Sunday, July 7, 2019

It's Raining Cats and Dogs: The Story of Felines and Canines Falling from the Sky

It’s raining; it’s roaring.
The old sky is pouring
Cats and dogs at such a rate
That I have to set the record straight.
The sky has opened with its pets.
Everyone open up your nets!
Catch a feline if you can;
Catch a canine with a plan: 
Cocker spaniels with their curls,
Collies loved by boys and girls,
Basset hounds with dangly ears,
Beagles who raise their tails for cheers.
A Shetland Sheepdog and a Pomeranian
Are not at all subterranean.
A Golden Retriever is man’s best friend,
A Labrador Retriever is a different blend.
Poodles melt your heart to pieces.
German Shepherds know what peace is.
Dachshunds are a short-statured pup.
Boxers are always looking up!
Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
Is the kind of dog that avoids a scandal.
The Bichon Frise is small but vocal
And friendly to everyone who’s local.
The Maltese is almost like a cat, 
And cats aren’t dogs and that is that.
Maine Coon cats are a friendly fluff.
British Shortshair are adorable enough. 
Persians have the sweetest beard.
Ragdolls are sometimes sheared. 
Bengals have stripes and rosettes.
Munchkins are the happiest of pets.
Siamese are black and white.
Abyssinian would never ever bite.
Scottish Fold are cute as pie. 
Birman have a striking blue eye.
Russian Blue have silver coats. 
These cats are cuddly anecdotes. 
The sky has opened up to spit.  
Every cat has a dog for it!
Dogs and cats like wind and rain
Tend to line your windowpane. 
Full of fur and friends galore!
Open up the sky and pour!

Copyright 2019 Jennifer Waters


An angel troubles the waters for a brother and sister on Christmas Eve. 

When a magical old bridge breaks on Christmas Eve during a lantern festival on the Rhine River, 10-year-old Jule Schmidt, and her 7-year-old blind brother Killian, descend into freezing water. Since Killian can’t swim, he almost dies except for the divine intervention of the Angel that Troubled the Waters. As the children arrive on the bank of the river with the help of their father, Killian reveals a Christmas miracle took place—he can see for the first time.

Holding hands, 10-year-old Jule Schmidt and her 7-year-old brother named Killian admire glowing Christmas lanterns on the Rhine River. Since birth, he has been blind, and she always tries to see for him, pointing out all the wonderful sights in the world. On this special night, Jule and Killian decide to sit by the bridge, wandering from their parents to a rickety old bridge at a narrow part of the river. Jule likes to make prayers to the angels and has insisted that she has met a large angel by the bridge on the river. She tells Killian that she once met an angel who told her that he would be healed of blindness. She wants to know if Killian has ever seen her—an angel with wings, long golden hair, and a pink dress with a blue flowing jacket.

As Killian sits down on the corner of the bridge, Jule sits beside him, hoping that the angel would appear for Christmas. The brother and sister are so caught up in the excitement that they don’t notice the loose boards on the bridge. When Jule spoke to the angel, she said the angel told her that at certain seasons she descends into the river and stirs up the water, whoever then first, after she stirs up the water, steps into the river is made well from whatever disease is in their body. Killian says he thinks that he shouldn’t get into the river because he can’t swim and he might drown. With that, a mighty wind blows the lanterns across the river in a squall, and the side of the bridge where Killian and Jule are sitting breaks, and the brother and sister fall into the river. Although Jule kicks as hard as she can, it’s not enough to keep her and her brother afloat in the river. 

While the air begins to run out in each of the children’s lungs, weeping is not an option, and fear fills their bodies. As Jule looks at her brother with remorse, knowing he can’t see her, a bright light shines on them from above the river. Then a loud voice booms throughout the rippling water: “Then the eyes of the blind will be opened.” Suddenly, scales fall from Killian’s eyes into the bottom of the sea, and the angel with long golden hair, and a pink dress with a blue flowing jacket stands before them with their father at her side. She is twice as big as their father. Mr. Schmidt, whose first name is Christoph, grabs both children by the arms, and swims to the surface. Oddly enough, both children feel a second pair of large hands on their forearms from the angel in the pink dress. The crowd of people on the river bank throw a scarf into the river, which Christoph grabs. The father and his two children are pulled to shore as the angel did more than her share of towing the family to the bank. Killian covers his eyes from the shining lights from the Christmas lanterns, burying his head in his father’s shoulder. Killian reveals that he can see because of the Angel that Troubled the Waters on Christmas Eve. 

TOY TRAINS synopsis

All aboard the Christmas Railroad!

When 11-year-old Joyce accidentally runs the locomotive from her father’s toy train off the tracks, she tearfully asks for an angel to help her rebuild the family’s prize possession. Then the angel Gabriel and Joyce spend Christmas Eve secretly renovating the Christmas Railroad. On Christmas morning, Joyce rejoices that her parents love the gift of the newly decorated railroad where everyone is welcome. 

Even at age eleven, Joyce Trewyn hasn’t grown tired of watching her father set up the toy train for Christmas. Not only has he handpicked the locomotives, coal cars, train cars, boxcars, caboose, and trolleys, but he also set up the track on the railroad and hand-painted every snowy building and mountain. Joyce runs down the stairs in her red and green striped Christmas train pajamas. She wears her own conductor’s hat and hands her father a plastic bag of people who would soon get the ride of their lives. Mrs. Trewyn serves up hot chocolate with marshmallows and whipped cream. As Joyce helps her father set up the train set, piecing together the curving train track, her mother watches It’s A Wonderful Life on television in black and white. 

