Deep in space, beyond the Banana Galaxy and to the left of the Triangle Galaxy, the Heart Galaxy glows like a valentine of pink and purple stars. At the center of this galaxy lies the HeartGarden solar system, where Planet Heart orbits around a warm Heart Sun.
Planet Heart is made of millions of gorgeous hearts.
At night on Planet Heart, you can see trillions of HeartStars in flower constellations sparkling in the sky. The stars seem to sway toward each other, like flowers dancing in the wind.
In the morning when the Heart Sun rises, each heart on Planet Heart shines and glitters as if it were brand-new.
One morning on Planet Heart, LOVELLE the gardener was looking for a new friend. Lovelle liked to help Earth children by bringing them to Planet Heart and teaching them how to make their world more beautiful.
“Good morning, KESEMODO!” Lovelle said as she heartmarked hello with a very young heartling made of burgundy hearts.
“You are just in time to dip your magic wand into the Shingriver that flows through the garden, Kesemodo,”said Lovelle. “Only your wand can capture a bubble pure enough to hold children from Earth.”
“I’ll show you who needs help right away!” Kesemodo said. He was a master at juggling heart bubbles.
“They don’t call me ‘shower magician’ for nothing,” he added, and pulled out his magic wand.
“Which new friend needs a new heartune?” Kesemodo sang
Soon the image of a young girl appeared in the water bubble. But Kesemodo frowned.
“She seems to be crying. I wonder why?”
“Who do you see?” asked Lovelle, impatient. “Is it a boy or a girl? Is she unhappy? Ooh, I want to heartoose her to me!”
Lovelle begged to look through the heartbubble, but just at that moment, the flamboyant bird MICAPELO and his large feather-hat flew right in front of her face!
“Oh, Micapelo, you nearly popped the bubble!” said Lovelle, brushing the feather-hat away. Then she looked again, and finally saw her new friend.
“She is crying, Kesemodo! I wonder what’s wrong?” Lovelle said. But Kesemodo the water master just shook his head.
“I can only show her to you,” he told Lovelle. “Finding out what’s wrong is a job for you and your friends.”
In Woodland Hills, Minnesota, TALINA was crying into her pillow when Lovelle heartoosed her into Planet Heart.
Earlier that morning, Talina had wanted to help her father shovel snow.
“Can I shovel, too?” she asked, dragging her child-size snow shovel behind her. Her father looked at the tall drifts of snow, then at Talina.
“Why don’t you go make a snowman?” he said, smiling, and went back to work.
Later, Talina’s mother was hanging holiday lights.
“Can I hang lights, too? Talina offered. Her mother looked up at the tall ladder, then down at Talina.
“Better go play inside,” her mother suggested.
When Talina went inside, she saw her brother folding the laundry.
“Can I fold laundry, too?” she asked.
He looked at the white mound of laundry and smiled.
“Go fold your doll’s dresses, little sister.”
At this, Talina ran to her room in tears.
“I wish I was strong enough, tall enough, and old enough to help,” she sobbed. Her tears soaked her pillow until it was quite wet.
Lovelle observed all this from Kesemodo’s heart bubble. She understood Talina’s wish to help, because Lovelle loved to help, too.
“Now, with a few heartsparkles and my heartpowers,” Lovelle said, “I can reach Talina through her tears. She must come to Planet Heart and cheer up!”
Talina felt a soft tug and a pull, then she was flying, and soon she landed with a soft thud in Lovelle’s Garden. All around there were fragrant flowers and green lawns. Her eyes wide, Talina saw Heart Creatures coming out of the flowers, each more colorful and friendlier than the last. Each Heart Planet heartling smiled and heartmarked hello. Butterheart Betty flittered round and round Talina’s head in heart circles. After a few moments, there were no tears in Talina’s eyes. Instead, they glowed in delight.
Then Lovelle came forward:
“You look like you are ready for a heartventure — a fun- filled adventure on Planet Heart! I am Lovelle, this is my garden, and these are the heartlings. Do you see them? They are entirely made of hearts, and you can play games with them. Doesn’t that sound like fun?”
