Chapter 1

Dwayne And Greg

The bell rang, sending feelings of scariness through the playground. They pierced through my thin, green skin. I tried to stretch out of my spot in the ground. I had to move before the kids came trampling to the playground, running right towards me and all of my best friends. 

“How about we work together to stretch each other out?” Dwayne screamed. 

It was a big risk because if we pulled ourselves out of the ground then we would have to find water and more nutrients, but we all agreed and started by stretching my blade so that I could be free first.

Thump, thump, thump. The stampede of kids came closer. I jumped up and down in my spot a couple of times. 

They finally got me out. “Yay, I’m free!” I screamed. It felt so weird and confusing to be out of the ground. But I felt happy too!

Now we could work on getting Greg out. 

“Come on,” yelled all of my friends around me. “We have to do this faster!” And then the wind came, which helped get us closer to rescuing Greg from the hard ground. 

“There is a kid running right towards us!” Dwayne said. The kid was not just running at them. But at me! There it was, the foot about to step on me!!  What should I do! I tried even harder to stretch my friend out from his hole. 

Finally, we got him and the rest of us out. I was about to start dancing, but we had to get away before the kids came and stepped on us. 

As I jumped awkwardly across the field, I saw the kids in the other direction. I just kept on running. Greg was in front of me, jumping really fast and everybody else was behind us. 

We all hid under the mulch to have a rest. I felt like I never wanted to go back home. Being out of the ground was the most amazing thing! After a while, we started running again. This time I was in the front. And I made sure I was in the front, the whole time. After I hopped for what felt like a thousand hours, we finally got to the chapel. It was even better than I had imagined it would be up close. The steps leading up to the chapel were huge. My friends and I started looking around inside for the perfect spot to live. The ceilings were so high. They felt 10,000 feet tall. We could hop around here for days and never see the end of it. 

I jumped over to Greg. “Do you want to live in my spot with me?”

“Where is your spot that you will live in?”

I walked him over to a chair in the back corner and showed him around, but there was one problem. “This tiny spot right here is a—Oh no!” I screamed. “What just happened!”

The lights had turned off. I did not know what to say to my friends. So I just shouted out. “Hey everybody, don’t worry! It will be okay, we can find a way out of this,” I yelled.

When I looked back at Greg, he was not there! Oh no! What should I do? This was really starting to feel scary. Greg announced, “Hey guys! I can fix this!” Just then, the lights turned back on! 

“Yay! Yay!” everybody screamed. Greg saved the day. Everybody was circling around him with pride. I was so proud of him too. I gave him a huge high-blade and then moved on to the little place that I would live, maybe with Greg. Greg is my best friend now. 

When I got to my new tiny spot, I noticed that it needed a little bit of a clean up. I picked up a feather and started cleaning up, asking Greg to help me.

“All I need help with is this little spot right here.” I pointed to a candy bar wrapper and some dust. 

“Yes, but I am not going to do all of the work,” Greg said.


As I worked, I thought about all of the adventures that we had gone through to get here and how hard it was. I missed home a little and wished I could be back there, but I couldn’t go yet. We had just gotten to the chapel and we needed time to rest. 

“Dwayne!” Someone screamed in my ear. It was from Greg. I had been daydreaming and stopped cleaning up. He was just reminding me that I had to do some of the work too. 

“Ok,” I said. After a little while, I was worn out. I figured we would need some water and soil, so I told the group I would be right back. 

I was out for way longer than I thought I would be and it was dark way faster than I imagined. It was quickly dark and scary. Bats were squeaking and looking at me with bright yellow eyes. I was freaked out, so I turned around and headed back to the chapel with the soil and water for my friends. After a while, I was so lost, but the next thing I knew I had bumped into Greg. He was trying to find me. We headed back to the chapel!  

Once inside, I gathered my friends around me. I wanted to tell them what I had been thinking about.

“I think we should go back home to our original spots. Think about how hard it will be for us to get water and soil every day.” 

They all agreed. We immediately headed out of the chapel and back to the playground area that we called home. I felt brave and happy to be going back, but also lucky to have had a chance to move, jump around, and go on an adventure. 

The Spotlight

Chapter One

The Play

The firefighter clowns poured water on each other instead of the fire. An old lady wearing a huge wig of grey hair ran away from the fire, yelling. 

“Help me!”

 Meanwhile, a little, wrinkly elephant started flapping his ears while a chubby boy ran up and hooked a cable onto the fake elephant. The cable rose and the elephant started to fly! The audience cheered with “OOhs and Ahhs.”

I couldn’t understand what the actors were saying next, but suddenly I felt a tickle up my wires, a feeling that always excited me because I don’t usually get my chance to shine. Sometimes I get sad about how much the other colored spotlights get to shine.  

I felt it coming, and I shined like a spotlight should shine right on Dumbo! But then, it happened again. The other spotlights were shining way more than me. I felt another tickle and I shut off immediately. That’s what happens when I get super sad. The whole crowd gasped. No one could see Dumbo. Now no one would say it was a great play, only that it was just OK. 

Chapter Two


After the play, I stretched and I pulled so hard that my wires unstuck. Walking through the school campus and across the road always helped me feel less sad. Plus there was something I wanted to check on at the Dollar Tree. I climbed to the curtain and slid down to the stage. I sat there for a while because I was so tired. 

After a while, I got up and walked behind the curtain. I  grabbed the invisible spray that the grown-up actors sometimes used to sneak around during the play. I sprayed it on myself. It felt like the spray paint they put on me when they were making me. Poof! I was invisible to all things except myself. 

I went out from the back of the stage and headed towards the road to get to the Dollar Tree. I sometimes sneak the mini lamps out of the store to compare their brightness with mine. I keep getting dimmer and dimmer and I wanted to see how long I have left. This was the only thing that felt bad about walking around after plays, but I have to do it to see how much longer I have in my life. 

I used my back-up battery, turned on my light and shined my light at a rusty, old stop sign. Then I turned on the mini lamp, which also had a battery, to see which one was shining more. Mine was obviously dimmer. I turned off the mini lamp and chucked it at a tree. It bounced back to me. I put it in a hollowed-out tree where I put all the mini lamps that I’ve ever gotten, which was a lot. It was getting late so I headed to Berry Hall, where the stage was. I climbed up to where I pulled my wires out, stuck myself back in and fell asleep. 

Chapter 3

A New Life

I was jolted awake with a big flash, then a huge charge of electricity. This time there were grown-ups rehearsing. They were also doing Dumbo, just like the kids were. Their costumes looked a bit better than the kids and the scene where Dumbo flies was perfect. 

Once again it was my turn to shine. I felt so strong and ready to go that I turned on my light a half a second early. The man who controls the spotlights tilted his head and made a funny face. Oops! I thought. But then I noticed that he didn’t really care so I felt relieved.

One of the actors used the invisible spray and hooked up Dumbo, who started to fly. My light got brighter. All of the other colored spotlights looked back at me as if to say, “Just because you’re shining brightly doesn’t mean you are cool!” 

I started flickering. I’ve gotten dimmer, but I’ve never actually flickered before. I couldn’t stop the horrifying seizure of light. Everybody looked down and covered their eyes. Even Dumbo, who was in the middle of flying, covered himself with his big cardboard ears.  

Suddenly, the man shut me off and the stage went dark. Because the windows were open and the sun was shining, you could still see a few people on the stage. Everybody was astonished when the director yelled, “Cut cut cut!” He was the one who always stopped them from rehearsing if something went wrong. 

I barely get to shine and, for one moment, I was really shining. Now I am pretty sure that they are not going to use me ever again. 

“We will repair that spotlight on Friday before the play,” said the maintenance guy. 

Wait, I thought. Does that mean that they’re not going to throw me out? I was so relieved I couldn’t describe it. It was like getting a Visa gift card at the Dollar Tree with infinity dollars on it!    

Chapter 4

Green Eggs and Ham

I missed the Dumbo play because I was busy being repaired. In the meantime, they replaced me with a new white light. I didn’t feel very good having to miss the adult Dumbo play, but I was still very, very happy that I was going to be brand new when I came back. 

I was out for about two days. I was a little worried that the new white light would replace me permanently. 

But then I thought, “Why would I ever be permanently replaced by the white light if they are repairing me?” Right after that thought swept out of my brain as if someone had a broom, I heard the maintenance man say, “We’re going to put our new white light in the spot where this light was.”

I felt so angry to hear this. I wanted to turn on my light and flicker and give them another seizure!

“We need a blue spotlight for our next play,” he said. “Green Eggs and Ham.”

The other maintenance man looked at him as though he had a good plan. “Since I put a new battery in this one,” he said, “I will go ahead and add a blue sheet in front of its bulb so we have a blue spotlight.”

Huh?? I thought. I was amazed. I was going to be up where the colored spotlights were. Then I had a terrible thought. What if they still make fun of me? What if they say things like, “You just became a colored light because you are terrible at being a white light! At least that another white light is decent.”

The next morning, I was no longer lying on the big table with all my insides pulled out of me. I was hanging from my wires next to all of the colored lights. They didn’t seem to be warmed up enough to wake up yet, but soon they would probably be up. Bad thoughts and good thoughts crashed into my head, fighting and jumping on each other. But, like I when I got fixed, the good thoughts repaired everything that had been broken. 

“What? Huh? Why are you here who are you? Why is there a blue light here?” 

I looked over and all the other spotlights looked amazed that there was a new color. They were peering so hard at me to see who it was. After a while, they realized it was me. It was like they couldn’t speak at all. They all looked at me right in the humongous blue eye.

At that moment, bad thoughts weren’t just destroying things in my head…they were also destroying all the good thoughts. It was like a war going on, but the good thoughts were easily losing. Because they were good thoughts, they couldn’t actually hurt the bad thoughts, even if they wanted to. Only fix them. But there was only one good thought left in my head, which wasn’t even that good. Maybe they will leave me alone. Then I will not be teased, but ignored instead

Then I heard the pink spotlight — the one on the other side of the row — say “Congratulations!”

The little thought that they would leave me alone became a huge giant. It started fixing bad thoughts into “Phew!” thoughts.

The play started. The two characters argued over the green eggs and ham. One of them pushed the other into trying the green eggs and ham, but he was disgusted by them. After a while, when they had gone in the rain, on the train, under the tunnel, also with a goat and a fox and a mouse and everything else…while they swam in the water…I shined as hard as I could to make the water sparkle and light up as much as possible. Everyone in the audience was dazzled by how brilliant the water looked. 

The green light purposely shined right on the eggs to make them look green. Then, the character who said he would never eat green eggs and ham ate them. The curtain closed with loud applause. 

I felt perfect, with feelings of pride and courage and strength jolting through me.

One Lost Doll’s Journey

As I looked around the playroom, I could just remember all the great times we had. But they were all over now. I missed Alisha, and right now, I needed her. As I sat on a bed in the dusty, messy dollhouse, I looked around at the empty playroom with all of her old toys just sitting there, including me.

“I’ll come over in two hours,” I could hear Alisha say, “And I’ll give her to your little sister.”

Is she talking about me? I thought.

I walked around the dollhouse, so I could think. Then, I got an idea. I hid behind the sofa in the dollhouse so that Alisha couldn’t find me.

If she can’t find me, she can’t give me away.

I could hear Alisha’s footsteps coming into the playroom. She searched the dollhouse for me. She knocked over most of the furniture in the house until she found me curled up behind the sofa. She carried me down the steps and piled me into a huge box with a lot of her other toys. I felt unsteady and crushed by them. Suddenly, all of the colorful, square game pieces came flying at me. I tried to bury myself under all of the other toys.

When we reached the house, I recognized the girl who was on the other end of the phone. It was Briana Johnson. She and Alisha used to always have playdates and sleepovers just to play with their dolls. Now I belonged to someone else. Jenna, Brianna’s little sister, ran upstairs to her room with me in her hand and instantly started to play with me.

She brushed my hair for a while, which I enjoyed at first. But it went downhill from there. Jenna grabbed a purple marker and started to draw all over me, even my face and arms. Then, Jenna brought me downstairs to dinner, and unlucky for me, it was meatball night. By the time, dinner was over, I had red sauce everywhere—all over my favorite shirt and jeans.

