Friday, March 12, 2010

FLAT is where its AT

I was recently invited to take part in the "Flat Stanley Project."   For those of you that are out of the elementary school loop, the project is based on a 30 year old children’s book by Jeff Brown. In it, Stanley Lambchop is (((squashed))) by his classrooms bulletin board and his parents react by folding him up and mailing him off to visit friends in California.

What a twisted concept! Somehow it not only caught on, but it took on a life of its own. There are now millions of Flat Stanley traveling to faraway places - meeting fascinating people along the way.

Most recently, Stanleys been photographed at a black tie affair at the Whitehouse (an "invited" guest) with the Obamas by his side, at the halfpipe with Shaun White during the Vancouver Olympics, and high flat-fiving Reggie Bush at the Super Bowl.

YEP, all the places I'll never go. This little man has got it going on!

My Flat Stanley was waiting for me when I returned from a trip to Paris. My initial reaction was to photoshop him into my pictures - but that would have been cheating, right?  If he had arrived ten days earlier our time together could have been educational, besides I was flying solo - it would have been nice to have a companion in the Grand City of Lights.

Together we could have meandered our way through the streets of Saint Germain, tapped our toes to the murky melody at the Rue Des Lombards jazz clubs, and sipped a 40 euro cocktail at the Four Seasons George V hotel bar. He could have joined me for a Friday night stroll at the Louvre, helped me maneuver my way through the metro, and push passed the tourists at The Pantéon.

Instead, he was left behind - sprawled out naked on my kitchen counter, patiently waiting for me to bring him to life.

Together we engaged in a week of mundane tasks – shoveling snow, overcoming overflowing work obstacles, and attending family functions. I buckled him in and chauffeured him to all my favorite haunts - the nail salon, the hardware store, I even took him to therapy. It was interesting to see people’s reaction to Stanley, and to how I interacted with Stanley. Some were noticeably uncomfortable, others were mildly entertained, and a few joined in the fun.

During my time with Stanley I rediscovered the joy of color, and was reminded that the world of Make Believe beats mindless television viewing - hands down.  I made him clothes and tiny little props. I photographed him, videotaped him, wrote about him and then, reluctantly, I returned him.

Yesterday I received an email from my dear friend Steve. My sister and I met Steve one year while attending Burning Man. Steve is the epitome of a free thinker - wild, adventurous, and passionate about his beliefs. Steve was writing to tell me, and a group of his friends, about his time with “Flat Ryan.”  His flat friend was mailed to him by my sisters, son’s school.

Steve embraced this project with incredible kindness. His adventures are so compelling and uplifting that I want to share them with you. Flat Ryan's journeys reflect Steve’s true heart and showcases his genuine, sincere, and abundant love for the island and the people of Hawaii.

Although I have not experienced the magnitude of fascinating people and places that Stanley has encountered, my journeys have allowed me to define and fine tune my character judgment. I am impressed and deeply humbled by the integrity of those of you I am honored to call my friend.

Green Monkey Tales © 2010 Shannon E. Kennedy

click on the FLAT RYAN IN HAWAII link to be whisked away to the wonders of Hawaii


  1. OH! I love Flat Stanleys! I have had several visit me in past years, but I don't think any of them had as good a time as yours did....

  2. I'm on the lookout for a flat Brad Pitt...

  3. I've never heard of such a thing. But, I'm jealous for all the neat places that he has visited.

  4. We love Flat Stanley! I smiled the whole way through your post! Hope you have a great weekend :)

  5. Thanks Wendy! I'm glad it made you smile and thank you for commenting. I'm fueled by comments, even get a bit sad when I don't get them :(

    I really loved with Steve did with his flat man - and I am always moved when people approach a project from the heart!

  6. Loved how Steve took flat Ryan right in hand. What a great trip on this lovely Isle of Hawaii. Wish real kids could have the opportunity too.

  7. Loved how Steve took flat Ryan right in hand. What a great trip on this lovely Isle of Hawaii. Wish real kids could have the opportunity too.

  8. i've never heard of flat stanley!! i feel so out of the loop...

    if joan finds the flat brad pitt...tell her to mail him my way.

    ps thanks for the very dear comment you made on my one word. i blushed.

  9. "Flat Stanley's", by name, are new to me, however my Grandmother, "Maime", and her travel companion, had a fox pelt (I know - eeew, and it's name escapes me) who travelled around the world with them. The fox was often sported in pictures engaged in it's various adventures; sipping cocktails on the beach, dancing the hula, hugging people, visiting famous sites and museums. I love the idea.

    I've had dolls as passengers on my working flights, traveling with their temporary guardian, along with their own suitcase filled with notes and letters from the various people they have visited throughout the world. In one such instance it was a project for a class of middle-schoolers, somewhere in the midwest. I love the idea - heartwarming. Especially when it's handed around by strangers, with perhaps an instruction to return to it's original home by a certain date.

    There are many variations to the flat Stanley, but the basic concept is still really just to unite us all....

  10. Loved hearing about Maime's traveling fox pelt (not THERE is a story!). creepy in an adorable sort of way :) Thank you for sharing Eyefleye...

  11. Well I don't know what to say about flat Ryan, but I think that Shannon is great

  12. i truly love all your writing way, very charming,
    don't give up and keep writing mainly because it simply just nicely to follow it,
    impatient to looked over much of your current content articles, enjoy your day :)


Thank you for encouraging my JOY of writing. By reading and commenting you are feeding my soul, stroking my heart, and in the end...making me a better writer.

Thank You For Encouraging My Joy of Writing

Thank You For Encouraging My Joy of Writing

Shannon E. Kennedy


Photo by Joan Harrison