'The Longest Hair in the World'


January 05, 2000|By Lois Duncan

Editor's note: On her sixth birthday, Emily wishes for the longest hair in the world. As it continues to grow and grow, it creates terrible problems.

It was Emily's birthday.

She stood gazing down at the sparkling candles on her cake.

"I wish I had very long hair," said Emily. "I wish I had the longest hair in the world."

Then she blew out the candles -- every last one.

"What a silly wish!" said her mother. "Short hair is so easy! Why would you want very long hair?"

"Our class is having a play," Emily told her. "The girl with the longest hair will be the Princess."

"There are lots of long-haired girls in your class," said her father. "Your hair can't possibly grow longer than theirs that fast."

"You never can tell," said Emily.

When Emily woke up the next morning, her hair was down to her shoulders.

Two days later, it was down to her waist.

By the end of the week, Emily had the longest hair in the class.

"Emily will be the Princess," said the teacher. "The rest of you long-haired girls will be ladies-in-waiting. The short-haired girls will be pages, and the boys will be dragons."

The boys cheered!

The short-haired girls looked disappointed.

The long-haired girls were so mad they burst into tears.

"Emily's cheating!" they screamed. "She's wearing a wig!"

One yanked Emily's hair to see if it would come off. That girl had to spend the rest of the day in Time Out.

Emily's hair kept growing. By the night of the play it was so long that the pages carried it onto the stage like a train.

The audience applauded.

"What incredible hair!" they shouted.

"It's going to be a bother to take care of," said Emily's mother.

Emily had fun trying out hairdos.

Sometimes she wore braids.

Sometimes she wore curls.

When Christmas came she made her hair twinkle! "We don't need a tree," bragged her father. "We have Emily!"

But as Emily's hair kept growing, it began to cause problems. When she went to bed, there was so much hair in the bedroom that her parents couldn't get in to kiss her good night.

Emily's father rearranged the furniture so that her hair could hang out the window. That worked well in the winter, but in the spring birds discovered the hair and built nests in it.

It was summer before the baby birds fluttered from their nests. By then Emily's hair was pretty awful.

"I told you long hair would be a bother to take care of," said her mother.

Emily had too much hair to fit into a washbasin or a bathtub. Her hair would not even fit into a neighbor's swimming pool.

"I have an idea!" said her father. He drove the convertible through a car wash. Suds flew in all directions. Huge brushes whirred and spun through the tangle.

Water poured into the car and gushed over the sides. Emily sputtered and spat. "I'm drowning!" she shouted.

"You made the wish," snapped her father, "so stop complaining!"

Emily found out that having long hair could be lonely.

She wasn't invited to her friends' houses. Their mothers were afraid she would shed on the carpet.

At school she had to do her lessons in the cafeteria. Her hair wouldn't fit in the classroom.

Then one day it was Emily's birthday again.

Her mother lit the candles and cried, "Enough is enough!" She set the birthday cake in front of Emily. "Like it or not, I insist that you wish your hair short again!"

The cast for the school play was soon to be decided. The play was about a porcupine named Spikey. Only one lucky child could be the star.

"Instead of long hair, I wish ..." Emily closed her eyes. "... I wish I had quills. I wish I had the longest quills in the world!"

Her father and mother screamed, "Don't!" but before they could stop her ...

Emily blew out the candles -- every last one.

From THE LONGEST HAIR IN THE WORLD. Text copyright c 1999 by Lois Duncan. Illustrations copyright c 1999 by Jon McIntosh. Published by arrangement with Random House Children's Books, a division of Random House, Inc.

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