Friday, April 27, 2012

Revolutionary Rats: Boston Squeak Party

One evening, Papa overheard a conversation on his supper-finding rounds. There were 3 boats at the dock, and Papa saw that they were the Dartmouth, the Eleanor, and the Beaver. One of the men said something-and a huge group of about 100 Mohawk Indians burst out of nowhere and swarmed onto the ships. On looking closer, Papa saw that they were really white Americans, and they were dumping boxes of tea into the river! Guessing their motive, Papa rushed home and brought Mama carrying the twins and Rebecca and Eleanor to the scene. The Gnawingtons, too, swarmed the ships, Papa and Mama entrusting Robbie and Susie to the girls and rushing to help unload the Dartmouth, and Eleanor rushing the children to start on the Eleanor. The boxes were very heavy and it took all of them to do it, but when they passed the boxes up the side of the ship, the children unloaded about 15 boxes in half an hour. Finally Eleanor was almost crushed by a falling tea box, and Rebecca’s tail was squashed trying to save Susie from a human foot, so they decided to head back to their cellar and not take any more chances. All the children felt very proud of themselves and their parents smiled at the determination of their little revolutionary rats.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Revolutionary Rats

Many years ago, a family of rats lived in the cellar of a family of Americans. This rat family was called the Gnawingtons. Mama and Papa Gnawington came first, then Rebecca, Eleanor, Freddie, and finally little Robby and Susie, who were twins. The Gnawingtons always started the day the same way: Papa Gnawington scampered out to collect some scraps for breakfast, and Mama Gnawington shook the children awake so they could put on their clothes before Papa returned. The family’s great, great, great, great, great, great,-well you get the idea- grandparents had sailed the Mayflower with the Pilgrims in 1620, and the year was now 1773. Rebecca’s best friend, Brianna, came over often to help out, and Rebecca sometimes returned the favor. All the family shared the same trademark Gnawington black eyes that gleamed when they felt mischievous or inspired, light gray fur, and enormous appetites. Sometimes Rebecca, Eleanor, and Freddie anonymously helped the American children pick corn. Sometimes Papa anonymously helped the American fathers cut down trees. Sometimes Mama anonymously helped American mothers cook and clean. Sometimes Robbie and Susie anonymously helped American toddlers and babies make a mess. Life was always the same, until…