As Jenna fell asleep, I thought hard about an escape plan. I might’ve just been an 18-inch doll, but I had big ideas. As I climbed up the nightstand, I checked Jenna’s alarm clock. She wakes up at 8:00 AM. First, I needed to somehow get a hand on her phone, since Alisha wakes up at 6:00 AM, which was perfect timing. I did my best not to go to sleep that night. I only closed my eyes. Each minute, it got harder and harder to stay awake. Eventually, I gave in and quickly drifted off.

The next day, I woke up to the sound of Disney Princess music from Jenna’s alarm clock. I had overslept. I desperately checked the clock to make sure this wasn’t a nightmare. Sadly, it was real life, not a dream.

I watched her check her calendar. Then, she threw me into her backpack.

“Today is show and tell!” she said excitedly.

Oh no! The longer we drove, the faster the butterflies in my stomach multiplied. I also felt a strong pulling on the top of my head. I could tell that I was hanging in her backpack, but how? When I looked up, I could see that my hair was caught in the zipper of her bag. I pulled and pulled and pulled, but nothing happened. I rumbled and rolled out of the car, still hanging inside as she walked into her preschool.

I’ve seen all the Toy Story movies, and the preschool life wasn’t that great for the toys. Jenna crammed me into a small, square cubby and unzipped her bag. Then, she pulled and pulled my body, hoping to get me out. When she finally did, I lost a lot of hair.

My heart was beating out of my chest as she carried me to center circle. Mrs. Amy, her teacher, asked her to share first. I was so scared to hear what she was going to say.

‘’This is my doll. I have not named her yet. My sister gave her to me from one of her friends. She wears a white tank top and skinny jeans. I am thinking of naming her Emma. The end.’’

Phew, I think it’s over, I thought.

“Can you pass her around?” a girl asked.

“Sure,” said Jenna.

Sooner or later, they were playing a game of hot potato with me, throwing me around as if I were a ball. The teacher didn’t seem to care. She was just sipping her coffee. I knew no one would hear me if I screamed out loud, so I did it in my head. Ahhhhhhhhh! I couldn’t stand it; this was torture. I hoped that Alisha would regret giving me away and that she would do it fast. As Alex threw me in the air, I felt like I was about to lose my limbs. The bell rang, and Jenna tossed me into her bag. This time, my hair didn’t get stuck.

I took a deep breath and thought about my escape plan. The problem with escaping was that Jenna would be crushed. I just had to face it. I would have to hurt her feelings.

I started to think of my plan. Tonight, I would fall asleep next to her alarm clock so I’d be able to hear it. Once Jenna went to get ready, I’d climb out of the window with a rope around me or some dental floss that I’d put around my waist tonight. Finally, I’d run across the street to Alisha’s house.

I thought I might change my mind, so that Jenna could be happy. On the other hand, would Alisha miss me? I didn’t know yet, but maybe not. But Jenna surely would.

I could hear the clock ticking, and I wondered when the bell would ring. I felt like both girls would not like my decision to leave, but I had to choose what’s best for me. I needed to do something to get my mind off of it. All that I could see was a pink folder and a Hello Kitty pencil that needed to be sharpened. I started to wish that this was a dream. I needed to get home. The bell finally rang, and I buried myself in her backpack. I felt like my life was going to end.

When Jenna got out the pencil for class, she saw me so she knew I was there. Her bag zipped closed, and I decided to rest up before I took action that night.

When I woke up, my heart was beating faster than it ever had before. I didn’t know where I was until I unzipped the bag and saw that I was in the car after school. I couldn’t believe that I had slept that long. Jenna was wearing a blush-pink leotard, and her hair was in a bun. I didn’t think that this could get worse, but it could. What if I got stepped on by sixteen little girls?

When she got out of the car, she didn’t bring me into the studio. It was a miracle. I didn’t have any worries. I could just relax in the back seat of the car.

I had always wondered what it was like in the driver’s seat. I climbed up to see all the controls. It was nice and sunny there so I stayed and closed my eyes for a minute. That minute turned into five minutes then ten then fifteen and eventually an hour. I felt so relaxed and calm. I thought nothing could bother me now.

Suddenly, I heard a car door open. A huge lady sat down, right on me, and she didn’t even feel me. I had no idea what was going to happen next.

“Mommy!’’ Jenna yelled from the backseat.

“Yes, sweetie,” her mom said in a voice not seeming to care.

‘“Where’s my doll?’’ she replied, desperate for an answer.

“Please, don’t tell me you left her at preschool,” her mom sighed.

“Nope, I remember putting her in my bag like it happened a second ago,” Jenna said with a positive attitude.

“Well, check the back seat. You might be sitting on her?’’

How about you check under yourself, lady! I thought.

“She’s not there. I lost my doll. Sissy gave her to me. I need my doll!” Jenna said sobbing.

I hope she finds me. This reminds me of Alisha. She couldn’t stand being separated from me. Now that I think about it, everything that happened to me with Jenna so far has happened to me with Alisha. Tears stung my eyes when I thought about missing Alisha, but this was all to keep Jenna happy.

The car pulled to a stop, and I tried to forget all of my sad thoughts. As her mom got up, I quickly got out of that seat. Out the window, I could see that we had stopped at a gas station. I crept to the back seat right beside Jenna, hoping that she would notice me. After minutes of waiting, she didn’t even look down.

“Why did I think this would work? She already thinks I’m lost. I’ll never get to Alisha ever again,” I said, sobbing.

I thought about giving up and just having to deal with being a lost doll. I calmed myself down. I wondered what would happen to me. Maybe I will find a new owner or even better, Alisha. The car door slammed and the engine roared. Jenna popped up and yawned as the car cut through the grass.

“What’s going on, Mom?’’ Jenna asked, waiting for an answer.

“A guy in there asked me for some money, and I said no, which I regret now.”


“Because now he’s chasing us, and he won’t stop!”

“Give me your phone,” Jenna yelled.

“Why?’’ her mom asked, panting.

“I need to call 911!”

Her mom tossed the phone back to Jenna, trying to keep her eyes on the road and not on the rearview mirror. The police rushed down the road. Jenna’s mom smashed the gas pedal, trying to get away from the guy at the gas station.

The police pulled us over, thinking we were the criminals. I watched Jenna try to stay calm while she was thinking that her mom might go to jail. The police knocked on the window and asked for her to roll it down. Once the window was rolled down, he explained for what seemed like hours the rules of the road. The guy that was originally chasing us was getting away as he spoke.

I looked up to see Jenna with her head propped against the window of the car and a worried frown on her face. I thought of a way to comfort her. Suddenly, I remembered that she hadn’t found me yet. I quietly crept into her hands. Jenna squeezed me and gave me a big hug. I felt like I had just found the perfect owner. The only problem with that was, Alisha was my owner. She did give me away though. Why was I worrying? I needed to enjoy this moment.

Her little palms warmed me. I forgot about all the things that she had done to me and instead thought about how nice it would be to have someone younger who would play with me more. Then, I thought about all the times that Alisha had played with me and all the laughs we had. I had to figure out who I was going to stay with. I looked up at Jenna and felt like I had just found the perfect owner. I was sure of it.



Chapter One: Humans


It was a late summer evening in the forest. The sun was shining through the leaves of the birch trees, the ones near Fawn’s home. The early autumn leaves were just beginning to change colors, a sort of disco lighting of red, orange, and yellow. The streak of colors across the sky matched the leaves. Fawn, a young deer, was playing with his deer friend Abigail.

“Fawn, I ever tell you of humans?” she said sweetly.

“No,” said Fawn. “But my mom has.”

Abigail’s head tilted slightly to the right. She looked up at the sky as if she was looking for something… no not something, some story!

“Here we go again!” Fawn mumbled. Just then, the ground began to tremble. I guess the ground is shaking because it is trying to plug its ears, he thought.

“Well I know a story that I bet your mo — ”

But as Abigail said that there was a faint rumble and the ground shook more.

“Abigail, did you hear that?” Fawn interrupted.

“No,” Abigail said, frustrated that Fawn was interrupting her. “So one day my mom was wal

“Listen! There it is again!” Fawn said.

In the distance, Abigail and Fawn heard a loud rumble. It sounded dangerously close and the sky turned dark gray as a huge gust of wind blew in their direction, scattering leaves on the forest floor.

“I do hear it!” Abigail agreed. “And it’s getting louder!”

“The louder, the closer!” Fawn warned. “Let’s get out of here. It’s too dangerous! You can tell me the story when we’re safe in our den.”

“Come on, it’s not too loud. Now, let me tell the story!”

But before Abigail could say anything, a huge, tall, green monster-looking thing was tearing down the beautiful birch trees and charging straight towards them. All the bushes that formed a barrier around them were being uprooted; Abigail’s and Fawn’s hideout was destroyed. Mulch, bark, and twigs flew everywhere and smoke that made Fawn and Abigail cough filled the air. Fawn looked to see where it was coming from: out of the back of the monster. He felt an anger smolder inside of him. His face scrunched up in frustration and his big, soft, brown eyes became watery. This was his home! As much as he wanted to fight the monster, he needed to get Abigail to safety first. She was staring at the monster in awe, and looked as if she were paralyzed.

“AAAHHH!” Abigail screamed when she finally came back up to life.

“Hurry, Abigail. Follow me!” Fawn hastily instructed.

Fawn started dashing towards the other side of the woods where his home was, but when looked back he saw the monster right behind Abigail.

“HELP!” Abigail said frantically.

“I’m coming!” Fawn yelled, charging towards the monster, but he was not in time. The monster trampled over her back leg.

“Owww,” Abigail screeched in pain.

Without thinking, Fawn rammed into Abigail, knocking her into a bush out of the monster’s path. After that, he sprinted towards the bush to help Abigail.


Chapter 2: What is Going On?


“Ow, it hurts!” Abigail cried.

“Don’t worry, it will be over soon,” Fawn’s mother, Rebecca, said, while tending to Abigail’s wounds.

“Fawn, dear, since you are not hurt, can you go get Abigail’s mother and bring her to our den?” Rebecca said.

“Sure,” Fawn said reluctantly, for he didn’t want to leave Abigail’s side. But before Fawn could step out of the den, Lemo, Fawn’s family friend, rushed to the den, his front leg limping.

“Humans, smoke, death!” he panted.

“Lemo, calm down, and where is Juniper?” Rebecca was suddenly worried about her husband. She paused to look at Lemo’s leg. It was bleeding from a huge gash.

“Fawn, continue with what I asked you to do,” she said with urgency.

Fawn dashed with his remaining strength to fetch Abigail’s mom. He came back to the den with Abigail’s mom. When he got there, many animals, excluding their enemies, had arrived. Most were wounded and some couldn’t even budge. Abigail’s mom looked at Abigail. Her eyes started to water, but she wiped away her tears and she agreed to help the other animals.

“My daughter, Abigail,” she said. “That must’ve been very scary for you. And Fawn, thank you for saving her. That was so brave! I didn’t know you had that in you!”

Fawn blushed.

It really wasn’t much. I wasn’t even able to save her from getting hurt! he thought.

More animals arrived. There was still no sign of Fawn’s father, and it began to get very crowded. Thankfully, Abigail’s mother had gone out for more help and come back with several animals who wanted to help.


Chapter 3: Sad Times


Lemo lifted up his head and opened his mouth to say something, but he had no strength. He laid his head back down to rest. Many deaths had occurred in those last two hours. Some of Fawn’s other friend’s parents, brothers, aunts, uncles and cousins had died. No animal in the forest had escaped losing someone. But some of the other animals had gotten better. They still couldn’t speak, but they sat up and looked around, including Lemo, who started looking around wide-eyed. Some of the younger ones even started getting up and playing. It would have been a happy place, if it weren’t for the deaths. More volunteers came to help. Most of them had just been informed about a loved one’s death.

Lemo started limping towards Fawn and his mother. Once Rebecca had made him comfy, he explain what happened.

“Your father and I were on our way home when we saw a human. He was holding a sort of stick, a cane-looking shape,” Lemo paused. “Then before we knew it, the man was holding up that stick to your father. The next thing we saw was smoke everywhere.”

Fawn opened his mouth in fascination, for he didn’t know what Lemo was about to tell him. Rebecca looked very scared. Lemo looked down ashamed.

“Then the man aimed it at me,” he continued. “I managed to escape, but after the man had gone I saw that your father had completely collapsed. I rested my muzzle on him, but it was too late, his heartbeat had gone.

“Juniper,” Lemo paused, “is dead!”

Then the trio all burst into tears.


