Belen

France, Boston, New York, California and now right here in Belen.

One 7-year-old German boy is getting a glimpse of these and more places around the world from an unusual point of view β€” that of a paper doll.

That’s right, Flat Stanley, a laminated paper doll crafted by Jonathan Werle of Frankfurt, Germany, has traveled around the globe in just a year. Jonathan gained inspiration from the book “Flat Stanley” (Harper Trophy, 1964) about a boy who, upon being flattened by a bulletin board, discovers that his new shape allows him to travel the world by post.

Sending Flat Stanley around the world, Jonathan receives postcards, pictures and sometimes gifts from all the places Stanley visits.

Now, Flat Stanley has ventured to the great Southwest. His hosts are Maggy Fitzgerald of Belen, her husband, Steve, and nephew, Shay Cooper. Fitzgerald has been a long-time pen pal of Jonathan’s mother Sonja, and, upon hearing about Flat Stanley, Fitzgerald asked her to send the globetrotting paper boy to New Mexico for a visit.

Since arriving, Flat Stanley has experienced the day-to-day life of New Mexico and living in an American household. He has gotten to see beautiful New Mexico landscapes and sunsets, enjoy American and New Mexican foods and has gone to work with Fitzgerald at the First Baptist Church of Belen office.

Flat Stanley enjoys sports, especially soccer, a European favorite. He got to go to a soccer match here in New Mexico, which made him feel right at home. He has also gotten to participate in the favorite American activity of bowling. He spoke through Maggy Fitzgerald, who acted as his translater.

At home with the Fitzgeralds, Flat Stanley loves to play with their dog Cuba. Fitzgerald said they chase each other, and Cuba likes it when Flat Stanley rubs her tummy.

New Mexico isn’t the only place Flat Stanley got to visit on this trip to the United States. He arrived at the beginning of July, just in time for the Fitzgeralds’ trip to Seattle. He rode on an airplane to Seattle, which was a little more luxurious than his usual mode of travel by envelope. In Seattle, he went to the top of the Space Needle, rode the monorail and visited Pike’s Place Farmers’ Market (where, the Fitzgeralds report, he ate way too many fresh Bing cherries.)

The Fitzgeralds also took Flat Stanley to Whidbey Island in Washington. He rode the ferry and got to stay in a cabin. There, it rained a lot, so he and the group stayed inside a lot and played gin rummy and watched deer out in the yard.

Probably the biggest highlight of the trip to America for Flat Stanley was getting to experience the Fourth of July. He saw a magnificent fireworks show over the Puget Sound in Seattle and spent the evening celebrating with friends.

It is almost time for Flat Stanley to journey back to his home with Jonathan and Sonja in Frankfurt, but he’s had a splendid time in New Mexico.

He won’t return empty-handed, as Fitzgerald has fixed Stanley up with his own Hawaiian shirt and sombrero. Jonathan and his brother, Joshua, will also get Hawaiian shirts, as well as an American football, basketball, Mr. Potato Head, an American flag, bubble gum and copies of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. Stanley will also bring back some green chile recipes for Sonja.

“We’ve loved having him here,” Fitzgerald said, “it’s been very exciting for us.”

After spending some time back at home, Flat Stanley will surely venture somewhere new, but one never knows where he’ll pop up next.

Check out the book “Flat Stanley” by Jeff Brown, and then visit http://flatstanley.enoreo.on.ca/ for information on how to make your own Flat Stanley doll.

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Julia Selby Smith