About the Book
Sassy Pants LEARNS About Strange Creatures (Ages 5-10 )
Does she have to be polite? Should she just ignore them? What if they’re scary?
There are strange creatures on Farmer White’s farm! How can you know the difference between dangerous, or just different? That’s what Sassy Pants has to learn when she wanders off by herself.
But sometimes she learns the easy way, and sometimes the hard way. Which one will it be this time? And will she learn what’s right in time to stay safe? Enjoy following along with Sassy Pants and Friends, as they try to figure things out.
SASSY PANTS LEARNS About Strange Creatures
The strange creature stared at her a few moments, then made a smart sharp turn and continued on, like he was measuring off the boundaries of the whole farm. He wheezed and grunted as he walked, and every few steps he accompanied himself with an awful smelling toot. Sassy Pants blinked two times, just in case she needed to wake herself up.
But the strange creature was still moving along the fence. For a few moments she just stood there. Was that thing the dangerous kind of strange, or just a different kind? How could she tell?
He had a nose that looked all pushed in, and long flappy lips that hung down on both sides of his mouth. His face was all wrinkly, and his lower jaw stuck out. But the strangest thing of all was he only had three and a half legs! The last half was wooden! Sassy Pants had never seen anything like it.
Oh, dear! That was too much in one day for one little pig. So, as soon as the strange creature was far enough ahead not to care what was behind, Sassy Pants slipped back into her pigpen, squished herself into her comfy spot near the water hole, and closed her eyes.
In fact, she spent the rest of the day in the pigpen. Just sleeping, and doing pig things. Her pigpen didn’t feel like such a bad place to be, anymore. Not really. Especially if you were a pig. Tomorrow would be soon enough to think about strange creatures… apologizing to the big Boss Hog… and the coming of the Great Separation.
She didn’t give those things another thought. At least, not until after breakfast the next day. All the way up until the time she saw Old Clyde moving slowly along the other side of the fence, trimming some of he long sweet grass around a post where the pigpen and the pasture joined together. He had known about the critter-spitter, so, maybe he would know about the creature with a wooden leg, too.
“Old Clyde!” She called out to him before she even got close enough to say hello.
“You will never guess—there’s another strange creature on this farm!”
The barnyard counselor looked through the fence at her. “Did it have three and a half legs, and a scrunched up nose? And did it grunt when it walked, and toot every other step?”
“How’d you know?”
“I have eyes and ears, Sassy Pants.”
“Oh, yeah. And a nose, too. Peee-oooo!”
“Now, why would you care what he smells like? You being a pig.”
“I know I smell like a pig, Old Clyde, but this is different. Pigs don’t smell that bad!”
“Pig smell is part of our barnyard. Look how many of us there
are. I’m glad there’s only one of THAT strange creature. He’s so ugly, he’s scary! Could be he eats little pigs for supper.”
“Sassy Pants, where are your manners?”
“I dropped them somewhere, I guess.”
“Remember how I told you some animals that come to Farmer White’s barnyard need a second chance at something? Now, wasn’t that good news to you when you needed a second chance?”
Sassy Pants did remember what good news that was. Especially on the day she had “learned the hard way” and thought she broke every friendship she would ever have. If she hadn’t had a second chance she might have been lonely for the rest of her life! Oh, yes. That’s when she learned about fxing friendships, and how to make amends.
She was quiet for a while, just remembering all that, when she suddenly got a brilliant idea! “Old Clyde?” The horse stopped trimming the grass and looked through the fence, again.
“Maybe that strange creature broke some of his friendships, too.”
“Maybe. He is all by himself. He walks the whole fence line of the barnyard, every day at the same time, and he’s always alone. So, even if he has friends somewhere else, he doesn’t seem to have any here.”
“Old Clyde, you think telling someone how to fx their friendships would be a valuable thing to do?”
“Only if they cared about fxing them. Nobody really likes to be told what to do.”
“I have to fnd something valuable to do! It might help me stay here in the barnyard instead of going on the Great Separation, whenever that happens.”
“Then maybe it would be a good idea to talk to that strange creature. Maybe you’ll learn something. Like when you talked to the llama, yesterday. This one might turn out not be such a strange creature, either. Just someone else who needs a second chance.” The horse went back to trimming the sweet grass around the fence posts.
“You mean actually talk to that… that stinky-poo? I’m not sure I want to talk to somebody who smells like that.”
“Just make sure the wind is blowing the other direction.” Then Old Clyde laughed.
“That’s what I do whenever I want to eat this nice sweet grass that grows so close to the pigpen.”
That’s how Sassy Pants made up her mind to give it a try. But it seemed the stinky creature had disappeared. Then, just before naptime, when she was headed over to her comfortable muddy place near the water hole, again, she heard the strange creature’s wheezy grunting and tooting. He was coming! She ran to the gate, ready for him to pass by. Except the closer he got the worse he smelled.
He stopped and looked at her for a minute, just like the day before. This time, she was going to say something, and not just stare.
“Hello, Stray-ger.” She meant stranger, but trying to talk and not breathe through her nose at the same time made all of her m’s disappear.
“I’b Sassy Pats. It also made her n’s disappear.”
“Eh? Oh. Right. Um, Winchester the Third. At your service Mum.” He made a polite salute with his wooden leg. The effort, of course, made him toot and the morning breeze blew it right into the little pig’s face.
“I saw you out wah-kig, yesterday.” She sounded stuffed up in her head, trying to talk without breathing. “So, I thought we should get to doe each other.” Oh, hooh—she really meant get to KNOW each other.
“Quite. Care to join me on my patrol?”
He sure was polite for someone in his condition.
