Category Archives: Dylan’s Bedtime Stories

Flash-Fiction Collaborations between me and my son. At bedtime.

A Tale of Two Robots

By Dylan

Once upon a time, there was a poor old man who had a lot of apples. One day, he said, “I should make a robot out of applesauce!” So he made a really, really tall robot out of applesauce. And the robot could talk.

Now, the man who made the robot out of applesauce was the same person who had once made a robot out of chicken nuggets. And the robots said “We should build a house,” so they built a house. But there was a beanstalk next to the house, so the robot made out of chicken nuggets climbed up the beanstalk and met a bad giant made out pizza. But the pizza giant fell down because it was too heavy!

So the robot made out of applesauce punched the beanstalk down. And then he needed to go to his home, so he flew off. And then he punched down another beanstalk (there were a lot of beanstalks).

There was another robot made out of chicken nuggets. And the robot made out of applesauce said to the other robot made out of chicken nuggets, “You’re my sister!” And the (first) Chicken Nugget Robot said, “You’re my sister too.” (There was another applesauce robot too, but I think he was their cousin)

So the man said, “We should all go to the applesauce robot’s home.” And the applesauce robot said, “Yes, we should all go to my home,” so they flew off (For applesauce robots can float in the air, but can’t walk).

 

The Emperor’s Jubilee

This is a bedtime story I’ve been working on for Dylan. At the moment, though, he’s only interested in stories which feature little boys named Jack and at least two good giants, with an optional bad giant and/or witch, so I haven’t run this one by him yet.

You may have heard this story. Or you think you have. You almost have. People like to cite this story a lot. But this isn’t that kind of story, and no one is going to be trying to cast themselves in the lead role of this story.

Once upon a time, there was a land which was ruled over by the Blue Emperor. The Blue Emperor was a good emperor, and well-loved by his people, but none loved him more than the little boy who lived on the edge of town. Well, if we’re being honest, there were probably lots of people who loved the Emperor just as much as the little boy who lived on the edge of town, but the boy, who didn’t get out much, didn’t know any of them.

Not long before the year of the Blue Emperor’s Jubilee, the Emperor appointed a new Vizier. Now, I know in stories like this, the Vizier is usually an evil usurper who is up to no good. But this isn’t that kind of story, and I wasn’t there, so I won’t speculate on his motives. I won’t speculate on the thought process that led to what happened next, either.

What I do know, though, is that in the days and months leading up to the Jubilee, work started spreading through the land that the Vizier had commissioned a fine new outfit for the Blue Emperor.  More than that, they said, but this new outfit’s beauty and complexity was so profound that those who lacked true discernment weren’t able to perceive its beauty.

It would not be entirely honest to say that the Little Boy Who Lived on the Edge of Town considered himself undiscerning, and so on the day of the Jubilee, he lined up with all the others to see the Emperor in his fine new Jubilee Regalia. As the Emperor’s procession neared the edge of town where the little boy lived, he heard the cheering in the streets, and he pushed his way through the gathering crowd to see the Emperor as he processed down the street.

Everyone was cheering, and the loudest cheers celebrated how fine and grand the Emperor’s new suit was. And then all at once, the crowd fell silent as the voice of one little boy cut through it. The little boy called out in surprise: The Emperor has no clothes!

Now, this is the point in the story where you’re probably expecting everyone to feel rather foolish and admit that none of them had seen the magical clothes, and realize that the Vizir was a flim-flam artist who’d preyed upon everyone’s fear of looking foolish, and the little boy would be praised for speaking truth to power.

But like I said, this isn’t that kind of story. So here’s what happened instead.

The procession halted a moment. Everyone whispered nervously. Sure enough, the Blue Emperor stood before them as naked as the day he was born. The little boy felt the weight of the crowd’s silence and he was filled with fear. And then, another person in the crowd, not far from the little boy called out, “Well of course he doesn’t. What were you expecting?”

The little boy didn’t know what to say. Surely it must have been a mistake. He had heard all about the magnificent suit of clothes that could only be seen by those with true discernment. But he saw nothing. Did he lack true discernment? Another person in the crowd spoke up. “Anyone can wear clothes, but it takes someone as truly wonderous as the Emperor to wear nothing at all.” And one by one, everyone in the crowd started to laugh. Not at the Emperor, that would be unseemly, but at the little boy who had somehow thought there was something wrong with the Emperor parading about the city in his birthday suit.

The little boy didn’t know what to do. He couldn’t understand it. Everyone had seen the same thing he had, but somehow to them it had seemed like a brilliant artistic decision, rather than an old man parading about town in the altogether. Days later, at the Solstice Festival, all his friends and relations, who knew how much the little boy had loved the Emperor, gave him Blue Emperor toys and Blue Emperor Books and Blue Emperor Commemorative Plates, but the little boy could barely stand to look at them, for now all he could see was the image of the Emperor’s private parts waving in the breeze. He went to ask the Wise Man, an old scholar famous for his histories about the Emperor.

The little boy said that he had heard that many people did not like to have the nakedness of others thrust upon them without specific consent. The Wise Man said, “Those are silly people. After all, anyone can just avert their eyes. And really, it’s better for them to get over their distaste and stop making silly complaints like that. And besides, the Emperor showing us his natural greatness and beauty is really nothing like a random stranger in a trenchcoat flashing a person on the street; only a very silly person would think that. Anyway, if you don’t like it, there have been plenty of other times that the Emperor wore those inferior clothes that you can enjoy instead.” The little boy tried to explain that every time he tried now, all he could think about was the Emperor’s Jubilee, and that now, knowing that all the famous adventurers of the Emperor’s past would culminate in the Jubilee, the experience of it was forever tainted. “I see the problem,” said the Wise Man: “You never really liked the Emperor at all. You were just a silly child who liked the Emperor’s clothes but had no true discernment.” The little boy cried all that night.

At the little boy’s birthday, again his friends and family found many fine toys and games and books and commemorative mugs emblazoned with the image of the Emperor, for they thought that surely the little boy still loved the Emperor. The little boy couldn’t explain to them why it caused him such pain now to see the Emperor; every time he tried, it was like he was speaking a different language. They could perhaps understand that the Jubilee wasn’t to his taste, but no one could imagine that it would be worse than a passing disappointment. The little boy felt silly when he tried to tell them — why should one unsual fashion choice upset him so? But there it was; something had changed for the little boy and now he knew that any time he started to care about the Emperor or look forward to the Emperor’s next appearance, he would find himself trapped in the obsessive fear that he’d find himself once again confronted by Imperial Nudity. He still loved the Blue Emperor, or he tried to, but his love caused him only pain now, never joy.

So he packed away all the plates and mugs and T-shirts and books and toys, and tried very hard not to think about the Blue Emperor. But his friends and relations would from time to time tell him news of the Emperor’s latest exploits, or ask him what he thought about some new tidbit about the Emperor. The little boy would smile and nod and try not to have an opinion. But inevitably, he’d find his mind drifting into a little trap and he’d once again start obsessing over the Jubilee. At times, he’d get himself so worked up that he needed to tell someone, and the mockery would start all over again — some would think him silly for placing such import on the Jubilee, which was, after all, just one parade. Others would swear that he was no true fan of the Emperor, just a silly boy who wanted to spoil their fun, or that he was simply a fool, and that if he really meant any of it, he’d simply stop caring about the Emperor and get on with his life.

But of course, the devil of it for the little boy was that he could not simply will himself to stop caring about the Emperor. It wasn’t that he hated the Emperor; rather that his love now caused him only pain. And so in the end, there was nothing else for the boy to do but to leave the city, and travel to somewhere far far away where he could forget all about the Emperor. Few people cared that the little boy had gone. One or two were happy to see him go, tired of listening to his lamentations. Perhaps a handful missed his insights on the Emperor’s activities, but not many, and besides, he hadn’t produced any insights worth mentioning since the Jubilee. Most barely noticed one way or the other, just one less sad, silly boy who didn’t know genius when he saw it.

We’ve come now to the point in the story where you typically have a “And they all lived happily ever after,” but this isn’t that kind of story. What happened to the boy after that? I can’t say. Perhaps he was happier alone. Perhapsh he was loneliner. No Happily Ever After this time. But what there is instead is hope. Maybe one day the scales will fall from the little boy’s eyes, and he’ll realize the true brilliance of the Emperor’s Jubilee Regalia and love the Emperor all over again. Or perhaps the Vizir will move on to some other line of work, and the next Vizir will change things up and everyone will reevaluate the past and decide the Jubilee Incident really wasn’t that good after all. Or perhaps the little boy will find something new to fill the hole the Jubilee had cut in his heart and he’ll stop caring so much about the Blue Emperor. I can’t say. Just hope.

The Giant, the Wolf, and the Pigs

By Daddy

Preface

[DADDY has just told DYLAN the story of the three little pigs]

DYLAN: I have a book with that story!

DADDY: Yes, that story is in a lot of books, and there’s lots of ways to tell it.

DYLAN: Tell it with a giant! And a wolf! And Jack!

DADDY: Hm. That’s a tricky one. Okay, let’s see what we can come up with


Once upon a time, there was a little boy named Jack. One day, while he was on his way to find a beanstalk, he met his friends, the three little pigs. “What are you little pigs doing?” he asked

The first little pig, who was a tremendous boar, said, “(Oink!) We’re going to build some houses.”

And so Jack said, “That sounds like a lot of work.”

The first little pig said, “Maybe for my brothers, but I’ve got this fine bale of straw, and I’m going to build my house out of it, and it won’t take any time at all.”

Jack thought about this for a moment, and he said, “A house of straw sounds like it would be very pretty and very cozy, but aren’t you worried that it might fall down if you were attacked by a giant, or perhaps by a big bad wolf?”

But the first little pig just laughed and laughed, and he said, “I don’t think that sounds very likely.”

So Jack wished the first little pig well, and he went over to the second little pig.  Now, the second little pig was an even greater boar. And Jack asked him, “Are you building a house as well? That sounds like a lot of work.”

And the second little pig said, “(Oink) Maybe for my brother, but I’ve got this fine bundle of sticks, and I’m going to build my house out of it. Any maybe it will take a little longer than if I were building it out of straw, but it’ll be such a very much grander house for it.”

Jack asked, “Well a house of sticks does sound very grand, but aren’t you worried that it might fall down if you were attacked by a giant, or perhaps by a big bad wolf?”

But the second little pig just laughed and laughed, and he said, “I don’t think that sounds very likely.”

So Jack wished the second little pig well, and he went over to the third little pig. The third little pig was the greatest boar of all, and he was struggling with a big cart full of bricks. “Oh my,” Jack said, “I suppose you’re going to build your house out of bricks. That sounds like a lot of work.”

The third little pig said, “(Oink) Yes it is. But I want a house that will be strong enough that I won’t have to worry even if it were picked up and dropped by a giant.”

Jack thought about that. “Do you think that sounds very likely?” he asked.

“You never know,” said the third little pig.

Jack wished the third little pig well, and set out on his way to find fun adventures. And some time later, Jack came by the house of the first little pig. And it was a lovely house, all warm and dry and a very pretty shade of straw. Jack knocked on the door and said, “Little pig, little pig, let me come in.”

A voice from inside the house said, “(Oink) Are you a wolf?”

Jack answered, “No, I’m Jack.”

“(Oink) Oh, okay then,” said the first little pig, and he invited Jack in for tea and biscuits for lunch.

But while they were eating lunch, there was another knock on the door, and a loud voice from outside said, “Fee Fi Fo Fum! I smell the blood of an Englishman! Be he alive, or be he dead, I’ll have his bones to grind my bread!”

The first little pig looked out between some of the straw in the door and said, “It’s a giant!”

“Oh dear,” said Jack, rather sheepishly. “You see, there was this beanstalk, and this goose…”

But before Jack could tell his story, the giant said, “I’m looking for the little boy named Jack! You’d better let me in!”

And the first little pig said, “Go away! We don’t want any!”

“Oh yeah?” said the giant. “Well, look what I’ve got in my pocket!” and he reached in his pocket and he took out a wolf. A big wolf. And since the wolf lived in the giant’s pocket, we can reasonably assume he was also a bad wolf. “Okay wolf,” said the giant, “Do your thing.”

Now the wolf was in the mood for bacon, so he said, “Little pig, little pig, let me come in.”

But the pig, who was perfectly happy to serve lunch, did not much want to be lunch, so he said, “Not by the hair on my chinny-chin-chin!”

So the wolf said, “Then I’ll huff, and I’ll puff, and I’ll BLOW your house in!”

And he huffed.

And he puffed.

And he BLEW.

And down came the house of straw! And poor Jack, all covered in straw, had to run all the way to the second little pig’s house as fast as his legs could carry him. When he got to the house of sticks, he knocked on the door and said, “Little pig, little pig, let me come in!”

A voice from inside the house said, “(Oink) Are you a wolf?”

Jack answered, “No, I’m Jack.”

“(Oink) Oh, okay then,” said the second little pig, and he invited Jack in for lunch. He offered him a bowl of honey, which had been a house-warming present from a bear who was friends with the second little pig’s cousin.

“You seem to be all covered in straw,” the second little pig said.

And Jack picked up the straw and put it in his pockets, and he said, “Yes. About that. I may have some bad news about your brother’s house. See, there was this giant, and this wolf…”

But before Jack could tell his story, there was another knock on the door, and a loud voice from outside said, “Fee Fi Fo Fum! I smell the blood of an Englishman! Be he alive, or be he dead, I’ll have his bones to grind my bread!”

The second little pig looked out between some of the sticks in the door and said, “It’s a giant! With a suspiciously wolf-shaped bulge in his pocket!”

“Oh dear,” said Jack. “You see there was this harp and these beans…”

And the giant said, “I’m looking for the little boy named Jack! You’d better let me in!”

The second little pig said, “Go away! We don’t want any!”

“Oh yeah?” said the giant. “Well, look what I’ve got in my pocket!” and he reached in his pocket and he took out the big bad wolf. “Okay wolf,” said the giant, “Do your thing.”

Now, the wolf was dreaming about pork chops, so he said, “Little pig, little pig, let me come in.”

But the pig, who was a strict vegetarian, said, “Not by the hair on my chinny-chin-chin!”

So the wolf said, “Then I’ll huff, and I’ll puff, and I’ll BLOW your house in!”

And he huffed.

And he puffed.

And he BLEW.

And down came the house of sticks! And poor Jack, with his bowl of honey still in his hand, had to run all the way to the third little pig’s house as fast as his legs could carry him. When he got to the house of brick, he knocked on the door and said, “Little pig, little pig, let me come in!”

A voice from inside the house said, “(Oink) Are you a wolf?”

And Jack said, “No.”

Then, in a slightly suspicious tone, the voice said, “(Oink) How about a giant?”

And Jack said, “No, I’m Jack.”

“Do you think you could call back tomorrow?” asked the voice. “For you see I’ve only just finished building this house of bricks, and I far too tired to make lunch. Maybe you could go visit my brothers instead?”

“About your brothers,” Jack said, “There was this giant. And this wolf.”

“I see,” said the third little pig, and he opened the door. “I suspected as much. You’d better come in.”

So Jack came in. But before Jack could tell his story, there was another knock on the door, and a loud voice from outside said, “Fee Fi Fo Fum! I smell the blood of an Englishman! Be he alive, or be he dead, I’ll have his bones to grind my bread!”

The third little pig looked out through the peep-hole in the door and said, “It’s a giant! With a bulge in his pocket shaped suspiciously like a very fat wolf!”

“Oh dear,” said Jack. “You see, there was this castle, and this golden egg…”

“I suppose you’re looking for the little boy named Jack,” the third little pig said to the giant. “Well I suppose you can have him if you like.”

By this point, though, the wolf was dreaming of glazed hams, and he hopped down out of the giant’s pocket without even waiting to be asked, and he said, “Little pig, little pig, let me come in.”

But the third little pig, who had spent all day working on his house, was in no mood to provide a meal as well, so he said, “Not by the hair on my chinny-chin-chin!”

So the wolf said, “Then I’ll huff, and I’ll puff, and I’ll BLOW your house in!”

And he huffed.

And he puffed.

And he BLEW.

And he blew some more.

And he blew some more after that.

And then he had to go lie down for a little while because all that blowing was too much for a wolf suffering from high cholesterol due to a diet rich in pork products.

Now the giant was very angry, so he reached down and he picked up the house of bricks and he shook it. Fortunately for Jack and the third little pig, the house of bricks was very strong and stayed in one piece no matter how hard the giant shook it.

“What are we going to do now?” asked the third little pig. “I put in all this work on my fine little house and now a giant is waving it all around in the air!”

“I know!” said Jack. “I’ve got some straw in my pockets. We could use it to set the house on fire and burn the giant.”

The third little pig was not impressed. “I don’t think that’s a very good idea. For one thing, having my house burned up is not much better than having a giant wave it around. For another thing, we would get all burned up too.”

“That is a fine point,” said Jack.

“Oh!” said the third little pig, “But I have an idea. I have a spinning wheel!”

“I don’t think a spinning wheel is much use against a giant,” Jack said.

“This is a magic spinning wheel,” explained the pig. “It was a house-warming gift from a little man I know whose name I can’t remember. He said it could spin straw into gold.”

“But I’ve already got plenty of gold,” Jack said. “See, there was this goose…”

“Shh!” said the pig. “I think if it can spin straw into gold, it can’t be too much harder to spin straw into yarn.”

So they tried it, and before long, they had turned all of Jack’s straw into yarn. So when the giant wasn’t looking, he slipped down the giant’s sleeve and all the way to the ground. And when he got there, he used the yarn to tie the giant’s legs together. Then he climbed quietly back up to the house of the third little pig. “What should we do now?” Jack asked.

“I don’t know,” said the pig. “I came up with the first part of the plan. Now it’s your turn.”

