Saul needs to know how many feet a caterpillar has. He didn't even have to think about it. He went straight to the public library with his question.

He walked straight up to the young man at the big desk in front of the library. "I have a question about caterpillars," Saul said. "Are you the right person to talk to?"

The friendly young man smiled and said, "Not really. My job is to sign out books from the library. The best person to talk with would be someone at the reference desk. They will surely help you find an answer to your caterpillar question."

So Saul sauntered over to the reference desk in the other room and walked right up to the desk. "I have a question about caterpillars," Saul asked politely.

The reference librarian smiled and said, "Tell me your question and I'll tell you how to find an answer." The reference librarian really looked as if she knew a lot about a lot of things. She looked as if she knew the answer to hundreds and hundreds of questions.

Saul spoke up loud and clear, "I'm writing a report about caterpillars for school. I need to find out how many feet a caterpillar has."

"Hmmmmmm," said the librarian. "That sounds like an interesting question. I bet we could find the answer to that question if we looked for it together." Saul was so glad that she was going to help him find the answer to his question. Sometimes the library seemed like such a big place that a little boy could get lost forever in between two big stacks of books.

"Let's go over and look at the encyclopedia first," said the helpful librarian. "We can look in the encyclopedia with the letter 'c' on it. Since the word caterpillar starts with the letter 'c', the best place to look in the encyclopedia would be in the 'c' book."

This sounded like a fine idea to Saul. He was secretly hoping to find a big color picture of a caterpillar, but he didn't say anything to the librarian about his secret wish.

So the two of them walked over to the shelf with the encyclopedias. Saul helped the librarian find the book with the letter 'c' on it. The librarian helped Saul lift the heavy book off the shelf. Together they were going to find the answer to Saul's caterpillar question.

As the librarian flipped the pages of the encyclopedia, Saul could see the book had many, many color pictures. The book also had lots and lots and lots of writing beside the pictures.

"Here it is!" shouted the librarian. I found the place about caterpillars in the encyclopedia.

And sure enough, right there on the page were three whole paragraphs about caterpillars. And a picture too! A color picture of a caterpillar.

You could even see the caterpillar's face. Would you believe the caterpillar's face looked like old Mr. Olgar at the grocery store? Of course you had to use your imagination to see the resemblance.

Now while Saul was dreaming of imaginary caterpillars and grocery stores, the friendly librarian was carefully reading everything the encyclopedia had to say about caterpillars. "Here's what we've been looking for," the friendly librarian said. "It says here that a caterpillar has twelve different parts, and that each part has three legs. Gee, that sounds like a multiplication problem to me," she said.

"But I'm afraid my arithmetic is a little rusty these days. They completely forgot to teach multiplication at library school. Perhaps you could help me with this part?"

Saul thought it over and decided he could lend a hand at this point. Besides, he was pretty handy at doing math problems in the classroom.

In no time at all Saul whipped out his trusty pencil. He yanked a piece of scrap paper out of the trash can beside the desk. He wrote the multiplication problem exactly as it was supposed to look.

Then he took a deep breath and got to work. The friendly librarian peered over his shoulder as if she might be able to learn a little arithmetic, too.

"Thirty-six!" Saul blurted out. "A caterpillar has thirty-six legs."

And with that, the librarian slammed the book shut and walked off with a big smile on her face.

Saul was feeling might fine himself...

Phil Shapiro

Copyright 1995

All Rights Reserved

[This story may be freely copied and distributed for noncommercial purposes. In particular, it may be freely used for any freeeware or shareware software projects. (I'd love to see a copy of anything you make with this.)

I'd be happy to communicate with any software development companies interested in producing multimedia stories. I've written a bunch of stories that lend themselves to multimedia presentation.

Internet: pshapiro@his.com]

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