humming it made Bernardi wishBabu could still speak.
16 “Anything for Babu?”Bernardi asked the vendorswhen he reached themarket.
17 The vendors gave Bernardi bits of string or paper, anything thatBabu might be able to use tomake his toys. Mama Valentina,who sold salt, called to Bernardi.She handed him a plasticgunnysack.
18 Bernardi thanked her as he stuffed it into his bag, eventhough he didn’t think Babucould use it.
19 As Bernardi walked home, he passed a shop downtown and stopped to look in the window. There among the bright bolts of cloth and shiny pots was a new soccer ball. It was just what he had always wanted.
20 Bernardi pressed his face against the window and looked at the price. Itwas more than it cost to go toschool!Slowly Bernardi backed away fromthe window. He did not hum ashe walked home.
21 That evening Babu andBernardi ate beans and riceby the light of the kerosenelamp. Babu put somethingby Bernardi’s plate.
22 Bernardi picked it up and held it closer to the light. Itlooked like a tin of lard. Heopened the lid and heard asmall tinkling.
23 “A music box!” Bernardiexclaimed, and listened again.It was rough and tinny, buthe recognized the tune. Itwas Babu’s song.
24 Bernardi hugged Babu, and together they listened to themusic. That night, for the firsttime in many nights, Bernardi fellasleep listening to Babu’s song.
25 The next Saturday was a busy one for Bernardi, as it was the dayhe sold toys to tourists. He setup shop on his favorite cornerdowntown, arranging the toyson the curb.
26 Bernardi cranked the music box and listened to Babu’s song tinkleout. He had sold a few thingswhen a woman picked up themusic box. She asked how muchit was, but Bernardi said it wasn’tfor sale.
27 The woman did not give up. She told Bernardi that shewanted the music box forher collection, but stillBernardi shook his head.
28 The woman held out ahandful of money.Bernardi’s eyes widened.It would be more thanenough to buy the ballin the store window.
29 Bernardi picked up the music box. He thought about thebrand-new ball and how itwould feel when he kicked it.Surely Babu could makeanother music box.
30 Bernardi swallowed hard and took the money. After Bernardisold all the toys he did not gohome. He took the money andheaded for the shops downthe street.
31 When Bernardi got home, Babu was cleaning. He looked up atBernardi holding the empty bag.“I sold everything, Babu!” Bernardisaid, trying to sound cheerful,but then a tear rolled down hisface.
32 Babu went over to Bernardi. He wiped his grandson’s faceand waited. He knewBernardi would tell himwhat was wrong.
33 Bernardi sniffled. He told Babu about the music boxand the soccer ball. Thenhe handed the money toBabu. “I couldn’t buy theball, Babu. It’s your money.”
34 Babu patted Bernardi’s head. Then he placed the money in Bernardi’s hand and held it, to show him that themoney belonged to both of them. Bernardi hung hishead. “I don’t want the ball anymore.” He held out themoney. “Take it, Babu. You decide what to do with themoney.”
35 Babu took the money andlooked thoughtfully atBernardi for a long time.Then he broke into a smile,signaled to Bernardi to wait,and walked out the door.
36 Bernardi sat quietly in the room as he waited for Babu.He wished he still had themusic box. How could hehave sold it?
37 Bernardi was sitting in the lamplight when Babureturned holding a paperbag. Babu pulled out apackage and handed it toBernardi.
38 Bernardi choked back a sob. He untied the string andpulled back the brown paper.His eyes opened wide whenhe saw what was inside. Itwas a school uniform!
39 Bernardi looked at Babu. “You paid for me to go to school?” Babu nodded. Bernardi jumped up andhugged his grandfather. While Bernardi held the newuniform to his chest, Babu went back outside. Hereturned holding something behind his back.
40 With a flourish Babu held out out a soccer ball made fromstring and Mama Valentina’sgunnysack.
41 Bernardi put down hisuniform and held the ball.He bounced it on one kneeand it felt like the realthing.
42 “Thank you, Babu. It’s wonderful!” Bernardi said to his grandfather and gave him a hug. Babu beamed.Bernardi decided that the ball was even better thanthe real thing.
43 Babu pulled one moresurprise from the paper bag.It was an empty lard tin. AsBabu began to makeanother music box, Bernardiput the water on the stoveto boil.
44 Then Bernardi hummedBabu’s song as they satin the lamplight and waitedfor their tea.