It was the Great Depression in the United States. A very hard time for everybody who had lost their jobs. One of these poor families was Mr. and Mrs. Braun. They struggled very hard to care for themselves and their six children, the youngest of which was their nine-year-old daughter, Anna. Mr. Braun lost his job and his wife worked at the local supermarket. Because of her absence, they had no one to care for Anna. Thus, they sent her to live with her Aunt and Uncle in Chicago. Anna was very sad-she didn't want to leave her parents! But they boarded her on the train anyway.
Later, she arrived in Chicago and was greeted by her Aunt and Uncle and three cousins, Diana, Claire, and Jean. Although they were kind toward Anna, the little girl was terribly homesick.
Her uncle noticed her unhappiness and wanted to do something special for her. Money was tight. His meager salary barely put food on the table as it was. Where could he gather a few extra coins for a small gift? He skipped buying lunch for a week and eventually saved enough money to buy a present.
"Honey! Kids! I'm home!" Uncle shouted as he shut the door behind him. Anna quickly ran downstairs when she heard him. "Uncle Robert!" she cried. Anna dashed from her room to hug her uncle as did her cousins. "Anna, I have a present for you," said Uncle Robert. "A present, oh boy!" Anna cheered. "What is it?" Robert opened his old suitcase and pulled up a gift that was wrapped up in newspaper. "Open it up," he said. Anna unwrapped her present. Her smile widened when it revealed a red ball. Anna rarely received any presents since her father lost his job. The fact that her uncle gave her something special just made her day! "Oh, thank you so much, Uncle!" She hugged her uncle very tightly. "You're welcome, Anna. Now go and have fun with your toy!" Robert replied. He knew that Anna would like the gift! "Robert!" his wife, Emma, entered from the kitchen, waving a wooden spoon. "Don't play ball in the house! Take it outside!" She reprimanded. "Oops! Sorry, Emma dear," Robert said smiling sheepishly.
The next day, Anna, started bouncing the ball on the sidewalk and around the house. Wherever Anna went, she took the ball with her. She kicked at the park which got caught in a boy's soccer game. The ball was kicked to and fro between its players. Then the ball was booted out of the game and it landed near Anna.
The cheerful girl also bounced the red ball on South Michigan Boulevard. She saw a group of people waiting in line. Anna asked one of the ladies what are they waiting in line for. "We're getting some soup," the lady answered. "The soup's for free!" another lady added. "If you want some, you have to be at the back of the line." Anna thanked them but she was not hungry yet. Besides Aunt Emma promised she would give her bread soup for dinner. "I have a ball with me. Do you want to play with me while you wait?" Anna asked. "Yes," the two ladies answered.
They began a small play of catch. However the second lady tossed the ball a little bit too high from them and it rolled away. Anna ran after the ball where it stopped underneath a parked automobile. Anna crawled under it to get it. Little did she know that the automobile started its engine! Anna gripped her ball.
Just before the driver pressed the accelerator, a milkman jumped out in front of him! "STOP! There's a little girl under your car!" The driver heard him and immediately turned the ignition off. Anna crawled out safely and looked scared and a bit embarrassed. She had just realized that she almost got run over!
"Are you alright, little miss?" The milkman asked. Anna just stared at the milkman and the driver who apologized to her. "I had no idea!" he added. Her face became pinker and pinker at every second. "It's all right," said the milkman. "You are safe."
The next day, Anna went outside to bounce with her ball, again. Remembering what happened yesterday, she decided to go somewhere else. Anna walked and came upon a nearby school playground. For a while, Anna tried juggling her ball, a pebble, and a twig. Every time she juggled them around, they always came falling down. Frustrated, she gave up on juggling. Anna noticed that the soccer field was empty, and kicked the ball, scoring a goal. Then she chased the ball back and forth all over the field.
Suddenly, an older boy stopped the ball, placing his foot on top, holding it hostage. "Well, well, well! What have we got here? Hey Johnny, catch!" The next thing Anna knew, two other boys stepped out of the shadows, taking the ball, leaving her to frantically yell for its return. "Give it back, please!" she begged. The more she scrambled for the ball, the more the boys enjoyed keeping it away from her.
Finally, one boy ran the ball toward the school with Anna in hot pursuit. In the excitement, he took the ball and kicked it with all his might. Up it soared over the third story school building, past the chimneys, into the crevices of the roof, never to be seen again.
Tears swelled up in poor Anna's eyes. She sunk to her knees, her ball, her only toy, is now gone forever! How would she face her uncle?
After a couple of days, Uncle Robert stopped her and said, "Anna, what happened to your ball?" Anna had hoped that he would not ask. She felt too ashamed to tell anyone. She could not hide it any longer. Anna began to wail and sobbed into her uncle's shirt. "Oh, Anna what's the matter?" Uncle Robert asked. "Some boys took my ball!" Anna sobbed. Robert looked confused. "Boys? What boys?" Anna sighed and told her uncle about everything. When she finished, her Uncle gently wrapped his arms around her. "There, there. Don't cry my little princess," he said smoothly. "I know you expect better," Robert was mad that such kids would do a thing like this to his young niece. What to do now? Though they searched the grounds, neither he or Anna could find the ball, but Uncle Robert knew what to do.
A week later, Uncle Robert came home with a big smile on his face. "Anna!" He called. His niece ran down and hugged and kissed him. "I got a surprise for you!" He said in a sing-song voice. "What is it?" Anna asked. He whipped out from his back and his surprise made Anna smile really big. It was a brand new purple ball. Aunt Emma suggested playing catch at a nearby park.
And that is what they did.