What are you making?” Cassie asked her older brother as he opened the oven door.
“Some cookies for the baseball game. I figure, since we just moved here, it wouldn’t hurt to go the extra mile to get to know the kids,” Chris explained.
“I’m going to make something too!”
“What are you going to make?”
Cassie thought a bit before a smile spread across her face. “It’s a secret, but I’ll give you a hint—it starts with F.”
Chris grinned. “So what ingredients do you need for your secret recipe?”
“The things you use to make your recipe,” Chris explained. “Ingredients are very important. Use the wrong ones, and your recipe won’t turn out. Good luck.” He grabbed his mitt and the plate of cookies, then ran out the door.
Cassie got the plastic bucket out from under the sink. “Since I’m making an F recipe, I’ll need things that start with F,” she reasoned. She carried the bucket outside, where her mother was weeding.
“Flowers!” Cassie exclaimed, “Can I have some?”
“You may have all the dandelions you want,” her mother replied, gazing at their lawn in exasperation. “Pick away.”
It wasn’t long before the bottom of Cassie’s bucket was covered with yellow flowers. “I’m making an important recipe,” she told her mother. “Can I go down the street?”
“Yes, but don’t leave the block. You aren’t used to this neighborhood yet, and I don’t want you to get lost. I’ll keep an eye on you from the yard.”
Cassie carried her bucket out the gate. She still needed more ingredients for her recipe.
“Who are you, and what are you doing?” someone asked.
Cassie looked up to see a girl about her age looking at her.
“I’m Cassie, and I’m making a recipe. I need ingredients that start with the letter F.”
“My name is Rachel. I live next door. How about a flamingo? We have a plastic one in our front yard.”
“Great!” Cassie exclaimed. Soon a plastic flamingo was sticking out of her pail. She walked down the street with Rachel, the pink head bobbing with their steps.
“What are you doing?” said a voice. They turned to see a boy on a bicycle.
“This is Cassie,” Rachel told him. “She’s making a letter-F recipe. We have flowers and a flamingo for ingredients. Can you think of anything else, Steven?”
“Frogs! Come with me to the pond. There are lots of frogs there.”
He walked along with them, pushing his bike, to the pond near the corner.
While they were catching frogs and putting them into the bucket, three more kids came up. Rachel introduced them as Benjamin, Eric, and Kathryn. They seemed happy to meet Cassie and were eager to help with the recipe.
“Flowers, frogs, and a flamingo,” Eric said. “How about adding french fries? I have a couple in my pocket.” He tossed them into the bucket.
“What else?” Cassie asked.
“Ferns? Kathryn shouted, plucking some that grew near the pond. “But I think we’ll have to forget about the frogs. They’ve all jumped out.”
“Ferns, flamingo, flowers, french fries—can you think of anything else?” Cassie asked.
“I have a toy fire engine,” Benjamin said. “Let’s go to my house and get it.”
They followed him home, looking like a small parade. The fire engine went into the bucket, nearly filling it.
“Now come to my house,” Cassie said. “We can finish the recipe there.”
Her mother met them at the gate. “Cassie, what are you doing, and who are these children with you?”
“We’re making a recipe,” Cassie explained. “We need a few more ingredients, but we don’t know what.”
Her mother smiled. “Well, how about a snack? There are some bananas in the kitchen.”
“Fruit? Kathryn declared. “That’s perfect!”
All the children followed Carrie into the kitchen. Soon they came back outside with a bunch of bananas nestled among the other things in the bucket. Then they sat on the porch and ate the bananas.
Cassie’s mother looked in the bucket, then at her daughter. “That’s a rather strange recipe,” she remarked. “I’ve never seen such unusual ingredients. What are you making?”
Cassie looked at her mother and smiled. “Friends,” she said.