Our world deals every day with economic and social justice. In The Tails of Furry Logic, the very human animal characters seek justice through successful application of ingenuity and persistence to overcome obstacles. It is a furry logic, one applied from the world of the river and forest and village, a world much like that of Mole, Rat, Badger, and Toad in The Wind in the Willows. The furry logic of the bears, raccoons, weasels, hares, deer, squirrels, etc. demonstrate to children, and to their parents, that ethics and creativity are successful methods of business. Social justice can bring economic justice and success. These lessons are conveyed through story, and they will stick.
The Tails of Furry Logic
5 Stories that Might Become a Boxed Set
Written and Illustrated by Marilynn Deane Mendell
Skip the pitch? Scroll down for story summaries - or even farther for excerpts...
Why these stories now? They provide strong female and male examples of animals with entrepreneurial spirit who tackle the business of startups and the complexity of doing business. The plots take on many of today's issues: real science vs. junk science, the world as flat or not, truth or lies, cruelty vs. civility, accept different or discriminate, and save nature or destroy it. The stories offer children critical thinking opportunities and parents platforms to explore numerous points of discussion. They illuminate rather than instruct, they provide a springboard to develop a point of view, they invite perception, and they leave a space between sentences for reflection. There are just enough difficult concepts and words to entice informal learning.
Why Write About Business and Ethics to Children? Children start businesses today at very young ages and most children have two parents or a single parent in the work world. As a serial entrepreneur who teaches marketing and startup basics to a graduate class at Georgetown University, Marilynn Mendell knows firsthand the need for working parents to be able to relate their frustrating work experiences to their children. And smart children can grasp the concept of how having a contract in advance might solve problems before they begin. At the youngest age, children can relate to basic moral tenets and they have a clear distinction between what's right and wrong. Children can feel cheaters in their guts. They understand why sometimes a client or an employee gets fired for not playing fairly. And they know the principles of math, "Granny, everyone knows one plus one equals two, not four."
What will contribute to sales?: Creating a wise owl accountant, a feisty female hare who runs a bakery, a steadfast brown bear who makes the best dry-stone walls, a wildly creative clothing designer weasel, a skunk family that opens a vegan restaurant, a squirrel who in retirement starts a nut supply company, and fiery raccoons who knit for a living, Mendell picked specific animal traits that have long been associated with essential characteristics to help carry the realism and emotion of the stories. These characters trigger a level of emotional intelligence that is similar to the responses that cause pet and animal rescue videos to go viral. Empathy with the characters will contribute to word-of-mouth sales along with the obvious spin-off merchandise opportunities that can be generated from the various characters, their furniture, clothing, and the village shops.
There are five completed, ready-for-publication allegorical stories, each approximately four thousand words long, that can stand alone, form a boxed set, or become chapters. The adventure takes readers ages 6-14 into a forest where entrepreneurial animals set up shops only to discover various roadblocks to building successful businesses. The characters encounter the trials and tribulations of startups, the underbelly of discrimination, the importance of contract negotiation, and the pitfalls of unethical behavior. Brief summaries of these stories follow.
There's precedent for the storylines: These modern fables provide a bridge between the familiar and someplace new, supported by an entire genre of children's literature that successfully utilizes animals in the messaging, where we have become accustomed to rabbits acting like hardworking, honest people, and where weasels seem like the bullies down the street. These characters will touch hearts and sell based on two things: 1) children rally behind the unfairly treated characters and cheer at the moral conclusion. 2) Animal Farm, Charlotte's Web, Alice in Wonderland, Peter Rabbit, The Wind in the Willows, Stuart Little, and Aesop's Fables provide a foundation for a belief system based on the reliability of animals that have stood the test of time. Mendell's stories provide the same lasting power, where the past and present can flow together, becoming the language by which we continue to transfer our cultural values. Another factor to consider is that adults must be pleased with the story in order to enjoy reading it to children. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory resonated because children (and adults reading to children) could see themselves in each character, and we all wage the battle to be more like the hero-Charlie. And it was funny! The story captured generations because Dahl tangled up dreams with fears inside a journey that gave the ending everyone knew was right from the start. Those authors never talked down to their audience. Mendell's tales echo all of the aforementioned trajectories. They're witty, poignant, challenging without being elitist, and they ring true. They will resonate with the readers because fundamentally everyone hates cheaters, liars, sneaks, and cowards. And we all want and love heroes.
