Thursday, August 5, 2010
In keeping with this blog's apparent spirit of complete and utter inconsistency -- from deeply personal essays to rants to recipes -- here is another children's book I wrote for my daughter when she was seven years old:
BILL, THE STUBBORNEST PELICAN
© 1999 by Tom Hayes
Bill was the stubbornest pelican on the island.
Whenever his mother asked Bill to practice his fishing, he only wanted to play.
Whenever his father asked Bill to practice sitting on stumps and watching the boats, Bill only wanted to go fishing.
And whenever his brothers and sisters wanted him to play, Bill only wanted to sit on a stump and watch the boats go by.
But being stubborn wasn’t always so bad. One time, when Bill’s littlest sister lost her favorite pebble, only Bill stubbornly refused to give up looking for it. He dove and he dove and he dove for the pebble -- and he found it! His sister was very happy.
One day, Bill’s father said, “Bill, why don’t we go sit on a couple of stumps and watch the boats go by?”
Bill said, “No, I want to go fishing.”
His father said, “Bill, I think that’s a bad idea. There are a lot of boats out today, and most of the boats are fishing boats. That means there are lots of nets in the water. No, this is a good time to just sit and watch the boats.”
Bill said, “No, I want to go fishing.” And off he flew.
Bill skimmed low over the water. Suddenly he saw dozens of beatiful silvery fish darting just below the surface. Bill took a deep breath, and dove for the fish.
Almost immediately, Bill found himself all tangled up in a huge blue fishing net.
“Help! Help!” called Bill. His mother and his father and his brothers and his sisters all flew to his rescue. After a lot of pulling and tugging and pecking and poking they managed to get Bill free.
The next day, Bill’s mother said, “Bill, let’s go practice our fishing.”
Bill said, “No, I want to play.”
His mother said, “Bill, after what happened yesterday, I really think you need to practice your fishing.”
Bill said, “No, I want to play.” And off he flew.
Bill looked around for somebody to play with, but his brothers and his sisters and all the other young pelicans were out fishing. It was a beautiful morning, with almost no fishing boats out on the water, and so it really was a perfect time for fishing. But Bill was stubborn, so he tried to play all by himself. And he didn’t have very much fun at all.
The next day, Bill’s brothers and sisters came up to him and said, “Let’s play!”
Bill said, “No, I want to sit on a stump and watch the boats.”
His brothers and sisters said, “Oh, come with us, Bill! It’s a perfect day to play!”
Bill said, “No, I want to sit on a stump and watch the boats.” And off he flew.
The stump was cold, and once again there were hardly any boats to watch. The boats that were out weren’t doing anything particularly interesting, and whenever the sun went behind a cloud the stump got even colder. Bill thought to himself that it really would be a lot more fun to go find his brothers and his sisters and play with them. But Bill was feeling really stubborn, and he stayed on his stump.
An old sea turtle swam up to Bill’s stump, stopped, and took a long look at Bill. Then the turtle took a deep breath, opened its beak, and spoke. In its slow turtle voice it said, “Hello, Little Pelican. Why such a long face?” And it laughed a wheezing turtle laugh at its own joke.
Bill didn’t feel much like laughing, though. And he certainly didn’t like the joke about his long beak! “I’m not very happy,” he said to the turtle. “I really don’t want to be here at all right now.”
“Then why don’t you leave?” asked the turtle.
“I can’t,” said Bill. “I’m being stubborn.”
“Well,” said the old sea turtle, “there’s stubborn, and then there’s STUBBORN.”
“What do you mean?” asked Bill.
“What I mean,” said the turtle, “is that sometimes being stubborn can be a good thing. But sometimes it can hurt you more than it helps.”
Bill thought about that for a while. He remembered the time when he just wouldn’t give up looking for his sister’s lost pebble. And Bill remembered how good he felt when he found it. Then Bill thought about how he was feeling right at that moment -- how cold and lonely and miserable he was, sitting on that stump. And how much fun he could be having if he was off fishing or playing with his brothers and sisters instead.
“You know,” said Bill, “you’re pretty smart. For a turtle, I mean.” Bill and the turtle both laughed. And then Bill flew off to find his brothers and sisters while there was still time to play.