As a Christmas gift for my great-grandchildren, especially for the oldest two Leland (11) and Hannah (7), we are going to begin blogging a children’s chapter book for ages 7-12, that I wrote some years ago but have not yet published. I’m hoping that Leland and Hannah will enjoy reading it, will give us some feedback on the story and perhaps even read it to their younger siblings and cousins. We have seven great-grandchildren in Manitoba (the two oldest named above, plus Caleigh (5), Madison (2 1/2), Logan (2 1/2), Brayden (17 months) and Lexi (7 months) as well as a young grandson in Norway, Gustav Sebastian (20 months). [The other grandchildren are in their late 20s and 30s as are Gayle’s children. My children are in their 50s.] We’re hoping they will also like the book, even though it was originally written for children. Grandma Gayle liked it and she is 70!
Readers of this blog are also invited to share the story with their children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren, if they are lucky enough to have some. We’re hoping that Hannah, who is a wonderful little artist, may even want to draw some pictures that may eventually go into the published book. Anyone else who would like to try their hand at drawing and coloring pictures that tell some of the story of the book are also invited to send them in to us. We will add a few suggestions for pictures with each section of the book. If you draw hard enough so that the picture is very clear, please do so on a half sheet of normal 8 1/2 by 11 inch (216 mm by 279 mm) paper, have it scanned in and send it to us on a JPG to our email address: email@example.com. Any artist whose picture is chosen to go into the published book will be given credit in the book.
“Jake, Little Jimmy and Big Louie” is about an 11-year-old boy in Winnipeg who adopts a handicapped budgie bird and then an ugly rescued baby chick who eventually grows into a huge raven. Jake learns to help Little Jimmy feel like a very special bird and, though he didn’t want Louie at first, he soon realizes that Louie has become an important part of the family who comes to the rescue when Jimmy gets into dangerous situations. One adventure follows another and the three become fast friends who really love each other.
Here is the first installment:
“JAKE, LITTLE JIMMY AND BIG LOUIE”
by Ian Moore-Morrans
edited by Gayle Moore-Morrans
Copyright © 2012
CHAPTER ONE – Jake wants a Pet
Jake was 11 and would have loved a puppy for company—something he could have fun playing with when he got home from school. But he knew that his wish would never happen because of the scare his mother got when she was a little girl. She had been bitten by a dog and, since that attack, had always felt nervous and uncomfortable whenever any dog, big or small, happened to come close to her. Even tiny dogs upset her.
Finally, Jake had resigned himself to getting some other kind of pet. “Maybe a rabbit,” he thought. He also hoped he’d get the rabbit soon. Whenever he hinted to his mom and dad about getting a pet, his dad would say, “We’ll have to wait and see.” It seemed to Jake that he had been “waiting and seeing” for ages.
With spring break coming up fast, Jake knew that getting a pet before then was an absolute must. It was a “now or never” sort of thing, so he decided to ask his dad just as soon as he saw him.
Jake was taller than normal for his age, with dark brown, almost black, curly hair. His family lived in a newer section of Winnipeg. A big plus for Jake was that their house had a big, fenced-in back yard— just ideal for his plans. He didn’t have any brothers or sisters, so sometimes he felt lonely when he was not having fun with his pals. A pet, in his own words, “would be cool.”
“Mom, do you know where Dad is?”
“He had to go visit a friend, then he was popping into the hardware store on his way home, and–” Jake’s mother glanced at the clock on the kitchen wall, “seeing that it’s almost twelve-thirty, that’s likely where he is right now.
“Will he be long?”
“I don’t think so; he knows that lunch will be going on the table soon. Why; what do you want your dad for?”
Jake put on his best begging face. “Mom, would you ask Dad when he gets back if I can get a rabbit? I’ve asked a whole bunch of times and he keeps saying that he’ll think about it. He knows I’ve been saving my allowance to buy a pet. Could you ask him for me—please, Mom?”
“No way, Jake. It’s between you and your father and I don’t know what he’ll say.”
Jake didn’t really listen to what his mother was saying; instead his mind filled with thoughts of a pet and the possibility of his father agreeing. He dreamily carried on, “I’d like to get one of those fluffy, white ones. You know the kind—they’re called Angora—I think.” Then he brightened up a little. “I know it wouldn’t be nearly as good as having a dog; but it would be okay—I guess. At least better than not having anything—and it wouldn’t bother you the way a dog might, would it?” Then quickly, he added, “But a rabbit would be all right, wouldn’t it, Mom? Nobody’s scared of rabbits; are they?”
Jake’s father arrived home just as lunch was ready. After washing his hands he sat at the table, telling Jake’s mother about something funny that had gone on at the hardware store. Jake sat in silence while his mother dished up the food. His father then said grace, thanking God for the meal and immediately started talking about something else. Jake was pleased to see his father was in his usual good mood, for there was a lot of laughing going on.
