In September, the second graders at our school focus a lot on a couple of things. In addition to learning the usual routines of a new classroom and reviewing expectations quickly forgotten over the summer, we also focus on things such as friendship and safety rules. One of the stories in our basal readers covers the last two topics quite nicely so we always read it in September.
Officer Buckle and Gloria written by Peggy Rathmann was voted Best Books of 1995 byt the School Library Journal, Parenting Magazine and Child Magazine. It also won the 1996 Caldecott Medal which is an award given for the best American picture book for children. The story is simple. It is about a policeman and his dog, Gloria.
Officer Buckle knows more safety tips than anyone else. Each school year, he visits the Napville schools and delivers a lecture on safety tips. The problem is, no one listens. In fact, everyone falls asleep! Then one day, Officer Buckle teams up with a dog named Gloria. He decides to bring Gloria along with him. As Officer Buckle begins to deliver his speech, he becomes increasingly amazed at how attentive the audience is. Why, they even start to applaud him after each tip. As a result, Officer Buckle becomes more and more dramatic with each tip.
The letters pour into the police station. Everyone wants Officer Buckle to come. He is delirious with joy! Everyone is talking about being safe. Everyone wants to hear him speak and... best of all, Officer Buckle never is alone any more. His faithful companion, his buddy Gloria, is right there with him. After each presentation, they even go out for ice cream. Life is good! It's great to have a buddy!
Then one evening, disaster strikes. A local television station had videotaped his presentation. Officer Buckle settles in to watch it and discovers.... people weren't cheering him. They were cheering for Gloria!
You see, as he delivered his speeches, Gloria had been slightly behind him. He thought she'd been sitting quietly but she was actually acting out each safety tip as he gave them. He was hurt, he was sad, he was even a bit angry. Why, no one needed him! Gloria could do this on her own and that's exactly what he told the next principal who invited him to come out and give his safety presentation.
So, poor Gloria went off on her own to do the safety presentation at the school. She got up onto the stage and... she sat there. Nothing happened. You see, there was no Officer Buckle.
Officer Buckle learns about this fiasco and discovers something. Gloria needed him as much as he needed her. They were a team. They were buddies. They each brought something to the table which was invaluable. So, one more safety tip is added to the list... Always stick with your buddy!
As my class discussed this story later, I could not help but think about how this applies to us as Christians. So often we focus on things which divide us instead of the One who unites us... Jesus Christ. So, as we travel life's road, remember this important safety tip: