Children’s Books, Novels and Short Stories
A Collection of Very Tiny Tales by David O’Boyle
It’s something of a mystery. You could have sworn you put your socks in the hamper, or the dresser, or the laundry machine. Yet when you come back to wash them or wear them or put them away, they’re gone. Blaming ourselves for these disappearances is sensible. For when an answer to a solution is unknown, the simplest answer can be preferable. That is, until you learn otherwise, until you learn…that something…lurks…in the laundry.
The gruff caw of a crow. The shriek of a seagull. A woodpecker’s mechanical hammering against a tree. An abnormal chirp from a cricket.
Alone, these noises are aggravating sounds of the forest, tolerated by the other animals, but loathed, and certainly not anything for the audience to be subjected to at Eastern Hemlock Songfest. Acts on stage are reserved for tunes that are conventionally kind to the ears- the uniform buzz of a group of grasshoppers, the unvaried trill from a chorus of Warblers.
But together, these aggravating sounds of the forest can be harnessed, fused in just the right way, and transformed into pure pleasure. All it takes is some practice, a teacher willing to share the secrets of jazz music alongside students ready to learn, and a band’s belief that the whole group is greater than the sum of its parts. After that, it’s only a matter of time before Cricket’s Quartet has not only jazz on their side, but the audience at Songfest too. Hopefully they brought their dancing shoes.
After all their hard work preparing for St. Patrick’s Day, leprechauns need a vacation. Since they love to travel, these vacations take them all over the world. Well, if they can afford it. You see, pots of gold don’t grow on trees. They must be earned, which is why they exist at the end of the rainbow. Equally important, once earned, pots of gold must be saved. Figuring this out takes Quinnen the Leprechaun some time.
It does not take him time, once he gets to travelling, to embrace new customs and cultures. In France, Japan, and everywhere in between, Quinnen eats the local cuisine, speaks the local language, and wears hats that match the local fashion. When he returns home to Ireland, all he’s learned abroad comes with him. As a result, his old life needs to make room for what’s new. Thankfully Quinnen has the space. Like blue and yellow make green, old and new make Irish…and everything else for that matter.
Jake likes the back of the classroom. Amongst desks, diverse faces and decorated walls, he can blend in, at least on most days. But today is not most days. Today is presentation day, and on presentation day, even the frightened face the spotlight. Those like Jake, who are not only shy, but have something to hide, proceed with caution. The slightest misstep could reveal big secrets. For Jake, that big secret is his fin, which he tapes down beneath his shirt to avoid embarrassment.
Yet despite the planning, missteps occur, and when they do, Jake must stand small or stand tall. By standing tall, he learns that confronting your insecurities shapes you more than a fin ever could. It also inspires others.
In addition to complimenting your soggy second layer of Cheerios, this book will send you into space, underground, and through the tapestry of time in between. Along the way, anticipate encounters. Fellows will emerge that seem strange… they probably are. Other fellows will emerge that seem fine…they probably aren’t. My advice is this:
Avoid aliens and intergalactic criminals, especially the moody ones. Before boarding a train, confirm its destination. Dine with sasquatches, but don’t be their dinner. And finally, watch your spouse, your in-laws and your employees.
Everyone…and everything, is up to something.
Swimming pools are fun for people- not for Beetles, at least at first. After he is shot out of his flower pot and into the water by a garden hose, Beetle faces the terror of being adrift in the open water, without knowing how to swim, and without being able to take proper safety precautions. Normally a shy loner, to save himself Beetle must open his mouth and do what is so hard for him- call for help.
Various backyard inhabitants answer his call. Their efforts, together with his own resolve, get Beetle out of danger. A nearby floating leaf serves as his initial refuge. Once aboard, Beetle begins a character transformation: he goes from shy to confident, from loner to leader, from rescued to rescuer.
Beetle’s courage is rewarded with a crew, all of which have their own skills. The spider that he rescues spins his web to make a sail. The centipede he rescues offers her many legs to row. Both acts of generosity surprise Beetle. Even though he never met a centipede or a spider, both bugs are negatively stereotyped. Overcoming these generalizations is a struggle that calls for courage. It is a call that Beetle answers, and quickly begins to pay off. For the basic life raft that he navigated alone morphs into a mighty ship that commands the very waters Beetle formerly feared. Work becomes play. The pool is now a playground. Scary strangers are now friends from other flower pots.
That calls for a celebration back at Beetle’s place…and everyone is invited.