He also knew his mother was well aware of what was on his mind and he hoped she would begin talking about a pet for him. She looked at Jake a few times during the meal but he wasn’t sure if she was doing so for a particular reason. He decided to wait.
When they had stopped eating but were still chatting, Jake became a little impatient, thinking, ‘I’m going to say something as soon as I can.’
Suddenly there was a lull in their conversation and he jumped in, again using his best begging voice. “Dad, you promised me a while ago that you’d think about letting me have a pet rabbit. Are you still thinking? You said to wait a little—and I haven’t been bugging you, so do you think I could have one—please, please? I’d really look after it and take care of it—and I’d like to get it before spring break. Please, Daddy.”
“Hmm—well, young man, you know, I actually have given some thought about you getting a pet. But I don’t know about a rabbit. They take quite a lot of looking after. There was an article in the paper just the other day about rabbits, mainly about the Easter Bunny. It told how lots of kids want a little bunny at Easter-time and then they’re left to die weeks later—after the newness wears off and the interest dies down.”
“I wouldn’t do that, Dad; I’d really look after it—forever and ever!” Jake said excitedly.
“Forever?” his dad said with raised eyebrows. “Well, do you know the newspaper said they can live for about twelve years? That’s a long time. Are you willing to look after it that long? What happens when you are, say, eighteen or nineteen, and you want to go out and spend a lot of time with your friends or go on a date with a girl friend?”
There was an uneasy silence when no one spoke. Thinking about what his dad had said made Jake look quite glum.
“So,” his dad continued, looking over at Jake’s mom and then back to Jake, “your mom and I have talked about this a few times since I read that article and we both know rabbits are not as easy to care for as people think. Would you consider getting a pet that isn’t so much trouble, maybe something your mom and I wouldn’t mind looking after when you get older—possibly a little budgie?”
“A BUDGIE?” Jake blurted out, a little louder and with more feeling and a good deal louder voice than he had intended. Then, after a few seconds’ silence, with his voice still loaded with emotion, he appealed to his father, “Oh, Da-a-ad, I don’t want a silly budgie; they’re no fun. You can’t take it for walks or throw sticks for it to fetch like you can with a dog. You can’t even play with it in the back yard like you would a rabbit; it’ll fly away!”
Jake certainly didn’t feel very good about what his dad was saying. He was thinking, ‘budgies are silly things that might be all right for girls, or maybe grown-ups, but not for boys.’ He watched his dad shuffle in his chair and sip his coffee. He was waiting for some kind of indication that he didn’t really have to get a budgie.
But, to his dismay, his dad continued, “A little bird like that is really no trouble to look after, you know. It’s much easier to care for than a rabbit. A budgie can be a lot of fun, too. Do you know, for instance, that you can teach budgies to say things? They don’t understand what is being said, mind you; but with a little patience you can have them say things like, ‘My name is Joey’; ‘Hello Jake’—and more.”
Jake was wide-eyed. “Are you serious, Dad? They can talk?”
“Well, not really. What you have to do is to keep repeating the same thing over and over, and some day, usually when you’re not expecting it, the little budgie will come out with a few of the words you’ve been saying to it.”
Jake was not too thrilled with the idea of looking after a “silly bird,” but, knowing that his chances of getting a rabbit were not good, he thought he would play for time and ask his father some questions about budgies.
“Well, Jake, the best person to talk to would be Bill. He’s a friend of mine who owns Bill’s Budgie Barn. There he raises hundreds, maybe thousands, of budgies for a living—and he treats them all as if they were his own children. I’m sure he’ll have all the answers for you.”
“He has that many budgies—hundreds or thousands?” Jake was wide-eyed.
“He certainly does. He ships them all over the country,” he paused slightly, then smiled and continued. “Tell you what, Jake, we should take a drive out to see him. Then you can talk to the expert yourself and get a better idea what it’s all about. How about it?”
“Okay, Dad,” he replied, pretending he was interested so that he could get in his pitch for a rabbit later. “When can we see them?”
Jake wasn’t prepared for his father’s reply. “Let’s go now. It’s only a short drive to Bill’s place and he’s always home on a Saturday.” With that said, his dad got up from the chair and headed for the back door. “Coming?” he asked, as he took his hat from a coat peg and lifted the car keys off an ornamental key shelf. Opening the back door without looking at Jake or waiting for an answer, he headed out to the car.
Jake’s mind was working fast, looking for a way out. ‘Hey,’ he thought, ‘I guess I’d better go for now. Don’t know what else I can do.’
(Picture suggestion: Jake thinking of a rabbit and his father thinking of a budgie. The photo above shows a cute little budgie.)