The Story of a Lost Lovie
Aroo Anderson was born in a forest in Africa. He lived with his family: his mommy, his daddy, and his little brother, Peeyo.
When Aroo was 3 years old, an old monkey fortune teller came to see him. “A little girl was born today,” the monkey said. “She is a sweet baby, and she will grow into a kind girl. Her name is Della.”
Aroo said the name: “Della.”
“Della needs your help,” said the monkey. “She is the only baby in the whole world who never learned to cry. She keeps her feelings inside. She has so many feelings, and she needs a place to put them. You are a toy elephant, and you don’t have feelings...yet. This little girl is going to fill you with feelings. It’s time for you to go.”
So Aroo packed his backpack. But before he left, his mommy said, “Promise you will come back someday.”
“I will,” he said and set out on a journey to America.
Aroo crossed the Atlantic ocean in a hot air balloon. He flew over the ocean and across the mountains. He looked way down at the map of the world below, and he saw a place that started with the letter “A.”
“Auburn, Alabama,” he said out loud. “Aroo starts with A, and Auburn starts with A. I will start there, at the top of the alphabet.”
Aroo landed his balloon at Auburn University, where a person named Aunt Bibba used to work.
After his long trip, Aroo was very tired, and he found a cozy place to rest in the university bookstore, nestled between two stuffed tigers. The tigers were friendly, and the bookstore was a nice place to be, but Aroo was the only elephant, and there were never any little girls in the store.
He wondered how he would ever find Della.
Then one day, a daddy walked into the store. His name was Stevie, and he said he was looking for a present for his little girl. Me, me, me! Aroo thought, as loud as he could. Stevie must have heard him, because he took Aroo off the shelf and brought him home to Alexandria.
It was August in Alexandria, and the heat reminded Aroo of home. When Stevie unzipped his suitcase, Aroo saw a blue room with white trees painted on the walls. He saw a yellow duckie and a paper crane mobile. And then, suddenly, he saw a toddler with blond hair and blue eyes. Della! he thought.
“Aroo!” she said. She knew Aroo was his name because aroo is the sound that elephants make.
Before Aroo could answer, Della gave Aroo a tight squeeze. Then she cupped her hand around his trunk and lifted him to her face. The moment that Aroo and Della touched noses, Aroo felt his whole scruffy body flood with feelings. He felt happy and sad. He felt everything all at once. He felt so full, he thought his tender seams might burst.
Starting with that first nose rub, Della and Aroo were best friends. They went everywhere together. Aroo slept in Della’s crib, and when she moved to a big girl bed, Aroo came with her. Aroo went to school with Della. He slept with her on her mat and played with her on the playground. At dinner time, Della set Aroo aside so he wouldn’t get sticky. One time in the car, a pen exploded, and Aroo got ink on his legs. Della’s mommy tried to wash the stains, but they wouldn’t come out. Della didn’t mind. She loved Aroo no matter how he looked.
Most of all, Aroo was a comfort to Della. Whenever Della’s feelings were so big she couldn’t keep them inside, she would rub the tip of Aroo’s trunk against her nose, and some of Della’s feelings would pour into Aroo. Della felt better, and Aroo felt alive.
Della needed Aroo the most when her little brother, George, was born. Baby George needed lots of cuddles and attention, and Della missed having her mommy all to herself. But George was cute and funny, too, and sometimes he made Della laugh. Sometimes having a brother made Della feel lonely.
Della shared her feelings with Aroo, and that made Aroo remember his own little brother, Peeyo, back in Africa. For the first time in forever, Aroo felt a feeling all his own. It was just a little feeling at first. Aroo missed his family.
A long time later, on a day just like any other day, Della woke up with a fever. She was sick and couldn’t go to school. She would have to spend the day in Mommy’s office. At work, Aroo and Della watched Mary Poppins and played with Della’s castle and took naps and ate goldfish. It was a perfect day. They were happy.
When it was time to take a nap, Della fell fast asleep, but Aroo stayed awake. He had something on his mind. The happiness Della had shared with him felt so good, he wanted to share that feeling with his family. Aroo knew that Della was strong and smart and brave. He knew that Della would be sad while he was gone, but he knew she would be okay.
I love you, Della, Aroo thought as loudly as he could, and Della must have heard him because she stirred in her sleep. I will send my brother, Peeyo, to look after you. But no one will ever replace me. I will visit you in your dreams, and someday I will come back to you forever. Thank you for sharing your feelings with me. Now you can share them with the people you love. Share your feelings with your family.
Later that day, when Della and mommy went to the grocery story, Aroo grabbed ahold of the Little Mermaid balloon that Della saw in the vegetable section. When nobody was looking, the balloon and Aroo floated up into the air and out the door and over the Appalachian mountains, across the Atlantic ocean, and finally landed in a familiar forest in Africa.
Aroo was happy to see his family! He was so happy, it made him sad. He cried for Della. His feelings were so big and so many, they filled his whole family and brought them to life.
And now, every night, Aroo flies back to America on his mermaid balloon and adventures with Della in the darkness. They go on dream safaris.
On safari, Della asks Aroo when he will come back to live with her. “Maybe on your birthday,” he says. “Maybe when you go to kindergarten.” “Maybe when you have your own children.”
And then Della and Aroo rub noses and fly away into the starry African sky.