Jack thought and thought, and then he remembered the bowl of honey. So when the giant wasn’t looking, he slipped up the giant’s sleeve and climbed up to the very top of the giant’s head. And he poured the honey all over the giant’s hair, then he climbed quietly back down to the house of the third little pig.

Now, as you know, flies like honey. I mean, they like other things as well, but for the purposes of our story, it’s mostly important that they like honey. And before long, there were flies flying all over the giant’s head, and it made him so itchy that he got very angry. He shouted, “Fee Fi Fo Fum!” and “Shoo Fly!” but the flies kept coming. Finally, the giant got so angry that he put down the house of bricks and picked up a big rock and tried to hit the flies.

He hit the flies.

But because the flies were on his head, he also hit his head.

And because he had been very angry, he had hit very hard.

And the giant got very dizzy. And he tried to take a step to steady himself.

But, of course, the giant’s legs were tied together.

So the giant lost his balance, and he fell. On the wolf. And he landed with a crash so loud that it was heard all across the land. And that was the end of the giant. And also the end of the wolf.

And Jack  and the third little pig lived happily ever after.

The Clown, the Giant, and the Science Center

By Dylan. Ending by Daddy.

Once upon a time, there was a little boy named Jack, and he lived in a castle. One day, Jack decided to go to the beach and play. He built a sand castle. Then, he met a clown. The clown was walking on the beach. They played in the sand. They dug in the sand with a shovel and built a sand castle.

Then, a giant came. A bad giant. The giant took their shovel. So Jack and the clown got another shovel. Then the bad giant took the other shovel too. So Jack and the clown had to go to the grocery store and buy another shovel. But the bad giant took ALL the shovels, so Jack and the clown couldn’t dig in the sand any more.

So Jack and the clown met another giant, a nice giant, and they went to the Science Center. At the Science Center, they played with in the water and they played with the legos on the board that moved. But the bad giant came back. He took all the toys. But he couldn’t take the boat because it was too big. So Jack and the clown and the good giant played on the boat. They turned the wheel, and they caught a fish and they wrote their names on the chalkboard.

But then the bad giant came back and pushed them down the steps and said, “Fee Fi Fo Fum!”

By now, Jack and the clown and the good giant said that enough was enough. So they went to the bad giant’s house and rang the doorbell. The bad giant’s mommy opened the door. Jack told the giant’s mommy how the bad giant had taken all the shovels, and all the toys, and how he had pushed them down the steps. So the giant’s mommy called the bad giant and he came to the door. The bad giant said, “Fee Fi Fo Fum!” but his mommy said, “We’ll have none of that. Say you’re sorry for what you did.”

And the bad giant said, “I’m sorry that I took your shovels. And I’m sorry that I took the toys away. If someone took away my shovels and my toys, it would make me sad. And I’m sorry I pushed you down the stairs, because it hurt you. I promise not to do those things ever again.”

Because the bad giant had made such a good apology, Jack decided to forgive him, and he gave him a hug. And so the bad giant stopped being a bad giant and became another good giant. And he gave back the shovel and all the toys, and they all went back to the beach and played with the sand and with legos.

And they all lived happily ever after.

Jack and the Giant

By Dylan (With conjunctions by Daddy)

Once upon a time there was a little boy named Jack. One day Jack looked outside and saw a beanstalk. So Jack climbed the beanstalk. At the top of the beanstalk, Jack found a castle. Inside the castle, Jack met a nice giant. Jack and the Giant decided to go on an adventure.

Jack and the Giant went to the forest in the winter. It was SO cold and snowy. Then Jack and the Giant tripped on a red rock and fell down in the snow. They were very cold. So they decided to get up and got inside a bus. They took the bus to a castle. Inside the castle, they found a beanstalk.

Jack and the Giant climbed the beanstalk. At the top of the beanstalk, they found a car. Jack drove the car, but the Giant had to take the bus because he was too big to fit in the car. They drove to another castle. Inside the castle, they found another car and a book.

The book told the story about Humpty Dumpty. Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall. Humpty Dumpty danced on the wall. Humpty Dumpty fell down. All the king’s horses and all the king’s men couldn’t put Humpty Dumpty together again, so Kermit the Frog put him together again instead.

 

Elmo and the Witch

Dedicated to a boy who always reminds me that though he might be too little to do all the things he wants to, he’s getting bigger all the time.

An Adaptation of the Danish Fairy Tale “Esben and the Witch”

Okay. Technically it’s an adaptation of the Wikipedia article about the Danish Fairy Tale “Esben and the Witch”. With most of the wanton murder edited out.

Author’s note: It has come to my attention that there is apparently a popular children’s fiction character with the same name as the protagonist of this story. Not the same guy. While my Elmo is indeed small and cute, he is considerably less furry, and is able to use pronouns (admittedly, not well). The name of the protagonist was chosen when it was discovered that Dylan was too tired to lean how to pronounce “Esben”, having won a poll of the original audience with 100% of the vote.

Once upon a time, there were twelve brothers. And eleven of the brothers were big and strong, but the youngest brother, Elmo, was very small.

One day, the eleven older brothers went to their daddy and told him that they wanted to go out into the world to seek their fortune. And so their daddy gave them some money and gave each of them a white horse and told them to go out into the world and find their fortune.

But when Elmo asked his daddy if he could go out into the world and seek his fortune too, his daddy said, “You’re too little! You’ll never amount to anything!” and he wouldn’t give him a horse or any money.

But Elmo wanted to go with his brothers, so he took a stick, and he carved it until it was as white as the horses, and he rode it like a horse and followed his brothers out into the world.

Before long, the brothers came to the great woods. And while they were riding through the woods, they got very lost. But then they came upon a witch (Author’s Note: Depending on how tired Dylan is on any given evening, it may be that they came across not a witch, but a “fitz”. I have it on good authority that fitzes are very much like witches, but lack any of the unfortunate cultural connotations. For the sake of clarity, I’ve elected to use the more familiar term, in order to avoid needing to indulge in a lengthy parenthetical aside to explain this.). And the witch told the eleven older brothers that not only could they stay at her house for the night, but that she had herself twelve children, and the brothers could marry them. Except for the witch’s youngest daughter, who was small and not going to amount to anything, and who the witch wanted to keep to take care of her.