About the illustrations: The author is a naturalist and botanical illustrator who has sold her art for over forty years. For the integrity of the stories, it is essential that the animals look real. These drawings belong with these words. While the original drawings are graphite, the author works in watercolors and colored pencil and would be happy to create finished plates in color. The examples seen here comprise over fifty completed illustrations as samples that showcase Mendell's ability. Some of the animals wear clothes, others appear in a natural setting in order to provide a range of ideas for the publisher.
Edward and May the Entrepreneurial Bears
Edward the bear is a meticulous, respected craftsman, building dry-stone walls. When he takes on a design group, Weasels & Badgers, Inc., as a client, the problems begin. The creative group repeatedly interferes in Edward's work and breaks promises. Finally, he resigns the job. When economic recession (or poor management) forces the design group out of business, their country retreat becomes Edward's dream, a craft school. The tables turn completely when Edward's wife May recruits the unemployed designers into her clothing design studio, where their skills shine.
Missy the Pie Maker
Missy the hare runs a successful bakery with a preposterous name. She and her partner, Katy the deer, disagree over a branding issue: the name of the shop. Katy delivers Missy's pies to pleasant and unethical clients, one of whom, Mr. Albert the weasel, is passing off Missy's pies as his own to his customers. Missy tries several solutions: confrontation, legal, and practical. The practical, outside-of-the-pan one works. Mr. Albert is caught by his customers in his own lies and loses business. In the process, Missy rebrands her baked goods with a new name, learns about contracts and what keeps customers returning.
There are different audiences that can relate to these stories. Cooks, entrepreneurs, nature lovers, conservationists, philosophers, birders, and business consultants (as parents). Allusions from different walks of life are scattered throughout these stories. Here, for example, the barred owl lawyer has a jingle, Who Suuuooos4you, known to birders as Who Cooks for You.
May Starts Freedom Knits
May is a creative bear with several businesses, including her clothing design and manufacturing company, The First Talent Works. When she decides to expand the clothing line to knitted ski wear, she encounters two significant problems: employee resistance to change and finding reliable, economically sound, and ethical sources for raw materials. In her search, May faces Carl the sheep whose store applies some unusual mathematics which result in customer loss. With her usual good humor and positive outlook, May finds some wonderful supply partners, led by Iggy the llama and Molly the raccoon. Freedom Knits becomes another successful business for May.
Flint Discovers the Truth
When Flint Straddleback the squirrel comes out of retirement to start a pre-sorted nut business, Malcolm Mole Marketing helps out with package labels clearly stating contents. Customer Sarah Bentworth and her raccoon family discover the labels are false—they have been cheated, and confront the business. As Flint discovers that his manager has been cheating customers, he plans reparation. Meanwhile, Sarah takes this opportunity to teach her children about lying. With a story from local forest history, the family delves deeply into why lying is wrong and when there may be acceptable exceptions, such as protecting the innocent from evil. The children discuss schoolmates' lies, the reasons, and how they can help, responding with compassion and generosity.
Many of the stories provide narratives inside of the main frame: the wolf story (when to lie or not to lie) is inside of the lesson about cheating. It is a philosophical debate that children have with themselves long before entering graduate school. In the story about Flint an age-old question of when or if to lie helps a child with the "it depends" perspective for critical thinking. Many of the stories highlight the differences between relativism and universal concepts. An animal might take exception to another animal constantly using the word always.