Chapter four: Aftermath


A week after the incident, on a dark and stormy morning, Abigail and Fawn went back to their hideout to play. As they arrived, they saw all the uprooted bushes, scattered leaves and fallen logs everywhere. In frustration, Fawn kicked a rock only to find that it landed just two feet away.

“Stupid humans!” he yelled.

Abigail shook her head and walked to where the rock was. She placed it at Fawn’s feet, where it had originally been. “Even though they destroyed our hideout, they are living creatures like us. We must respect them,” Abigail said cautiously.

“Yeah, we must respect that they hurt you and KILLED my dad,” Fawn said sarcastically, his voice spilling with anger. “We should fight back! That will show them not to mess with us again!”

Abigail rolled her eyes. Typical boy, she thought. “Well, how are you supposed to do that? Plus, you saw what the humans did. How are you going to fight back against that?” She stuck out her right hoof, just missing his chest.

”Easy,” Fawn said. “With the help of all the forest animals! I bet humans are more scared of bears and wolves than us!’

”Well, don’t expect me to help.” Abigail walked off slowly. She didn’t know exactly where she was going, but she needed to show Fawn that he needed to walk away from what he was planning to do.

“But you’re my friend,” Fawn said, devastated at Abigail’s actions. “We have to help each other!”

“No, I am not going to help you. I’ve already said that, and I am not changing my mind. Besides, how are you going to get the bears and wolves on our — your side?” With that, Abigail ran off.

As Fawn watched Abigail flee into the forest, he dropped onto the ground and bowed his head.

Yeah, how? Fawn thought, with his head still bent.

He trudged home thinking about what Abigail had said.

She can’t just walk off like that — she’s my friend! Fawn thought. And I guess she forgot that I saved her life! If another monster comes her way, it serves her right if she becomes a monster’s lunch! Fawn thought, then sank his head low, a tear escaping his eye. “I guess she’s not my friend anymore.” Fawn cried as he dashed home.


Chapter Five: Plan A and B (and C)


On the way to his home, Fawn bumped into the chief bear. Fawn had heard of the chief bear and had seen him at forest gatherings from time to time, but he had never been this close to him. He jumped back in surprise that he, a young deer, was meeting the chief bear. Fawn had to crane his neck to see him. He was huge with thick, matted, brown, shaggy fur. He had a broad snout and a large face with small eyes, which Fawn thought didn’t go with the rest of his body.

“We have heard of your plan and we agree to help you for revenge on the humans,” the chief bear said in a voice deep from his belly. “We will do everything we can to stop them.” The bear stomped his foot, which made Fawn shake.

“Okay?” Fawn said awkwardly. He was recovering from the shock of the shake and the fact that he was meeting the chief bear. And not only that, the bear was going to help him.

The bear turned around and lumbered toward a rocky mountainside. Then, he rolled away a rock and disappeared into a dark cave.

One burden off, another one to go, Fawn thought. As soon as he arrived home, he started to think about how to get the wolves to cooperate.

Hmmm, what to do? Fawn lowered his ears as he thought. Maybe I could lower them pieces of food? His ears perked up. Nah, how about reasoning with them? His ears went back down. I doubt that will workwolves like action agreements, not verbal agreements but I’ll put it down as plan A. Then Fawn wrote it down in clay on the wall.

Now for plan B. How about I lie and say I saw humans kill eighteen wolves and… four pups? That will make them really angry and they will agree to help in order to get revenge on the humans. Fawn dipped his hoof into the wet clay.

Last, but not least, plan C. You never know, wolves are not the easiest creatures to persuade. I think we will fight fire with fire: force them to help with bear influence. Fawn smiled at himself.

As he was writing the last letters of his idea, he heard a voice.

“Those are some nice plans, Fawn.”

Fawn jumped up in surprise.

“You sure wouldn’t want the wolves to know?”

Fawn saw a ghostly shadow from his window, but he was too afraid to even investigate.

“Of course I want them to know, because my goal is to stop you.”


Chapter Six: The Challenge


Fawn’s blood froze when he saw who spoke the threat: Abigail.

She fixed her amber eyes on him while she stood like a statue and stared at him coldly.

“I saved your life,” Fawn managed to say.

“Yes, you did, which means you can spare the humans’ as well,” Abigail replied.

“Never!” Fawn said through gritted teeth. He resisted the urge to tackle her.

“Then you are not worthy of being the one who saved my life.”

There was a slight pang in Fawn’s heart. That was the very thing everyone was praising him aboutsaving Abigail. It’s only worth praising about if the person he saved thinks it’s still worth praising. All of those praises meant nothing now.

Abigail turned around to leave.

“Be careful,” she said. “I just might do what I said.” Then she bounded away so quietly you’d think she was never there.

“Okay,” Fawn said aloud as if to call after her. “Fine. If you want a battle, I’ll take it.” Then he quickly added, “And win!” I’d better go to the wolves tomorrow, he thought, before Abigail spills my plan. But not today. I don’t think I am ready yet.

The next day went smoothly. Fawn had gotten most of the animals to help, discussed his plans and did some practice runs on ambushing and destroying humans. But then came the time that he had dreaded and wished would never come. The time to consult the wolves.


Chapter 7: Wolf Forest


Fawn trudged toward the forbidden part of the forest. Why was it forbidden? You could guess. The wolves lived there, bathed there, and hunted there most of the time, and nobody wanted to go near them.

As Fawn drew closer and closer, his legs began to shake, his head started to droop, and his hair stood up on one end. He tried to tell himself to be brave, but that made it worse. By this time, he wanted to run to the safety of his mother and never set hoof near the forbidden forest again. Then Fawn heard something that made him jump. A wolf’s howl. Although it was distant, it made Fawn more discouraged to go in. Just as he was about to enter, he decided to give himself a pep talk, which went well on the first sentence….

“Okay, Fawn. You know what you’re about to do is for a good cause.”

But the last sentence made him even more discouraged.

“… Even if the wolves make you lunch.”

When Fawn finally got his act together, he started making his way through the forbidden forest to where the wolves lived. Once Fawn stepped in, it was like walking into an endless night. He could barely see his own legs. There were large, ink-black oak trees, which blended into the darkness and made it harder to figure out what was a tree and what wasn’t. Fawn guessed that there had been a rainstorm because the ground was very moist with damp-looking leaves scattered across the forest floor.

Just then, Fawn passed a bloodstained tree with pieces of fur at its roots. This gave him the creeps. He passed more of them, each more bloody than before, with animal bones or fur scattered around the trees. He remembered his dad telling him that if you follow the fur and the bone markings, you will reach the wolves’ den. Fawn could see the pattern – every five trees there was another marking.

As he approached the last marking to the wolves’ den, there lay one of the scariest sights Fawn had ever seen: a dead wolf with an arrow sticking out of its head! Fawn screamed.

After what had felt like forever, he had reached the den.

“Who’s there?!” the leader of the pack’s voice boomed from the cave.

Fawn gulped, then cleared his throat and said, “I am Fawn… from the other side of the for” The leader of the pack appeared, and Fawn stared in awe at the wolf leader.

His usually beautiful, grey shaggy fur was drenched in blood, his muzzle covered in it, and his leg was limping. The pack leader, Kay, tried to put on his wolf stare to shadow his weakness, but failed.

“We do not want you here.”

“I came to help,” Fawn replied.

“We don’t need it,” Kay said, looking as if it hurt to even say that, emotionally and physically.

Fawn gave Kay an observant look, from his head to this claws. “You look like you do.”

“Well….” Kay tilted his head to the side. Then straightened it and narrowed his eyes. “No,” he said firmly. Then he turned around to return to his cave.

“Wait!” Fawn called after him.

“We do not want you here, and I wish not to repeat that ONE MORE TIME,” Kay said through clenched teeth.

Fawn was very tempted to go home, but resisted the urge and gathered up his remaining courage and hope.

“You must help me then…” Fawn’s voice trailed off, unable to speak. His nerves had gotten the best of him. Fawn was always the good boy. He never was rebellious like the others. When the others went to the field, where the mothers didn’t want them to go, he would stay. This was the first time he had ever talked back to or challenged an adult. He had never even disobeyed a mother ladybug!

“Help you!” Kay chuckled. “A little deer wants help from me, the wolf! I can’t believe my ears!”

Fawn felt his cheeks get hot with anger and embarrassment.

“Shouldn’t this baby deer go back to Mommy? He will be safer there. He is too small to do anything.”

For a moment, that reminded Fawn of running back to his mother. No, he thought. I cannot do that. Fawn could not hold it in anymore. He burst with anger.

“Well, I am not as small as you think I am,” he said angrily. “I came up with the plan to destroy the humans. I have set up defense forces against the humans and my forest was destroyed by humans…” Fawn paused to take a few breaths.

“AND THAT IS WHY I AM HERE! TO ASK YOU TO HELP ME TO DESTROY THE HUMANS TO SAVE MY FOREST!” Fawn shouted. He had never been this angrynot since the humans had attacked.

“Okay, okay,” Kay said stepping backwards. “Calm down, kid, we will…”


“Ahem,” Kay cleared his throat. “We will cooperate… if there is something in it for us, which is?”

“The assurance of security against the humans,” Fawn said in relief.

Kay tilted his head.

“Which will make your job as a pack leader easier,” Fawn added.

“Okay, but there has be something. Everyone is getting security! We want something in addition to that,” Kay said.

“Which is… ?” Fawn questioned him, annoyed.

“That we have fresh meat ready for us everyday, meaning four animal sacrifices each day for us to kill,”Kay said with a hint of excitement.

Fawn gave him a “you’re crazy” look and knew what the other forest animals would say if he said yes. Traitor!

I think he turned into a wolf over night! Who does he think he is?! He thinks he is so great he can sacrifice any of us!

Fawn tried to shake the thought out of his head, but it was still lingering in there.

“So is it a yes or a no? If no, deals off,” Kay said impatiently. “We don’t have all day!”

“I – I need some time to think about it,” Fawn stammered.

Kay sighed. “I need an answer in the next three days. If not, the deal’s off.” Then he turned around and disappeared into the den’s deep, damp, and dark entrance.


Chapter 8: Troubling Choices


This probably will be the most challenging decision I will ever make, thought Fawn. He sat on the clover patch under a tree and frowned. He didn’t expect the wolves to have such a ridiculous request. Maybe in the back of his mind he expected it. Wolves are quite vicious and sly. There always has to be something in it for them.

He sighed. He started nibbling at the grass. That was what he always did when he was either anxious or really hungry. He got up and made his final decisionto ask the Animal Council for help. He knew what they would say, but at least he would get some kind of consult. Or get an idea to help him make his decision.

Fawn walked off in the direction of the Animal Oak Tree. It was a huge oak, almost as thick as 50 bears. It was home to a wise old owl, the head of the Animal Council, along with Mr. Rabbit, Fred the Frog and a few other animals. They had a wolf and a bear as part of the council, but they didn’t attend the meetings very often. You’d see bears once in awhile, but it would be a very critical circumstance when the wolves would attend such as when the humans attacked. With a lot of persuading, they finally attended.

Finally, Fawn had arrived at the large oak. As usual, Mr. Badger was at the entrance. He was used to this place. He knew almost everyone on the council because his dad had been part of it. Coming back to the place made Fawn a bit sad. Abigail’s father also used to attend. So did Lemo, who quit, because Fawn’s father was no longer there. Fawn and Abigail used to always hide behind a bush near the window where they held the council meetings, eavesdropping in on what was going on. Then they would inform all of their friends, and their friends would inform their friends. But the one person they never told was Bobby, the mole. One time they told him something, and he dashed down into the ground, buried a hole, and dug a tunnel straight to his parents. He was so desperate to tell his parents because he loved telling others’ secrets.

Fawn approached Mr. Badger.

“Good day, Fawn. I’m very sorry your father passed. The council has not been the same without him.” He put his paw on Fawn’s shoulder. “So,” he continued. “What made you pop by here today?”

“I would like to see Wise Old Owl.”

“Why is that?” Badger asked.

“Oh. It’s just a little something that’s been bothering me.”

“You can come inside and wait in the lobby. I’ll tell him that you want a consult. And by the way, what is it?”

“Don’t worry,” said Fawn. “You’ll find out soon.”