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Bluebonnet and Katherine

Down by the sea, there was a little town called Allensville. In Allensville there was a house belonging to the Marsheners and in their backyard they had a neat little garden. In this garden, unknown to the Marsheners, lived a colony of pixies. They lived among the flowers and hid whenever Mrs. Marshener came out to do the gardening. One of these pixies was named Bluebonnet, and she had little strawberry blonde braids under her bluebell cap. Bluebonnet’s best friend was named Poppy, with rose red cheeks and carrot-colored hair that went to her shoulders. Her other friend was Rose, with beautiful red curls, and who was very quiet. They liked to explore the flowers together, Bluebonnet trying everything first. One day, they had a race to see who could climb a tulip fastest. Bluebonnet had just reached the top when a shrill whistle rang out. That was the signal from the pixie chief that a human was coming outdoors. It was a pixie’s worst nightmare to be seen by a human, who could mistake their colony for a group of mice and put out a cat. So when they heard the whistle, Poppy, Rose, and Bluebonnet began to descend as fast as they could. Poppy fell of the stem, gave a yelp of pain and ran away, but Bluebonnet and Rose were too late. To their horror they watched a foot come out of the house-but when the body appeared, it was not Mrs. Marshener who stood there, but little Katherine, the youngest and only girl in the Marshener family. Still, she was a human, and was walking towards the flower bed. Poppy, still running on her short little legs, had no idea that her best friends were not right behind her, or, indeed, way ahead of her, but Bluebonnet and Rose were far from safe. Katherine had spotted them, and was dashing back inside. Rose fluttered away quickly, but Bluebonnet stood, rooted to the spot. Bluebonnet knew she had just endangered the colony, the least she could do was to warn them, but she couldn’t will her wings to move. Katherine reappeared in the doorway, holding a glass jar. Bluebonnet was frantic. She couldn’t run now, she’d lead Katherine straight to the colony, but if she didn’t, she was going to end up in that awful glass jar. Too late, Bluebonnet made a dash for it. The jar slammed down over her, and the lid was screwed on. She threw herself against the sides of the jar in vain, and she was finally so exhausted that she collapsed on the cold glass floor and fell asleep. When she awoke, someone had placed grass all around her, and, she struggled to read what Katherine had written on the outside of the jar, the girl had named her “Princess Poppyseed”. Annoyance came with another burst of panic to Bluebonnet, and she wondered if Poppy knew where she was now. She took in her surroundings more closely and saw she was on a desk in Katherine’s room. All around on the walls were pictures and posters--Katherine dressing as Tinker Bell for Halloween, Katherine’s drawings and paintings of fairies and pixies, fairies and pixies everywhere she looked! She backed in to something-and fell onto an open Easter egg full of bread crumbs. Well, at least she had food. Katherine entered the room, saw that Bluebonnet was awake, and walked over to the jar. She opened the lid and-- “Hey!” she cried, as Bluebonnet whizzed to the door-- only then realizing that it was closed. “Great,” she muttered, as Katherine slammed her back into the jar. Katherine whispered “Are you a fairy?” Bluebonnet answered “I’m Bluebonnet Mayflower, resident of pixie colony number…” she paused. She didn’t want to betray the other pixies. “What?” Katherine asked, drawing closer. Bluebonnet, feeling relieved and a bit more trusting, arranged the breadcrumbs into letters that spelled out BLUEBONNET, PIXIE. Katherine began “I’m…” but Bluebonnet arranged more breadcrumbs. KATHERINE MARSHENER. I KNOW. They talked for a while, and then both of them went back to sleep. Over the next few days, Bluebonnet was allowed out of her jar and Katherine promised never to tell anyone about her or her colony. They took to calling each other “Bon-Bon” and “Kat”. “One day, Katherine said “Do you want to go back to the garden?” Bluebonnet, surprised, answered “Of course!”, so the next day she was fluttering home again. She had promised to visit again soon. She found the garden, but everyone looked like they were going somewhere. Tiny suitcases filled with the pixies’ most treasured possessions were dangling from every hand, and they looked surprised to see her. She found Poppy and asked “Where is everyone going?” Poppy answered “Isn’t it obvious? We can’t stay here! Not now the humans have seen you!” Bluebonnet’s face fell. “But Pop, she promised she wouldn’t tell! We’re safe! Katherine’s our friend!” The chief spoke. “Pixies do not make human friends. We are going away today.” And with that, the whole lot of them rose into the air and flew away. All except Rose. “Come on, let’s get Katherine.” she whispered. They flew to the door, which was ajar. Up to Katherine’s room, where she was sitting, gazing out the window. Bluebonnet poked her, and she jumped. “Bluebonnet! And you brought a friend!” Bluebonnet flew to the jar and upset the breadcrumbs on the desk. She began to write: KATHERINE, THIS IS ROSE. SHE’S MY FRIEND. THE COLONY THINKS YOU WANT TO HURT US, AND THEY’VE LEFT, BUT I THINK I’VE GOT AN IDEA. IF THEY COULD MEET YOU THEY WOULD KNOW YOU WON’T HURT US. HERE’S HOW MY IDEA GOES… A few minutes later, the tree of them were flying over the seaside, looking for signs of the pixie colony. The two pixies had each donated pixie dust, and Katherine was a natural. Finally, Rose spotted a bunch of flying lights by the shore, and they went in for a landing. Upon seeing them, the pixies flew much faster; but were overtaken. Then they spotted Bluebonnet and Rose. Poppy, in the back of the group, looked shocked. “Why are you two accompanied by the human whom we are all trying to flee from in the first place?” asked the chief pixie. To Bluebonnet’s surprise, Rose stepped forward. Rose was surprised at herself too, because Rose was the shyest pixie of any she knew and speaking to the chief should have been bad enough, let alone in front of all these others. Still, she began to speak and told them all about Kat and her promise not to tell, and after making the delighted looking Kat repeat her promise in front of the pixie court that happened to be present, the chief finally had to admit that the girl posed no danger to the colony, they began the journey home. Kat allowed herself to be used as a bus, and soon the entire pixie colony was using her hair as a canopy or snuggling into her pants pockets. When they were finally back, Katherine shook all pixies out of her clothing and yawned inside, just on time for dinner. After this, Kat was always a welcome visitor in the garden and was given the talent to hear the pixies’ shrill little voices, but sometimes she and Bluebonnet still like to have little conversations with the breadcrumbs. The End