"This children's story is packed with character, conflict, business practices, and ethics. Clearly and naturally told, the story demonstrates and explores the issues of lying, cheating and stealing, with three local examples: retail sales, schoolmates, and a story-within-a-story of genocide and those who combat it. Only Marilynn Mendell could pull this off in a children's story that also entertains adults!"
— Deborah Wilbrink, Perfect Memoirs
Skunks Open a Vegan Restaurant
As the Litton skunk family prepares to open a vegan restaurant, they are faced with prejudice from suppliers and potential clients. The restaurant seems doomed even before it opens, but brown bear May and her raccoon friend Molly seek a solution. Meanwhile the weather has taken a turn for the worst with the local Fish River at record flood levels, putting children's lives in jeopardy. The hated skunk family leads a rescue to save the helpless groundhog babies, proving kindness can overcome discrimination.
"Marilynn, I am enthralled by the story (Vegan Restaurant) and there were tears coming to my eyes during the rescue!"
— Deborah Wilbrink, Perfect Memoirs
The Tails of Furry Logic
A Box Set or Series of Short Books
Edward and May the Entrepreneurial Bears
An example of tension, description, characterization, and conflict:
Emily had always wanted a curvilinear wall and now she stood there in the morning fog looking over her achievements. She liked the beauty of the undulating section even if it did lean a bit to one side. It's only slightly leaning, she reassured herself, only a small change. I am the only real designer in this group. The next day, Emily picked up her partners from the train. She couldn't wait to show them the curving section of the wall!
Meanwhile Edward, back from his fly-fishing trip, decided to go over to have a look at his project. And as things sometimes have a strange way of happening, everyone arrived at the same time. Shock hit them all immediately, then came anger, and finally a multitude of explosions erupted. There had been a terrible rainstorm the night before and the wall had fallen into a massive pile of rubble because designs don't always work without the proper structure in place. Fur flew; snarls and growls could be heard throughout the forest and into the village.
The air around the group became electrified with tension as the screaming, finger pointing, and mad indignation grew. The bear, who rarely ever really got angry, roared, "I will not work on this project if you all refuse to follow the plan we agreed on. Every time I come here you have changed something. I can't and will not work like this." At six feet ten inches tall, Edward, even in his advanced years, towered over the weasels and the badger and when he spoke loudly, they froze. Edward clenched his paws, straightened his back, gritted his teeth, and then he slowly put one foot in front of the other without looking back and left his wall for what he thought might be forever. As Edward left he noticed the summer heat matched his own emotions. He whisked away the mosquitos that buzzed around his head, occasionally slapping at them a little harder than usual. Awful, they can't keep promises, I knew they wouldn't.
An example of characterization, dialog, and the dilemma addressed with the popular follow-your-heart solution:
Just a few minutes after Edward arrived, the two senior partners came by. They told Edward they were extremely disappointed in his work. They had thought he was the best. Then to make matters even worse, Alice said, "This wall is a mess, and we can't understand why it's taking so long." Edward couldn't speak. It seemed impossible that they didn't realize that they had ruined the wall with their meddling.
Finally, Edward roared, "That's enough! You're not leaders. You have no integrity, and you never keep your promises. This is no way to do business and I will not tolerate this treatment any longer. I'm firing you!" The earth shook and every nearby animal trembled in fear. The big bear stormed away.
He called May and said, "I love you more than you can imagine. I know we depend on my work, but I can't work like this anymore. I'm coming home. They can get that beaver to manage the project and get the job done. They are the worst clients ever." As he walked home, Edward talked reassuringly to himself. They already paid me for most of the job, so I'll just let the rest go. Who cares, sometimes money isn't worth the aggravation. In fact, I'll make more money with clients that don't redo everything. Right. That's the ticket. He shook himself from head to toe as if flicking off the awful feeling of frustration. His step became springy and a smile creeped over his...
Edward would sometimes leave the group and take a walk along the stone wall just thinking about how far they had all come and how wonderful it was that everything turned out so well.
Missy and the Pie Maker
An example of descriptive writing, expansive vocabulary, various points of view, and a demonstration of yet another business precept.
Katy winced and nodded slightly, "I know, and you make some good points, Missy (going back to her own earlier point), but we really do have to think of a better name. It doesn't go with what you produce. Something like the Pie and Cake Maker...the Fruity Baker...Painted Pies and Such." Missy shot her a dirty look with a big frown. Katy drifted, "I don't know. OK, well, I'm going to load the pies and I'll be on my way. I'll see you later this morning."
"Good idea," hissed Missy as she turned her back and carefully placed the sponge cake batter into the oven. She could tell when Katy was agitated because whitetail deer don't do a very good job of hiding their emotions and when they're miffed, they flashed their tails back-and-forth, wagging the white underneath parts like an alarm flag. Missy sensed too, that Katy was ready to get off on her run to deliver the morning pies. The hare and the deer were perfectly suited for their careers. Bakers get up early in the morning to get all of the pastries ready for their customers, and deer like scampering through the woods at first light. Katy loved the challenge of the darkness, the slipperiness after a rain, or even discovering a big tree that might've fallen overnight blocking the path. The real dangers came in the fall when the hunters roamed the woods. Generally, Missy closed the shop and went on vacation during hunting season. Missy really loved Katy's summer reddish brown coat; it was just so much more luxurious than that steel gray winter coat, but as Katy kept pointing out, "We must camouflage."
Missy was brilliant and just before Katy left, she smilingly yelled after the deer, "The Gloaming Baker!"
"Oh good grief. The what? Really? Missy, I've gotta get going, the sun is climbing!" Katy marveled that sometimes really smart bakers can be seriously dumb when it comes to understanding how to get customers.
An example of a complex business problem and why in this case a legal solution won't work, but ends with Missy solving the problem herself, outside the box.
...Then, she had another thought. I can sue Mr. Albert for taking credit for my pies. I'm getting a lawyer. And the very next day she hopped through the tall pine and oak forest, taking only a few stops along the way to gather mushrooms. Fall provided such an abundance, she thought and smiled to herself as she stuffed them in her apron. She soon arrived at the much sought after legal firm of Owls SUUU4Uoooo, Inc. They specialized in representing companies in the food business. Mr. Barred had licenses in so many states from the legal bar association that stripes covered his entire chest. The company rarely advertised but word had it that their advertising jingo sounded like a sing song "Who cooks for you?" Neighboring mice and moles felt an unpleasant fear when they heard the tune. They'd run for cover at the first few notes, as occasionally the wise old owl decided mice would make better dinners than clients.
Once Missy arrived, she sat calmly and explained her problem to Mr. Barred as he perched on an oak branch with his eyes opening and closing as he listened. He'd stop now and then to scratch out a few notes on the bark near his feet. Smart attorneys mostly thought and listened. After she stopped explaining her problem, he told her she really didn't have a case and she probably couldn't win. "Yes, mean old Mr. Albert is being unethical," he said with an intake of whoooo breath, and then continued while blowing out the ooooo part, "but Missy, you admitted that you didn't have a contract where Mr. Albert promised never to take credit for your baked goods. You can't copyright your pies with some distinction like a logo." Missy's eyes glazed over as she suddenly fell into deep thought and stopped listening to the rest of what the puffy old owl went on about. She had an idea! She thanked Mr. Barred and left him one of her best fig pies. Speed is a jackrabbit's best talent, and Missy raced back to her kitchen.
The warmth hit her face the minute she arrived, as the six commercial ovens spewed out immense amounts of heat while going full blast baking away the next day's pies.
May Starts Freedom Knits
An example of eloquent description, a reference to Calder, and an effective management technique (and its simple explanation) demonstrated by May.
