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The Most Ticklish Turtle in Town

Thomas was a red-eared slider turtle.  He was called a red-eared slider, because he was able to slide off of rocks easily in the pond, and there were small red stripes around his ears.  Sometimes he put a claw in each ear hole and made faces at himself in the bathroom mirror.  He also liked to admire his red stripes.

One day when he had his eyes closed and was reaching for a towel to dry his face after washing it, his sister walked up behind him and grabbed his sides – the squishy part of his body underneath his hard shell.

Thomas let out a loud cry and jumped a foot off the floor.  His sister laughed, “Ha, ha!  Gotcha!”

He turned to her with angry eyes and yelled, “Don’t do that, Tamara!  I don’t like to be tickled by surprise!”  He finished wiping his face and hung up the towel.

“Why?”

“I don’t know.  It makes me feel funny.”

She snickered, “Well, it’s supposed to!  Tickling is supposed to make you laugh, and laughing is funny.  Besides, everyone knows you’re the most ticklish turtle in town.”

“Yeah, well, I don’t like being surprised like that.  I hate being grabbed in the sides.  So please don’t do it anymore, okay, Tamara?”

Tamara hung her head and slunk away muttering quietly, “Okay, Thomas.  I’m sorry.”  (But she thought to herself, “until next time!”)

Thomas went to his bedroom, put on his favorite baseball cap and jersey, picked up his mitt, and ran out the door without saying good-bye to Tamara.

He walked down to the baseball diamond at the park to look for Garrett.  They were supposed to meet there to toss the baseball around after lunch.  When he reached the dugout where they usually sat after playing, no one was there.  He still felt angry at Tamara, but he decided to look down in the dirt for money which he and Garrett sometimes found lying there.  Just as he spotted a shiny quarter and bent down to pick it up, someone grabbed his sides and tickled him.  Not only did it scare him, but he lost his balance and fell over on his back.  He wobbled around on the back of his shell and stretched his neck and front legs out so he could flip himself over when he heard a familiar laugh.  Then someone grabbed his front leg and pulled him up which brought him face-to-face with Garrett.

Garrett’s laughter was met with Thomas yelling, “Why did you do that?”

Garrett said, “Sorry, buddy.  I was just playing around.  Besides, everyone knows you’re the most ticklish turtle in town.”

“Yeah, yeah.  I’m so tired of being called that!  You would think by now everyone would realize how much I hate being sneaked up on and tickled!”

Garrett looked at the ground and said, “Sorry, Thomas.  I just came by to tell you I can’t play today.”

“What?  Why not?”  Thomas felt even more frustrated at the disappointing news.

“My mom has to take me to the shell doctor.”  He turned around and showed Thomas a big crack in the side of his shell.

“How’d you do that Garrett?”

“I fell off the wall in front of our house.”

“What?  How’d you get up there?  It has to be two feet off the ground!”

“There was a wide board leaning up against it so I walked up it towards the wall.  Then my back foot got caught in a big hole in the wood.  I sort of did a twist, and as I fell, I heard my shell crack against the edge of the board.”

Thomas hesitated, then asked, “Did it hurt?”

“Yeah.  When I fell…..”

Thomas interrupted and said, “Good!  I get hurt somehow almost every time someone tickles me by surprise!  You deserve it, Garrett!”

Garrett scowled.  “Hey!  I said I was sorry, Thomas.  I won’t tickle you anymore, okay?”

“Whatever.  I’m leaving.  I’m glad you can’t play.  I don’t feel like it now anyway!”  Thomas turned and ran away.

Garrett yelled, “Fine!  I don’t think I’ll meet you here tomorrow either then.”

Garrett’s feelings were hurt.  He really hadn’t meant to make Thomas angry.  Then he thought about all the times Thomas had asked him not to walk up behind him and tickle him like that.  He felt badly, but when he looked up, Thomas was already gone.

Thomas decided to wander over to the pond.  He saw his friend, Maya, which already made him feel better.  She was the nicest friend he knew.  Maya was a painted turtle so her shell was flatter than Thomas’s, and a deep olive green color.  She had bright yellow stripes on her face.  Thomas thought she was beautiful.  He had known her since they were two years old.  They had both had their 12th birthdays that year.

She crawled out of the cool water just as Thomas ran down the hill and jumped off a rock making a huge splash.

Maya laughed and yelled, “Good one, Thomas!”

Maya ran up the hill, turned around, and yelled, “Watch out, here I come.”  Then she came barreling down the hill, but at the edge of the pond she spread out all her legs, went flying through the air, suddenly pulling all her legs in and did a cannonball and splashing Thomas.

