There’s a Talking Shark in the Library!

Claire, the librarian, will unleash Bruce from the cabinet now and again so he can get some fresh air and read some cool books … about SHARKS!

There’s a well-versed subject living in the library. His name is Bruce. Bruce spends his day in quarantine, but remains busy writing the third grade class at St. Joseph’s Indian School many, many letters. It’s quite amazing, actually, given the fact that Bruce doesn’t have any fingers …

He has fins … and a tail … and 300 pearly white teeth …

Bruce is a Great White shark stuffed animal! In past years, Bruce has lived his life with other stuffed animal “Reading Buddies” in the St. Joseph’s Library. There’s Lion, Bee, Alligator and Elephant to name a few of his friends. But, being a cool shark has always given Bruce the edge as the favorite amongst the children.

Because of the Coronavirus, students haven’t been able to hold or sit and read with the Reading Buddies this school year. But, that doesn’t mean they haven’t kept in contact with their favorite underwater friend.

“I told the kids that even though Bruce has to stay in the cupboard with his friends to keep everyone safe, they could write letters to him instead!” said Claire, St. Joseph’s Librarian. “They thought this was a great idea. Bruce gets A LOT of letters.”

Students ask him many questions and leave many gifts for Bruce to enjoy.

Dear Bruce,
Thank you for the card. Are you bored in the cupboard? Are any other animals with you?
Love, Jason*

Dear Jason,
I am not too bored in the cupboard. I play cards with the other animals sometimes. You have to watch the alligator though. I think he cheats. Don’t tell him I said that. He’ll cry.
Love, Bruce

It’s a good thing the stuffed friends all get along, as it is close quarters for their quarantine! But, we’ve been told the Alligator can get a little testy at times.

Bruce is rather generous. He shares stickers, snacks, cards and other gifts with the children when they visit the Library. A favorite gift has been one of his shark teeth strung on a necklace.

Dear Bruce,
Are you doing good? I hope we can see you again. Oh! Thank you for the necklace very much. I love it. Are you alone? Is Claire your friend? Do you like Halloween? It’s fun. I like writing.
From, Julia

Dear Julia,
I am happy that you liked the tooth! I miss you too. I have friends in the library, like Bee and Lion, but I miss seeing you kids. Claire visits me sometimes too! She brings me letters. I love letters! I love writing too!
Love, Bruce

To make sure good ‘ol Bruce doesn’t get bored in the cupboard, the children checkout books for him. They like to use the barcode scanner, affectionately called the “booper” for its recognizable sound as it checks books in and out. Sometimes Bruce recommends books for students to read and they do the same for him.

Children also like to remind him on the proper ways to care for the books … like “Don’t eat the books!”

Dear Zander,
Thank you for reminding me not to eat books. Sometimes the pictures do look yummy but the book doesn’t taste good. I hope math class is going well. Math is hard for sharks because we can’t use fingers to count. I can’t wait to see you again!
Love, Bruce

Dear Bruce,
Thank you for the necklace. It looks cool. You are nice and I can’t wait to see you. Why can’t you do math? You have lots of teeth.
Love, Zander

Dear Zander,
Thank you for the gum! It was delicious. Sharks have trouble with math because we can’t count on our fingers! (We don’t have any fingers — just fins.) If I could count on my TEETH I could count very high!! Haha!
Love, Bruce

Bruce, a stuffed Great White shark, is quite skilled in the art of letter writing.

But being an avid pen pal isn’t the only role of Bruce’s. He also spends time helping Claire plan lessons for the children on topics such as Internet Safety. In his ocean lingo, he teaches about “click bait” and “phishing links” and how the only fishing you want to do is in rivers and other bodies of water.

“They may not always want to listen to a lesson from me,” said Claire. “But when Bruce is giving the lesson, boy they sure listen and enjoy that a lot!”

As expected, students often ask Bruce about COVID-19 and mention how much they miss him.

Dear Bruce,
I liked the gold fish and thank you for the tooth. I hope this COVID-19 is over so we can play Go Fish. I will send you a book, but after this covid stuff is over.
From, Alex

Hi Shark Bruce,
Thank you for the tooth. I checked you out a book for you. It is a Halloween book. I will see you after the sickness goes away.
— Henry

Dear Bruce,
Corona needs to be over. I am going insane. Quick question, do you have to wear a mask? We have to full time. I don’t like masks. I hope to see you soon.
Your friend, Daphne

With reassuring words, Bruce reminds them it won’t be like this forever. Someday soon they will all be able to snuggle the Reading Buddies and read books together again in the Library.

Dear Daphne,
No, I don’t need to wear a mask. Fish can’t get the Coronavirus. Also, we can’t give it to anyone else. But I sometimes wear one to remind my friends to be safe! We can all wear masks together.
Love, Bruce

Bruce has been a wonderful addition to the library this year and is a great tool to talk about hard subjects that make it easier for children to understand.

Claire said a student recently whispered something to her regarding Bruce …

“A student said to me, ‘I think you might be Bruce!’” said Claire. “But I said, ‘How can I be Bruce?! I’m not a shark!’”

Philámayayethank you — to all the donors around the world that continue to help St. Joseph’s Indian School remain a safe place for Native American children to live, learn and grow. Also, to parents for entrusting us with their care. Doing this blessed work is so important, and we are grateful.

*Names have been changed to protect the privacy of our students.

Author: St. Joseph's Indian School

At St. Joseph's Indian School, our privately-funded programs for Lakota (Sioux) children in need have evolved over 90 years of family partnership, experience and education. Because of generous friends who share tax-deductible donations, Native American youth receive a safe, stable home life; individual counseling and guidance; carefully planned curriculum based on Lakota culture and individual student needs and tools to help build confidence, boost self-esteem and improve cultural awareness. All of this helps children to live a bright, productive, possibility-filled future.

One thought on “There’s a Talking Shark in the Library!”

  1. It is a pleasure to read about the school and the accomplishments of the students, to see the pictures of these happy and busy young people, being everything they want to be. After all these amazing people have been through over the centuries since the Euorpeans came to the beautiful shores of the Americas, it is time (past time?) to see that they, our Original Americans, get every break possible. If I could do more, I would. But I am pleased that I can do something.

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