My Beloved (who is a teacher of young children) told me tonight that while she liked my two most recent stories “”Something REALLY, REALLY BIG” and “The Train Who Loved Children” they were too long and wordy for the attention spans of most 3-5 year olds. OUCH! I think she’s right, and went back in with a machete and chopped away at both stories–err, I mean I went in with a small chisel and carefully chipped away at them!–lowering the word counts of each by about 20-25% and getting her blessing on the revised versions.
Below is the slimmer and trimmer, and hopefully substantially improved, version of “Something REALLY, REALLY BIG!” I plan to post the first part of “The Train Who Loved Children” tomorrow.
“Something REALLY, REALLY BIG!”
By Russ Towne
Ki-Gra was a small, young chipmunk, who lived in a big, old forest. His parents wanted him to grow up to be kind and grateful so they put parts of those two words together to make his name Ki-Gra.
One day, Ki-Gra had an idea. It wasn’t just a tiny idea. He wanted to do something BIG! But what?
He thought and thought until his head hurt. But, he still couldn’t think of anything big to do. He thought, “Maybe I’ll think of something if I take a walk.” He got up, stretched, yawned, and began to walk.
It was a beautiful day. Ki-Gra was so happy, he skipped along a path near a stream.
He saw Mama Raccoon and her baby ahead of him, walking across the stream on a branch. A log floating down the river hit the branch. Splash! Splash! Mama and Baby Raccoon fell into the river. Mama was a good swimmer, but not Baby. She swam and got him, but the water was moving too fast for her to swim with Baby.
Ki-Gra ran to a bush that grew over the stream. He hung onto the bush with his strong back legs and dangled over the water. “OVER HERE!” he yelled. He grabbed Baby, and Mama Raccoon grabbed the bush. They were safe.
Mama and Baby Raccoon thanked Ki-Gra.
Ki-Gra left to continue his walk. He was still trying to think of something BIG to do.
CRASH! Slam! In front of Ki-Gra, a big tree was shaking like crazy. Mama Deer and Baby Deer yelled “Help! HELP!” Ki-Gra asked, “What’s wrong?”
“It’s Papa Deer. His antlers are stuck in that tree and he can’t get out.”
“I’ll see if I can help,” called Ki-Gra as he climbed the tree. Ki-Gra used his sharp teeth to gnaw some of the branches. His strong arms and legs spread apart some others. Soon, Papa Deer was free!
The Deer family thanked Ki-Gra, then he continued on his walk. He felt sad. “Why can’t I think of something BIG to do?”
“Chirp, chirp!” Ki-Gra looked up. Baby Bird was all alone in its nest. Mama Bird was bravely leading a big hawk away from Baby Bird. But Ki-Gra saw another hawk flying nearby.
“Oh, no!” Ki-Gra raced up the tree to the nest. He grabbed Baby Bird and ran into a small hole in the tree. BAM! The hawk crashed into the tree. His feathers went flying. Baby Bird was safe!
Mama and Baby Bird thanked Ki-Gra.
Ki-Gra was tired of walking and went home. In bed that night, Ki-Gra was sad. He had hiked all day. His feet were sore. And, he still hadn’t thought of something BIG to do.
When the Chipmunk Family came to the forest clearing the next day, the animals saw Ki-Gra. They asked, “Why are you so sad?” He climbed onto a stump and said, “I wanted to think of something BIG to do. And I couldn’t!”
Papa Deer said, “But Ki-Gra, while you were trying to THINK of something BIG, you DID something REALLY, REALLY BIG!”
“I did?” Ki-Gra asked.
Mama Raccoon said, “You saved me and Baby Raccoon.”
Baby Deer said, “You saved Papa Deer from being stuck in the tree.”
“And you saved Baby Bird from the hawk,” said Mama Bird.
“See? You did three REALLY, REALLY BIG THINGS,” said Mama Chipmunk.
Papa Chipmunk asked Ki-Gra, “How big were the things you did?”
Ki-Gra smiled and spread his arms far apart and said, “This BIG!”
His forest friends laughed and sang this song to him:
You’re so great!
When there’s trouble,
You don’t wait.
You find a way
To help us out
And save the day.