Cover

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Contents

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p. vii

Illustrations

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p. ix

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Acknowledgments

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p. xi

My grateful appreciation goes to everyone at Red Caboose. The board of directors took a chance on letting me into the center. The teachers allowed me into their classrooms, ignored my whispered notes into a tape recorder, and gracefully answered my questions. ...

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Author's Note

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p. xii

Most of the children and families in this book appear under their real names. A few asked for pseudonyms, to protect their privacy. To keep the narrative flowing, I decided not to mark these with an asterisk or note. ...

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Prologue

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pp. 3-7

At 6 A.M., the parking lot in front of Red Caboose is dark and empty. The chain-link gate that fences the playground from the parking lot swings open in the warm predawn breeze, whistling as it scrapes back and forth across asphalt. Inside the gate the wooden play structures are humped shadows, ...

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Chapter 1. Fall: The Bumblebee Room

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pp. 8-77

On a warm morning in early fall, the Bumblebees are sitting on the golden line, the metal strip where the sturdy brown carpeting meets the linoleum. Well, a few of them are sitting on the line; the rest are bouncing, rolling, pouncing, and jumping on the line. Most ofthese Bees are pretty new to the room, ...

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Chapter 2. Winter: The Turtle Room

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pp. 78-140

People coming in the back door of Red Caboose and looking down the hall can see straight into the Turtle Room—and the Turtle Room teachers can see them, which means that they pretty much always know what's going on in the center. And parents often peek into the Turtle Room to say hello, ...

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Chapter 3. Spring: The Elephant Room

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pp. 141-189

It's Good Friday, and the Elephants are jumping. On trampolines, that is—little round bouncers about a foot off the ground, scattered around the Elephant Room. Spring this year is an unwilling visitor; it's sunny outside but still chilly, a damp, grinding cold that keeps the kids inside all morning. ...

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Chapter 4. Summer: The Grasshopper Room

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pp. 190-240

Eight children are lined up in the Grasshopper Room hallway, sweating and fidgeting. Children come and go in a room all year long, and different kids attend on different days; still, each year a group personality seems to develop that lasts the whole year. This year's Grasshoppers have had little interest in sit-down projects ...

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Epilogue

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pp. 241-248

On a rainy Saturday afternoon in April 1997, some of the parents and teachers of Red Caboose have gathered at Luke House, a local soup kitchen. Most of the board members are here, along with an ex-board member, Lynn, and a number of teachers — Gary Dosemagen and Cheryl Heiman from the center, ...

Notes

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pp. 249-252