“Do you know what they say about you?” Cassandra asked the cow. “They say you jumped over the moon.” The cow stared at her. “Haven’t you heard?” Cassandra pressed. “‘Hey diddle diddle, the cat and the fiddle, the cow jumped over the moon. The little dog laughed to see such sport, and the dish ran away with the spoon.’”
The cow blinked slowly. Cassandra looked the cow in the eye. “Listen, cow,” she said. “If you can do it, I can do it. I jump higher than any of my friends. Tonight I will jump over the moon.”
That night, Monday, Cassandra entered her backyard in pajamas and bare feet. The moon perched high in the sky. Cassandra aimed carefully. Then she jumped. She did jump higher than her friends. But she did not jump over the moon. “Obviously,” Cassandra reasoned, “I need shoes.”
Bending down, she scooped her softball off the grass so Mom would not hit it with the lawnmower.
The next night, Tuesday, Cassandra waited till the moon rose. She slipped sandals onto her feet and crossed the shadowy grass. Crouching low, Cassandra sprang into the air. Her sandals dropped off her feet. She did not jump over the moon. “Clearly,” Cassandra told her dog Spritz, “I need jumping shoes.”
Before going to bed, Cassandra put more water in Spritz’s bowl.
Wednesday night, Cassandra laced basketball shoes onto her feet. She stood in the backyard, eyeing the yellow moon. Flexing her knees, she gauged the moon’s position. Then she leaped. The basketball shoes stayed on. But she did not jump over the moon. “Without a doubt,” Cassandra noted, “my shoes need springs.”
Seeing a pile of newspapers on the Johnsons’ porch, Cassandra remembered her neighbors were on vacation. She gathered the papers and took them into her house.
Thursday, Cassandra fastened steel springs to her basketball shoes. She hopped around her room for practice. When the moon came up, she bounced into the yard, faced the moon squarely, and flung herself upward. She jumped very high. But she did not jump over the moon. “Definitely,” Cassandra announced, “I need extra power. I must catapult myself.”
She sat down to think. An empty soup can rolled by. Cassandra grabbed the can and tossed it in the recycle bin.
Friday, Cassandra spent the night at Mazie’s house. Mazie had a trampoline in her yard. At midnight Cassandra donned her steel-springed basketball shoes and mounted the trampoline. After a few somersaults, Cassandra lunged upward with all her might. She saw the top of Mazie’s roof. She saw Mazie’s whole neighborhood. But she did not jump over the moon. “Logically,” Cassandra informed Mazie, “I must begin higher.”
Then Cassandra said, “I can explain those math problems to you now.”
Saturday night, Cassandra and Mazie dragged the trampoline onto Mazie’s roof. Cassandra, in her steel-springed basketball shoes, climbed onto the trampoline and jumped her absolute highest. She saw birds sleeping in the treetops. She saw her school and the grocery store. She did not jump over the moon.
But she caught a baby bird falling out of its nest. She placed the baby bird gently on the ground. “Plainly,” Cassandra muttered, “I need a higher roof.”
Sunday, Cassandra and Mazie carried the trampoline to the twelfth-story roof of the town’s tallest building. When the moon rose, Cassandra bounced hard on the trampoline in her steel-springed basketball shoes. Launching her body skyward, she glanced down at the streets, the forests, the river. She did not jump over the moon.
But as she landed, she noticed water trickling from a large metal pipe on the roof. Cassandra showed the building manager the trickle. “Evidently,” Cassandra grumbled, “I must jump from something that flies.”
Monday night, Cassandra squirmed through the window of a small airplane flying above the clouds. Balancing on the plane’s wing, she positioned her steel-springed basketball shoes. The moon looked closer than it did from earth. Cassandra bent her knees and leaped. She came down on the tail of the plane. She did not jump over the moon. “Without question,” Cassandra complained, “this plane flies too low.”
Before squeezing back into the plane, she wiped eighty-six bugs off the windows.
Tuesday, Cassandra dressed in a space-suit, space-helmet, and her steel-springed basketball shoes. Handing the astronauts her ticket, she boarded the rocket. Soon it vaulted from the launching pad, and eventually it reached outer space.
Cassandra watched the moon getting bigger and bigger. At just the right moment, she thrust herself out the rocket door. Drifting in space, she spied moon mountains and moon valleys. Nearer and nearer the moon she floated. The rocket zoomed past Cassandra, made three circles round the moon, and returned to her. A long silver arm slid from the rocket and wrapped around her waist.
As the arm pulled Cassandra inside the rocket, she batted a small meteor away from an antenna. “Apparently,” sighed Cassandra, “the moon is just too far away.”
Wednesday morning, Cassandra faced the cow. “I did not jump over the moon,” she told the cow. “I guess only you can jump over the moon.”
Hearing sounds behind her, Cassandra turned. The astronauts, the airplane pilot, the building manager, the baby bird, Mazie, the recycle collector, the Johnsons, Spritz, and Mom stood together in a group.
“We all want to thank you,” the building manager said. “We know you’re disappointed about not jumping over the moon. But my building would have flooded if you hadn’t spotted that leak.”
“I passed math because you showed me how to carry the tens,” insisted Mazie.
“Those bugs always blocked my view of the plane’s tail,” declared the pilot.
"You gave us new ideas," stated the astronauts.
"Your neighborhood looks cleaner," said the recycle collector.
“You protected our house from robbers when you took our newspapers,” claimed Mrs. Johnson.
“You’re extremely good at helping,” added Mom.
The humans smiled at Cassandra. The animals made animal noises. Then they all went home, except Spritz, who dropped his food bowl at Cassandra’s feet.
The cow raised its nose toward the sky and mooed. “Go ahead, cow,” Cassandra shrugged, picking up the food bowl. “Jump over the moon if you want. I don’t care. I have more important things to do.”
© Suzanne Werkema