Before Fawn knew it, he was sitting in Wise Old Owl’s office. It was at the very top of the oak so Wise Owl could see the whole forest (or most of it.) Fawn had been here twice before. The first time was when his father was touring him around the place. The second time was when he, Abigail, and a few of their friends played a big trick, and the whole forest got so scared. All of the animals were very angry, and they took it to the council. Fawn remembered very well sitting there, waiting for the Owl to sentence his punishment. They were not allowed to go to the meadow where all of the animals played for three days. Some of the animals thought that was too weak of a punishment, but the rest of the animals knew they were just kids and the punishment should not have been more harsh.

The door behind him opened. Fawn was brought back from his daze.

“Well, hello, Fawn. Badger has told me that you wish to have a consult. What is your problem?”


Chapter 9: Truth and Mistakes


“G-good Afternoon, Mr. Owl,” Fawn stammered. He stared in awe. Mr. Owl looked much different than when he last saw him. His white feathers were now grey. The brown feathers were now dark brown, and the tufts on his head had gone white.You could see rings under his eyes and they were very dark. Mr. Owl approached Fawn very slowly, for he was walking with a stick, something he never had before.”

“Oh,” Mr. Owl said happily. “It’s such a pleasure seeing you again, Fawn. You will definitely grow to be as kind and handsome as your father! Hmmm,” he continued. “Ah, yes, so what was the thing you wanted to share with me?”

“Er…” Fawn hesitated. “You must have heard of my plans to stop the humans.”

Mr. Owl chuckled. “Yes, go on.”

Then Fawn began to tell Mr. Owl about the past morning. How they got through the forest, what it was like, all the way to the part when Kay had struck as Fawn said “a ridiculous deal.”

“Which was?” Mr. Owl urged on.

Fawn took a deep breath then said, “He said they will only participate if,” he paused, “there are four animal sacrifices ready for them every day!” Fawn exhaled. Now it was time to find out the answer.

Mr. Owl closed his eyes in deep thought.

Fawn continued. “I wish there was a way I did not have to choose!”

There was a long silence. Mr. Owl opened his eyes and gazed up at the ceiling

“You know, your friend Abigail came to me not too long ago.”

“Oh, really!” Fawn said surprised. What does she want?! he thought.

“She came to talk to me about you and your plans,” Mr. Owl said as if he read Fawn’s mind. “She told me not only that she thinks that your plans are wrong, but that it is dangerous for the rest of the animals participating and you.”

Yeah, right, Fawn thought. Like she cares.

Mr. Owl looked at Fawn and sighed. “Children never understand,” Fawn heard him say under his breath.

“You know what? She also complained about missing you and how she was really worried about you.”

Fawn just rolled his eyes.

“Fawn, listen to me. Even if you don’t take Abigail as your friend at least think about doing what she thinks you should do. And I’ll tell you here and now that that’s the answer. Don’t say yes. Don’t say no. Refresh, restart, try again.”


Chapter 10: Unfortunately


Fawn stepped back into the endless night. He made his way to the wolves’ den faster this time. He knew his way better through the forest now. He arrived at the wolves’ den. A sudden feeling of regret and nerves washed over him.

“Kay!” Fawn called nervously.

A booming voice from the cave came in return.”Who’s there?”

Fawn swallowed. “It’s Fawn. I’ve come with an answer.”

Kay emerged out of the shadows of the cave. He sniffed the air then looked down at Fawn. The look of triumph on his face was replaced with a petrifying stare.

“You’re late!” He snarled.

“Sorry,” Fawn mumbled.

“So,” Kay circled around him. “What’s the decision?”

This is it. Fawn thought. He lifted up his head and narrowed his eyes.

“No,” he said firmly.

Kay’s mouth hung open, but when he saw Fawn look at him he scowled.

“So be it!” Kay snarled.

Fawn saw the look of defeat in Kay’s eyes, but the rest of his body remained as stiff as stone. Suddenly Kay looked up and a sudden smirk appeared on his face. Two wolves dropped down behind Fawn, then two others dropped down beside Kay, and then two more appeared! Fawn was cornered! The wolves were snarling, and their hungry gaze was fixed on Fawn.

Kay chuckled. “I knew that you were too much of a softie to let all your fellow animals die for your sake. So I brought influences. My pack is starving. We haven’t had fresh meat for days, and look what we have here a big, plump, juicy piece of fresh meat! I should’ve done this long ago!”

The wolves were closing in on him. Fawn tried to figure out what to do. His mind was racing, he couldn’t think straight anymore. One thing Fawn never thought of was dying. Of course, he knew that he would die someday, but he definitely didn’t seriously think about it.


Fawn was knocked to the ground. Blood was pouring down his chest. He was struggling to keep his eyes open. He could barely see the wolves crowding around him. Then he heard a voice.

“Fawn!” It was Abigail!

“Help me!” he moaned.

“I’m coming! Just hold on! I’ve got to get you home!” she replied.

Fawn knew that would be impossible. He closed his eyes for the last time and took one last deep breath. As he exhaled he knew no one could stop death.




It had been two weeks since Fawn’s death but no one was as stricken as Abigail. The little voice in her head kept saying over and over You failed Fawn, you failed him, you failed him… and it never stopped. Abigail walked to their old hideout; it felt weird to be there again, especially without Fawn. She had not been there since… she and Fawn had that fight.

“I wish I never fought with Fawn. That started this whole thing!” she whispered to herself. She could faintly hear Fawn jumping and saying, “Abigail, come play, come play, come and play!”

A tear trickled down her cheek, then she burst into tears.

“You had so much ahead of you Fawn! Why did you have to do this? You shouldn’t have gone to the wolves’ den. It was a trap!” she shouted to the air. Abigail sighed. “It’s just not the same without you!” she whispered.

That night as Abigail laid down to sleep she began to talk to herself. “You’ve got to stop grieving. You can’t be crying and feeling bad about yourself your whole life!”

Yeah right! another voice popped up in the conversation. How can I stop when it is technically all my fault! You failed him and you deserve to feel this way!

Well, I for one believe that you tried your hardest and now all you have to do is….” By that time, Abigail was drifting off to sleep.

As Abigail looked around, she saw the hideout that she and Fawn used to have. The birch trees that surrounded her had beautiful, new, green leaves. She felt the fresh, spring breeze rustle through her fur. The sunlight danced around her and the newly grown blades of grass felt as soft as cotton.

“Wait!” she said in confusion. “This isn’t right. It’s supposed to be winter, not spring! It’s cold out and there are no leaves. In fact there is supposed to be snow outside!”

Then she heard a voice: “Yes, that is true. It is winter, but not in this memory.”

Abigail spun around to see who said that. Tears began to fill her eyes. It was… no, it couldn’t be… Fawn!

“Fawn, is that really you?” she croaked.

“Yes,” he replied.

“How the heck am I seeing you and feeling youand you’re supposed to be DEAD!” Abigail screamed in outrage. “This is impossible!” Then she burst into tears.

“Abigail! Don’t cry!” Fawn said, annoyed. “You have to stop wasting your time grieving for me and get on with your life!”

Abigail looked up and smiled. It felt great to hear that familiar, annoying, playful voice again.

“But how?” she asked.

“That, you already know. Think deeply about it, the one thing that made this how it is now.”

Abigail stared at him blankly. Fawn just chuckled.

“Goodbye, Abigail. And remember what I said. Oh, and say hello to my mother for me.”

“Bye Fawn! It’ll never be the same without you!” Then she gave Fawn a hug. Abigail’s vision began to get hazy then…


Abigail awoke to a drop of snow on her nose. Last night’s conversation was still quite vivid in her memory, but the warm feel of the sun disappeared and was replaced with the harsh, cold, biting feeling of snow. She got up out of her sleeping spot and trudged through the knee-high snow to the Animal Oak Tree to get shelter from the falling snow, that was starting to turn into a blizzard. She entered the oak to the sound of constant chatter. The noise was so deafening

Abigail had to plug her ears, while she pushed through the crowd to get to Wise Old Owl’s office.

She groaned. The line in front of Mr. Owl’s office was so long she couldn’t even see his office door. The hallway was crowded. Animals here. Animals there. Abigail could hear the fast chit chatter of the rabbits, the hollow voice of the toads, and the high pitched squeaks from the mice scurrying to get more food.

She sighed. And all I wanted was to have a simple conversation with Mr. Owl! She thought angrily. Abigail shot out the hallway as fast as she could, chatter flew behind her, animals turned to stare as she whizzed by. She knew what Fawn would say: “Abigail, stop overreacting!” Overreacting! I’m not overreacting.

She forced back tears, but before she knew it, streams of tears flooded her face and the cold wind made it sting. Abigail ran. She ran like she had never run before. Then silence. Abigail sighed in relief. Finally somewhere quiet where I can think.

She slumped against the wall and began to wonder what Fawn meant. How am I supposed to know? Okay, Fawn thinks I am pretty smart, but that doesn’t mean I know everything! What did he mean by “the one thing that made this how it is now.”

Abigail grunted in frustration, then it hit her. She was supposed to finish what he started — without the wolves’ help. How could this be! That killed Fawn. A sudden memory flashed in her mind. It was when Fawn said, “But you’re my friend, we have to help each other!”

Abigail smiled, “Well, Fawn, if that’s what you want!” She exclaimed as she left the room.

Abigail looked back at the spot where she had rested and vaguely saw Fawn lying down, beaming at her.

Fawn smiled in contentment as Abigail left the room.  My work here is done, he thought. As Fawn closed his eyes for the very last time, a rainbow showered over the entire forest.

The Trip


I woke up with a start! Mom was flipping the pancakes in the frying pan while scrambling her eggs at the same time. The sweet smell of maple syrup and batter filled my room.

I overheard my parents talking about going to D.C.

“No, David. She can’t go!!! She needs to stay-” I couldn’t make out the next words, only a name: Aunt Riannon.

“But, Rachel,” Dad said. I still couldn’t make out a lot of words. I tried to strain my neck to hear better.  I wasn’t going on the trip, I thought. That was all I heard.

I felt like screaming, but I didn’t want my parents to know that I was listening to what they were saying. I felt my cheeks get as hot as a frying pan. They knew that I hated my nanny. My nanny’s name was Aunt Riannon. She was a stubby woman with some really sharp, white teeth. I was just an 11-year-old girl. Why so much torture for me, I thought. I got out of bed and went to the bathroom to quickly brush my teeth and take a shower. While I dressed, all I thought was Why, why sooo much torture!!!

At breakfast, my parents looked like nothing had happened. I gave them a suspicious look, but they just smiled back. So I drooped around doing the casual routine (making the sandwiches for lunch, feeding the cat, eating my breakfast, packing my bag, going to school, sooo boring) the rest of the morning.



I couldn’t think of anything, except what I heard Mom and Dad say. Then suddenly I heard Mrs. Mitchell’s voice. I had been daydreaming!

“Uhumm, Taylor, please be focused. You are now a 6th grader!” she said in a confused but stern voice. When Mrs. Mitchell passed out the math tests, all I kept thinking was, Taylor, it’s all right. You might have misunderstood, BUT you know you can’t go on the trip, so don’t waste your time thinking that you can go. I stared at the math test Mrs. Mitchell had passed out. I couldn’t even see straight with all the stress I was having. I couldn’t even think what 1+1 was.

Mrs. Mitchell called “Time!” and I felt my tension go up. I was still just staring at the first problem. Mrs. Mitchell picked up my paper and saw that it was completely blank.

“You alright, Taylor? You haven’t been acting like you usually do.”

I stared into Mrs. Mitchell’s light blue eyes and then looked myself in the  classroom mirror. I saw a stupid little girl who wanted to tell her teacher everything, but couldn’t. I knew that Mrs. Mitchell was the nicest teacher ever and I could tell her anything. Should I just say a plain, old lie or tell the truth?!

I just blabbed everything out.

“I heard my parents say that I can’t go to D.C and that I have to stay with the meanest, ugliest, stupidest nanny in the whole world!” I lowered my voice. “I’m pretty sure, anyway.”

“Okay, just calm down and come with me,” Mrs. Mitchell said in a concerned and curious voice.

I knew I was going to get into trouble, so I didn’t make a sound. I felt like a maniac. Why didn’t I just say a plain, old lie? But I felt sooo good saying the truth – as good as it would feel to go on the trip to D.C.

Mrs. Mitchell took me to her office. “Tell me everything right now.”

I took a deep breath and started talking. “I woke up in the morning and–” I could feel a burning sensation in the corner of my eyes. “I can’t take it anymore. I am just a horrible kid and I am so stupid.”

