If you are like my co-workers and have never heard of Flat Stanley, let me bring you up to date. Flat Stanley is a book written by Jeff Brown in which the main character, Stanley, is flattened to one-inch thick when a bulletin board falls on top of him. His parents, Mr. and Mrs. Lambchop, discover that it is cheaper to mail Flat Stanley to visit relatives versus buying a plane ticket. Thus, Flat Stanley travels the country via the U.S. Postal Service.
In my children’s school, an annual third grade project is to create your own 12-18” high laminated picture of Flat Stanley and send him along with a journal to friends and family across the country. It is a lot to ask of people – the premise is that we will learn about their communities through their adventure with Flat Stanley, but really I am asking them to traipse around and take photos of a cardboard cut-out, print the photos out, write clever prose about it in a notebook and return it all to me in one week’s time.
Whew! You really have to be good friends to ask someone to take this on. Luckily we didn’t burn all of our bridges with the first Flat Stanley Yevchak (my older daughter’s).
The second Flat Stanley Yevchak will embark on his trip this Thursday. The theory is that having Flat Stanley for a visit gives the host or hostess an opportunity to see their community in a new way. What would people who don’t know about their area want to see and do?
This Flat Stanley’s first stop will be Vermont, where my niece is a sophomore in college. I am not sure if he will be doing keg stands or actually seeing the Vermont countryside. I am guessing the former might be more like it. Either way, she has agreed to host our buddy for a bit and has promised to send him back in one piece in a timely fashion.
This is one of those school projects that actually becomes a family project – or should I say a Mom Project. I am the one who contacts various friends and family to set up Flat Stanley’s itinerary. For my older daughter, I arranged for a passport so that Flat Stanley could leave the country and visit Jamaica (just kidding, no passport was required). I was the one who kept track of his location and ensured he would be back in time for the January deadline. For Flat Stanley Yevchak 2, I have been Facebooking cousins and college friends and even asked my neighbor’s sister who lives in Sweden to take part in the project. I am hoping some people will still be speaking to me after all this and will agree to do it all again next year for my son’s turn.
Despite most of the work actually not being done by my third grade daughter, I do love this project. At the end of it all, the Flat Stanley journals with photos and writings from all over the place make for great keepsakes. It is one of the few things I won’t throw away at the end of the school year.
So if you happen to be on the receiving end of a Flat Stanley, please remember to take your job seriously. The mom in their family is counting on you.