The Adventures of Laela

By Erwin Schalm
Illustrated by Shayla Schalm

This is the story of a ladybug named Laela. Laela lived in a beautiful garden full of shrubs and flowers. She spent most of her time in a rose bush, keeping an eye out for predators like birds and wasps.
One day dark clouds appeared in the skies and she saw lightening and heard thunder overhead. The thunder and lightening turned into a cloud burst. It seemed like buckets of water were pouring down from the skies. Laela hung on to a rose petal for dear life, but she was not strong enough to resist the downpour. Nearby a tree branch came crashing down with a loud bang! She cried out for help but there was no one to help her. A stream of water washed her down a gutter along the roadway. She knew full well where the stream was headed: it was headed for the storm drain. She tried hard to pedal, and she tried to fly, but nothing worked. Down the storm drain she went!

As Laela got splashed around, she managed to hang to the side wall. What a relief, she did not end up in the storm sewer! Above her she could see light, but the water was still pouring down. Then the rain stopped and the sun came out. She flexed her wings and flew out through the grating, leaving the frightening ordeal behind her. Laela flew along a row of houses, surveying the gardens around the homes. She spotted a flower garden around one home that was more beautiful than all the others. That was where she wanted to be. As she settled in on a rose bush, she noticed a girl watering the garden. She flew over to the girl and sat on her shoulder. "Hello, my name is Laela," she said.

The girl noticed the ladybug on her shoulder and said " hello Laela, my name is Shay. I will finish watering the garden and then I will show you my room." While Shay finished watering the garden, Laela told her all about the frightening ordeal in the storm drain. Shay said "I believe you. And that thunder storm really frightened my cat Tiger. He was hiding under my bed all that time." Later that evening when Shay went to bed, Laela was on the pillow right beside her. Laela began to cry. "What is it?" asked Shay. Laela said" I am so very small and everything else is so big. I wish I were as big as you. Then nobody would step on me and I would not need to hide under flower petals all my life. And if someone were in trouble, I would not be too small to help them. If I have to be small, I wish I could stay with you all my life."
"You can certainly stay with me all your life," said Shay. "And there must be something good about being small, like being able to hide in a small place where no one can find you. In any case, we can only be who we are and we have to try and make the best of who we are." When Shay woke up the next morning, her cat Tiger wanted to go out. Laela followed Shay wherever she went. At lunch time Shay opened the door and called out to her cat Tiger, "here Kitty, Kitty, lunch time." But Tiger didn't come. After an hour Shay began to worry. "I hope nothing happened to Tiger," Shay said to Laela. "It is not like him not to come when I call him." "I hope he didn't get washed down a storm drain," said Laela. "He is a bit too big to get washed down a storm drain," said Shay, "but he could have gotten hurt by a car." Laela said "I will fly around the neighborhood and see if I can find him." "Good idea," said Shay." "And I will keep calling him." Laela looked everywhere but there was no sign of Tiger. She saw a tall tree and decided fly to the very top of the tree because from there she would be able to see much better. As she flew from one side of the tree to the other, she hear meowing. "Could that be Tiger," she said to herself. After a bit of searching she found a cat, and it was Tiger! "What are you doing here?" asked Laela. Tiger said "I got chased up the tree by a big dog and now I can't get down. I am afraid I will fall."

"Stay right where you are," said Laela. "I will get Shay." Shay was very happy that Laela had found Tiger. "You will be my friend for ever," said Shay. The tree was very tall and Shay knew that only a fire truck with a long ladder could rescue Tiger. She did not know if they could come, because they might be busy putting out a fire somewhere. But that was her only hope. She telephoned the fire department and explained the situation to the man answering the telephone. The fireman was very kind and told her they would be right over. Laela flew back up the tree and told Tiger the good news. Tiger was very happy and he told Laela she would be his best friend for ever. The fire truck came and hoisted a long ladder against the tree where Tiger was. It was not long and Tiger was back on the ground. Shay hugged Tiger and she thanked the people on the fire truck. Back home Tiger ate a hardy meal, then stretched out on the sofa. Shay said to Laela, "remember you telling me that you are too small to help any one? You have been a big help to me in finding Tiger. I don't know what would have happened without your help." Laela was happy to hear that and she felt very proud of herself. After all, she was the one who found Tiger. "Now I know we can all help even if we are small." Shay invited all her friends over for a hide and seek party. While playing the game, everyone at the party got found except Laela. For Laela there were so many good hiding places, no one could possibly find her. Everyone declared Laela the big winner. It was the first time Laela had been called big, and she was very proud of herself. The End