Talina was delighted. She opened her mouth to speak, but at that moment MENDERLIEB rushed toward her.
“Very pleased to meet and greet you, I’m sure,” said Menderlieb, out of breath. “…and so sorry to be late! I wanted to be the first to say hello, but my work in the Seed Factory has kept me too long.”
“I’m glad to meet you,” began Talina, but Menderlieb interrupted again:
“I have a pile of heartseeds to string for the Winter Party tonight! We need lots of necklaces for the party, because we have lots of guests!”
“I can help…” said Talina, but Menderlieb was still talking.
“I’ve been stringing necklaces all day and I’ve still not finished!”
“But I can…” Talina offered; Menderlieb did not hear her.
“I shouldn’t bother you with these matters,” he told the eager girl.
“Just let me get your measurements so I can make your necklace the right size.”
Talina’s face fell as Menderlieb took out his measuring tape and recorded countless calculations.
“This is just like this morning,” she said softly to herself. “If only I could help! But I am too small, too weak and too young to help out at home! How could I help Menderlieb?”
Menderlieb saw Talina’s sad face.
“I know, I know!” she said brightly. “A necklace will cheer you right up.”
Talina nodded sadly as Menderlieb rushed back to the factory.
Luckily, MISHING had been observing Talina and Menderlieb from the pretty garden chair where she was drawing new decorations for the party. Mishing had very talented hands for drawing! She also made wonderful hairdos.
”How about a new hairstyle for the party? Your hair is so beautiful, I would love to try the new braid designs I drew for these paintings.”
Mishing pointed to several paintings of girls dancing, their hair twisted into intricate braids.
Talina nodded, smiling. Then, Mishing swirled Talina’s hair up into elaborate braids and added heart beads and heart feathers! Talina was delighted. Her hair matched the same paintings that would hang as decorations for the winter party!
Talina loved her new braids, but she was still worried about Menderlieb’s workload. She sat on the lawn, her chin in her hand, looking up into the blue sky, when GIDIGALB–the cloud glider–came floating down, carrying sparkling fresh icecicles in heart shapes.
“I bring fresh Heartcicles from the clouds,” he announced. “My secret recipe sprinkles make them shiny and sweet! I hang them as decorations, and then we eat them! But you can have as many as you want right now, because I never run out!”
He offered a shining, glittery Heartcicle to the young girl.
Then Gidigalb exploded with soft giggles, and his body lit up like lightening. That is because he was half heart-cloud, half heartling!
Talina took a heartcicle and tasted it: it was cold and crispy, tingling on the tongue. But after she ate several, she felt sad again. Gidigalb did not notice her changed expression because he was hanging the Heartcicles on every tree in the garden. Each time he hung a pretty arrangement, he clasped his hands and smiled in quiet satisfaction.
In the meantime, Micapelo had been spreading the news that there was a special visitor in the garden. Many Heartgarden friends came to cheer Talina, some from Heartlands very far away!
First was the HRIDOY HAIRY HEART family, who had been traveling for many days and nights. They had collected many stories as they cut the hair of many Heart creatures along the way. The family brought Talina three wonderful stories about sad princes who fell in love with a princess and lived happily ever after.
Then, five BELLY SWINGERS landed on Talina’s nose, and swung in acrobatic dances.
Next, SKIPPERLEV SAVVY brought heartdolls that he invented. The dolls danced with Skipperlev Savvy, after he wound them up! Together, they performed a HeartMark dance while Micapelo sang!
After that, BOGON BACKET, “the bearer of good news,” brought three HEARTTHROBS that whispered beautiful compliments in Talina’s ears. One told her she was a very good person. Another reminded her that she was very generous. And the third said that she always did her best.
