Outcomes Offered

■ Acceptance

■ Problem-solving skills

Among his classmates, Wally was known as Wally the Wacky Wizard. Ever since he had been going to magic school, he had failed Basic Wizardry. He found it tough, and the only reason he seemed to get promoted to the next grade each year was that he was such a likeable young wizard.

If anything could go wrong in Basic Wizardry, it would certainly go wrong for Wally. Everyone reminded him how hopeless he was but, no matter how many times they told him, he didn't improve. He never felt anyone really gave him the encouragement he wanted, or helped him to put things right.

It had all started when he got his first magic wand. The class was doing simple exercises but Wally messed it up and turned his wand into an overripe banana. In fact, in some ways you might well think it was a good spell because it was certainly a permanent spell. Neither his teacher, nor his dad, nor any of the other wizards, seemed to be able to get his overripe banana back to a normal magic wand. I guess one good thing was that the banana didn't keep ripening.

Nonetheless, it felt limp and squishy in his hand and would never point in the right direction when he was trying to make a spell. Worse than that, it never ever seemed to get a spell right. There was the time he turned his baby sister into a purple pumpkin. He thought she looked funny as a pumpkin, lying in her cot wrapped with a diaper on her bottom and her little beanie on top of her pumpkin head. Mom wasn't so amused. In fact, she screamed and screamed until Dad got the High Wizard of the village to turn his sister back to normal.

If Wally thought his problems were bad then, things got decidedly worse when a Magic-Proof Monster started to attack the village. Like a winged dinosaur, this terrifying creature smashed through buildings and picked out a villager or two to eat for dinner every night. The villagers lived in fear, and the High Wizard's spells to kill the monster were powerless. The Council of Wizards met and combined their magic power, but still they couldn't stop the Magic-Proof Monster.

Maybe because Wally had thought of his own problems as such a monster, he began to see the monster as his own problem. He dreamed about conquering it, about becoming the village hero, about being accepted in a way that nobody had accepted him before.

He spent hours and hours down in his father's backyard shed, practicing with all the magic tools, trying to create the perfect spell to slay the Magic-Proof Monster. One night he snuck out of the house, overripe banana-wand in his hand, right about dark when the monster usually turned up. The rest of the villagers were all hiding in their houses, but when they heard the monster's footsteps, they peeked out of their curtains wondering whose home it might target tonight—and saw Wally holding his overripe banana. They held their breath in fear.

Wally pointed his limp banana toward the monster and called out some magic words. A flash of lightening leapt from his banana-wand straight into the air, hitting a wandering witch's owl and knocking off its tail feathers. It plummeted to the ground with a sad, loud thump . . . and the monster stomped closer to Wally.

Wally called out the formula again and another bolt of lightening erupted from his overripe banana, striking the tower on top of the village hall, sending it crashing to the ground. "Oh, no," screamed people from behind their windows, "Wally is doing more damage than the monster."

But Wally had a plan up his sleeve. He knew that he wasn't good at magic, he knew that even the best wizards had tried and failed, he knew that to conquer this monster of a problem he couldn't just hope the monster would go away. He had to do something. He had to do what he was good at rather than relying on magic that didn't work.

Wally peeled his magic wand. He took the ripe fruit from inside the banana skin and threw it in the air. The monster's jaws snapped forward to catch the banana, and it liked what it tasted. It charged at Wally, hoping for more—and that was just what Wally was waiting for. When it was close enough for Wally to feel the heat of its breath he threw the banana skin under its monstrous feet. In its haste, the monster stepped on the skin, slipped and fell heavily, hit its head on the hard ground, and knocked itself out cold.

The villagers ran from their houses, shouting triumphantly, quickly tying down the unconscious monster and saving the village.

If you were ever to visit that village of wizards, you would probably hear the story of Wally the Wacky Wizard. You see, he became a hero and there is a statue of him in the middle of the village square, and parents tell their children the story ofWally the Wacky Wizard before they go to sleep at night.

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