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

The Search for the Princess

September 5, 1245 I have not written for a while because so much goes on! Mickey will become Sir Michael in two days, Harriet’s kidnapper has been caught, and her parents have finally consented to our engagement! The wedding shall be in December outdoors. She has showed me her plans for her gown, and she shall look lovely in it. I go now to bed, having filled your pages well. Sir Melchisedek R. Gnawington, Husband to be of Princess Harriet Cocopaws

The Search for the Princess

August 25, 1245 Now I shall tell of the daring deeds of my squire Michael. Yesterday he seemed to have disappeared, until the floor began to move , and he popped out of a trap door. Harriet and I followed, but at the end of a tunnel we met Harriet’s captor. We would have been overpowered if it had not been for Mickey. The lad, ignoring our cries of “Stop!” grabbed a stone of the ground and hurled it straight at our pursuer! We all made a dash for it, and we have now left him far behind at the Mermaids’ River. Sir Melchisedek R. Gnawington

The Search for the Princess

August 23, 1245 At last! Harriet and I embraced as we climbed into the tower. But I should have known it was to good to last. In our sleep this happy, happy, night, Harriet’s captor locked us all in a dark cellar, and as I muttered about what a more experienced knight would do, Princess Harriet yelled something that changed everything for me. “How can you think of chivalry at a time like this?” And, reflecting upon those words now, I realize that the entire time I have owned you I have written of nothing but chivalry, honor, and courage, ignoring the truly important things in life. For example, Mickey’s birthday passed two weeks ago, and I paid no heed. Sir Melchisedek R. Gnawington

The Search for the Princess

August 22, 1245 Young Mickey has had a splendid idea! If Harriet’s message could get through the barrier to us, it must not go as high as her tower. We are at the top of the tallest tree, now, and Mickey is throwing a grappling hook to the window. We begin to climb, the Princess urging us on from her window. Harriet, I-no, we-shall not let you down! Sir Melchisedek R. Gnawington

Friday, April 20, 2012

The Search for the Princess

August 21, 1245 I was correct about her location. She is in a high tower, as high as the clouds. I could scale it easily, but there seems to be an invisible barrier about 10 yards in front of it, and nothing can get through it. My earlier state of despair has returned, with my love so tantalizingly close yet just out of reach. Sir Melchisedek R. Gnawington

The Search for the Princess

August 19, 1245 Freedom is sweet! Today I have successfully carved our way out of this prison and out of the river. And joy of joys, a bottle appeared in the sand, from Harriet! It read “Dear Melchisedek, I am being held captive in a very high up place. I cannot give the specific location lest this message be intercepted, but hope that it shall give you a head start. Love, Harriet.” She is right! I believe I now know where she is! Sir Melchisedek R. Gnawington

Thursday, April 19, 2012

The Search for the Princess

August 17, 1245

Today at last I have spotted a way out. There is a medium sized crack down the side of the rock, and it could be made large enough to be an exit from this awful underwater prison with a mere jackknife! Unfortunately, I was deprived of all weapons upon arrival, but young Mickey still has a small dagger in his pocket. I begin to cut. Hopefully in a few days I will be able to get us both out of this dreadful pinch.

Sir Melchisedek R. Gnawington

The Search for the Princess

August 16, 1245

For the last three days young Michael and I have been held hostage in a dark cave. They roll stones over the opening, and so have not bothered to bind us. They are careless but are safe in doing so, for I would never abandon my companion, and Mickey seems to be in some sort of enchanted sleep. None of my efforts can wake him. Many times the merfolk have questioned us about our reasons for wishing to cross the river, and I, for the safety of the Princess Harriet, cannot answer. I doubt we will ever get there at this point.