Then Elmo asked if he could come too, and the witch said, “You’re too little! You’ll never amount to anything!” and she would not let Elmo stay at her house. So when the brothers all went inside, Elmo had to stay outside and sleep on the ground.

But since Elmo was outside of the witch’s house, he could hear the witch talking, and that is how Elmo found out that this witch was not nice. In fact, the witch planned to use her bad magic to hurt the brothers when they were asleep.

Elmo went to the window of the room where his brothers were getting ready for bed, and he whispered in to them that the witch was a bad witch, and he told them to switch their hats with the hats of the witch’s children. So when the witch came into the brothers’ room during the night to use her bad magic to hurt them, because they were wearing the wrong hats, she used her magic on her own kids instead, and, let’s say, turned them into mice.

So the brothers escaped and got on their horses, and Elmo got on his stick, and they ran away so fast that they dropped all their money.

Before too long, the brothers came to the other side of the forest and found the castle. And they went to the king and asked for a job in the castle. And the king thought that the brothers looked big and strong, and how they didn’t have anything money or anything of value they could live off of, and he saw how pretty their white horses were, and he told them they could work taking care of all the horses in the king’s stables.

But when Elmo asked the king for a job, the king said, “You’re too little! You’ll never amount to anything!” and he wouldn’t give Elmo a job. So Elmo had to sleep on the streets and beg people for food.

Now, the king’s favorite knight was Sir Red. But Sir Red was not nice. Everybody knew Sir Red was not nice except for the king.  The king thought Sir Red was a good knight. Sir Red saw that the king liked the brothers, and Sir Red got jealous. So Sir Red decided to make up a story about the brothers so that the king wouldn’t like them any more.

Sir Red went to the king, and he said, “King, I heard that the brothers have a bird with gold and silver feathers. And they told you they were poor and didn’t have any money just to make a fool of you.”

So the king called for the brothers, and he said, “I heard you have a bird with gold and silver feathers. You better give it to me, or I’m going to throw you out of the castle!”

And the brothers were very sad, because they didn’t have a bird with gold and silver feathers. They didn’t have a bird of any sort. But Elmo came to his brothers and said, “Don’t worry, brothers. I can help you. All I need is a bag of peas.”

So the brothers gave Elmo a bag of peas. And Elmo took his stick, and he said a magic word that he’d heard from the witch, and it made the stick fly, and Elmo rode it back to the witch’s house. Because as luck would have it, when they had been running away from the witch, Elmo had just happened to see that the witch had a bird with gold and silver feathers that lived in her back yard. So Elmo waited until the witch went out to do her laundry, and he snuck up to the bird, and he said, “Bird, you’re coming with me.” And he gave the peas to the bird. And the bird liked the peas, so the bird came with Elmo.

Elmo got back on his stick and flew back to the castle. And Elmo gave the bird to the brothers. And the brothers gave the bird to the king. And now the king liked the brothers more than ever.

That made Sir Red even more jealous. So he decided to make up another story about the brothers so that the king wouldn’t like them any more.

Sir Red went to the king, and he said, “King, I heard that the brothers have a pig with gold and silver whiskers. And they told you they were poor and didn’t have any money just to make a fool of you.”

So the king called for the brothers, and he said, “I heard you have a pig with gold and silver whiskers. You better give it to me, or I’m going to throw you out of the castle!”

And the brothers were very sad, because they didn’t have a pig with gold and silver whiskers. They didn’t have a pig of any sort. But Elmo came to his brothers and said, “Don’t worry, brothers. I can help you. All I need is a bag of carrots.”

So the brothers gave Elmo a bag of carrots. And Elmo took his stick, and he said the magic word, and he flew on the stick back to the witch’s house. Because as luck would have it, when Elmo had been getting the bird, he just happened to see that the witch had a pig with gold and silver whiskers that lived in a pen next to her house. So Elmo waited until the witch went out to do her shopping, and he snuck up to the pig pen, and he said, “Pig, you’re coming with me.” And he gave the carrots to the pig. And the pig liked the carrots, so the pig came with Elmo.

Elmo got back on his stick and flew back to the castle. And Elmo gave the pig to the brothers. And the brothers gave the pig to the king. And now the king liked the brothers more than ever.

Now, Sir Red was even more jealous than ever, so he decided to make up another story about the brothers so that the king wouldn’t like them any more.

Sir Red went to the king, and he said, “King, I heard that the brothers have a magic lamp that can light up the whole kingdom. And they told you they were poor and didn’t have any money just to make a fool of you.”

So the king called for the brothers, and he said, “I heard you have a magic lamp that can light up the whole kingdom. You better give it to me, or I’m going to throw you out of the castle!”

And the brothers were very sad, because they didn’t have a magic lamp that could light up the whole kingdom. They only had the regular kind of lamp, and they didn’t think the king would like that. But Elmo came to his brothers and said, “Don’t worry, brothers. I can help you. All I need is a bag of salt.”

So the brothers gave Elmo a bag of salt, and Elmo took his stick. And he said the magic word. And he flew back to the witch’s house. Because as luck would have it, when he had been waiting to get the pig and the witch had gone out to do her shopping, Elmo had seen that she had taken a magic lamp with her that could light up the whole kingdom.

Now, this time, Elmo knew that the witch would only take the lamp out at night, so he waited until it was dark, and he climbed down the witch’s chimney and hid.

That night, the witch told her youngest daughter, who hadn’t been turned into a mouse, to make her a bowl of porridge with no salt. So the little girl made the porridge. But when she wasn’t looking, Elmo took his bag of salt and poured it into the porridge. So when the witch took a bite of the porridge, she said, “Yuck! This porridge has salt in it! Make me another bowl and this time no salt!”

But the daughter said, “I need to get water from the well, and it’s dark outside.”

And the witch said, “Then take the magic lamp!”

So the daughter took the magic lamp and went out to the well. And Elmo snuck back outside and took his stick and bonked the daughter on the head, and took the lamp away.

