In 1964, Stanley Lambchop had a tragic accident. Just that day his father had given him a new bulletin board to hang on the wall of his room and as he slept, the bulletin board fell, squashing him. Luckily young Stanley survived the near tragedy, but it left him changed. Poor Stanley had become flat. The Lambchop family had enough spunk to transform Stanley’s new disability into an opportunity and soon he found himself posing as a painting on the wall of the local art gallery where he assisted the police in catching a burglar.
This is the plot of children author Jeff Brown’s Flat Stanley. The character would go on to have five more crazy adventures during the author’s lifetime, and since Brown’s death in 2003, has been guided by other authors through at least a dozen more. But Stanley’s biggest adventure was orchestrated in 1995 by third grade teacher Dale Hubert of Ontario.
Hubert assigned his students to design a Flat Stanley and send him through the mail in order to both practice writing letters, and to learn about the various places Stanley visited. Recipients of Stanley were asked to report back on his adventures and include pictures of Stanley in various locations along the way.
The assignment was a great success and earned Hubert the 2001 Prime Minister’s Award for Teaching Excellence. Soon the Flat Stanley Project spread and now teachers all over the world participate in it with their students. My youngest son’s class is working on a Flat Stanley Project right now and a week or so ago, he received his first pictures.
I want to share a few of them with you because his Stanley traveled to visit a friend of mine in the Baltimore area. I know in the past few days we’ve all seen a lot of images of Baltimore, of protest demonstrations, of violence against police, and of buildings engulfed in flames. So, I thought maybe it would do us all some good to see the place in a different light, as a beautiful city full of a rich heritage and deep-rooted history.