Sir Melchisedek R. Gnawington

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

The Search for the Princess

August 13, 1245

Today I made the dive, first telling young Mickey to stay behind at all costs and to take my place as Harriet’s rescuer if I did not return. The water was icy cold, I could barely breath, but I was almost to the other bank when I felt a cold, slippery hand grip my coat of mail. I, I am ashamed to say, gave a cry of fright as I was dragged below the surface, and to make matters much, much worse, watched Michael dive down after me. Why will he not listen to a word I utter to him?! I am surprised that my parchment is not soaked, but then I can breath quite normally as well. It seems to be quite a different story with Michael--he is gasping for breath. It must be some magic of these merfolk.

Sir Melchisedek R. Gnawington

The Search for the Princess

August 12, 1245

Today our journey has reached an untimely halt. A large, winding river with extremely strong currents blocks our path, and though we have searched for a way around it, it seems to go on forever. I have no choice. Tomorrow I shall have to make an attempt to swim across, and if I am swept away young Mickey may take my place. If it will help to rescue Harriet, this will be a sacrifice I must make. I shall simply hope that Michael does not trail along (of this I have little hope.)

Sir Melchisedek R. Gnawington

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

The Search for the Princess

August 8, 1245

After a good trot this morning, I have felt better. The trees are getting denser and closer together, and this would be the perfect spot to hide a prisoner and remain unseen. I feel confident that we are nearing the location of Princess Harriet, and the weather seems to be on our side. I can only hope that things will remain this easy. Nature may be luring me into a false sense of calamity here, but as long as we still have two legs we will keep going. Harriet, my love, have no fear!

Sir Melchisedek R. Gnawington

The Search for the Princess

August 7, 1245

For the last 2 days we have seen not a sign of my love nor her kidnapper. I am becoming depressed, and young Michael seems less talkative than usual. However, I was not knighted for nothing and I will not give up. Do not worry, Harriet, I will find you if it takes a thousand years! Oh, how I miss her comforting claw on my shoulder when I feel like this. I would look deep into those deep brown eyes… Ahhh! Harriet, oh Harriet, where are you now?

Sir Melchisedek R . Gnawington

Monday, April 16, 2012

The Search for the Princess: Sir Melchisedek's Journal

August 4, 1245

This morning the most distressing news has come. My sweetheart, Princess Harriet, has been kidnapped by a tall, dark stranger to the woods! I have sworn to return her, and my loyal squire Mickey (Michael) F. Sniffer has agreed to come along. We now ride through the dark woods, atop my faithful steed, Grassytread. I am still much upset by the news, and Mickey seems to know this and is silent. I am thankful for this, as it looks like we have a long and wearying journey before us.

Sir Melchisedek R. Gnawington

The Search for the Princess: Sir Melchisedek's Journal

August 3, 1245

Today out on the terrace, the Princess Harriet and I were sharing a romantic evening together. After we had supped, we said farewell, and she walked back to her parents’ land. Ah, that we could be together forever, but her parents will not admit it and mine cannot argue, being mere peasants. Tomorrow, perhaps, we may steal a few more moments together. Now I must go, for my hourglass has run out of sand.

Sir Melchisedek R. Gnawington

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Griffin Egg

One sunny day, a girl named Maria walked down the path. Her wavy, golden hair streaming down her back, she was walking home from school. Maria was reading a book on birds. She loved, loved, loved, loved, loved birds.

At the end of the sidewalk, Maria turned and saw an extremely large bird egg lying on the road. Curious, she pocketed it. Maria was in the habit of raising young birds if they were lost. She walked in her front door and sat down at the table to do her homework. That night, she covered the egg with a blanket and made sure it was warm. Then she fell asleep.

It was the same for a week or so, but on the 12th day the egg began to show tiny cracks. Maria watched it very carefully, until one day… “Crack!” went the egg, and a small, golden head poked out.