“I fnd it helps my old constitution to be regular with my walks. No matter where we are in the world—my Captain and I—I make sure to take a walk.”
Sassy Pants pushed on the gate until there was enough space to squeeze through, and trotted out to join Winchester. Just to be friendly, not to cause trouble. That was her excuse for slipping out of the pigpen, this time.
“Do you visit lots of places? Where do you live?” Now that she was beside Winchester she was glad the wind was in her face because he didn’t smell so bad from that angle.
“London is home. But my Captain and I were in Her Majesty’s army for many years, and we traveled all over. India, Hong Kong, Madagascar, and Saudi Arabia. When we retired, he decided to visit his cousin, Farmer White. So, here we are.” They turned and walked past the machine shed, the milking barn, a manure pile, and the chicken coop.
Then they made another turn, which took them south along the western boundary of the barnyard—almost to Mrs. White’s garden. After that they turned to the east, and ended up at the pigpen, again. Well. That hadn’t been so hard. In fact, it had been sort of nice to have someone else to walk along the fence with. Sassy Pants even had a bit of time to dig up a few tasty roots every time Winchester stopped for a rest. Which was a lot. So, they agreed to meet the next day, too, for another walking patrol.
Sassy Pants was the star attraction at the Listening Post that afternoon and every day that followed, as she repeated the stories Winchester told her while they were out on patrol. Everybody liked those stories about all the places he and his captain had visited, with all of their strange-sounding names. But when Sassy Pants suggested they come listen for themselves… the geese were alarmed. They didn’t know what to think. They had never seen an animal with three-and-a-half legs with the other half made of wood before. Especially one that smelled as bad as Winchester.
All the chickens were soon cackling about it and wondered where the old dog, Shep, was. And why wasn’t he running the stranger right off the farm? No, the other animals never really took to Winchester, even after several days passed. He was just too different for them.
The horses didn’t say anything about him, but whenever he walked past, their nostrils fared. They stomped their feet and raised their heads as high as they could. Sassy Pants was sure they were a little disgusted. The cows looked up with curiosity when he went by, but kept chewing their cuds as if they were way too busy. It takes a lot to rile a cow, but they didn’t like that smell, either.
The sheep gave him plenty of room. The other pigs didn’t notice, and they didn’t care. They were too busy just being pigs, and running around in the pigpen. Or digging. Or taking naps. But not Sassy Pants. She perked her ears up at every wheezy grunt and bugle-like toot. Each afternoon she slipped out the pigpen gate (hardly thinking it was wrong anymore) and kept up with Winchester’s quick pace. Left, left, left -right, skip, Left, Left.
“Hey, Winchester?” she asked him one morning, “Why do you call all this walking, being on patrol?”
“Oh, no reason, really. I suppose it’s a leftover from our years in Her Majesty’s army. Seemed like we were always pulling one patrol duty or another wherever we went. And since we retired, we take our daily walk (our constitutional we call it) on the same schedule as before. Always walk the same area, too. When we can manage it. Just like the old patrols. Keeps one ft, you know.”
“I like to hear about all your adventures. What happened to your paw? Or were you born that way? I never saw anyone with only three-and-a-half legs before.”
“Ah, that! Now that was a tough bit of business. Some learn the easy way, and some learn the hard way, eh?”
“I had to learn the hard way, once, too,” she admitted.
“So, you understand. It happened when we were on the London Patrol. London is a busy, noisy city, with lots of traffc— people, and cars in all directions. On that route there was one street I could never resist. The smells coming from it were fantastic. I wanted to explore that street in the worst way. Captain and another chap were talking and paying no attention to me. “Cap was fully into his story and talking with both hands. Well, I saw my chance. I slipped around the corner and was on my way to adventure! Sniffng out every exciting smell I came across. Having a grand time! Then I caught the scent of a juicy sausage and my mouth began to water.”
Sassy Pants looked up from digging in the dirt when he said that part, and thought she saw his nose wiggle, like he could almost smell that sausage, again.
“I wanted to sink my teeth into it!” he went on. “My head was so full of thoughts about sausage I didn’t see the trolley-car coming down on me. Cap’n always said pound for pound I had the most amount of fight in me. But I could not “out muscle” that trolley. It took my foot clean off.”
“That had to hurt!” Sassy Pants felt a little trickle of fresh dirt fall off her nose when she looked up at him, again.
“Worse than that, it was a mistake I couldn’t take back. I thought Captain was keeping me from having fun—I was hard on him in my heart. Thought he was mean not letting me run around and smell anything I wanted. I even started to distrust him—when really he was protecting me. Trying to keep me safe. Now when he says ‘No,’ I wait. Because I know he knows something I don’t.”
“And you always get to do it sooner, or later?”
“Not at all. Sometimes, I never get to do it. But I trust him completely, now. When he whistles, I come. I always did have a habit of leaping into things before I had all the facts. That’s another reason I take daily patrols—so I can get the lay of the land and know what’s what. Keep a good eye out for what’s different, and all that. Have to admit I had to pay a lot for that lesson I learned. Consequences, you know. That’s how I came to have this wooden leg.”
All of a sudden, Sassy Pants froze like a statue. Everything was starting to make sense! In fact, there seemed to be a reason for everything. If you did good things, then good things would happen to you. But if you did bad things—
About the Author
“I began telling stories when I had enough brothers to make an audience!” (She has four and one sister!) She and her husband reside in Grand Rapids, MI. with Carol’s elderly mother. They have two daughters on the west coast and five grandchildren. Carol was raised in a farming community in Iowa. She enjoys reading, nature and music, playing the piano, knitting, crocheting, painting and telling stories! As a retired educator, “I dedicate myself to knitting sweaters and spinning yarns!”
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