“Now, now, you are the best kid in 6th grade. You always follow directions and get good grades. You’re also a very great friend. So tell me again everything that you had said.”

I cleared my throat. I was about to tell her everything about this morning’s incident. Then Mrs. Mitchell said something that I was hoping nobody would ask me. “How did you hear that?” she asked.

“Uhhh, um may I use the bathroom?”

“Fine,” Mrs. Mitchell said.

I ran up to the bathroom, locked myself into a stall and burst out into tears. This was the worst day ever! I thought. But it felt good to let my emotions out. I came back to my senses. What was I going to tell Mrs. Mitchell when she asks me again the question? The same question I had in mind a few minutes ago came to me again: Should I just say a plain old lie or tell the truth? Mrs. Mitchell is a very trustworthy teacher!

I heard Mrs. Mitchell’s voice calling for me. So I took a quick glimpse at the mirror and wiped my tears away and left. I met Mrs. Mitchell back in her office.

“I was getting worried about you,” she said. Then she asked me the question that I hate so much. “How did you hear what your parents were saying?”

“Well, I kind of ish was listening to what my parents were saying without them knowing that I was doing that, but it was a mistake,” I said.

“So you were basically eavesdropping,” said Mrs. Mitchell.

“Well not really,” I replied. There was a long silence and then Mrs. Mitchell said that it was getting late and we better get going to the classroom. I looked at her clock. It was about to strike one and we had to go to back to the classroom for lunch. When we came back to the classroom everyone was reading their books and they all had their lunch cards with them.


Friends Go On The Wrong Side

In the lunch line to get my lunch, I wondered if my friends would ask me why I left the classroom or if they would talk about the stupid field trip that I’m not going to!

I sat down with my friends. We all were silent for a few minutes.

“Are you guys going on the D.C field trip?”  Katie said.  

Everyone replied, “Of course!” in harmony.

“What about you, Taylor?” Katie asked me.

“Well, I haven’t asked my parents yet, but I’m pretty sure they’ll say, ‘uhh, no.’” Just after I said that I regretted it. I sounded so stupid.

“Okay, just please ask your parents when you go home,” Katie said. All of my other friends agreed.  

I couldn’t believe it — I had disappointed my friends!!! I felt so awful. What had I done? I hadn’t completely told the truth, but I somewhat did.

At recess it was even worse. My friends kept asking me why I think my parents won’t let me go on the D.C trip with them, when they usually would allow me to do anything like that. My response to all of them except Mia was, “I’m not sure, because sometimes they don’t want me around.”

But to Mia it was different. Mia is the trustworthiest, worthiest, and best friend I’ve ever had in my whole life. She won’t tell any of my secrets to anyone else. She always does nice things for me. She helps me with my work when I’m struggling and so much more.

I took a deep breath, but no words came out.

“You know you can tell me anything, you know that right?” Mia said. I was quiet for a few seconds.

I told Mia EVERYTHING I had heard my parents say word for word. “I was partly eavesdropping and I had heard my parents say that I was going to be stuck with Aunt Riannon.” Mia knew how Aunt Riannon was because I’ve spoken a lot about her. It’s almost like she was there with me at Aunt Riannon’s house.

“Wow, that sounds nothing like your parents,” Mia said.

I guess, I thought.

Mia looked at me and saw that I had a really depressed face. “So, let’s talk about something else now,” she said.

“Sure,” I said, relieved. So we talked about school and art and we didn’t bring up the D.C. trip again for the rest of recess.

When it was time to go back to class, my friends kept giving me “Are you okay?” looks. We started packing up because it would be time to go home soon. Today, Mrs. Mitchell didn’t tell us to pack our bags as usual, but I thought maybe she forgot and she still wanted us to. So I went to get my book bag.

Just then I heard Mrs. Mitchell’s voice. “Don’t get your book bag, I have something to say about the D.C trip.”


I took a deep breath and said, “I’m going to put my head down and close my ears while you talk about the stupid field trip!” I had lost my voice but let out a few words.

“I — don’t care, uhhhmm, if I — don’t go in the, uhhhmm, field trip.”

“May I talk to you, Taylor?” Mrs. Mitchell said in a worried and mad voice. She took me into the hallway.

“We’re going into my office now, please.” Before I could reply we were walking down the hall. The last time I had gone this way I was going to repeat the stupid eavesdropping dilemma, but this time I was sure I was in big trouble.


Magic Has Taken Over My Body!


We arrived at Mrs. Mitchell’s office. But Mrs. Mitchell didn’t sit down or ask me to. So I just stood.

“This way,” Mrs. Mitchell said. She walked up straight into a brick wall and said the word Operiano, then the brick wall magically opened. I just stared at Mrs. Mitchell.

“Come on, we don’t have forever.”

This has to be a dream, I thought. I pinched myself. Ouch, well, it isn’t a dream. Mrs. Mitchell led me down a dark hallway. I swore I saw a teddy bear wearing a hat run into a closet.

Then I finally saw a little bit of light.

“Race you,” Mrs. Mitchell said. I looked at her confused, but she started running as fast as a cheetah. Wow, I thought.

I tried to catch up to her, but by the time I took my first step, Mrs. Mitchell was already outside. When I got out, I was panting SO hard, while Mrs. Mitchell looked completely fine.

“Wow you’re fast,” I said with my hands on my knees.

“Ran the Boston Marathon in a 1½ hours and other marathons in usually 30 minutes.” I looked at my teacher as if this was the first time I had ever seen her.

“No, no no, that can’t be true because when the kids were playing tag outside you were the slowest person and you kept getting tagged.”

“I did that on purpose because I didn’t want anyone thinking that I was fast, so they won’t want to race me or ask me questions about my life.” I just looked dumbfoundedly at Mrs. Mitchell.

“Come on, I really want to show you this.” Suddenly, Mrs. Mitchell looked like a teenager to me.

“How old are you?”

“Why?” she asked.

“Just curiosity.”


“Are you a Mrs.?”

“No.” Mrs. Mitchell laughed.

“Oh, then why do you not say anything when all the kids in class call you Mrs.?”

“I wanted you guys to think that I wasn’t that young.”

I saw a lot of candies flying through the sky.

“We better get going,” Mrs. Mitchell said. “It’s about to rain.”

As we continued toward the city, I wanted to talk with her more.

“What’s your whole name?”

“Taylor Caroline Mitchell.”

“We have the same first name!”

“Yeah… We gotta get going.”

“WHERE?” After all of the weird things I had seen, I wondered if everything I was seeing was fake or real.

“It’s a surprise.”

What a weird conversation I was having with Mrs. Mitchell, or should I say Ms. Mitchell or maybe Ms. Taylor, wait is it Ms. Caroline? My life just got so confusing in the last 30 minutes. AAAAAAAHHHHHH!!!

Ms. Mitchell and I were walking on a yellow brick road. I saw gingerbread houses, signs made out of lollipops, little fairies nibbling on gingerbread houses, and then gingerbread men screaming at the fairies as they broke down part of the gingerbread houses. Sad!

Then out of nowhere it started raining candy corn, Skittles, Mike and Ike’s, Hot tamales, M&M’s, 3 Musketeers, Air Head bits, Reeses Pieces, and more sweet treats.

“Oh dear, it’s raining,” Ms. Mitchell said.

I was running like a maniac to get candy in an old and rusty bucket that I had found on the floor.

“Oh my,” Ms. Mitchell mumbled under her breath.

But then she was right next to me.

“See who gets the most candy!”  

A few minutes later Ms. Mitchell said it was time to go and then in a really fast motion, I couldn’t breath, I was really dizzy and then I fell PLOP into the chair in Ms. Mitchell’s office. I was breathing SO hard.

“So how was that?” Ms. Mitchell asked.

“Great,” I wheezed. “Why’d you take me there?”

“I wanted to show you that you are not a stupid little girl and you’re really fun to be with. I wanted to show you that you can go up to your parent and ask them if that’s really what you heard.”

“You don’t understand, they’ll ask me a question that I hate.”

“I know exactly how you feel because I was in the same problem as you.”

Mrs. Mitchell took a breath.

“When I was young I had been awoken one morning and I heard my parents say that I was going to be stuck with my stupid aunt and I couldn’t go to the D.C. trip. Or at least that’s what I thought. All my friends would ask me about it. And, like you, any time my teacher was about to talk about the trip, I started to scream things. WHY DON’T YOU JUST TEACH A WHOLE LESSON ABOUT IT!”

I suddenly felt really ashamed about myself and also really, really, REALLY happy that Ms. Mitchell knew exactly how I felt.

“Why did you do that?”

“That is for you to figure out.”


“Come on, it’s time to go,” said Ms. Mitchell.

When I was walking, I was thinking about what Ms. Mitchell had said. Then all of a sudden I heard Ms. Mitchell’s voice.

“Watch out!”

I saw a big bowling ball flying toward me, a bat that was about to smack me in the face, and a lasso that was coming toward my neck. I felt confused, but I didn’t have much time. The rope was around my neck and I started choking. Then I felt the bowling ball hit me on the chest and the bat smacking my face. Then everything went blank.


I woke up in a soft, comfy bed. Ms. Mitchell was screaming at the kid who had hurt me. Then she became quiet and came toward me.

“Who was that you were screaming at?” I asked.

“It’s nothing. Just a kid who was horseplaying at school.”

I tried to get up, but halfway through everything got blurry and I gave up.

“I have some good news and bad news,” she said. “Let’s start with the bad news.”

“Is it about me?”

“Kind of, but not exactly. Your parents had to go on an emergency business trip and they told Aunt Riannon to take care of you.”

Before I could say anything, Ms. Mitchell continued.

“But the good news is, I refused to let Aunt Riannon take care of you because of all the bad stuff you said she had done to you and now you’re going to spend the weekend at my house, which means you’re going to have to stay with me after school and even help me grade papers. Lastly you can finish that math quiz I gave you this morning so you don’t get an F.”

Wait. Mom and Dad went on a business trip and didn’t tell me? They haven’t been acting at all like their normal selves today.

“Now that I told you the news,” Mrs. Mitchell said. “Just close your eyes for a minute and relax.” I did as told and then I heard Ms. Mitchell’s voice say, “Healoria.” All of a sudden I felt back to normal and I saw that the time was 4:55, which meant school finished 25 minutes ago.

“Come on, let’s go,” Ms. Mitchell said. I followed her to the classroom and there I saw MIA!!


D.C Trip Yes? or No?

“AHHH!!!” Mia screamed. I began screaming, too. I have no idea why. Then Mia and I stopped and laughed at the same time.

“Why were you screaming?” I asked. “Well, I was scared the principal had come in.”

Mia and I just stared at each other in an awkward silence for what seemed like  forever. Finally, Ms. Mitchell came in and said, “Girls, I need to tell you something very important.”

“Sure,” we replied in unison.

We were sitting near Ms. Mitchell’s desk.

“Okay,” she said. “Just take a deep breath and relax.

“Well, your parents have gone on a business trip-”

“Not Aunt Riannon,” I said.

“Please don’t interrupt, Taylor,” said Ms. Mitchell. “Where was a I? Oh yeah, well your parents have gone on a business trip to Poland and they can’t take care of you while they’re halfway across the world so I want you to fill out a form.”

Mia and I just shook our head. Ms. Mitchell gave us the form and it said:

House location: 5421 Broadway Street, Los Angeles, 54634

School: Brooks Global Studies

Parent Phone Number: (573) 374-5479

Person to contact in an emergency (other than your parents): Lia Mitchell

Their phone number: (573) 934-2043

Closest relative: Parents – Dad and Mom – David Jackson and Rachel Jackson

Teacher’s name: Taylor Caroline Mitchell

Grade: 6th


Taylor Caroline Mitchell and Taylor Jackson 


“Well, am I right with all the information? And please fill out your signatures. I know it’s not fair if I do it for you,” said Ms.Mitchell.

“You are right with all my information,” Mia said. “But how do you know that because none of the teachers in this school ask for your personal information?” I wasn’t listening to the next few words since I was trying to see what Mia’s form said, but this was all I saw was the house location, L.A.

“Well what do you think, Tay,” I heard Mia say.

“About what?” I was confused.

“Well, duh! DO YOU WANT TO STAY AT MS. MITCHELL’S HOUSE THIS WHOLE WEEK WITH ME?” Mia took a big breath and finished her sentence. “Since our parents have gone to a business trip to Poland.”