The baby bird had hatched, but it was like no bird Maria had ever seen. It was tannish-gold and had a white head, a very sharp beak, and very strong looking wings. Maria flipped hurriedly through her bird book, but there was nothing that looked remotely like this little creature. How would she know what to feed it? How would she know when it was mature enough to be set free? Maria decided to look in the library tomorrow for anything she could use to take care of this little creature. In the meantime she worked to restrain it from her silver watch and gold necklace.

The trip to the library was unsuccessful. She searched the entire bird section, but it failed her for the first time in her life. She finally decided to feed it on grain and other bird food until she could found out what it ate. This little creature, whatever it was, was growing like a weed. Within a month, it was the size of a toddler’s bike and was going to be as big as a baby elephant. Maria was beginning to grow fond of the odd bird, whatever his size, and named him Goldenwing.

When his wings looked strong enough, Maria began to try to show him how to fly. She pointed at the sky and walked over and moved his wings, but he didn’t seem to get the message. It was a frustrating process, since she herself could not do it, but eventually he got the hang of it.

Maria was beginning to think that this was not a bird at all, but something else. Then, one evening, she found it. Sitting in a chair at the library, reading a book about mythical creatures, she found a picture above a caption that looked just like Goldenwing. The caption said “Griffons”. She read about how they hoarded treasure (explaining the jewelry that had mysteriously disappeared since Goldenwing’s arrival), how they nested in treetops (the road she’d found Goldenwing’s egg on had been right across from the woods), and their large size. They apparently ate meat, but a diet of grain didn’t seem to have stunted Goldenwing’s growth, and their wings developed quickly.

She would never forget that night. She woke up to check on Goldenwing and told him everything she’d found out. Then he spread his wings, but did not take off. He seemed to be waiting for something. Maria stood, watching. He made a beckoning motion with his head, and slowly, Maria understood that he wanted her to climb on. She did so, and went for the most wonderful ride of her life. Lakes and forests, plains and mountains went whizzing by beneath her until finally the griffin swooped back and landed in her own back yard. She went to sleep, then, happy and content.

The next morning, however, her mother stopped her coming down the stairs and said “That griffin thing of yours is taking up too much space. Some of my best jewelry has disappeared, and soon he will eat us out of house and home. He will have to go.” Maria’s spirits sank. “No, mom, he can’t go! Goldenwing’s my pet!” Her mother’s expression did not change.

Maria dashed out the back door. “Goldenwing!” she cried, and ran to the huge griffin, now the size of small tractor. She was cut short, however, when the school bus pulled up outside, and she had to go. That afternoon, when she returned, she did her homework quickly so she could go back outside with Goldenwing. Her mother was a very stubborn woman, and her mind would not be changed when she returned that night. Goldenwing would probably have to go back to the forest the next evening.

She was correct. As she sadly walked him down to the edge of the forest as the sun sank over the horizon, the griffin seemed to know where they were going. When they got there he stopped, and gave her a look she would never forget. Those deep, deep, eyes looking into hers, Maria knew that she was doing the right thing. This creature, however much she would miss it, belonged in the wild. Goldenwing, giving one last backward glance, spread his wings and flew off over the horizon. Forever. He was back where he belonged.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

The Last Tale to Tell: Epilogue

After what she did, Calicotail receives no end of applause and thanks from anxious villagers, and is asked to give karate lessons. She accepts and spends a time teaching eager children to defend themselves. Finally, she decides to retire and goes to the woods where she knows she can find shelter with her friends.

