from A Grandpa's Notebook, Meyer Moldeven

Albert, the Apatosaurus, lives with his mother and father in a huge forest at the edge of a swampy lake. Every morning, soon after the sun is up, Albert awakens, crawls out of his nest, and shakes himself to get the sleepy out of his eyes. Awake and stretched, Albert waddles down to the lake to munch the sweet grasses that grow along its shore. He has reached an age that he doesn't need to be constantly watched over by an older Apatosaurus.

This morning, when Albert awakens, he looks around to see if his friends, Pete, the Pentaceratops, Palmer, the Parasaurolophus, Sally, the Stegosaurus and Alice, the Ankylosaurus are also awake. They are, so Albert visits with them for a while. They chase each other around the trees of the forest, and then head for the lake to seek their breakfast.

At the lake, they nibble at the tall grasses that grow along the shore, or in the shallow water. Now and then, the leaves of a bush or a tree look appetizing and become part of breakfast.

Finished, Albert waves good-bye to his friends and heads off deeper into the forest. Albert likes to explore. He is also looking for another Apatosaurus like himself. He wants very much to find one about his age.

It's a cool and pleasant morning. Albert comes to a meadow, crosses to the trees on the other side and continues on. Finally, he arrives at a lake that is almost as long and as wide as the lake where he had breakfast.

The lake's shore is quiet and Albert looks about for a snack. He waddles into the water and lowers his long neck. He yanks up a mouthful of grasses and water plants and chews.

Suddenly, he hears a splashing sound behind him. Turning his head he sees another, smaller Apatosaurus. Albert quickly finishes chewing, swallows, and smiles.

'I'm Albert,' he says. 'What's your name?'

'Alexandra,' replies the smaller Apatosaurus. 'Where are you from, Albert?'

'I live near the lake on the other side of the forest.' Albert waves his long tail in the direction of his home. 'I was out exploring and came here to see if any neighbors moved in recently. I haven't seen you before. Are you new here?'

'Yes, I am,' Alexandra replies. 'My Mommy and Daddy and I just moved here and we think we'll stay. It's quiet in this forest, and the lake's shoreline has plenty of the food we like. I hope that we'll remain here for a long time.'

Albert tells Alexandra about Peter, Palmer, Alice and Sally. 'Oh, I want very much to meet them.' Alexandra is excited at the thought of making new friends.

'I'm sure they want to meet you, too.' Albert wiggles his tail as he speaks. 'Do Apatosaurus children play coconut ball where you came from?'

'Sure do,' Alexandra says.

Albert stretches his long neck and plucks a large coconut from the top of a nearby palm tree. He flips the coconut over his shoulder and as is falls he bats it toward Alexandra with his tail.

Alexandra, who has studied ballet, is well balanced. She catches the ball easily in her mouth. Tossing it high with a graceful twist of her body she bats it with her tail in a high arc back to Albert. He dashes toward the coconut and, with a tail flip, returns it for another round.

Albert and Alexandra play with the coconut ball for a while. They stop for lunch along the shore, and then rest and chat.

When the day moves into afternoon, Albert says good-bye to Alexandra and promises to return soon. They are friends.

'My birthday is coming soon and my mother and father are giving me a party,' Alexandra says as Albert turns to leave. 'Will you come to my party and will you bring along Pete, Palmer, Alice and Sally?'

'Of course I'll come,' Albert says as he waves at her over his shoulder, 'and I'll tell my friends about you. I'm sure they'll want to come to your party.'

Albert heads for his home near the lake on the other side of the forest.

Alexandra rushes home. She tells her parents about Albert, and they're pleased that Alexandra has found a friend.

Alexandra has her supper and plays with her toys. Then, feeling tired, she climbs into the nest her father had just lined with fresh twigs and leaves, and is soon asleep.

When Albert arrives home he tells his friends about Alexandra. They are excited to hear that another dinosaur family has moved into their neighborhood, and that a birthday party was coming soon.

Of course they accept Alexandra's invitation.

On the day of the party Albert, Pete, Palmer, Sally and Alice race each other to Alexandra's home on the far side of the forest.

Colored streamers, bunting, balloons and 'Happy Birthday' signs stretch between trees. Cookies and candies for Alexandra's friends are in dishes on tables and gifts are stacked everywhere.

Children from different reptile families play games among the trees, sing songs, and swing on an enormous rubber tire hanging from a tree branch. Near the tables, other reptile children laugh and eat cookies, candies and ice cream, and drink sodas or milk.

Albert invites Alexandra to meet his friends. Alexandra's father snaps their picture with his camera. The camera is the kind that makes instant pictures, so he passes them to the guests as soon as they are dry.

'These are very interesting pictures,' says Albert. 'Please take some more and let us have them to show to our parents?'

'Of course,' says Alexandra's Daddy. He takes many snapshots of Albert and the others and gives a few to each to take home.

After the children have played for a while Alexandra's mother slaps her long tail on the ground to get their attention.

'Let's all gather around at the table,' she calls to the children.

As everyone moves toward the table Alexandra's father carries out a huge, three-layered chocolate cake with whipped cream all over the top and sides. The cake has four candles on it for Alexandra's fourth birthday.

When the cake is on the table Alexandra stretches her neck forward slightly, takes a deep breath, and with a single whoosh blows out all four candles.

Everyone shouts 'Happy Birthday, Alexandra!' and they waddle-dance around the table. Alexandra is very happy. Her daddy plays on his fiddle.

It's time for Alexandra to open the many gifts that her friends and parents piled on the table.

Alexandra unwraps a special Apatosaurus doll that goes 'beep' when she squeezes it, a dinosaur doll's nest lined with tiny leaves and twigs, and a blackboard on a tripod with different colored chalk sticks. There are many other gifts, too. Alexandra holds her gifts up so that everyone can see them. Then, with a big smile, she hugs her mother and father and thanks her guests for their gifts and for coming to her party.

All too soon, the party is over. Time to start for home. The children wave good-bye to Alexandra as they leave. Sally and Alice hug Alexandra.

'We must see each other again,' says Alexandra.

'Yes, real soon,' says Sally.

Sally and Alice nod.

Albert is sorry the party is over. He waits until the very end, when all the others have left.

'Thank you for inviting us,' he says to Alexandra. 'I'll come again soon and we'll play coconut ball. Would you like that?'

'Oh, yes,' she replies. 'I'd like that very much.'

With a wave of his tail Albert turns toward home. He catches up to Pete and Palmer, who are waiting for him. They all run ahead and, with Sally and Alice, reach their side of the forest by late afternoon. They wave good-bye to each other as they separate to go to their family nests.

When Albert reaches his nest he tells his mother and father about the good time he had at Alexandra's Birthday Party. He shows them the pictures Alexandra's Daddy gave him.

Then Albert moves to his part of the nest, curls his tail around to cover his toes, and falls asleep.

The sun sinks behind a low hill and night settles on the forest.

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