“Wait, explain,” I said.

“Well you see, like I just told you, our parents are in Poland.”


“Wait, can I continue?” said Mia.

“Yes,” I sighed.

“Where was I? Oh yeah. Well our parents went to Poland for a business trip and they were really worried about how we could go to the D.C. trip, so they asked Ms. Mitchell if she would take care of us.”

“Wait can you repeat the line about the trip?” I said, curiously.

“Our parents were really worried how we could go to D.C. trip,” said Mia impatiently.

“Wait so, am I going on the D.C. trip or not? I’m really confused right now. But that can’t be possible because I know. I heard my parents say I couldn’t go. (I might have misunderstood, but there’s only a 20 percent chance, well fine 70 percent, but what’s the big difference?)

I put the things together and thought back to the conversation I heard Mom and Dad having this morning:

“No, David, she can’t go with Aunt Riannon. She needs to stay with us, never Aunt Riannon.”

“But Rachel, she could maybe go on the trip with Ms. Mitchell.”

“We’ll think about it,” Mom had responded.

I can’t believe that it all made sense now.

“Oh my gosh, this is awesome. I really need to go,” I told Mia and Ms. Mitchell. “See you in a sec.”

I got the school phone and called my mom.

“Hello, who is this?” I heard this woman say.

“It is Taylor Jackson. Can you please give the phone to Rachel Jackson?

“Hellooooo,” I heard my mom talking in her fake accent.

“It’s me, your daughter, Taylor Lee Jackson,” I replied.  

“Oh hey honey,” Mom said in her normal accent. “What’s the matter?”

“Well the matter is that you’re in Poland and you left me with Ms. Mitchell and you didn’t even tell me. The problem is actually that you never told me that you were going to travel halfway across the world!” I replied.

“Honey, I was going to tell you the problem this morning.”

I had totally forgot that Mom and Dad had had the talk this morning. I was thinking that it was yesterday or the day before.

“But you looked sad and down,” Mom continued. “So we decided that it would be best to not tell you, so yeah.”

“Wow,” I thought. “Well bye,” I said.

I hung up. That was the most unusual talk I had with Mom. I returned to the classroom.

“Ready for the trip?” Mrs. Mitchell asked.

“Of course,” I replied.

Tiger Girl



“I won’t leave without you!” cried Layla, Tara’s mother.                         

“Don’t worry about me. Just take the baby and go,” said Jake, Tara’s father.

They had gotten lost in the jungle after bandits had ambushed and destroyed their village. Now a pack of wolves had begun to attack them. As the wolves charged forward, Jake picked up a stick to shoo the wolves away while Tara’s mother kept going.

Layla had no choice. She picked up Tara and ran like the wind. She ran and ran, deeper and deeper, into the jungle.


Meanwhile, in the thick of the jungle, there was a clearing where Mother Tiger had made her den. She was letting her three cubs, Romeo, Tina and Taylor, play outside. Romeo, the oldest, sprinted away with the middle cub, Taylor, to go to the field that was close to the den so they could race and play-fight. But Tina, the youngest, was full of adventure and mischief, so she quietly sprang away and wandered farther than ever before. She ended up in a flowery clearing. She looked up to the sky and saw that it was darkening to a bright red. Frantically, she started sniffing the ground to find her way home. By now, the stars were glittering in the night sky. Still sniffing, Tina stopped dead in her tracks. Now she had another problem: a human. Curiously, she followed the scent until she found a baby, wrapped in a blanket. The blanket read T-A-R-A. Tina widened her eyes in amazement. She had heard bad stories about humans, but this one seemed harmless.

“I’ll sniff her out to see if she’s dangerous,” Tina whispered. When she laid her head down on the baby, the warmth reminded her of Mother Tiger. Oh, how she missed her mother.

Finding that the baby was safe gave her a wash of relief. She was about to take the baby home by her jaws when she stopped.

“Wait. I can’t take the human to the den. Mother Tiger would get mad. I guess I should ask first,” she said. Tina found a shady tree and carefully laid the baby down, whispering, “I’ll be back,” before trotting home.

“Mother, there is a human baby far from the den,” Tina,  said padding frantically into the den.

Mother Tiger looked sternly at her. “Tina, how many times did I tell you NOT to go farther than the territory of the cave!” Mother Tiger thundered.

“But, Mother! There is a human baby out there! Should we care for her?” Tina trembled.

Mother Tiger’s expression softened. “No type of cub should be abandoned,” she agreed.

Tina led them to the clearing and bounded quickly to where Tara lay. Mother Tiger, her cubs and the Wise Monkey were astonished to see how quiet and calm the baby was, especially since she had no parents… that they knew of.


Tara was wondering when her mother would come back. She had never left her alone for so long, but Tara was positive her parents would return. All she knew was that her mother had left her and given her the memory necklace, the one that her mom always wore and that her grandmother had given to her mother. “Now it is my time to give it to you,” her mother had said, hugging Tara tightly before quickly running off.

Suddenly, Tara saw some animals coming. She grew curious. She had never seen animals before. She recognized the monkey, but he was holding a stick. And the other animals? She’d never seen that kind before, even in books. Because she could not walk or talk, she just lay there with her blue eyes wide open as she made gurgling sounds of curiosity.

“If you are going to keep this young human, I must give her one power,” the Wise Monkey announced.

“What is it!?” the cubs asked, full of envy.

The Monkey stroked his wise beard, which was full of fruits he had eaten for lunch. “The power of understanding animals,” he replied.

“Oh,” they said with their eyes twinkling, except for Romeo, who was still jealous. Instead of adopting this human, why couldn’t he just play?

So from that day on, Tara was a part of the Tiger family.




“Tara,” called Mother Tiger. “Time for dinner!”

“Coming,” said Tara.

Ten-year-old Tara was sitting on her favorite cliff, high above a lake. When she looked down, she could see the entire jungle. All of the trees and animals’ dens looked as tiny as toys. She was playing her favorite instrument, her bamboo flute, which was slung around her chest. Banana, her monkey friend, had given it to her on her 8th birthday.

She was wearing a rugged skirt and peach tank top that she had managed to scavenge at an abandoned campsite several months ago. She was also wearing a pearl necklace that her mother had given to her the minute she had disappeared. Being a human raised by tigers never really bothered her, but this day was different. She couldn’t think of this year’s birthday wish. All she could think of was finding her parents, but how could she tell this to her tiger family? Would it hurt them? She shrugged her shoulders, trying to dismiss the idea.

As Tara set down her flute, she let her dirty blond hair dangle down her waist. Her silver-blue eyes darted one last time to the lake as she climbed off the cliff and headed toward home. She had to admit, it was quite cozy. There was a small blanket that she scavenged at the corner of the den, and beside it she put all of her belongings. A tiny Teddy Bear. A bunch of birds’ feathers that she wrapped with vines. And, usually, her bamboo flute, which she had just set down next to the Teddy bear, and her pearl necklace.

Suddenly Tara heard her older tiger brother, Romeo, calling to her two tiger sisters.

“Race you!” he said, and started to sprint away from them.

“Hey, that’s not fair!” cried Tara, stomping her foot. “I want to play, too!” She charged after him, with Tina and Taylor running closely behind her.

“First,” called Romeo as he reached the den.

“Second,” called Tina as she followed him inside.

“Third,” called Taylor, padding behind Tina.

“Aw, I’m last. That’s not fair!” Tara said stomping her foot again. “Gurr!”

“Kids, it’s cattle meat today,” said Mother Tiger.

“Yeah!” They all cheered, for it was their favorite.


Later, Mother Tiger asked, “Your birthday is coming up, Tara. What do you want?”

“I didn’t want to tell you, but all I want is…” Tara said hesitantly.

“Go on,” said the siblings, annoyed.

Tara finally let it out. “Is my parents back.”

There was a moment of silence. Then Mother Tiger was brave enough to speak.

“Honey, but we are your real family.”  

“No you’re not. I am a human and you are tigers,” said Tara logically.

Tara heard Tina whisper, “I remember when you were a baby, I was so afraid this would happen.”

Tara looked down, ashamed of herself, but she knew she had to do this.

“It does not matter who you are. We are all family,” Mother Tiger replied.

“Yeah,” Tina said loudly. “And I was the one who found you and saved your life.”

“Mother,” Tara announced, completely ignoring Tina. “I think it is time I find my true family!” Tara stormed out of the den only to hear Tina whimpering.     



Tara began to sprint away from the cave. She could hear Tina’s faint voice, but did not look back.

“Not now,” Tara thought. She was desperate to find her parents. After a couple of hours, Tara was still trudging through vines and webs when she came across a meadow. The meadow was full of dandelions, marigolds and other flowers Tara didn’t even know about. The stars twinkled in the night sky, and that was the only light.

When Tara was halfway through the meadow she squinted and saw big, pointy things, and she wanted to check them out.

“Wow!” thought Tara as she drew closer and closer to the village. It seemed quite fascinating. As she examined one of the buildings, she realized that the square was made out of stone and the triangle was made out of wood. Tara went to take a look at the door. It had a monkey on it! Tara was so excited that she held on to the knob of the door, then accidently turned it.

“Oof!” She fell onto the floor.

“Oh Lord, it’s a child!” said a woman.

Tara looked up from the floor. She saw something she was supposed to be scared of, but for some reason she wasn’t: a human.

“Do you want something to eat?” asked the strange woman, trying to help her up. The woman’s voice didn’t sound like the animal voices she was used to, but Tara could understand her perfectly fine. “This must be part of my power,” she thought.

“No,” said Tara. Of course she was hungry, but she was not sure that the food was like Mother Tiger’s.

“Where am I?” She said, looking at up at a huge wooden structure with four legs and smaller structures that had four legs as well. “I hope that’s not a mother animal with her cubs,” she thought. She knew how mothers like to protect their cubs. On the other side, she saw a stone wall with a curved hole in it. When Tara tilted her head and looked through the hole, she saw more wooden cubs and a huge, soft animal. “Oh no,” she thought. “I’m surrounded.”

“You are at the home of the Rama family.”

“Oh,” said Tara, thankfully. Those aren’t animals. “So you call your den a home?”

“Yes,” said the woman confused about the ‘den’ part. “Don’t you know that?”

“No,” said Tara “I grew up in the jungle. I am looking for my parents. My dad is named Jake and my mom is named Layla.”

“Don’t you know anything else about them?” asked the woman.

“No,” said Tara “They disappeared without me.”

“Well, before you start looking, let’s get you some clean clothes and a nice jug of warm milk,” said the woman, taking her hand. “Let me take you upstairs to the bedroom.”

“What is your name?” Tara asked.

“My name is Sasha,” said the woman.

“My name is Tara.”

After that, Tara dressed neatly in a violet nightgown with lace at the bottom. It felt weird to Tara at first, but the dress began to be comfier than her old clothes. Tara began to awkwardly sit down on the soft “couch” that Sasha had directed her to, for she wasn’t so sure that it wasn’t an animal.

“Here, take this,” said Sasha, handing her a plastic cup.

“What is this?” asked Tara as she peered inside to see a white liquid.

“It is milk,” said Sasha.

Sasha was confused. Again.

After she had drunk her milk, Tara went to the bedroom to rest. Sasha had said that there was a big “bed” in the corner of the room. Tara found that bed and she had noticed that it was soft and had covers. It was warm and Tara preferred this to the floor.

Snug in bed, Tara thought of Mother Tiger, Romeo, Tina and Taylor. She heard crickets and wolves outside. She missed Mother Tiger’s warmth and protection. She missed them so much, she sobbed. But she knew that she would go through any cost to get her parents back.

It was a long, lonely night. Tara thought she could hear faint voices of her own mother singing a lullaby to her. It went like this:

Hush little baby. You are my only little sunshine. Let your inner self show and shine. Let all of this brighten your way. Good wishes to you this day. Hush little baby, I will get you a toy so it will bring you laughter and joy. So do not weep, my little one. Rest now, rest now in a deep sleep. Mommy will wake you with caring and loving eyes. Mommy will always love you, forever.


At breakfast Tara asked, “Can I go outside?”

“Sure, after you get dressed. Let me go fetch your clothes,” said Sasha pausing.

“What exactly are you going to do outside?”

“To begin my search for my parents,” Tara said casually. She didn’t want to make Sasha feel like she wasn’t thankful for her kindness.

