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Jacqueline Dougan Jackson, age 17


Jackie is fourteen. She sits on the arm of Grampa's easy chair. She rumples his thinning hair and shapes it into a Kewpie-doll twist. This is a ritual, with all the grandchildren, ever since they were little. Grampa laughs with his stomach, silently.

An idea strikes Jackie. She takes a pencil and paper. These are always near Grampa, for Grampa is deaf. They are always near Jackie, too, for Jackie writes things down. Maybe she has this habit from writing for Grampa all her life. Being his ears. She writes, "Grampa, I am going to write you a book. I am going to call it, The Round Barn."

Grampa studies the paper. He takes a long time to ponder it. Then he nods slowly. "The Round Barn," he says. "Yes, the round barn will have a lot to say." He crinkles all over his face and laughs silently. He is pleased, she can tell.

I can write," Jackie says to herself, "what the round barn sees. Not just what I know it sees. But what Grampa knows it sees. And Daddy. The milkmen. The cows. All of us! For the round barn is in the middle of us all, and it sees everything. It is the center."

—from Prologue, Volume I
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