When she came out of the water, Thomas was grinning widely, but she was coughing and sputtering water.   “Wow, Maya!  That was a great jump.   Are you okay?”

“Sure.  I never get hurt doing that, but I always get water up my nose and sometimes swallow some.  She smiled and said, “But it’s just so fun.”

She swam over to him giggling and asked, “So how’s the most ticklish turtle in town doing today?”

Thomas burst into tears and said, “Don’t call me that, Maya.”

She crawled out onto the bank of grass and sat beside him.  “Whoa, what’s the matter Thomas?  I didn’t think that nickname bothered you that much.  I’m sorry.”

He cried for a minute and then said, “Well, it does.  It isn’t the nickname so much.  I probably am the most ticklish turtle in town.  What I hate is when others come up behind me and tickle my sides by surprise.  I really don’t like it at all.  It scares me and then I feel embarrassed.  Both my sister and Garrett did it to me just this morning!  I was so mad, I yelled at both of them.”

“Oh, that’s too bad, but they need to stop doing that.  I know what you mean by it scaring and embarrassing you, too.  My brother tickles my feet all the time.  I don’t like it either.  Sometimes he gets a hold of me and won’t stop, and I accidentally pee myself!  That is really embarrassing.  Then I cry.  Tickling is only fun when I’m letting someone do it at the same time that I’m tickling them.  Then I have more fun, because I know what’s coming and laughing feels good then.”

“I know.  I keep trying to tell my sister and my friend, Garrett that, but they just won’t listen!”

“I try to tell my brother, too, but he just gets mad and calls me a baby.  That hurts my feelings.  I am not a baby just because I tell him to stop doing something I don’t like.”

“What are we going to do about it, Maya?  I am so tired of this.”

“I don’t know if there is anything we can do.  It’s really annoying when others won’t listen to us when we tell them to stop doing something that makes us feel uncomfortable.”

They sat in silence for a few minutes thinking about how to solve their problem.  Maya’s face brightened suddenly.

Thomas asked, “Did you think of something?”  She grinned, and he said, “You did think of something didn’t you?”

“Yeah.  I think I did.”  She smirked and nodded her head, then leaned over and began to tell Thomas her plan.

——————

        The next morning Thomas was in the kitchen getting his breakfast.  He didn’t hear his sister sneak up behind him, because he had his earbuds in listening to his music.  He felt little nudges on his sides and turned to see Tamara rubbing her front feet together.  She started to cry.  Thomas felt a little bad but he took one earbud out and asked, “What’s the matter, Tamara?”

She cried, “What is that under your shell?  I tried to tickle you, but my feet feel like I got stabbed by something!  It hurts!  What do you have under there?”

Thomas grinned and said, “You mean ‘who’ is under there?”

Tamara’s eye’s widened.  “What?”

Then Thomas bent over to one side and then the other.  Sitting underneath the sides of his shell were his baby twin porcupine friends, Patty and Paulie.  They pulled in their heads to hide when they saw Tamara’s angry and confused face.

She said to them, “Your quills are sharp!”

In unison they said, “Sorry!”

“How come they aren’t hurting your sides, Thomas?”

“I stuck some padding to my sides before I let them sit there.”

Patty snickered and said, “Thomas gave us some yummy pineapple and said he would give us more if we hid under his shell.  He didn’t tell us why, and we didn’t ask.  We just wanted the pineapple!”

Tamara laughed, “Well, it did hurt, but…”  Then peering at Thomas with a look of shame she said, “I deserved it.  I guess I wasn’t listening all the times you told me to stop tickling you.  I’m sorry, Thomas.  I will never do it again.  I promise.”

The baby porcupines smiled as Thomas bent down so they could crawl out of his shell.  He handed them a big pineapple and opened the kitchen door for them.  The pineapple was so large that they had to carry it together.  They waddled away yelling, “Thank you, Thomas!”

He laughed and hollered back, “You’re welcome!”  Then he asked Tamara if she wanted to go play a game.  She happily said yes.

Later that day his friend Garrett came over. He had called Thomas the night before to apologize again so Thomas forgave him.  Garrett hadn’t promised not to tickle Thomas anymore, though, but Thomas wasn’t worried.

After Garrett arrived, Thomas reached up to get his baseball mitt off the shelf and expected Garrett to try and tickle him.  He waited a moment, but nothing happened.  He turned around and said, “Hey, why didn’t you try to tickle the most ticklish turtle in town, Garrett?”

