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Little Blue's Story

Little Blue's Story

Story by Dr. Nancy Goulden
Illustrations by Kelly Harrity

Littleblue character
Little Blue

On a sunny day somewhere between summer and fall, Little Bluestem was gently swaying back and forth in the breeze. Blue's white fluffy seed curls on their red-orange stalks moved a little with each puff of air.

Sunny, a native wild Sunflower, grew just a short distance away and called out to Little Blue, "You look very happy. What are you thinking about?"

"I am happy." Blue replied. "I love Kansas. Most days the sun shines. Just the right amount of rain falls so I can always find water with my long roots. Best of all, the people of Kansas come out on the prairie and visit me and talk about my friendly seed heads and colorful stalks. Did you know my family has lived on this hill for hundreds of years?"

"My family has been here a long time, too." Sunny replied. "Actually though, the hikers and school children are probably coming out to see me, not you. Kansans really like sunflowers. They decided that the wild native Sunflower should be the State Flower. I guess that's because we're tall and have such pretty yellow flowers. When people think of Kansas, they think of sunflowers."

Sunny and LittleBlue
Sunny and Little Blue

Little Blue just said "Oh."

The Cottonwood tree, Woody, down by the creek heard their conversations and said, "Sunflower, you're not the only one who is important. I'm the State Tree of Kansas. I'm very tall and stand up higher than all the grasses and other plants, even you. Besides I have very handsome shiny leaves."

Little Bluestem stopped bouncing in the breeze and lowered her seed heads. Again she softly said, "Oh."

About this time, Western Meadowlark, Larkie, flew up and landed on one of Woody's strong branches. "What's all this talk about Kansas State symbols? I'm the Kansas State Bird, you know."

Larkie and Woody
Larkie and Woody

There was rustling in the grass. Everyone looked down and saw the bright yellow pattern on the shell of Ornie, the Ornate Box Turtle. "Hey guys. I'm a state symbol too. I'm the State Reptile."

Little Blue felt sad and left out. Everyone was a state symbol, but not her. She looked up and said. "I don't understand. I just see four or five sunflowers in our part of the prairie. Maybe a couple of meadowlarks fly by every day or so. There are only two cottonwood trees by our creek. And Ornie is the only box turtle that has ever come by. BUT all around are hundreds and hundreds of grasses. Why don't we have a State Grass?"

Meadowlark replied. "You know you're right, Blue. I fly all over and look down and can see that Kansas has more grass growing in natural places than anything else. Besides, Kansas is one of the few places left in the whole country where there are large patches of native prairie covered with grass. There should be a state grass, and I think it should be Little Bluestem. But I don't know how a State Symbol is chosen."

Ornie and Little Blue
Ornie and Little Blue

Ornie, the box turtle answered. "I do because I was named State Reptile just a few years ago. The school children of Kansas pick a plant or animal that they think represents Kansas well. Then they write letters, draw pictures, and make up stories and poems about the thing they want to be a State Symbol. They ask their teachers to send them to the people in Topeka in our state government who decide which symbols to pick."

"Well, then that's easy" said Sunny. "We just ask the girls and boys in Kansas schools to let the people in Topeka know that Little Blue should be named the Kansas State Grass and they will take care of it."

Little Blue's stalks, with their fluffy white seed heads, were standing up straight and she'd started dancing in the breeze again. "Do you really think the school students of Kansas would do that?"

WELL, BOYS AND GIRLS - WHAT DO YOU THINK?

To find out what happens, read Little Blue's Conclusion

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