Emily came stamping forward and pushed her aside. May just stood watching, as the designers constantly brought her an inward smile. Edward could never understand her ability to manage their flaky dispositions. May turned to Emily, taking in the whole clown-like scene unfolding in front of her. Pretending to be totally engrossed and interested, May could hardly contain her laughter as she serenely looked down at the tantrum erupting before her eyes. Today's hostile weasel's ensemble consisted of a pink straw hat encircled with purple and green ribbons with bunches of dried hydrangeas and rosemary, a black and white polka dot blouse underneath a vertically striped red and white vest, a buttercream yellow pleated shirt, and horizontally striped multi-colored tights. The outfit came with over-sized jewelry, too. Emily jangled antique Bakelite bracelets in orange, turquoise, and baby blue that jutted out from her wrists in all sorts of geometric shapes. Big silver earrings hung from her ears, reminding May of Calder mobiles, and around the weasel's neck was a felt lanyard studded with spray-painted-gold-nails that sounded like sleigh bells. Enough to take anyone's breath away. But then there was a pair of huge, round-framed, purple glasses propped up on a tiny pink nose. What could May say?
Emily stopped abruptly in front of May and stomped her bright red four inch-heels. "You're crazy, May. I quit, if you think I'm going to put up with this nonsense. This is your most ridiculous idea yet." And she looked around behind her, waving her paws and pumping them as if to draw out nods of agreement from the rest of the garment makers. "Everyone agrees—see?" But mostly, the room had taken on a quiet stillness.
May blinked. She understood that bears towering over the others could be disconcerting, so she purposefully kept her tone steady and calm. To make her frightened team relax even more, she ambled slowly over to her favorite easy chair that sat next to the cast iron stove, lowering herself with one graceful movement. "I know." Pause. "And I hear you." She assured them. "And all of you are 100% right." After another long pause, the wind picking up outside and thunder pounding off in the distance, she went on, "Edward and I have a nice nest egg saved. We'll continue to take the risk and finance the studio. I'll find knitters and I'll locate suppliers."
An example of well painted characters, and it presents another ethical concept for preserving and protecting our earth, which is woven throughout the story.
With the big full worm moon as light, May went into the river to see if she could catch a trout for dinner. In two winks, she scooped up a brown and brought the speckled beauty up to the shore. Almost too beautiful to eat, she thought.
Just then a small raccoon hopped up on the boulder beside her waving his arms in the air, "Hey, put Brownie back now before you hurt him." Bewildered and caught off guard, May actually dropped the fish right into a deep dark hole of swirling water just below her feet. The little raccoon glared up at May, bravely standing with legs apart, paws on hips, and looking for a fight. May could've knocked him into the pool with one swipe but she didn't have a mean bone in her body.
"Why?" was all she said peering sadly down towards her lost fish.
Puffing out his chest, "Well, Brownie's ours, see. He's our good luck charm sort of. He's outsmarted all of us for so many years, that now we have a law to protect him. Catch and Release only in this part of the river. Didn't you read the sign?"
May glanced over to where the furry striped creature pointed. It had gotten really dark by now and May could barely make out the five-by-five-inch sign two feet from the ground stuck near a blueberry bush. "Oh, I do see it. I'm so sorry, how careless of me." She rolled back on her haunches in a playful relaxed way. "And who are you?"
"I'm Ben, the River Keeper in these parts. I patrol the bank for three miles on this side and my sister patrols the other side. We also pick up trash."
"Well," she drew that word out for a long breath, "that's very nice of you. Are you volunteers?" The bear smiled.
"Yes, Lilly and I have a mother who thinks we should start at a young age to give back. We've heard those words so many times, we have them memorized." He rolled his eyes, and feeling comfortable near the big brown bear, sat down.
"Ben, maybe you can help me. I'm looking for Molly McDermott. Do you know her?"
Ben stood up bristling and staring at her suspiciously. "Know her? Did she send you out here?" "No, Ben. Did I say something to upset you? Who is she to you?"