Garrett shook his head and exclaimed, “Are you kidding?  Tamara told me about the little prickly friends you have hiding under there.”

Thomas laughed and showed his sides to Garrett.  He said, “Nope!  No one’s under there now.  But I hope you guys learned your lesson.  I hate being tickled by surprise!”

Garrett held up both his front feet and backed up a little saying, “Buddy, you got it!  I promise I will never tickle you again.  I’m really sorry, too.”

“Thanks, Garrett.  I’m sorry I said you deserved to get hurt.  I didn’t really mean that.  Let’s go play some baseball now, okay?”

“Okay!”

When they walked by the pond on their way to the park, Maya was sitting on a rock sunning herself.  She and Thomas winked at each other as he and Garrett walked by.

Then Thomas became known as the trickiest turtle in town.”

The End

© Patsy H. Parker

Have a wonderful day, and give someone you love a big hug!  🙂

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Jane Yolen, Picture Book Author

Hello Friends,

I have not posted in a while because I honestly have not had the energy!  My daughter left to go visit a friend in Missouri for Spring Break!  I hope she has a wonderful time.

In the meantime, I am doing a lot of reading.  I began reading “Animal Farm” which is pretty great. Both of my kids read it for school, and my husband read it years ago.  I think it is amazing and insightful already, and I am only 28 pages in!

I also began painting my drawings for my picture book, Larry the Lonely Leatherback Sea Turtle.  I am going to try to take pictures of them and put the text with them, then upload it on WordPress and try to make a “book” that can be looked through like it would appear if it was printed on paper.

In the meantime, here are some encouraging words from Jane Yolen.  I have yet to check out any of her books from the library, though, because I just learned about her the other day.  Enjoy!

Have a wonderful day, and give someone you love a big hug!  🙂

http://www.juliehedlund.com/jane-yolens-20-rules-of-writing

New friends

Another writer’s food for thought! 🙂

Trudi Murray

a skipping chip

It’s always been my intention to write and illustrate children’s books. I’ve been banging on about it for what feels like the whole of my life. It doesn’t matter how long, really – I do think everything happens in its own good time, when all the factors are right. I don’t know exactly what’s been holding me back though – perhaps a fear of not being good enough, or a worry that I’ve got nothing new to say, or that I can’t draw the pictures very well. Or maybe not as well as so and so, that famous person, or such and such that acclaimed artist.

Of course I can’t! And nor should I want to. They are them, and I am me. I must do it in my own way, as only I can, respecting my own self, and waiting to see what happens. And I have stories coming out of my ears. And so I’ve made a solid…

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Counting Book Idea

Hello Friends,

A while back I wrote out this little counting book idea (to teach toddlers/preschoolers about femal sea turtles, but the one I did first was much too difficult to illustrate.  I re-did it and thought this one might be easier, but I haven’t really done any doodles for it yet.  The problem with this I think is that the counting is really more for rhyming instead of actually giving a child something to count! HA, HA!!  These things just come to me sometimes…another idea that needs lots of work!

So here it is!

1, 2, swimming in the blue.  (Picture of mama sea turtle swimming alone in the ocean.)

3, 4, paddling up to shore.  (Picture of mama sea turtle paddling to shore.)

5, 6, splashing water with her kicks.  (Picture of all of her fins splashing water.)

7, 8, reaching shore where her eggs she’ll lay.  (Picture of her digging the sand and making the hole for her eggs.)

9, 10, swimming out to sea again.  (Picture of her swimming back out to the ocean.)

I think the rhythm gets off on the 7, 8 line and the grammar would be weird for kids!  Oh well, back to the writing board!

Have a wonderful day, and give someone you love a big hug!  🙂

Ezra Jack Keats – Barrier Breaker

 

Hello Friends,

Two days ago I went to the library and browsed the children’s picture books.  I stumbled onto “The Snowy Day” by Ezra Jack Keats.

This picture book was one of my favorites when I was a kid. However, I had not realized the many books he wrote that I had never heard of.  Another favorite of mine that he wrote and I used to read to kids when I was a preschool teacher is “Whistle for Willie” about a little boy named Peter who is trying to learn to whistle so his dog, Willie, will come to him.

I love the simplicity of the story about Peter and his dog, Willie.  I also never realized when I was younger that Ezra Jack Keats had illustrated his own stories as well.  When I worked with preschoolers, I was not learning any art so sadly did not pay much attention to illustrators like I do now.  However, I have always loved most picture book art I have encountered.