“Oh,” Sasha said before quickly walking away.

Tara looked at the window. It was a bright, sunny morning. She could hear the robins tweeting their little songs. This made Tara homesick. For the songs the birds sang sounded like the waking call when she was with Mother Tiger. Through that open window a slight breeze came in. The trees outside looked dressed with blossoms like the middle of spring.

Sasha came back with a turquoise dress that had bright pink roses at the side. She also brought white leggings and white strap-up shoes.

“Wow,” thought Tara, “This outfit blends with the outside.”

Tara got dressed and headed toward the door.

“Wait!” said Sasha


“Here. Take this.” Sasha handed her a basket.

Tara looked inside. In the basket there was food, water, a blanket, a pillow, a fork, a knife, a spoon, and napkins. The night before, Sasha had taught her how to use those utensils, and Tara had no trouble at all. She said thank you and skipped down the gravel pathway.



The sun was high in the sky. That indicated that it was the afternoon. Tara was hungry so she decided to have a little picnic and laid out the blanket on the lawn, spreading out the food. There was salad and sandwiches and fruit. Tara only ate the fruit because she wanted to save the rest for later. Besides, she wasn’t too hungry yet. She enjoyed the juicy mango, the vine of plump grapes, and the soft banana. She had eaten these before with Banana, her monkey friend. They also used to sneak past their territory to go to the grove, which was full of fruit trees, which were always ripe. Even in the winter, the fruit was tasty. Just eating the fruit Sasha had given to her made Tara more homesick. She reached out her finger and imagined Banana’s tail wrapping around it.

Tara kept on going over hills, into valleys, taking shortcuts through forests by trees. It felt like she had just walked half the country. It was starting to get a little cold so Tara rubbed her arms for warmth, but that was no use. She wished Mother Tiger were here. Sitting on the branch of a tree, she looked at the basket in her lap and imagined inside there was a portal where she could just jump in and appear in Mother Tiger’s den.

The sun was a bit lower in the sky. It had become much chillier. A beautiful red, pink and purple sunset looked like someone had just painted the sky in warm colors. She smiled at the sunset. Pink, red and purple were her favorite colors; they reminded her of hope and love. She held her head up high, looking at the sky and bumping into trees a few times. But that was okay with her. As long as she could see the sunset, she could keep going.

The sky was starting to darken now, and Tara was hungry and wanted to go back home. She collapsed near the side of the paved road under a shady oak tree. She closed her eyes and fell asleep.

When Tara woke up, she saw that she had ended up in another village. But this one was more on a grassy plain. As she opened her eyes, she saw the sun just rising from the east side of the hills, casting a beautiful light. Birds were just coming out of their nests — purple, yellow, blue, red and black. As the beautiful springtime flowers waved through the soft breeze, she thought, “This is amazing.” She realized that the tree she was resting by was not an oak. It was a tree filled with beautiful pink blossoms. The other trees around her were filled with blue, violet and red blooms. Then she saw an  old woman wearing a purple shawl gradually making her way towards her.

“I didn’t expect for any humans to be around here,” she whispered. “I thought there would be animals,” she paused. “Lots of animals,” she said, looking at an open spot in the village where there were statues of tigers, eagles and rabbits. Before Tara could catch a glimpse of the rest of them, the old lady had finally gotten to Tara.

“Darling, are you Tara? I heard that you were looking for your parents, Layla and Jake.”

“Yes,” Tara said suspiciously. “Do you know anything about them?!” she said, eager to get a clue.

“Well, this might not help you, but they went to the jungle,” she paused and took a deep breath.“To run away from the bandits that attacked a nearby village,” and quietly added, “They disappeared.”

Tara sniffed, trying to control her emotions.

“Nobody knows about them now. Not even the folks that saw them run into the jungle,” the old lady said.

Tara felt her mouth tremble as she widened her eyes. She took a deep breathe and narrowed them.

“Thanks a lot!” Tara grabbed her basket and  jogged away, mumbling,” I came all this way for that? I’ll prove you wrong. I know it!”

“Wait,” called the woman in a feeble voice, but Tara was too angry to look back. Tara disliked her so much that she decided to not listen to that old lady. She did not even want to see the woman, ever again.

Tara looked down on her necklace and whispered, “Mom, I am coming for you, I promise. Just give me a hint – please – and not from an old lady.” Her necklace swayed to the right, even though there was no breeze. Well, she thought. Thanks for that hint. But I might need another one. Then Tara sprinted away.



Tara was storming down the narrow road, when a young looking man with black hair stopped his chestnut stallion right in front of her. She leaned back to see that he was wearing expensive riding gear and a helmet that looked like gold. She sighed. I do not need another person to tell me some fake facts, she thought.

The man looked down at Tara, surprised.

“What brings you here, young lady? Is it the nice weather, or your mother has sent you to fetch herbs, or your father is planting corn further along and asked for your help?”

“No,” giggled Tara, her annoyance dissolving. “I’m looking for my parents, they…” but before Tara could finish her answer, the man dismounted his horse and interrupted her.

“I’ve heard, I’ve heard,” he said stroking his chin then narrowing his eyes. “People have been hearing this as a rumor,” he paused. “But I know the truth about your parents.”

“Did I hear you correctly?” Tara said, questioning him. “Are you sure?” She thought about the old lady who claimed she knew the truth about her parents. “I’ve heard this story before,” she said. “Are you sure you know the truth?”

“Tara, this is Ryan Gold at your service!” He held out his hand. She slowly gave her hand to the man, and he firmly shook it. She had to wiggle her hand free, she put her hand behind her back and wiggled her wrist to make sure no bones were broken. Then she felt a piece of paper in her hand. Tara shoved it in her dress pocket to read later.

“Is there anything you know that could help my search?” Tara said.

“There is a lot I can tell you, but this is one basic thing: They’re dead, kid, they’re dead,” said the man. “Anything else? Cause I’ve got to go soon,” he said, reaching out his hand to grab Tara’s arm after taking a few steps forward.

“No,” Tara shakily, backing away getting ready to turn and run. This is was a time that I really need Mother Tiger’s protection, she thought.

“Well then, goodbye,” he said, getting back on the horse. “Canter!” the man said to his horse firmly, and it cantered away.

Tara ran. Faster than ever before, cutting off the road and into the forest. She continued running until she heard a twig snap. Then through the trees she saw a horse with Ryan on it! Tara recognized that shiny helmet and that chestnut horse. She put her legs in a running position, but before she could react, Ryan Gold had his horse just inches away from her. She started running – under trees, over rocks, through the forest she ran. Eventually Ryan caught up to Tara and jumped off his horse.

He grabbed  her arm and said, “My mission is not complete until that baby girl is captured — and that girl is you.”

Tara lifted up her back leg and kicked him in the chest, sending him falling to the ground and buying her enough time to run.

Tara was scared and was longing for Mother Tiger more than ever. To think that Ryan Gold was her “friend!” Now Tara was on the edge of a steep hill, Ryan at her tail. Suddenly an idea popped in her head. It’s quite risky, but it’s the only way she thought. She looked up at the sky, the same scenery from last night; this made Tara feel more confident. Tara charged at Ryan and asked the horse, “Can you buck the guy off?”

“Yeah, but I never tried because Ryan would whip me. I think he knows that I hate him,” he snorted.

“Will you at least try, just for me?”

“Okay,” the horse said, tossing his head to the side hesitantly.

“Excellent! Get Ryan at the edge of the hill and while I distract him you buck him off. Okay?”

“I won’t be surprised if I become a trading hide though,” the horse commented.

Tara swerved right, then left, dodging Ryan’s arm, while the horse was dancing around pretending to follow Ryan’s commands. Their plan had begun. By doing this, Tara gave the horse a chance to get to the edge of the hill and buck. The last vision Tara had of Ryan Gold was of him tumbling down the steep hill.

“Thanks,” Tara said smiling.

“No problem,” said the stallion. “It’s been a long time since I’ve done that.”

Tara giggled. “We’ll every job comes with a price, and I’ll pay you by,” she paused then taking of his reins and gear off, “setting you free!”

“Gee, thanks,” said the stallion stunned. “Really?”


“You can call me Morco, if you want to,” he said, resting his muzzle on her shoulder.

“Go now, Morco! You are a free horse. No one can capture you now!” Tara instructed with a tinge of sadness in her voice. She put her arms around his neck to hug him. Before she let go, she thought of how much she would miss him. He saved her life.  

“I’ll never forget you,” called Marco before galloping away and leaving a cloud of dust behind him.

Sitting down, sad and exhausted to see her new friend go, Tara took the piece of paper out of her skirt pocket and unrolled it. It was some sort of badge of military accomplishments. It read:

“Ryan Gold Lieutenant of the LBT (Legendary Bandit Team) attack on the Athen Village, killing thirteen people and then sent wolves to kill two escapees. Their baby still lives.”  

Tara started crying. She knew who those people were: her parents. “I guess the old lady was right,” she said between tears. “My mom and dad are dead.” For Tara now knew the painful truth.



Once she had pulled it together, Tara managed to haul herself off the ground and make her way to the road to go back to Sasha’s house. She had a hole in her heart that only her tiger family could fix. She missed them sorely.


Tara had walked for two hours and ended up at Sasha’s house. By now it was late evening and the sun was gone and the moon shone brightly with twinkling stars scattered across the pale grey sky. Tara decided that if she went to Sasha’s house that it would be a delay and all she wanted was to get back home. So she continued walking. Tara would miss Sasha badly, but she knew she would visit her. If she found her way back home, she would know where to find Sasha. She walked past the meadow and looked back. A tear trickled down her cheek and fell right on a dandelion. This tear was for everything: Sasha, her parents, and all the sad things that had happened in the past few days. Tara was still trudging through bushes when she saw her den, her siblings and….

“Mother Tiger!” She screamed, thrilled.

“Tara!”said Mother Tiger and Tina in unison.

“I am so glad to see you!” said Tara.

“Me too. Where have you been!?” said Mother Tiger.


“Well,” Tara paused. “It is hard to explain. I met a woman named Sasha and she took care of me. And I met a man and he told me that my parents were dead.” She sniffed. Tara had not gotten over that her parents died, but she managed not to cry.

“That is sad,” said Mother Tiger, for she too was surprised what her own “daughter” had been going through! Tara stepped into the cave, to see her section deserted, only her blanket and flute there. She was so glad to be home. Yes, it was different from the houses, thought Tara. But it was home.

That night Tara lay down her eyes closed thinking about the past days. Could it be true? It was hard to understand, even harder when you were brought up in the jungle. But from that day on Tara knew what family is:

Any animal or human that loves you and supports you no matter what.

The End



“Hey, where did everybody go?” I asked. Where all of my fellow ice cream cones would usually be playing, the forest was empty. The trees were not shaking from kids swinging in the trees, balls weren’t flying from the daily football game, and all the homes were empty.

Suddenly, the ground started to quiver. I jumped in fear. I felt like the world had frozen and I was in mid-air. Wait a minute, I thought. I’m just a holly, jolly ice cream cone. I don’t know fear. Happiness is the only emotion I DO know!

The squeakiest voice rang through the Fudgey Forest. It was very high pitched and sounded like a gummy rat from the Gummy Land.

“We have to get every last one of them for the boss,” it said.

Two big, blue shoes walked right by me when a giant shouted, “Hey, there’s one! Get him.”

A giant net scooped me up. Is this the end, I wondered. Is this the end of my village? All of the others must have been captured. A tiny, blue tear fell out of my eye followed by a white drip of ice cream. My vanilla was melting.

Wait a minute, I thought. This is kind of fun. Being the ice cream that I am – always happy no matter what – that little water drop sucked right back into my eye.

“Weeee, rollercoaster ride, weeeee!” I cried out with glee.

The net loop-de-looped over a rock and through the thick trees. As the huge people took massive steps away from our village, I looked through the thick ropes.

“I think that’s all of them. Let’s go,” the giant said.

“Where are we going, boys?!” I asked. I was very concerned. I had never left my village before.

“Quiet, little man,” the voice squeaked. The next thing I knew, I was dumped into an empty box.

I sat still on the ride to somewhere, thinking about my old friends who always wanted to explore the colossal world: the world of candy. This could be the adventure I’ve been wanting – to the other side of the world.

When we arrived, I saw a big box with wheels. I read the words, “Ice Cream Truck” in rainbow, bubble letters.

