Friday, April 15, 2011

CHICKEN LITTLE & Other Animal Stories

I found that I had a lot of stories that were really too short to post on their own (then again, most of you may be looking back at my previous posts and asking “what the heck would he know about ‘too short?’”), so I decided to post them all together. A few of these stories, you will, doubtless, be familiar with. Others, probably not cuz I made ‘em up.

Our first story this week is one that I didn’t know the ending too, so I made one up. I could’ve done some research and found out what the ending was, but that would cut into my all too important Sitting-Around-Staring-Off-Into-Space time.


In a farmyard in a farm (as, where else would one find a farmyard?) there lived some birds. Ducks, geese, chickens, turkeys, that kind of thing. And all these birds lived quite safely behind a very high fence with a very strong lock on the only door. They were in no danger of being eaten by wild animals…or so they thought.

Because not far from where they lived was a cave, that was the home of Foxy-Loxy, a neighborhood fox. His dream was to catch a fat goose or a chicken from that farm and have it for supper. But he could never get in.

The community inside the fence was not that different from the community you live in. People lived with their families and had little houses (or coops) that they lived in. The Turkey-Lurkey family lived on one end of town, the Goosey-Poosey’s down the road and at the very center of town lived the Cocky-Locky’s.

Cocky-Locky was the Cock of the Walk, which meant he was in charge. He had a wife called Henny-Penny and a little son whose name was Cocky-Locky, Jr. But he was still very small and young, so most people called him “Chicken Little.”

One day Chicken Little was walking along, minding his own business when he felt a sharp pain on his head and said “ow!” Something had clearly fallen from the sky and landed on his head. Now, Chicken Little, was not the brightest of chickens, and he arrived at very much the wrong conclusion. A sensible chicken would’ve looked up, seen the chestnut tree that stood next to the fence, looked at all the chestnuts on the ground around him, and realized what had happened. Instead, Chicken Little screamed and started running around the farmyard as if he’d just had his head cut off.

“The sky is falling!” he yelled. “The sky is falling! The sky is falling!”

Panic has a tendency to spread faster than anything in the world (even butter) so it wasn’t long before all the other birds believed Chicken Little and were running around screaming their heads off. And, let me tell you, if you’ve never seen an entire farmyard worth of ducks, chickens, geese and turkeys running around and screaming in a panic…well, actually, it sounds kind of funny, but for them it was scary.

Of course, the decision on what to do next fell to Cocky-Locky. “We must leave the farmhouse and find someplace safe. Like a cave or something.” So, they all got to work tearing down a section of the fence so that they could escape. Cocky-Locky led the way as this caravan of poultry made its way across the field toward the only cave they knew of. When Foxy-Loxy saw them coming, he licked his chops with glee and invited them all in. They told the fox about the sky falling and he humored them, though he knew it was impossible.

“Everyone inside!” he said. But as he was leading the birds inside his cave, he knew that as soon as he attacked one, the others would flee. “Let me make us more secure,” he said, after thinking of a plan. He ran outside and looked around for a rock. A rock big enough to cover the entrance to the cave. He found one and rolled it right up to the mouth of the cave. Then he went inside and pulled it until it totally blocked the one and only entrance.

But he pulled it in with such force and it hit so hard that the cave shook. The vibrations went all the way up to the top of the cave, where an apple tree was growing. As it shook, apples started falling from the branches of the tree and landing on top of the cave.

“AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH!” screamed the fox. “The sky really is falling! We’ll all be trapped! I’m outta here!” And he slid through a tiny opening between the rock and the mouth of the cave and ran away, never to be heard from again.

Of course, it wasn’t long before the chickens and ducks and everyone figured out what had happened and how foolish they had been. They returned to the farm, fixed the hole in the fence and went on with their lives. In years to come they would tell the story of how the sky fell down on their heads and have a good laugh about it. The funniest part, though, was that the panic had spread so fast that nobody could even remember how it started…except Chicken Little who learned a very valuable lesson that day.


This story was my losing entry in a contest held by a local second-hand book store. Actually, I entered thrice, but this story happens to be my favorite of the three because…well…elephant.

As we all know, elephants never forget. Yes, an elephant’s memory is something remarkable. Like a steel trap from which nothing can escape. It is for this reason that one should be very careful when borrowing money from an elephant. It doesn’t matter how many years go by, he’ll never forget so you might as well cough up right away cuz, let me tell you, that is NOT a visit you ever want to get, especially when you have some people over and…

I digress.

The point is that elephants have great memories…except for Peter. Peter, for whatever reason, had the worst memory of any elephant in history. He couldn’t remember anything. He couldn’t remember where he left his things, what he had said to his friends, whether it was Martin Sheen or Michael Douglas in that one movie (most elephants rock at the Kevin Bacon game, but not Peter). But worst of all is he forgot when he made plans with people. Anyone who knew Peter well had, on more than one occasion, known him to show up very late with some pathetic apology or excuse. Most elephants were annoyed by Peter’s chronic lateness (that’s if he remembered to show up at all), but they had come to accept it about him.

