Nathan’s New Home

I was a stranger, and ye took me in (Matt. 25:35).

“I’ll get it!” Nathan raced to answer the doorbell. He was tired of unpacking boxes. Moving is hard work, he thought. And making new friends was going to be even harder.

No one was at the door, but there was a book on the porch. Inside it was a bookmark with a map and a note. It said: “Please take me home.”

“Who is it?” Dad called from the kitchen.

Nathan brought the book into the house. “It’s just this book,” he said. “Maybe it’s a joke.”

“It’s a library book, and it’s due today,” said Mom, looking inside the cover.

“I guess I could take it back,” Nathan said, “if it’s not too far.”

“This map shows a library just a few blocks from here,” said Dad. “Why don’t you go ahead and return the book while we unpack the kitchen things.”

Nathan grabbed his bike and headed for the library. On the way, he saw some neighborhood kids. They whispered and laughed as they watched him pass.

He remembered all his friends in his old neighborhood and at his old school. They didn’t whisper and laugh at him. I don’t think I’m going to like this place, he thought.

Inside the library, Nathan walked up to a counter near the door. “Does this book belong here?” he asked.

The woman behind the counter smiled and took the book. “Are you new here?” she asked.

“Yes,” Nathan said. “We just moved to Maple Street.”

“My grandson, Robert, often goes to Maple Street to play with Kim Lee. Do you know them?” asked the woman.

“No,” Nathan said sadly, “I haven’t met anyone yet, except you.”

“Would you do something for me?” asked the woman. “Would you please take these cards to the post office? It’s on the corner up the street.”

Nathan took the cards and rode his bike to the post office.

“I’ll bet you’re the new kid whose family just moved to Maple Street,” said the man at the post office. “We postal workers know who moves in and out. Have you met my niece Marta? She lives near you?”

Nathan shook his head, feeling lonelier than ever.

The man wrote something on a piece of paper. “Would you do something for me, Nathan? Would you please stop by the bakery and leave this note on your way home? If you go one block over and back toward your house, you’ll go right past it. It’s across the street from the school.”

Nathan took the note and rode his bike to the bakery. He stopped and looked at the empty school playground. He wanted to try the slide, but he remembered that he had promised to deliver the note to the bakery.

A teenage girl took the note. “Are you new here?” she asked.

“Yes.” Nathan sighed. “We just moved to Maple Street.”

“Really?” The girls’ eyes opened wide. “Would you do something for me?”

Nathan just nodded.

Minutes later, Nathan was carefully pushing his bike down the block with one hand while he used his other hand to balance a cake box on the bike’s seat. He was delivering it to a house across the street from his new home.

When he got to Maple Street, the children Nathan had seen before were gone. The street was quiet. He carried the box to the door with the right address and rang the bell.

The door flew open. “Surprise!” shouted many voices. All the neighborhood kids were there. Nathan’s parents and some other adults were there too. There were balloons and streamers.

“Hi,” said a boy. “I’m Kim Lee. This is my house.”

Kim Lee and Nathan put the box on the table and opened it. It was a cake with flowers around the sides, and on the top it said, “Nathan, welcome to your new home.”

[illustrations] Illustrated by Shauna Mooney Kawasaki