Little Billy Bumpkin was too short to play basketball and too shy to have many friends. He ate food too slowly and was afraid of being wrong. His teacher used to tell him, "Billy, try your best. A wrong answer is better than no answer." But Little Billy Bumpkin wouldn't dare open his mouth. The only thing he was good at was drawing.
Little Billy loved to draw on all his notebooks, homework, and tests. His teacher said they looked cool, but he said that about everyone's drawings. One day he drew himself and when he was finished, he just stared at the picture. He was surprised to see himself on his notebook, staring back at him. Then another boy nicknamed Tall Tony walked up from behind him and laughed at Little Billy's drawing. Tall Tony was much bigger than Billy and really good at basketball.
Billy immediately covered up his drawing and his face turned red. Tony ripped the picture from Billy's hands, though, and showed everyone in the class. They all thought it was good fun and they laughed and laughed. That day, Billy found out that he wasn't as good at drawing as he hoped, so he gave up his silly hobby and decided he wouldn't draw ever again.
No one talked to Billy very much, but when they did, they all asked him if he had anymore drawings. He refused to answer and pretended he was working on an assignment. Little Billy worked hard at school and did well at all his subjects. His parents were proud, but Billy didn't feel very happy. That's because the kids in school didn't understand him and started calling him bad names.
Little Billy Bumpkin was a good student, but he was too afraid to stand up for himself. On the last day of school, Tall Tony laughed at Billy and said, "Little Plump Pumpkin, why don't you draw us something? We really want to see it." Of course, Little Billy was too shy and didn't say anything. He just listened to the others laugh at him. Then he suddenly remembered his teacher's words.
"Try your best, Billy. A wrong answer is better than no answer." He didn't know why he remembered this, but he got up from his chair nonetheless. Then, he walked over to the whiteboard and started drawing. The kids looked at each other in surprise as they all tried to see what he was drawing. Billy's head blocked their view until he was finished, and then he slowly walked back to his seat and sat down.
As soon as the kids could see the picture, they laughed and they laughed. Everyone laughed except Billy. Instead, Billy started crying. The more they laughed, the more he cried. He cried because he wasn't good at drawing after all. He cried because he couldn't be good at anything. And he cried because his teacher was wrong. No answer is better than a wrong answer.
His tears only added to the other kids' laughter. And then Tall Tony walked up to the drawing. He stared at it for a long time. He saw himself on the basketball court, but instead of a ball in his hands, there was a tree. Instead of a basketball hoop, there was a sun. And instead of a basketball court there was a field. He saw himself trying to shoot that tree into the sun. He wondered how it would grow and what it would look like in the future. He was curious if that tree would ever reach the sun.
Then Tony turned away from the drawing and looked right at Billy. He walked past the other kids and put his hands on Billy's shaking back. Then everyone got quiet as the teacher walked into the room. Tall Tony watched as Billy looked up with red tear-stained eyes at the teacher, then his drawing, and then at Tall Tony. Billy listened as the teacher saw the drawing and commented how great it was, but he didn't care. His teacher said that about everyone's drawings.
Then Tall Tony whispered in Billy's ear. "Go, Billy, Go." Those words stopped all the tears in his eyes and he saw that drawing again. He took out his notebook and he drew. One by one, the kids all made their way over and stared. They couldn't help but to stare. And Billy drew. He dreamed and traced and shaded and created the most interesting drawing he made up until that day.
Tall Tony smiled a cheerful smile the whole time and he never had to wonder how trees shooting into the sun would grow or what they would look like to reach the sun. Billy showed them. He showed all of them. Then Billy understood his teacher's words and he knew they were right.
Little Billy Bumpkin never stopped drawing after that day and his drawing skills never stopped improving. If you look closely enough, you might even find yourself in one of his drawings, the story of Little Billy Bumpkin.