Elmo got on his stick and flew back to the castle. And he gave the lamp to the brothers. And the brothers gave the lamp to the king. And the king liked the brothers more than ever.

By now, Sir Red was the most jealous he had ever been, so he decided to make up one more story about the brothers so that the king wouldn’t like them any more.

Sir Red went to the king, and he said, “King, I heard that the brothers have a blanket that sings when you touch it.” And just to make it harder for the brothers, he said, “And the songs the blanket sings always tell the truth. And they told you they were poor and didn’t have any money just to make a fool of you.”

So the king called for the brothers, and he said, “I heard you have a blanket that sings when you touch it and always tells the truth. You better give it to me, or I’m going to throw you out of the castle!”

And the brothers were very sad, because they didn’t have a singing blanket that told the truth. They didn’t even have a singing blanket that didn’t tell the truth. They only had the regular kind of blanket, and they didn’t think the king would like that. But Elmo came to his brothers and said, “Don’t worry, brothers. I can help you. And this time I don’t need anything.”

So Elmo got on the stick, and he said the magic word, and he flew back to the witch’s house. Because as luck would have it, when he had been hiding in the witch’s house, he had heard a blanket singing. Now, this time, Elmo had to sneak into the witch’s room. And he snuck in very carefully. And he found the blanket. But when Elmo tried to pick up the blanket, the blanket started singing. And it sang:

I’m a magic blanket
And I’m getting stolen
By a little boy
It makes me jump for joy
He’s gonna take me away
Right this very day
From the mean old witch
Because she’s such a–

And in came the witch, and she was very very angry. And she said, “Aha! I caught you! And I bet you’re the little boy who stole my bird! And my pig! And my lamp!” And of course Elmo had also bonked her daughter on the head, but the witch didn’t care about that. She said, “I’m going to eat you all up!”

So she threw Elmo in the dungeon and had her daughter fatten him up. And the daughter remembered that Elmo had bonked her on the head. So Elmo said he was very sorry for bonking her on the head. And the daughter thought that was very nice of Elmo, because lots of people had bonked her on the head over the years, but none of them had ever apologized. And Elmo told the daughter all about his adventures and how he helped his brothers. And the daughter told Elmo about how mean the witch was to her because she was so small, and how much she wanted to fly away and live in a castle. And the daughter started to like Elmo. So when the day came for the witch to eat Elmo, she didn’t tie his hands up the way she was supposed to.

The witch turned the oven all the way up, and she opened the oven and put a big pot in front of it, and she told Elmo to sit down in the pot. But Elmo said that he didn’t know how to sit down in a pot, so the witch climbed in the pot to show him. And Elmo, whose hands were not tied like the witch wanted, pushed her into the oven and closed it up. And that was the end of the witch.

So Elmo took the blanket, and he took the witch’s daughter with him, and he got on his stick, and they flew back to the castle.

By now, the king had put the brothers in jail, so Elmo had to give the blanket to the king himself. And when the king touched the blanket, it started to sing:


Elmo’s brave and clever,
He never gives up ever,
Threw a witch in a fire,
Because Sir Red is a liar,

And the king realized that Sir Red had tricked him, so he had Sir Red thrown out of the castle forever. And he let the brothers out of jail and made them all his knights. And little Elmo, who had been so brave and made something of himself even though he was so little, the king made his Chief Knight. And the witch’s daughter grew up to be a very good witch, and they all lived in the castle and were very happy for ever and ever.

The Big Choo-Choo Train

(Hey, check it out. I has a blog. And now it’s an exciting new WordPress-powered blog. I’ve always been happy with MovableType — this move shouldn’t be taken to disparage them. But I’ve been having some CGI issues with my web host recently, and apparently they explicitly support wordpress as part of my hosting package now, so I’m hoping things will be a bit more stable this way.)

The Big Choo-Choo Train
By Dylan
With Articles, Prepositions and the occasional Verb by Daddy

Once upon a time, Mommy and Daddy locked the door and went outside with Dylan. Daddy rang the doorbell – DING-DONG. Then Mommy rang the doorbell – DING-DONG. Grandma was outside in the car. Pop-Pop was also in the car. And so was cousin Maddie. Maddie wanted to play with Dylan’s toys, but Dylan said “No, no!” because he was not in the mood to share that day.

So Dylan and Maddie and Pop-Pop got on a big Choo-Choo Train. On the train, they met a bunny. A big bunny. A big talking bunny. The bunny was hopping. Dylan pushed a button on his laptop, and a doggie joined them and sang the A-B-Cs. Pop-pop read a book to Dylan while Maddie played with the big talking bunny.

While the bunny was hopping and the dog was singing the A-B-Cs and Pop-Pop was reading a book, suddenly, the Choo-Choo Train fell down! So Dylan got off the train. And Pop-Pop got off the train. And Maddie and the Doggie and the Big Talking Bunny got off the train. The Choo-Choo Train had a big boo-boo! Dylan picked the train up but they did not get back on the train because of the boo-boo. Instead, they put ice on the train’s boo-boo. Then Pop-Pop and Grandma and Maddie went home. Dylan played with the big talking bunny, but then the bunny fell down and got a boo-boo, because it hit its head on one of the posts of Dylan’s crib. So Dylan hopped all the way home.

