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How the Boxes of Fort WinnieAmanda Saved the Day

By Jeanne Rondoe / March 17, 1992

`YOU don't look too happy, Winnie," Mom said. I didn't know if I should tell. She stopped chopping an onion and looked at me.

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"Remember how everybody on the block played baseball together last summer? Girls and boys both?" I asked.

"Yeah," she answered.

"Remember when I got the home run, and they called me 'Winnie Woman?' "


"Well, now they won't let me in their teepee."

"Who won't let you in their teepee?"

"Eddie and French Fry and Matthew and Tucker built an awesome teepee out of poles and blankets in front of Eddie's house. They said, 'No girls allowed.' "

Mom didn't say anything for a couple minutes. Then she started quoting poetry.

He drew a circle that shut me out.

Heretic, rebel, a thing to flout,

But love and I had the wit to win:

We drew a circle that took him in.

I hate it when she quotes poetry. "What does that mean?" I asked.

"It means you call Amanda and ask her if she wants to build a fort, an awesome fort. Then when the boys come around asking to see it, you say `sure.' "

"I say sure?!"


Amanda was all for building a fort. Her mom even had a big box from their new stereo we could start with. And I remembered our neighbors had just bought a new washer, so I asked them for the carton.

Mom drove us to the market for more boxes. We bought a fat roll of duct tape, a bottle of glue, some string, and colored markers. Then we built the best fort the neighborhood had ever seen.

Mom was right about one thing. The boys did come around to look at our fort.

"Where'd you get this?" Tucker asked.

"We built it," I answered.

Nobody asked to come in. They just walked around the outside. I thought about what Mom had said, about drawing circles that took him in.

"You can come in," I said.

Amanda opened the front lookout window. "You have to come in Fort WinnieAmanda through the secret passageway," she said.

French Fry was the first. He poked in his head, then crawled through to the secret passageway. When he reached the inside of the fort he said, "Hey, Cool!"

That did it. The others crawled in after him. We had a great time together. The next day the boys let Amanda and me inside their teepee. They said we could play in it if they could share the fort. It was a good deal for the whole neighborhood. Pull Up a Carton And Build a Fort

Here's how to make Fort WinnieAmanda:

1. All good architects and builders get permission before they begin construction. Even vacant lots and empty boxes belong to someone. So there's one rule of thumb for this whole project: Check with an adult before you start.

Collect as many cardboard boxes as you can, but make sure nobody needs them for storage or moving. Sort all your boxes according to size and sturdiness. While you're sorting, remove any staples from the open ends of the boxes. Staples can be sharp, so use a screwdriver to pry them out. Throw the staples into the trash.

2. In one side of your largest box, cut a front door. Make sure you leave at least two inches between the door and the edges of the box for sturdiness. You can cut with a large pair of scissors (difficult if the cardboard is thick), or a knife or small handsaw. Cut cardboard with a back-and-forth sawing motion. Whatever tool you use, ask a grown-up to give you a hand. It's important that tools are handled safely: Don't fool around with them or leave them on the ground where someone could step on them.