The reason I wanted to post about Ezra Jack Keats is to bring up the issue of diversity in children’s literature.  Back in the early 1990’s when I was working with preschoolers, I took a multi-cultural class in the child development field of study.  It was one of my favorite classes.  The instructor covered the issues of racial and sexual identity in children’s literature using Ezra Jack Keats as one example and the book “Heather Has Two Mommies” as another.  She brought up the point with “Heather Has Two Mommies” that all types of families need to be given recognition in children’s literature.  Back then gay parents were beginning to raise the controversial issue of having children. Lesléa Newman {the author} related:

The idea for Heather came about one day when I was walking down Main Street in Northampton, Mass., a town known for its liberalism, tolerance of difference, and large lesbian population. On this particular day I ran into a woman who, along with her female partner, had recently welcomed a child into their home. “We have no books to read our daughter that show our type of family,” the woman said. “Somebody should write one.”

Here is a link to the article about her: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heather_Has_Two_Mommies

Back when I was taking child development classes I could not believe how much my eyes were opened to the fact that generally, most characters in children’s literature are predominantly Caucasian.  And to be completely honest I was not the more open-minded person back then that I am now either.  I was not open to reading anything to children that had to do with having two moms or two dads.  I gave no consideration to the LBGTN+ community at all.

Thinking over my past brings me to the question: Does the depiction of predominantly Caucasian people in children’s literature even today mean we still don’t have enough people writing children’s books about other races or sexual orientation?  Perhaps, but I sure hope not! Many people of color are writing about their own cultures more and more, but the percentage of these writers compared to Caucasian writers is still very low.

Now.  Getting back to Ezra Jack Keats.  What I found most interesting about him is that he was Caucasian and Jewish.  Yet he proved to be instrumental in beginning to break the color barrier in picture books when he created his African American character Peter back in the 1960’s.  If you would like to learn much more about him, you can read a short biography about him here:  http://www.ezra-jack-keats.org/ezras-life/.

I suppose right now I am struggling with a strong desire to pursue my old dream of writing children’s stories but finding I have little energy to work as hard at it as I should!  I have always loved stories about people from all over the world.  After all I believe the United States is a very culturally diverse nation which is where I live; if only racism and sexism did not exist!  However, that most likely will never be the case which is sad.  (So why am I writing about sea turtles anyway?  Ha, ha!)

I really think, though, that it is high time we all over the world begin looking outside of ourselves and our own culture, race and sexual orientation and accepting others who live and believe differently than we do.  It doesn’t mean we have to give up our spiritual beliefs if we have any.  It doesn’t mean we have to give up any preferences for how we choose to live.  So why should anyone of any other race than Caucasian or anyone in the Lesbian/Gay/Bi-sexual/Transgender+ lifestyle be expected to give up the way they want to live just because others might be a little uncomfortable with it?

I believe there is just one thing we all need to give up: Our own pride.  Maybe then we can all live the ideal ending to every old storybook I ever read:  happily ever after.

Have a wonderful day, and give someone you love a big hug!  🙂 

 

 

 

 

Lenny the Laughing Leatherback – Revision #1

Hello Friends!  I’m still playing around with this story!  This time I put in parentheses what kind of pictures I would want to do since it would potentially be a picture book.  I would still like to hear what you think!

 

Lenny the Laughing Leatherback

Lenny laughs.  He laughs when jellyfish sting other fish. He snickers when octopuses get tangled up in seaweed. He howls when abalone get snatched off the rocks by divers.

The fish who get stung by jellyfish do not like Lenny.  (Picture of jellyfish stinging fish and Lenny laughing)

The octopuses who get tangled up in seaweed hate Lenny.  (Picture of octopuses tangled in seaweed and Lenny laughing.)

The abalone who get snatched up by divers loathe Lenny!  (Picture of diver’s huge hand capturing an abalone and Lenny laughing.)

When Lenny swims by them…

the fish frown.  (Picture of frowning fish.)

the octopuses ogle their eyes.  (Picture of octopuses with their eyes rolled up and angry looks.)

the abalone stamp their sticky feet!  (Picture of abalone with their ‘feet’ stamping on rocks.)

(Picture of Lenny swimming right up to the others with an angry look on his face and his chest puffed out at them.)

(Next picture is of all those creatures running away and hiding from Lenny.)

Lenny laughs and begins swimming away but is not looking where he is going.  He runs right into a huge wall of coral!  (Picture of him hitting the wall and saying ‘ouch!’  Then he holds his head with a pained expression and stops to rest on the bottom of the ocean but looking very angry!)