But not Sheila.

Sheila was Peter’s girlfriend and she was getting good and fed up with him standing her up all the time. He didn’t mean to, of course, he simply forgot things, but just the same, it was beginning to make Sheila feel like she didn’t matter to him at all, when nothing could be further from the truth. Finally, after he had missed three dinner dates in a row, she gave it to him straight.

“Tomorrow night is our anniversary. If you aren’t right on time for dinner…we’re through!”

Poor Peter didn’t want to forget this time, so before he went to bed, he tied a big red ribbon around his left tusk so that when he woke up the next morning, he would see it in the mirror and it would remind him of his date.

But Peter’s memory was so bad that when he woke up the next morning and looked at himself in the mirror, he saw the ribbon and knew that it was there to remind him of something…but he couldn’t remember what! Now Peter was panicking because he knew whatever it was he had forgotten this time must be something very important, if he had tied that ribbon on to remind him. So he spent the rest of his day going around to all the places he usually hung out and calling on all the friends he had ever made plans with and asked them if they knew what he was supposed to remember about today. But they all shook their heads and said they had no idea.

Well, the day passed quickly and Peter was beginning to panic. Then he had an idea. “Sheila!” he said. “She’s the smartest elephant I ever met. She’s bound to know what I was supposed to remember today.” So he ran straight to see Sheila and before he could ask her what he had forgotten, she turned to him and her face lit up.

“You remembered!” Sheila cried and she gave Peter the biggest kiss of his elephant life.

So Peter and Sheila had a lovely anniversary dinner…though Peter never did remember what that whole ribbon thing was about.


A long time ago, I wrote a screenplay about a writer of children’s stories. In it, he describes a book he wrote about a horse. The screenplay no longer exists in any reasonable form, but his story has survived. (ILLUSTRATOR'S NOTE: Horses are hard to draw! That's all)

Henry was a horse. This, in itself, was nothing so unusual, as being a horse is a frame of mind shared by many individuals on this planet of ours. In Henry’s case, it was nothing to be alarmed about because, in addition to being in the frame of mind of a horse, he actually was a horse.

Probably still is.

But Henry was no ordinary horse. He was a beautiful white stallion. His coat shone in the sun as though he were glowing. He was proud and majestic, the envy of all the other horses. You see, Henry lived on a horse farm with lots of other horses, all of whom were perfectly nice. The only problem was that the other horses were all brown or gray or spotted. They were ordinary-looking horses. Henry felt very self-conscious being the only white stallion on a farm full of ordinary-looking horses. So one day, he decided that he didn’t belong there. He gave his two week’s notice and quit the horse farm to find another home.

Henry wandered around for days, trying to find someplace he could live. He ended up deep in the forest (the kind of forest that always crops up in fairy tales) where he found something amazing: A unicorn farm!

Like most people (horses or otherwise), Henry had assumed that unicorns were extinct or imaginary. But he was proved wrong by the sight of a whole corral full of unicorns. Some were whiter even than Henry and some looked like there was starlight in their coats. Some were pink or green, some looked like rainbows. And every one had a beautiful golden horn on their heads.

So Henry asked if he could join their farm, and the unicorns were only too happy to have him. And, at first, things were going well for Henry. Until he became aware of something he hadn’t expected. Now he was no longer the nicest-looking horse in the farm, but the plainest. He no longer stood out in a crowd. Whereas before, he stood head and shoulders above the other horses, now he was thrust into the background.

After much deliberation, he decided it was time to go home. He returned to his horse farm (where they’d missed him terribly) and no longer worried about how he looked in comparison to anyone else. And that’s how Henry learned that a gold nugget is happier in a coal mine than a diamond mine.


This is a story I’m sure you’re all familiar with. But, again, the ending elluded me, so I had to fiddle with it slightly.

There were once three brothers who, by a strange coincidence, all had the same last name. They were called Huff Gruff, Tuff Gruff and Nuff Gruff. In addition to having the same last name, they had many other eerie similarities. In the first place, they had the same mother. They also had the same father. They lived in the same home. And they were all the same species: Goats.

Seriously, how freaky is that?

Anyhoo, these Billy Goats Gruff used to graze in a meadow. This meadow was full of yummy grass and yummier flowers and a little brook ran alongside it. On the other side of the brook was another meadow with grass just as yummy and flowers just as yummier as their home meadow. This meadow was also easily reached by a small, stone footbridge which ran over the brook. So why is it, do you think, that these three Billy Goats Gruff (Say! That’d be a good name for a story!) never ventured into that other meadow?

“Because of what lives under the bridge.”

Oh? And what’s that?

“The troll, of course.”

Oh, of course. Silly me forgetting.

You see, kids and people, there are lots of different kinds of trolls. Some live under bridges, some live in mountain caves, some have crazy hair and little plastic jewels in their tummies and are available at toy stores and gift shops the world over. But bridge trolls are some of the most unpleasant in the world. And this particular troll, the one who dwelt under the bridge between the two meadows, would wait under the bridge until someone was foolish enough to cross, then he’d spring out and attack!