Peeved and shaking his head while twitching his whiskers feverishly, Ben hissed with a tad of resentment thrown in, "She's my mother."
"Ohhh," May laughed and tumbled right down into the water. After she climbed back out, and shaking the water from her fur...all over Ben, and still laughing, May chuckled, "Sorry for the water all over you. Ben, could you please take me to her. This is great news."
"But Edward," said May as she set warm roasted peaches in a raspberry sauce smothered in rich clotted cream in front of him, "everyone knows 1+1=2. The world only works because we can all agree on certain things like math and science."
Flint Discovers the Truth
This example shows thoughtful parents dealing with a difficult ethical question, through dialog. It sets up conflict between customer and the business.
Harry sat down and took a sip of his cider and thoughtfully said, "That's a serious problem for lots of reasons, Sarah. The first is that our children have been exposed to thieves, and then that those squirrels cheated us, and finally we won't buy anything from them anymore because we can't trust them." Then he smiled at her and said, "Sarah, you go and take the children. You don't need me. It's a good lesson for Annie and Bruce. And I think you're the head of this family." She gave him a big hug, then pulled away realizing he still had fish guts and scales on him and now she'd have to wash all of that stinky stuff off of her fur.
"Alright, we'll go tomorrow at dusk." She [raccoon] preferred total darkness, but the squirrels worked when the sun shone and her family worked by moonlight. So, she compromised with dusk.
The next day they packed up the uneaten nuts and went down the path towards The Nutty Supply company. Every so often one of the children would ask a question. Annie began, "Why would anyone lie?"
"That's a good question." Sarah nodded her head with understanding and encouragement, "In this case, it was to make more money. But sometimes it's to hide not knowing the answer. Some raccoons lie so they don't look dumb instead of just owning up and saying, 'I don't know that answer.' Or sometimes it's to show off."
An example of a 3-way conflict, good description of Flint, and the problem and solution get clearly stated.
From behind them, a big black squirrel came out of the woods walking kind of lopsided as he apparently had nuts packed into both sides of his face. He spit them out and turned to the children and said, "Hello kiddies, I see you're enjoying our nuts." Then he looked at their faces and they didn't look like they were having such a good time. "I'm Mr. Straddleback the owner, call me Flint. Is there some problem?" he asked, turning around to his manager Mr. Redtail, and then back to the raccoons.
Sarah went down on all fours and looked him in the eye, and spoke almost in a whisper, "Yes, Mr. Straddleback, we do have a problem. When we returned to our home, we counted each bag of your nuts and each one had a few nuts less than what your card advertised."
Astonishment in his eyes, he answered her, "That can't be, I count those bags out myself each morning."
Shaking her head in disagreement, "Well we can tell you, not one of ours had the correct amount. And we want our money back. This gentleman has refused to do that, and he refused to go get you, and he accused us of taking the nuts out and trying to cheat you."
Mr. Straddleback had a fierce look in his eyes as he turned to Mr. Redtail. "What have you done?" he barked, sending out a high screeching yell as only squirrels can do. Turning back to Sarah he said more calmly, "I'll deal with him later. Please, I'll give you a full refund and you keep the nuts you already have. This is most upsetting. I hope we haven't lost your future business."
An example that starts with the ethical heart, gives a realistic answer, and shows a story within a story.
Bruce now was walking backwards looking at his mother and his sister, "Are there ever times it's okay to lie?"
Now that was a big question for a little boy [raccoon] to ask. Sarah had to be careful answering this question. "The first answer is no. It is never okay to lie. The world only works well with everyone telling the truth. Trust can be lost in a blink of the eye as you just saw today."
And smart Bruce who had caught the word first said, "What's the second answer?"
Sarah sat down on a nearby log and motioned her children to join her. "Let me tell you a true story and you tell me what you think the second might be. When you weren't born yet, and I was a very little girl, an outlaw group of wolves moved into our forest...
