Kim Li, the Great

Kim Li, the Great

From Chicken Soup for the Kid's Soul

Kim Li, the Great

No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.

Eleanor Roosevelt

Dara liked school until the day Kim Li came. She didn’t like Ms. Royson saying, “It’s great how well you’re learning English, Kim Li.” Kim Li’s English wasn’t that great.

Dara always sat at the front of the class. But the day Kim Li came, Ms. Royson asked, “Kim Li, would you like to sit here in front? Dara won’t mind.” Kim Li smiled and said yes. Dara turned away.

Before Dara moved to a new seat, she whispered, “Kim Li, you’re too tall to sit up front. I can’t see Ms. Royson. Move! I want my seat!”

Kim Li kept smiling. “My father too tall. He tall American.”

“Kim Li, you talk funny. Yuck!”

“Now, Dara,” said Ms. Royson as she stood beside Kim Li’s desk, “we all want new students to feel welcome, don’t we?” And that very afternoon, Ms. Royson asked, “Kim Li, would you dust the erasers for me?”

As Kim Li did Dara’s job, she asked Dara, “I do right?”

“No,” said Dara, but Ms. Royson said, “You’re doing just great.”

“Don’t play with Kim Li the Great,” Dara told everyone at recess. Other children began to chant: “Kim Li the Great! Kim Li the Great!”

Kim Li said, “Thank you,” and smiled and hung jackets on the top hooks that were too hard to reach. After school, Dara added more words to the chant: “Down with Kim Li the Great!”

The next day, Timmy pushed Kim Li really hard against the game box and said, “Down with Kim Li!”

Ms. Royson came over. “Here, here! Kim Li needs to choose.”

Dara said, “Don’t you choose the big blue ball, Kim Li!”

Kim Li picked an ordinary jump rope. “Thank you. I like jump.”

“Kim Li sure talks funny,” Dara said loudly. Everyone laughed. Then someone noticed Kim Li doing “hot peppers” with her jump rope. Kickball was forgotten. Everyone watched Kim Li do crisscrosses. And double crisscrosses! Kim Li said, “This fun doing.”

Dara shouted, “Kim Li the Great, you’re a show-off!” Everyone laughed so hard that Ms. Royson came running. “What happened?”

“I talk more badder. I try. Everybody laugh.”

Ms. Royson’s face tightened. “Recess is over. Back inside.” Dara smiled and put her arms around two friends. Kim Li was not included.

Kim Li didn’t know that every Friday was fire drill, room art and sharing day. Good thing, thought Dara. She would have come with something great.

At the next recess, Dara did her grandest somersaults, forward and backward. Kim Li did them while running. “We be friends?” she asked.

Dara thought she might quit school—until Ms. Royson said, “Dara, if you don’t mind skipping workbooks, we need our mural finished.” Dara didn’t mind at all. When Kim Li came to help color the big mural, Dara was way too busy to get up and leave—or even argue. Br-r-r-ringing-ing! It was the fire bell. Quickly and quietly, Dara joined the line to walk outside in an orderly way. Where was Kim Li?

“For goodness sake, Kim Li, that’s the fire bell!” Dara pulled her hand and didn’t let go until they got outside. Kim Li threw both arms around Dara and yelled, “Dara save my life. Dara the Great!”

Everyone started laughing and dancing around the playground, chanting: “Dara the Great!”

“It was only a fire drill,” said Dara.

“Will you teach me to do crisscrosses?” she asked Kim Li.

“I help you,” Kim Li said.

“Say ‘I will help you,’” whispered Dara to her new friend.

Kim Li said, “You will help me. I will help you.”

For days they helped each other, and when Ms. Royson said, “Kim Li, you’re picking up English so quickly,” Dara was pleased. She thought she might even do crisscrosses during sharing time. But Kim Li got up first, smiling. Finally, she spoke. “I have good good friend. Dara!”

Dara didn’t correct Kim Li. She let it go. Just this once.

Berniece Rabe

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