The fish hiding in the seaweed are laughing.  (Picture of the fish scattering and hiding in the seaweed as Lenny is glaring at them.)

The octopuses camouflaged in the coral are whispering, “P…p…poor L…L…Lenny b…b…bumped his big fat head!”  (Picture of coral that looks like the octopuses.)

Lenny yells at them, “S…s…stop it!”  They laugh loudly and swim away quickly before he can catch them.

The abalone stick themselves to rocks so Lenny won’t see them shaking in their shells.  They feel sorry for him a little, but have been too afraid to try to be his friends.  (Picture of shaking abalone on the rocks and Lenny shakes to show he’s making fun of them with a mean smirk on his face.)

When all is quiet around him, Lenny suddenly hears a faint clicking sound coming from under a seashell.  He grabs the shell and shakes it swiftly.  (A picture showing him angrily shaking the shell but not knowing there is a hermit crab inside – readers see it but Lenny doesn’t.)

Plop!  (A picture of Lenny with a surprised look on his face and an angry look on the hermit crab’s face.)

Just when the hermit crab is getting ready to yell at Lenny for shaking him out of his home, his eyes grow wide with fear!  He is so scared he pees right there in the sand.

(A picture of Lenny laughing hysterically and pointing at the tiny puddle under the hermit crab.  The crab’s face is dark red.)

“Hey!  I’ve heard about you!  You’re that giant Leatherback sea turtle who keeps swimming all over the sea laughing at others who get hurt or embarrassed easily.  Why are you such a big bully?”

Lenny was stunned into silence.  His face reddened and he hung his head low.  Then he cleared his throat and said, “Others l…l…laugh at m…m…me all the t…t…time!”

The hermit crab was surprised.  He said, “Hey, you’re stuttering!  Is that why they laugh at you?”

Lenny nodded and a huge tear came sailing down on the hermit crab’s head with a mighty splash.  He fell down at the weight of it.  Then he walked back over to his house and crawled inside.  Sticking out his head he said, “I guess it feels embarrassing to stutter, huh?”

Lenny nodded again.  He said, “Everyone m…m…makes f…f…f….FUN of me all the t…t…time!  I hate it!  S…s…so I s…s…started laughing at them when they g…g…got hurt or emb…b…barrased!  Then when they were s…s…scared of me, I l…l…liked it!”

The little hermit crab said, “I don’t think that was nice of you, but I understand how you feel.  Sometimes other sea creatures don’t understand why I like to crawl inside of shells and carry them around on my back, so they make fun of me, too.  It used to hurt my feelings, but I just tell them I do it to protect myself from predators who want to eat me!”

Lenny said, “That makes sense.”

Ed asked, “Do you have any friends at all?”

“Nope.  N…n…not one.  No one l…l…likes me!  No one ever l…l…listens to m…m…me l…l…long enough for me to t…t…tell them how much it hurts to be made fun of.  I’m glad you did.  What’s your n…n…name?”

“Ed.”

Lenny started to laugh but caught himself and stopped.  He just grinned instead.  (His smile will look so goofy, it will make Ed laugh hysterically!)

Ed broke out into a fit of giggles.  He said, “I bet you were expecting me to tell you my name is Harry or Herman the hermit crab, huh?  I know everyone has a name that starts with the same letter as what they are, like Josh, the jellyfish, and Grace, the green sea turtle.  They are a couple of my friends.”

Lenny nodded his head and began laughing loudly.  “I’m sorry, but Ed?  Why are you n…n…named Ed?” he said.

“My parents thought it would be different to name me something that rhymes with my color!  You know, Ed rhymes with red?  Get it?”  He rolled his eyes.

When Ed locked eyes with Lenny, they both began laughing.  (Picture of Ed laughing so hard he falls out of his shell!)  The more they stared at one another, the harder they laughed.  Then Lenny gently picked up Ed’s shell and handed it to him.

“Thank you, Lenny.”  Ed said.

“You’re welcome, Ed.  Hey, will you be my friend?”

“I already am!” exclaimed Ed.

So Lenny and Ed became great buddies, and Lenny made many more friends in the sea.

The End

 © Patsy H. Parker

I was thinking about a softball coach I had when I was a kid who stuttered.  I loved him so much!  I don’t know if he was ever made fun of when he was a kid, though.  Anyway, this is for Ed Organ.  I love you Ed and still remember the sound of your voice!  R.I.P.

It is still rough, I know, but I am too tired to keep working on it today!  Ha, ha!

Have a wonderful day, and give someone you love a big hug!  🙂  

And…critique away!

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