Then Kesemodo danced the Heartworm Show for Talina. The Heartworms lined up in beautiful heart designs, as water bubbles mimicked and complemented their arrangements. They glowed in color changes and entered the heartbubbles, which burst in rainbow colors. Kesemodo juggled the bubbles in heart arrangements in the air, then each bubble burst right above Talina, its Heartworm landing on a nearby leaf and bowing to her. Talina delighted in the display. Nevertheless, she felt that everyone but she had a contribution for the party. If only she was good enough to help in some way!
Finally, the veterinarian RONI CORAZONI and his dog HAVLEV PILONI came to cheer Talina. Together, they performed mind reading tricks. Roni Corazoni handed out dog biscuits of different colors to every visitor in the garden. Then Havelev Piloni guessed the correct color of each dog biscuit even when it was hidden! However, when he found Talina’s biscuit, his nose hovered over it. He could not guess the color of the biscuit! All he could read in her mind was a picture of beads of different colors. That is because Talina was not thinking about the bone at all. She was thinking about helping Menderlieb finish the necklaces in time.
With his nose, Havlev Piloni moved all the colorful bones into a pattern to look like a necklace. Now Roni Corazoni understood!
“I know what you really want with all your heart!” he told Talina. “You just want to help Menderlieb!”
Finally, everyone knew exactly how to cheer up Talina.
With lightning speed, Gidigalb flew Talina to the Seed Factory, where Menderlieb was working. Gidigalb urged Talina to offer to help.
“Menderlieb,” said the young girl, “I know I can help you finish in time. Will you let me help?” Talina was so nervous that her hands shook as she stood in front of Menderlieb and his pile of seeds. Menderlieb looked shocked, and was silent for a moment. Then he spoke:
“I am so relieved! That is so heartastic of you to come! How did you ever think of helping me?” Menderlieb smiled and took Talina’s hands. “Now I am sure we can finish the necklaces since we can string them together!”
Talina’s shoulders relaxed as she held on to Menderlieb’s hands:
“You’re not worried that I will ruin your necklaces?” she asked.
“Oh no, I always knew you would make wonderful necklaces, but I was too afraid to ask for help!” Menderlieb answered, and she picked up a string, knotted one end, and gave it to Talina. The girl took the string and made the most beautiful necklace ever. Soon, the two friends were hard at work, and by evening had finished the whole pile of seeds.
That evening at the winter party, everyone wore beautiful necklaces made by Talina and Menderlieb. And everyone, including Talina, was happy, their hearts glowing like the Heartworms in the water bubbles.
“I like this happiness!” Lovelle said, “It feels like a warm Heart Sun from the top of my head to the tip of my tail.” Then Lovelle asked Menderlieb and Talina tob join her in a song about asking for help.
It went like this:
“Everyone is good at something, everyone needs some help,
What you can I need, what you need I can,
So let’s join hands, join hands
And heartmark as we dance.”
At the end of the party, Lovelle gave Talina three special crayons to represent the new experiences.
“The pink crayon,” she said, “is to remember that some people are afraid of asking for help.” Talina nodded, thinking about Menderlieb’s factory.
“The green crayon,” Lovelle continued, “is to remember that everyone can help in ways large and small.” Talina smiled, remembering Menderlieb’s pile of seeds transformed into beautiful necklaces.
“The red crayon,” Lovelle said, “is for the warm feeling you get when you are needed.” Talina laughed softly, feeling a tingle from her head to her toes. She was warm all over, and a little sleepy. She yawned and rubbed her eyes.
Then Lovelle gave the pink, green and red crayons to all the other Heartgarden friends, who had learned these lessons as well.
Lovelle took Talina to the Heart Bubble that would carry the young girl back to Earth. All her Heartgarden friends waved goodbye as Talina lifted off on her silent, soft flight. On the way, Talina looked back at Planet Heart. It glowed pink and purple, deep in the Heart Galaxy.
Before long Talina landed back in her bed in Woodland Hills, Minnesota. As she drifted off to sleep, Talina thought about all the new Heart Character friends that she had made. She realized that each one had helped her in his or her way. Thinking about her new friends, she fell into a deep and refreshing sleep, still holding her new heartseed necklace that she had helped string with Menderlieb.