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Albert was short, very short, and he hated it. His older brothers were tall like his father, but he took after his 5-foot mother. It was so unfair.
Albert was about to begin Middle School on Little Scrub, the small Caribbean Island where he lived. As he stepped on the bus, and looked at the older kids, he felt smaller than ever. They took one look at him and howled with laughter. They chanted: “Little Man, Little Man, you so small, didn’t hardly see you at all.”
Things went downhill from there. They would have stayed down if it wasn’t for Peachy, the leader of a troupe of Moko Jumbies—stilt walkers—a Caribbean tradition that slaves brought with them from Africa. Peachy’s Moko Jumbies did a lot more than walk. They danced and leapt across the sand on spindly eight-foot high wooden stilts, their brilliantly colored costumes shimmering in the moonlight.
Peachy told Albert he would teach him how to stilt walk, so he could join the Moko Jumby troupe. It wasn’t an easy decision. Peachy’s Moko Jumbies were in high school students. Would they laugh at him even harder than the Middle School kids? He was also a queasy about heights. The thought of wobbling around on those skinny wooden sticks made him woozy with fear.
But Albert was thrilled by the thought that one day he might actually be up there, tall as a palm tree, dancing around without fear or hesitation. Besides, desperate times call for desperate measure and nobody was more desperate than Albert.