Sarah pulled them close to her. She knew this story would upset them. "First tell me what you think. Do you think my mother should have told the truth and handed over the rats, muskrats and rabbits to the wolves?"
Skunks Open A Vegan Restaurant
This excerpt sets the scene with weather, features the main problem, and has a 3-way dialog with an extra lesson about generalization ("everyone").
He looked up from his paper, smiled and said, "Of course, May, and you're just the one to welcome our new neighbors. They're very lucky to have you in their corner before they even open." The rain beat hard against the house and Edward looked over at the window with ears down, "Another day without work. May, this rain has to stop!" The bear picked up his point, "But you know, May, it might be more difficult than you think."
May turned away from her bookkeeping and looked straight at Edward with deep furrows on her brow, "Why?" she demanded.
Sensing a dark cloud worse than anything already outside, Edward said, "Well, May, they are skunks."
"And your point is?"
He turned his head for emphasis, "Skunks...May." Then, swiveling in his chair towards her, "And besides, skunks are omnivores, not vegetarians, why vegan?"
"So what? Really! Times change, who cares if they want to serve vegan. Edward, you don't think the community will stay away because they're skunks?!" Her voice rose over the thunder in the distance and now she fully faced him standing with her hands on her hips. Both of the brown bears usually lived in perfect harmony, but occasionally one or the other could get a tad testy.
Edward put up his paws and spoke very softly, "Hold on, May, I'm on your side. But sometimes animals can talk out of both sides of their mouths." She flung herself down into the nearby chair with a look of total exasperation. "Really, Edward, you seriously think that delightful skunk family will have trouble getting business?"
A spray of water hit May in the face as she heard, "Yes!" from Molly who came swooping in and commenting after overhearing just enough to agree with Edward.
Both of the bears stood up and rushed to close the door behind the soaking wet raccoon. Molly could be feisty, but today she was looking downright furious. She shook off her slicker, fluffed up her fur, and plunked herself right near the fire to get rid of the dampness.
"Why are you saying that, Molly?" said Edward as he turned away from the closed door.
"Because everyone around here—well, they are all hypocrites!" Molly announced, waved a paw with an air of finality.
"Oh, come on, what's got your fur up so early in the morning? And you know I really dislike it when you say things like everyone. It's just so rarely the case." May offered Molly a cup of tea and walked over to the kitchen to start up the kettle. A crack of thunder exploded nearby.
This excerpt describes a conflict with nature. It takes place during a flood which is an especially relatable topic today. It also divides the characters into two camps, showing how leadership and ideas interact and provides insight into how events and outcomes can shape new beliefs.
Overnight the river had risen 27 feet above the flood plain. Houses near the river filled with mud and silt. Many families lost everything but the few items they carried away.
Then word began to spread. The groundhog's children were trapped in their den where a wall had caved in before their parents could save them. The beavers tried to get in from under the river, but they couldn't get through the thick walls, and besides, the river's water was rolling at a tremendous speed. It was too dangerous for anyone to go into. Huge uprooted trees came crashing with the deluge, along with all manner of debris like tires and old grocery store carts. The river was too fearsome even for the bravest and strongest. The groundhogs began to panic.
Mrs. Anderson, the head of the groundhog clan, ran over to May and Edward and begged for help. May rang the big bell calling all of the neighboring animals to her studio. Everyone showed up, including the entire Litton skunk clan. May said she'd supply all of the food while the teams worked. The skunks made a suggestion of how to proceed with the rescue, but just about everyone ignored them. Molly worked her way through the crowd, leaped up onto a chair, and pleaded with group. "The Litton's have the right idea. The river plan is doomed." Blank looks and no interest. Not letting that stop them, Wilbur Litton, the biggest skunk, drew his idea with a stick in the mud. "We will dig straight down, then we'll head toward the river. I think if we start over there in the turnip field, we should be good." Oddly, the animals who never did any digging like the sheep and the deer followed the groundhogs, who weren't thinking clearly, over to the river's edge. The skunks went in the opposite direction. Wilbur smiled when he saw the moles, rats, muskrats and Molly's clan of raccoons following him.