The Last Tale to Tell: Chapter 8: The Battle

2 days later, Calicotail stands in the center of the town, waiting. She sincerely hopes that this plan works, because if it doesn’t her life could be in danger. Finally, the moment she had dreaded all morning came. As the village clocks struck eleven, a horde of the evil creatures stormed out into the village. They looked at her, and laughed. “Is this the best they can do?!” one yelled. Calicotail was terrified and offended, but she saw the glint of a deep, hazel eye in the brush, and knew she didn’t need to be afraid. The jaguar who had spoken pounced…and a large, orange and white blur streaked overhead and landed on top of him. The jaguar took one look at the thing on top of him-and screeched. His comrades too seemed to recognize this tiger, and when Calicotail gave the whistle for the others to join them, the fight was in the bag. Calicotail found that all the practice fights Striper had done with her really paid off. She dodged 12 punches, launched 4 surprise attacks, and leaped on top of 15 unfortunate animals until the whole lot of them went racing back to their boat, never to return.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

The Last Tale to Tell: Chapter 7: Why, Oh Why

Why, oh why is it always me? Calicotail asks herself. Certainly she was smaller and more agile than any of them, but she wasn’t even that nimble. She had put up a fight, but in the end she had been forced to admit that she was more capable of this than any of them. After hours and hours, she finally had found a sort of camp, and had quivered at the edges trying to hear what the evil animals inside were saying. It was very scary, once she could have sworn one of them saw her, and this was not as easy as Striper and Gemfeather had anticipated. They didn’t seem to be talking of the date at all, but she finally caught it…they would attack in two days! She raced this information to the town, but another detail the others had overlooked was that the villagers were still in hiding. In a tree hollow, however, she entrusted this news to a red fox, and hoped he would spread the word. When she finally got back to the shore with the others, they were sound asleep, and in a moment, she was too.

The Last Tale to Tell: Chapter 6: The Plan

When Calicotail wakes up, she is lying on the shore surrounded by strange animals. When she looks closer, she sees that almost all of them are older versions of animals from her history book, including Striper, Emeraldtrunk, and Fiercepaw there must be at least 10. She nearly faints again, but a middle-age beluga shakes her shoulder. “We need to talk about our plan. I was never much of a warrior myself, but old Stripe here knows a few tricks.” Calicotail makes an attempt to sit up, but a peacock with bluish brown feathers stops her. “We need someone pretty small to go out and bring back information about when they’re going to attack. Then the same one needs to inform the villagers, and then earlier on the same day as the bad guys, we attack them.” Striper stands and says “The first part sounds okay, Gemfeather, but I think…” he whispers his plan to everyone, who nod. Calicotail feels strange. They are treating just like a member of their clan! “And,” Striper finishes, “the one to do the sneaking should be Calicotail!”

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

The Last Tale to Tell: Chapter 5: Striper

The ancient tiger slowly turns his head, and Calicotail sees a face recognizable from her history book, though much older, wiser. She stands there for a moment, wondering where to begin. She had not thought about this moment before; she had been too obsessed with finding Striper. She decides just to start at the beginning and tell him her name, and when she gets to the part where she’d had the idea and been chosen, Striper speaks, a bit more vigor in his voice than one would think of a tiger so old. “So you want me to come back and help the island again. Yes, I would love to get out there again. But I fear I may not be enough anymore. I will call my son and daughter in law. Fiercepaw! Emeraldtrunk!” In come an elephant and a tiger, almost as old as Striper. Calicotail gasps. She has admired these two for as long as she can remember, and when Emeraldtrunk, the elephant, turns her way, Calicotail faints with shock and delight.

Monday, April 2, 2012

The Last Tale to Tell: Chapter 4: Where?

As quietly and nimbly as she can, Calicotail slips into the forest. She has heard that the legendary Striper last lived in a cave deep in the heart of this forest, but she sees nothing. Silly me, she thinks, how could I expect it to be as easy as that? Still, unless he’d moved, he should live somewhere around here. She makes an attempt to climb a tree, and scans the wood for any sign of life. Still nothing. Calicotail realizes that there could be guards here in the forest, too, and she tries to be quieter, but this is hard to do. There are so many twigs on the ground, that every noise begins to freak her out and she takes to the treetops. She sincerely hopes that Striper is still in residence on the island, for the evil creatures will soon attack, she is sure of this. Finally, she thinks she may see the faint outline of a cave…then a thought comes to her. What if Striper was now way too old to be fighting again? With caution, Calicotail approaches the cave, and walks inside. Over in a dusty corner, curled in a ball, lies the most ancient looking tiger she has ever seen.