The giant said, “He’ll go for about three dollars.”

A little boy walked up to the giant and said, “One, please.”

“That’ll be three dollars. Pay up!”

“Here you go,” the little boy replied.He seemed like a nice kid to go home and play with.

The next thing I knew, something grabbed me. The giant’s hand, with five long, pointy fingers wrapped around my cone. The giant handed me to the boy. I could just see how hungry the boy was by looking in his eyes. He bared his teeth. The big, dangling thing in the back of his mouth was almost touching the tip of my ice cream top. I screamed, and a crack rippled through my cone.

But wait… what’s scared? I have only ever felt happiness, I thought.

Then I yelled as the little boy tried to eat me. I could see the hunger in his evil, little eyes.

“Stop right there. That was not enough,” another new giant shouted. He looked at me like I was the most important thing in the world. “This one is priceless.”

The boy jerked back his hand away from his mouth, and I gasped.

“Well, sir, that’s all the money I have,” the boy said.

“Now get out of here, scat, goodbye, hasta la vista,” he said as he waved with his devious smile. “Boys, shut down the truck. It’s time for a little magic!”

When we got back in the dark truck, the man started to wave his hands.

“Hi!” I said politely. I stood and waited and waited and waited. Finally, I started to spin and spin super fast ……whoosh.

I was flying through a portal.

“AHHHHHHH! This is so scary!” Wait, I thought. What is scary? “Can anybody tell me what scary is??”

Out of the portal, I landed right on a race track. I saw all my old buddies from the village. As I scanned the crowd, some moaned as they glanced at me. Others cheered. And some just sat quietly. Some people just didn’t get my sense of humor. And I guess I did laugh at the wrong time every now and then.

“Hey guys, what’s happening?” I looked and saw a race track that was licorice black. I hopped over to everybody and gave everyone a cone bump.

My old friend Joebob shook my hand. Then we kicked sprinkles onto each other. “What’s up, Pollyo? Are you chillin?”

“Yeah!” I said. “What are you up to?”

“We’re in a race. The winner gets three wishes.” Joebob’s ice cream started to slide. “We’re losing!” He said disappointedly. “If we lose, we’ll never get out of here.”

“Gooooo, team!” I shouted as Joebob hopped into the big thing with wheels.

Zoom! The wheels spun on Joebob’s car as he zipped and zoomed around the track.

“And there goes Joebob.” The announcer’s voice boomed throughout the stadium. “He is pulling away – the cones are in the lead!” I hopped in one of the empty cars.

Joebob zoomed passed me as the race wore on. I started to do a victory dance. I just knew we would win. Then something went down. My car zoomed off at top speed. It jerked over into a turn and went on two wheels. I started to fall over.  I gained control and zoomed around the track toward the finish line.

Everybody started to shout.

“Pollyo, Pollyo, Pollyo!”

I crossed the finish line. A great voice thundered from the sky. “And the winner is, POLLYO and The Ice Cream Team.”

The other candies crossed the line behind me. Some of them kicked their cars because they were so mad. Others were praying that they would be able to get out of this dreadful place, even though they had not won. The Ice Creams were cheering on Pollyo and telling him what to wish for.

“It’s time to get your wishes,” the voice thundered again.

“Wish that we can get out of here,” the ice cream crowd instructed. Their eyes were hopeful.

“Okay, okay,” I said, faking like I was listening. I couldn’t wait to make my wishes.

The crowd started to settle. Some of the ice creams began to melt from sweating. Everybody was waiting for me to make my wishes.

I could hear the announcer’s deep breathing.

“Can I have hands, a banana blaster, hmmmmmmmmmmmmm, Oh! And a Giant chicken sandwich?” In a split second, I had made all three of my wishes.

Many of the other groups and all of the cones shouted, “NOOOOOO! You ruined our chance of getting home!” I smiled and stood silently staring at the devastated people. Everyone walked by me giving me a look that looked like the boy’s eyes. I slept on the cold, hard ground while the others made a large village and a warm fire.

The next day, I frolicked into the village.

“Can we ask the voice in the sky how to get out of here?” I asked, looking at the sweets around me–only a few cones, a gummy bear and a nerd.

“No. There’s no way. We’re stuck,” said the nerd. He had to be right because he was the smart one.

“Maybe Pollyo is right,” said Montana. She was wearing her usual pink, sparkly cowboy hat on top of her cone. “That mountain up there has been glowing,” she announced in her country accent. All of the pieces of candy grabbed their bags and started to hike up to the mountain.

When Montana, Joebob, and I reached the bottom of the mountain, camp had already been set up for the night. I rolled out my sleeping bag and fell asleep instantly.

In the middle of the night, something woke me up. I yawned. Then I heard it again – a rustling in Montana’s sleeping bag.

“Montana, what are you doing?”

“Climbing that mountain.” She stood up taller, her sprinkles shimmering.

“Can I come?”

I watched as Joebob hopped out of his sleeping bag, already in his climbing cone.

“Y’all weren’t planning this without me?” I said sadly, imitating Montana’s country accent. “Gosh darn, can anyone tell me what this emotion is.”

“Nope,”Joebob replied. “Can’t feel it either.”

We sneaked out of the tent, carefully trying not to wake any of the other cones.

We bounced up the gumdrop mountain, getting closer and closer to the glowing object. It got brighter and brighter as we got farther up. As I hopped, I noticed mallo cream beneath my cone, like snow. From a distance, I could hear a strange noise. Screaming skittles were tumbling down the mountain. As a purple one came close, Montana lassoed it with her bright ping lasso.

“What’s happening?!” she yelled. The skittle tried to wriggle free of her firm grip, but kept screaming. A Hershey’s bar came speeding down the mountain next, alongside four, sweet-looking flopping fish. The Hershey’s bar broke into four so the flopping fish could dodge us, but the youngest ran right over Joebob, sending him tumbling down the mountain. I wanted to bounce down the mountain and pounce on that stupid fish.

Wait a minute. What’s this emotion? I’m freaking out. I’ve never felt that before. I continued to bounce up the gumdrop mountain as the glow got brighter.

The light started to melt my ice cream and began to turn into a golden, glowing liquid.

“Empty your Canteen!” Montana yelled. “Let’s bring some of this goo to the camp so we can analyze it.”

We scooped up most of goo and found a gummy fish who offered us a ride down the mountain. When we got to the bottom of the mountain, Joebob laid crippled on the ground. His cone was cracked. The Hershey bars jolted to a stop and the canteen flew out of my hand. It slammed against the ground. The goo started to seep out of the bottle. When it tapped into JoeBob, the blinding light returned. Then it faded. Suddenly, Joebob’s cone was no longer cracked. Joebob was ready to climb up the mountain again. I look at the crack I had gotten when the boy was about to eat. I poured the elixir onto it and  felt a surge of energy. Another blinding flash of light.

The others started arising from their tents. When Dr. Squishy Muffins came from her tent, Montana whispered, “Stick the elixir in your bag now. Don’t talk to Dr. Squishy Muffins or Dr. Rainbow Sprinkles.”

My smile dropped into an “O.”

“I thought they were supposed to analyze the elixir,” I said.

“Just put it in your bag.” Montana tossed me the bag.

The next morning when I woke up the Mountain was gone and there were snowflakes the ground. There were many dippin’ dots scattered across the small hill. Other cones started to wake up and I told my usually early morning jokes. The whole town was laughing.

A great rumbling suddenly shook the ground. The commotion caused a few of the cones to fall over. The dippin’ dots started to roll into the cup. I was confused and a little scared. Not another feeling, I thought.

Legs popped out of the bottom of the cup. The face on the outside of the cup went from a smile to a ghostly grin. The Dippin Dotter had risen! It stood to its full height and looked at all of the candy ferociously, just like the boy who almost ate me.

“Fe, Fi, Fo, Fum!” the Dippin Dotter roared. “I see candy. Yum, yum, yum!”

Everyone stood stunned in amazement. Then, finally, I got to action. The banana blaster was already in my hands. I began to shoot the bananas at the giant’s grumpy face.

The design was halfway finished. His frown was almost turned upside down. The final bananas landed onto his now-happy face. The dippin dotter tumbled to the ground.

“PollyO! PollyO! PollyO!” All of the candy chanted just like at the race. This time, I didn’t mess it up.

The Dippin Dotter finally melted, but his drippings stayed for days and days, forming a pool of melted dippin dots.

“Guys, we should jump in!” said Josh, the Juicy Drop Taffy. He was a crazy stunt double who had been featured in the movie Sugar Rush as the perfect stunt double for the star, Tangy Tim.

“He has been right every other time,” Professor Cameron, the purple nerd, who is the smartest candy in the history of the world.

“I’ll go in first,” said Josh.

Catie the Riddle Skittle mystery solver examined the mysterious goo and said, “Josh, you’re a okay to jump!”

Josh revved his banana split and disappeared into the goo.

We waited days and days for Josh to come up. I was as worried as pop rocks before hitting a tongue. The professors and scientists started to examine the goo and test the substance. Women and children started to cry and even though I was worried, I just kept on cheering people up. On the final day when everyone was starving and wanted to eat each other, Josh finally popped out of the goo and had an exciting announcement.

“Guys, it’s home!” he announced.

The group stood stunned. Some stuttered, “Wha-what does he mean?”

“It’s home,” he repeated. “It’s where we used to live. The goo is a portal to our home!”

The group up front, mostly nerds examining the goo, hopped right into the portal.

Joebob, Montana and I waited in the back of the line for an hour. We started to get closer and closer to the goo. Finally, we reached the front of the line. The goo’s color started to change from a beautiful candy purple to a licorice black the same color as the race track.

“Hurry! Jump in!” yelled Montana. We all three looked at each other. Joebob hugged me until my ice cream started to gush out of the top of my cone.

“POLLYO!” Montana grabbed me, leaned over and kissed me.

“What’s this emotion?” I asked.

“Love, PollyO, Love.”

The Never-Ending Story (of the Purple Doughnut)


Once upon a time, a purple doughnut jumped onto the table. Suddenly a giant hand came down from the heavens and seized the doughnut.

“Please, don’t eat me,” said the doughnut, covering its eyes.

“How will you stop me?” said the giant in a gruff, gravelly voice.

“If I tell you a story, will you let me go?”

“If you don’t, I’ll smash your crust to make my cake, and if you do tell me a story, I’ll smash your crust to make my cake anyway.”

He’ll kill me if I do, and he’ll kill me if I don’t, the doughnut thought. There’s only one way to get out of this.

The doughnut cleared his throat and began to speak.


“Once upon a time, a purple doughnut jumped onto the table. Suddenly, a large hand came down from the heavens and seized the doughnut.”

“’Please, don’t eat me,’” said the doughnut, covering its eyes.

“‘How will you stop me?’” said the giant in a gruff, gravelly voice.

“‘If I tell you a story, will you let me go?’”

“‘If you don’t, I’ll smash your crust to make my cake, and if you do tell me a story, I’ll smash your crust to make my cake anyway.’”

He’ll kill me if I do, and he’ll kill me if I don’t, the doughnut thought. There’s only one way to get out of this.

The doughnut cleared his throat and began to speak.


“’Once upon a time a purple doughnut jumped onto the table. Suddenly, a large hand came down from the heavens and seized the doughnut.'”

“’Please don’t eat me,'” said the doughnut, covering its eyes.

“‘How will you stop me?’” said the giant in a gruff, gravelly voice.

“‘If I tell you a story, will you let me go?'”

“‘If you don’t I’ll smash your crust to make my cake, and if you do tell me a story, I’ll smash your crust to make my cake anyway.'”

He’ll kill me if I do, and he’ll kill me if I don’t, the doughnut thought. There’s only one way to get out of this.

The doughnut cleared his throat and began to speak.


“’Once upon a time a purple doughnut jumped onto the table. Suddenly, a large hand came down from the heavens and seized the doughnut.'”

“’Please don’t eat me,'” said the doughnut, covering its eyes.

“‘How will you stop me?’” said the giant in a gruff, gravelly voice.

“‘If I tell you a story, will you let me go?'”

“‘If you don’t I’ll smash your crust to make my cake, and if you do tell me a story, i’ll smash your crust to make my cake anyway.'”

He’ll kill me if I do, and he’ll kill me if I don’t, the doughnut thought. There’s only one way to get out of this.

The doughnut cleared his throat and began to speak…