Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Corduroy's Triumphant Return; at Bayview, Students Glad Bear Is Back

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Corduroy's Triumphant Return; at Bayview, Students Glad Bear Is Back

Article excerpt

Byline: SANDY STRICKLAND

It was an impressive homecoming for a little teddy bear in green corduroy overalls with a missing yellow button.

Corduroy -- accompanied by soldiers in camouflage -- rode onto the playground at Bayview Elementary School on the Westside atop a Florida National Guard Humvee.

"There he is," students at the Lake Shore Boulevard school shouted as Corduroy came into view.

The students, waving U.S. flags, were there to welcome Corduroy home Wednesday from a tour of the country. He left in September with a suitcase full of books chosen by students.

And while he may be a small stuffed bear, he's been a big factor in motivating them to read. Students who read at least 25 books, the standard set by former School Superintendent John Fryer, got to celebrate his return.

"They had to read a certain number of books before he could travel to each state, and they had to read enough to bring him home again," said media specialist Edna Lange, who sent Corduroy on his travels.

It worked. More than 330 students out of almost 400 reached the 25-book goal.

Several hours later, the students had another special visitor, Jaguars Pro Bowl defensive tackle Marcus Stroud, who encouraged them to continue reading.

As Corduroy traveled from state to state, he "wrote" weekly letters to the students giving clues to his whereabouts. The letters were read over the intercom and served as a learning tool, with students looking at maps and trying to guess which state he was in, Lange said.

In some cases, Corduroy didn't travel alone. Lange, for instance, took him to Maine, another teacher to Nebraska and another to Virginia. He went to other states in spirit. The most recent was Hawaii, and he returned sporting a yellow lei.

Fourth-grader Haley Anderson, 9, said Corduroy inspired her to read because she wanted to attend his welcome home party. Haley, who favors realistic fiction by Andrew Clements, read 30 books.

Lange based her bear on a character in a popular series of children's books by Don Freeman. Corduroy is a bear in a department store looking for a home. Only problem is, he loses a button and doesn't think anyone will want him until he meets a little girl. …

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