So, it was for the best, these goats staying on their side of the bridge.

Until, one day when, quite unintentionally, the goats found they had eaten all the grass and flowers and their meadow was quite barren and foodless. They had to figure out what to do next, so they put their heads together…which just got their horns tangled together so then they took a good five minutes trying to get their heads apart. Then they started to think.

So, a little while later, the youngest of the goats, young Huff Gruff, made his way nervously to the bridge. He stepped onto it carefully and when he was about halfway across, he heard a viscious-sounding voice wheezing, “Who’s that trip-trapping on my bridge?”

“Oh, that would be me,” said Huff. “I’m Huf Gruff…I’m a goat.”

“Do you know what the bridge troll does to goats who trip-trap across his bridge?”

“Er…a verbal warning?”

“No, I eat them!”

“What? Eat me? No, you don’t wanna eat me. I’m just a little goat. Small and scrawny. Really, I’d just get stuck in your teeth. My big brother, on the other hoof, is much bigger with lots of nice, tender meat on his bones. Do yourself a favor and eat him instead.”

Well, the troll considered this and ultimately decided that he would rather eat Huff Gruff’s brother. Huff Gruff crossed the bridge harmlessly and, a short while later, Tuff Gruff stepped onto the bridge.

“Who’s that trip-trapping on my bridge?” wheezed the troll a second time.

“Only me. Tuff Gruff the goat.”

“Do you know what the bridge troll does to goats who trip-trap across his bridge?”

“A small fine and a flag in my file?”

“No, I eat them!”

“What? You want to eat me? You must be crazy. I’m nothing but fat! Don’t you know goat fat is very bad for troll cholestorol…or ‘trollestorol?’”


“Look, trust me on this, my big brother will be along in a minute. He’s much bigger and much leaner than me. You’ll enjoy him much more.”

Once again, the troll was persuaded to allow Tuff Gruff to pass in exchange for his big brother. Sure enough, not long after that, Nuff Gruff himself stepped onto the bridge.

“Who’s that trip-trapping on my bridge?”

“It’s me: Nuff Gruff the goat.”

“Do you know what the bridge troll does to goats who trip-trap across his bridge?”

“Depends: Am I the one millionth trip-trapper?”

“What? No, you idiot! I eat them!!”

“Eat me? You must be joking.”

“Oh, don’t you start with all that!”

“No, I’m serious. I’ve been sick lately. Haven’t been exercising, haven’t been eating right. I’d probably just make you feel lousy. Between you and me, I think I have a touch of Mad Goat Disease.”


“I know, right? Tell you what though…if you want to wait a little while, my brother is on his way and—”

“Wait, your brothers already crossed this bridge.”

“Oh, no. Those were my younger brothers. I’m talking about my older brother. Er…Muff Gruff!”

“Muff Gruff?”

“Yeah. Why else do you think this story is called ‘The Four Billy Goats Gruff?’”

Wait, I thought this story was called the—


Oh, sorry.

Four Billy Goats Gruff?” said the troll. “Are you sure?”

“Trust me on this. Muff Gruff is a veritable goat delicacy. Fine quality meat, very nutritious, plus he’s just been to the supermarket so he’s carrying his own vegetables with him!”

“Ooh! That does sound good.”

“Yeah, so let me pass and you can eat my big brother. Honest.”

“Well…what kind of vegetables are we talking about here?”

“Carrots, potatoes…asparagus…ya like mushrooms?”

“I looooove mushrooms! Go, go! Make room for your big brother!”

“With pleasure. Bon apetit!” With that, Nuff Gruff joined his younger brothers in the other meadow where they grazed happily for many a year…

And, for all I know, that mean old troll is still hiding under that bridge, waiting for the fourth billy goat to trip-trap across…but I won’t tell him if you won’t!


If You Liked These Stories, You Might Enjoy:
  • Chicken Little (1940) The story was animated by the Walt Disney Company during World War 2 and was rewritten as an allegory for Hitler’s rise to power through spreading misinformation. Throughout the cartoon (which ends with the fox eating every bird in the story) the fox consults a book of “Psychology,” but the original idea was that he should be reading “Mein Kampf.”
  • Chicken Little (2005) Disney once again tackled the story with the studio’s first entirely computer-animated feature (not counting Pixar). Though a charming comedy with a great voice cast including Zach Braff in the title role, it was more of a sequel to the fairy tale, as throughout, poor Chicken Little is trying to live down the embarrassment of his well-publicized mistake.
  • The Three Billy Goats Gruff & The Three Little Pigs (album) The very talented (though, in my opinion, somewhat underrated) Holly Hunter recorded these two children’s stories some years ago. If you like fairy tales, browse the children’s music section of your favorite music store, because you’ll often find little known recordings like this one.

Next Week: "Something very special"


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