Dylan and the Bears

Told to my little boy at bedtime last week, with various corrections and embellishments afterward.
Once upon a time, back when you were quite small — perhaps some time last week — there was a little boy named Dylan who lived in a little house in the woods. And Dylan was friends with all the little animals who lived in his part of the woods. There was Scout the Puppy Dog, and Kali the Kitty Cat, and Foxy the Fox, Rakki the Raccoon, and Skanky the Skunk, and Gray, the Bunny Rabbit With No Sense of Self Preservation, and Sir Whittingford Quacksalot the Duck, and Ringo the Singing Chameleon, and Bluefish the Blue Fish and all the other little animals who lived in the woods.
One day, Dylan went out to play with his animal friends, and who should he come across but Gray the Bunny Rabbit With No Sense of Self Preservation. “Hello Gray,” Dylan said. “Would you like to play with me this afternoon?”
Gray the Bunny Rabbit hopped from side to side. “Oh young Mr. Dylan,” he said, “We will have to play another time, because the King of the Forest has summoned all the animals to a special meeting.”
“Oh,” said Dylan. “That is too bad. Why is the King of the Forest having a special meeting?”
Gray the Bunny Rabbit turned his head almost all the way around, looking to make sure that they were alone. In a very small voice, he said, “There is a rumor.”
Dylan didn’t know what a rumor was, because he was just a very little boy, but he didn’t want Gray to think he was foolish, so he just nodded and tried to look thoughtful. “This rumor,” he said, “Must be terribly important, for the King to call a special meeting.”
Gray the Bunny Rabbit looked around again. “The rumor,” he said, in an even smaller voice, “Is that a family of bears have moved into the forest.”
“Bears?” Dylan said. “I thought you said it was a rumor.” Dylan didn’t know what a bear was either, but it seemed like a bear and a rumor wouldn’t be the same sort of thing.
“The rumor,” Gray said, “Is what told us about the bears.”
“I see,” Dylan said, even though he didn’t. He started to worry that Gray was getting suspicious that Dylan didn’t really know what a rumor was. Dylan decided that if he started fresh about the bears, maybe Gray would let the rumor drop. “I’ve never met a bear,” Dylan said. “What are they like?”
Gray the Bunny Rabbit’s ears stood straight up and so did the fur on his back. “Oh my, Mr. Dylan,” he said, “A bear is a big, scary animal, four times as big as a little boy. With great big teeth and great big claws as sharp as knives!”
Dylan’s eyes opened as wide as they could. He couldn’t even imagine an animal so big and scary. “I shouldn’t like to meet a bear then,” he said.
“No you would not, Mr. Dylan,” Gray said with a nod. “A bear would gobble a little boy like you up in one big swallow, and would still have room in his tummy for me!”
“Oh my!” said Dylan. “Whatever will the King of the Forest do about the bears?”
“I don’t know, Mr. Dylan,” said Gray, “But I hope he will tell the bears to move far away from here.” Gray the Bunny Rabbit took out his pocket-watch and looked at it. “Oh-oh! The meeting will start any minute. I must be going.”
“Well have a nice day, Gray,” Dylan said, and he waved good-bye.
“And the same to you, Mr. Dylan. Look out for bears!” And with that, Gray the Bunny Rabbit hopped away.
Dylan stood a while and thought. If the King of the Forest was having a meeting for the animals, then he would not be able to find any animals to play with. Dylan thought of all the games he could think of, but none of them seemed like they would be as much fun alone as they were with a friend. So instead of playing, Dylan decided to go for a walk. Dylan always loved to walk through the forest and see the beautiful sights, like the trees with their leaves in every color, and the babbling stream that ran through the woods.
So Dylan went for a walk through the forest, and before long he had lost track of time and had walked quite a long way, and came to a part of the forest where he had never been before. And as he turned a little bend on the dirt path that led through this part of the forest, he saw a house that looked brand new with a bright red mailbox out front.
“Why, I am quite sure that this house is brand new,” Dylan said. “And that means that I must have new neighbors here in the forest. I should introduce myself to them so that we can be friends, because it can be very lonely to come to live in a new forest until you make friends with your neighbors.”
And so he knocked in the door of the brand new house. There was no answer at the door, but Dylan saw a note stuck on the door. The note read, “Gone For A Walk. Back Later,” but as Dylan was only a very little boy, he hadn’t learned to read quite all the letters yet.
He thought about the note, and decided, “Sometimes, people will put a note on the door to say ‘Please come in,’ perhaps that is what this note says.” And since he tried the door and found that it was not locked, he decided that his guess must have been correct, and he went inside.
Inside the house, he found a long table with three bowls on it. And because Dylan had gone for quite a long walk, his tummy started to rumble when he saw the bowls. “Perhaps,” he said to himself, “The people who live in this house are having a party to meet their neighbors. Oh! They will be so disappointed when they find out that all of the animals had to go to the King of the Forest’s meeting and miss the party. These bowls must be snacks for the guests.”
So Dylan sat down at the first bowl. And it was a big bowl full of mashed peas. Dylan took a little bite of the peas and frowned to himself. “These peas are yummy,” he said, “But they are too hot.”
Dylan moved down to the second bowl. The second bowl was smaller than the first, and inside it were little chunks of avocado. Dylan ate one. “Oh-oh!’ he said, “This avocado is very tart, and it is also too cold!”
Finally, Dylan sat down by the last bowl, which was the tiniest bowl of all. It was full of rice cereal. He took a bite, and the rice cereal was delicious! So he took another bite. And then another. And before he even realized it, all the rice cereal was gone!
Dylan looked around the little house, but nobody seemed to be at home. “That is very odd behavior when you are throwing a party,” he said. “Oh-oh! Perhaps there are animals who live in this house, and they had to go to the meeting!”
Dylan thought that if the animals who lived in this house had gone to the meeting, then they might not be back for some time, and so he should go home. He thought he would like to write a note so that he could thank them for their hospitality and leave his regrets that he hadn’t been able to meet them in person.
But as Dylan tried to remember if “regrets” had three os or four, his little eyes started to get very heavy. And his little house seemed like it was ever so far away, to walk with a very full tummy. “Oh no,” he said, “If I try to walk home now, surely I will fall asleep on the way. And what then if one of these bears who live in the forest should come upon me! They would eat me all up in one swallow, and then where should I be? No, I shall have to take a nap before I go home.”
So Dylan found his way to the bedroom, where he found three beds. He climbed up into the first bed, which was very large. “This won’t do,” Dylan said, “This bed is too big, and if I go to sleep here, I shall get terribly lost!”
