When Barnabas says "my heart hurts," Bird knows something big is going to happen. Bird is right.
Barnabas is an elephant living with a circus at their California winter home. When he feels tiny, tiny, because of his small (for an elephant) size, Bird offers to accompany him on a quest to heal his heart. Together, they build a flying raft and find a sail. When the wind whispers, destiny, they’re ready.
Barnabas discovers the wind listens to no one, and he’s dropped at its whimsy in the cross country trip. In Nevada, A duck, duck and a goose question his quest. A young bison makes Barnabas re-think his plan in Yellowstone, and Kansas cows help find Bird after a storm separates them. In Michigan, snakes demand a performance before they’ll help rescue the raft stuck in a tree, and Barnabas realizes being large is a matter of believing. As he travels, Barnabas learns that life is full of hurt, but also joy.Then Barnabas learns a secret about Bird that breaks his heart and challenges him to consider what it means to be a friend. When he finds it hard to tell Bird he loves her, he waits until almost too late. Almost.
When Barnabas said, “my heart hurts,” Bird knew something big was going to happen.
Bird was right.
It happened on a full moon night when they should have already been dreaming. Restless, Barnabas paced inside his pen. Bird fluttered from her perch on the center pole to the edge of the red and white striped circus tent. A pacing elephant must always be avoided. Even a small one like Barnabas.
Had Barnabas known Bird’s thoughts, he might have protested. But he’d passed his third birthday. He would grow no more. He was the smallest elephant in the circus.
“It’s not fair,” he grumbled. “I hate being tiny.”
Bird, being the friend she was, wisely did not point out that even as the smallest elephant, Barnabas was larger than every other animal in the circus. Barnabas didn’t want to hear it. Barnabas’ large ears were closed to that truth.
Being the friend she was, Bird said, “When my heart hurts, I find it helpful to talk about it.”
“You’re a bird. A canary bird. A yellow canary bird.” Barnabas, fond of stating the obvious, stomped his foot. “What can you know about the hurt in a heart the size of mine? Why, my heart is a thousand times the size of yours.”
Barnabas didn’t understand that the size of the heart had nothing to do with the pain it could feel. But because she was a very good friend, Bird held her words.
“I must leave.” Barnabas paced as straw swirled at his feet.