An example of human nature explained through animals, where helpless young innocents are rescued by the characters' teamwork and special skills - showing author's observatory powers and knowledge of science. A happy ending results with many positive repercussions. This scene has great emotional relief and joy to be mined by the reader who reads the story from beginning to end.
Suddenly, a mole appeared and yelled through the storm, "Make way, I'm going down there, make way, make way!" When Elmer the mole reached the skunk family, he said, "Let me see if I can smell them. You all know I have superior olfactory receptors." Even with all of the pressure, Wilbur and the rest of the crew snickered at that one. "Probably impossible with this water and mud, but I'll try," said the little mole, and he sniffed and sniffed. He kept sniffing while the crew kept digging, then with his head erect, he shouted, "Over there, over there!" And the skunks dug faster with Elmer right by their side. Soon a beaver showed up with sticks to hold up the tunnel. Then another beaver came with poles. The squirrels passed down sandwiches that May sent over. Molly, wringing wet, held an umbrella over the skunk's children while her own pups helped with the rescue.
Eventually, the whole town came and stood outside the hole because the river raged so hard that all work had screeched to a halt by the water's edge. Time didn't seem to be on their side. The river just kept rising and the rain just kept falling.
Through the hole a scream could be heard. The squirrels, beavers, moles, and muskrats emerged crying. A hush went over the crowd as fear struck every single one. Then, the first skunk appeared with a baby groundhog, then another, then another, until all five were delivered to the arms of their parents.
An uproar of joy resounded through the crowd. Someone began chanting, "The heroes. The heroes!" The groundhogs, tears in their eyes, mud stuck to their fur, and still hugging their children tightly, rushed over to hug the skunks. Suddenly the whole town began hugging each other, and tears of joy, and mud, and smiles, and happy sayings filled the field.
When the river subsided, the Littons [skunks] provided all of the families who had lost their homes with free meals. And inside their Vegan Depot kitchen, volunteers from the town helped. And at the groundhog's Tasty Diner the same thing was happening. Those that didn't help with food donated clothing, furnishings, and money to help the families get back on their feet.
Clearly kindness, tolerance, civility, and peace had returned to the town. Friends helped friends and strangers helped strangers. Business boomed at both restaurants and once a month the skunks and the groundhogs sponsored an art walk. The tours began at the Tasty Diner for the main course, then everyone meandered through town and ventured in and out of art galleries until they reached the Vegan Depot for dessert.
Oh, someone pitched eggs at our windows, and we've heard there's a nasty flier floating around," Rachel softly said, looking down at her feet. "May, don't look so shocked. It's sad, but we're confident we'll be judged on our merits..."
The river was too fearsome even for the bravest and strongest. The groundhogs began to panic.
About the Author
Marilynn Mendell, president, WinSpin CIC, Inc. specializes in marketing and public relations. As a serial entrepreneur and self-starter with 35 years of experience and an adjunct professor at Georgetown and George Mason Universities, Mendell teaches about startups for their graduate programs. She's a recognized national speaker and has authored numerous articles for national publications. Mendell was featured on ABC TV Good Morning America along with various other TV segments for Channel 7 in Buffalo, New York. Her book Elbow Grease + Chicken Fat: Business Advice that Sticks to Your Ribs has received excellent reviews, sells on Amazon and is currently about to be released in a second edition. Mendell has been honored as the Woman of the Year for the New York State Department of Labor, Buffalo's Everywoman Opportunity Center, and the Washington Women in Public Relations. She's a Phi Beta Kappa with a BA in philosophy from the University of Buffalo. Member of SCBWI and James River Writers.
Recent Social Media Success
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