And so he climbed down and tried the second bed. Before he was half-way up the bedskirt, he gave up and slid back down to the floor, saying, “This one won’t do either! This bed is too high, and if I go to sleep here, I might roll off the side and I would fall and that would be the end of me!”
Dylan was starting to get worried that he wouldn’t find anywhere where he could sleep when he came to the third bed, and saw that it was a little crib, and Dylan clapped his hands with delight. This bed would do nicely. So Dylan climbed, carefully, up over the rails and into little crib, and it was only a few seconds before he was fast asleep.
Now, Dylan was very tired, so he stayed fast asleep for two whole hours. And he didn’t even stir when the owners of the house came home. And what Dylan didn’t know, because Dylan couldn’t read the name on the bright red mailbox, was that the brand new house in the woods belonged to a family of three bears. There was a great big daddy bear, and a somewhat smaller daddy bear, and a little baby bear. They had gone out for a walk in the woods because the big daddy bear’s mashed peas were too hot, and the somewhat smaller daddy bear’s avocado was just out of the freezer and needed to warm up. And the little baby bear’s rice cereal was just right, but she didn’t like to make a fuss, and besides, she enjoyed going for walks in the woods with her dads.
After their long walk, everyone was very hungry, so they went to check on their bowls. And the big daddy bear looked at his bowl of mashed peas, and he said, in a big deep voice, “Somebody’s been eating my peas!”
And the somewhat smaller daddy bear looked at his avocados, and he said, in a somewhat smaller voice, “Somebody’s been eating my avocados!”
And the little baby bear looked in her bowl, and she said, in a very small and sad voice, “Somebody’s been eating my rice cereal, and it’s all gone!”
By now, the three bears were very worried, so they set to looking about the house. When they looked in the bedroom, the big daddy bear took one look at the bed, with the little spot of messed-up sheets in the middle, and he said, “Somebody was trying to sleep in my bed.”
And the somewhat smaller daddy bear looked at his very high bed, where the bedskirts had all been pulled out to one side and he said, “Somebody was trying to sleep in my bed.”
And the little baby bear went to her crib, and there she saw little Dylan, fast asleep, and she said, “Somebody was trying to sleep in my bed, and I think that they succeeded!”
So the three bears gathered around the little crib, and the big daddy bear reached down and tapped little Dylan on the shoulder, and Dylan woke with a start. “Oh hello,” Dylan said. “This must be your house. I’m terribly sorry to impose. It’s just that I was so very tired, and I was afraid I might fall asleep on the way home. I only came over for a visit to meet with my new neighbors.”
And the great big daddy bear scooped little Dylan up out of the crib and put him down and said, “What a polite little boy you are. We are all very glad to meet you, because you are the first person we have met since we moved to the woods. You are welcome to come visit us any time you like, but you should really call first so that we will make sure we are at home.”
“I’m sorry that I put you out,” Dylan said. “I’m glad that we will be friends. My name is Dylan.”
The little baby bear said, “Hello Dylan, I am Baby Bear, and these are my Daddy Bears.”
Bears! Dylan looked up at the great big daddy bear, who was four times as big as he was, and he remembered how Gray the Bunny Rabbit had told him that a bear could swallow him up with one bite. But then he looked at the somewhat smaller daddy bear, who was only three times as big as Dylan, and at the little Baby Bear, who was no bigger than he was. And he remembered what Gray the Bunny Rabbit had said about bears having great big claws as sharp as knives. The great big Daddy Bear certainly had great big claws, but they were neatly trimmed and didn’t look sharp at all. And these bears ate peas and avocados and rice cereal, and none of those things were very much like little boys.
So Dylan decided that it he were going to be scared of the bears, the time to have done it would have been when he first woke up, and not now that they were having such a lovely conversation. And Dylan decided that after he had eaten their lunch and slept in their beds, it would be very rude indeed to be scared of them.
“I am very pleased to meet you, Baby Bear,” Dylan said, and he gave the bears his happiest smile — yes, that’s the one. “It would be grand if you all came to visit me at home on Thursday. We can all have lunch together, and I will serve peas and avocados and rice cereal.”
Baby Bear said, “That sounds very nice, Dylan.” Baby Bear looked around, and then leaned in close. “If it isn’t too much trouble,” she said, “Rice cereal is very nice, but I prefer milk.”
“You like milk?” Dylan asked. “Milk is my favorite! When you come to visit, we can have milk and play games.”
So they all agreed that the bears would come to Dylan’s house on Thursday afternoon for food and milk and games. And because it was starting to get late, and because Dylan was still tired from his long walk, the somewhat smaller Daddy bear picked Dylan up and carried him on his shoulders back through the woods to the little clearing where Dylan lived.
As the somewhat smaller Daddy bear was putting Dylan back down on the ground, Dylan asked a question that had been bouncing around his mind for some time. “Mr. Bear,” he asked in his most polite voice, “Do bears eat animals?”
The somewhat smaller Daddy bear smiled down at Dylan. “Well, we bears eat all the same things that little boys eat. But when you’re a great big bear, it would be too much work to get enough food to eat by eating animals. We would only eat another animal if we were starving and there was no other food to eat.” And he patted little Dylan on the shoulder and said, “And never a friend.”
Dylan smiled, and wished the somewhat smaller Daddy bear a good evening, and he sat down on the front stoop of his little house to play and wind down after a long day.
Before too long, Dylan’s animal friends Gray and Ringo and Sir Whittingford Quacksalot stopped by on their way home from the meeting. Dylan couldn’t wait to tell them all about his new friends.
“But weren’t you scared?” asked Gray the Bunny Rabbit. “Bears are so very big and such long claws!”
“I didn’t know they were bears,” Dylan said, “Not until we had been introduced and they had been so nice to me. So I didn’t know to be scared. And by then, there wasn’t any reason for me to be scared. They were very nice and I am having them over for snacks and milk and games on Thursday. You could come too if you like.”
Sir Whittingford Quacksalot said that he did not think he would very much like to have lunch with bears, but Gray the Bunny Rabbit agreed to come so long as Dylan promised that he wouldn’t be eaten. Ringo said that he would try to come, but he had an appointment that afternoon and might be busy.
And so, Dylan and the bears and Gray the Bunny Rabbit had lunch and played games on Thursday. And the next Thursday, Ringo came over as well. And even though some of the animals were still scared of the bears, before too long, most of them had made friends. And Dylan often went to visit his new friends the bears. But he always made sure to call first to make sure they were in.