After Clarence the angel has finished saving George Bailey in the film It’s A Wonderful Life, Mrs. Trewyn turns off the television and heads to bed with her husband. Joyce decides to stay up a little longer and play with the train. Only minutes after both her parents are asleep, Joyce runs the locomotive off the train tracks, hitting the covered bridge, which topples the water tower and collapses the entire train set, closing Grand Central Terminal. The locomotive smokes, blinking its headlight, and the caboose loses a wheel. She runs into the storage closet, crying. Looking at the supplies, Joyce decides she needs an angel, like in the TV movie. Joyce prays for angels to hear her and come help her fix the Christmas Railroad. All of a sudden, a cold breeze blows the family room window open, blowing the curtains to the ceiling. Joyce runs to shut the window, only to be greeted by Gabriel, an elderly-looking man, trying to climb through the window. He explains he is a Christmas angel that works extra hours on Christmas Eve. For the next five hours, despite a few setbacks, Joyce and Gabriel paint, glue, and hammer, emptying every toy train box from Gabe’s bag. Then Gabriel crawls back through the window, telling Joyce that God’s angels are always nearby, even if you can’t see them. A flash of light blinds Joyce for a moment, and she can no longer see Gabriel. 

When Mr. Trewyn wakes up, he catches Joyce with her head sticking out the window. Joyce closes the window and nervously turns around to find her mother and father in their Christmas pajamas and robes. Her father is thrilled that she spent all night renovating the Christmas Railroad as a gift. Joyce says the angel Gabriel helped her. Both Joyce’s parents give her a funny look, thinking she must have had an extra large imagination on Christmas morning. Joyce and her father rejoice all Christmas day that the Christmas Railroad is open for business, working better than ever. Everyone on the train arrives to his or her destination right on time. 


When true love fails, try holiday shopping with a pair of boxing gloves.

Because Frances Mountbatten’s boyfriend Spencer doesn’t propose on Christmas day, she slugs him for it with his Christmas gift, a new pair of boxing gloves straight out of the box. When Spencer doesn’t show up at Christmas World at Harrod’s the next morning to buy her an engagement ring on the British holiday of Boxing Day, Frances is wearing the gloves, ready to slug Spencer for the second time. Instead, she finds a gentleman who is willing to fight for her, and she never has to fight Spencer again. 

On Christmas morning, Frances Mountbatten wakes up to a glowing Christmas tree and waits for a knock on her door. Spencer Arthur, her longtime love, finally stands at the door with a pile of packages. She hopes that he finally asks her to marry him. On the side table sits a stack of Frances’ romance novels. Of course, she is one of Britain’s most famous authors. When he doesn’t propose, she stiffly hands Spencer a large, heavy box. He rips open the gold wrapping paper, pulls off the lid, only to find a pair of red boxing gloves. Frances grabs the gloves and shoves them on her tiny hands. Then, she punches Spencer on the cheek, knocking him over in one full swing—he topples onto the wooden floor. 

Moments later, when Spencer regains consciousness, he holds his head, sporting a right black eye. Frances tells him that tomorrow, on Boxing Day, Harrods is having a sale. It starts at 10 o’clock sharp. He is buying her an engagement ring by noon, or she’s knocking him out for good. He says he was planning on doing just that. She will not take off the boxing gloves until he puts a ring on her left hand and tells him to serve himself breakfast. When she arrives in Christmas World the next morning, she takes a seat next to Santa Claus’ house, waiting for Spencer. As noon arrives, Spencer has still not arrived, and she starts to cry, causing the Harrods shoppers to stop with tissues. 

Then, a handsome gentleman with a handkerchief tells her not to cry because it’s Boxing Day, and everything is on sale. Aware of the holiday, she shows the man her gloves. The man, who introduces himself as Harry Williams, asks if he can take her to lunch up on the second floor at The Tea Room. In fact, the gentleman, who works in publishing, has read her novels. Harry helps Frances take off the boxing gloves and leaves them in Christmas World for Santa. Months later, when Spencer appears in shame at Frances’ flat to propose, Harry quickly gets his own pair of boxing gloves and sends him away once and for all. By summertime, Harry proposes on one knee, and Frances marries Harry on Christmas Eve in St. Paul’s Cathedral. Spencer only hears about the wedding, and by this point has several black eyes from other women that he never married. Happier than ever, Frances never puts on boxing gloves again, she only makes sure to catch the good sales with Harry on Boxing Day—the most brilliant shopping holiday.


A little Dutch girl from Holland and seven musical elves from the North Pole defeat a wicked witch with the help of Sinterklaas at Christmas. 

Reminiscent of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, The Mistletoes are Joyful, Cheerful, Merry, Peaceful, Carol, Nightfall, and Claus, who come bearing gifts for Sinterklaas in Holland. The magical Mistletoes live with the aunt of a twelve-year-old Dutch girl named Daniëlle Kappel, whose witch of a stepmother tries to kill her and her father until Sinterklaas and his elves help the heroine save herself and find true love. 

A twelve-year-old Dutch girl named Daniëlle Kappel lives in a castle on the Holland coast with the windmills. She places her wooden shoes next to the fireplace for Sinterklaas, kissing her father on the cheek. She also sits her large Christmas bouquet of mistletoe from her friend Niels on the fireplace mantle. Flipping open her father’s pocket watch and looking at the late hour, she hopes to receive many gifts for Christmas. After all, her father is a very rich merchant who sends ships all over the world and trades rare goods in foreign lands. When she was young, she and her mother would spend hours in the fields by the ocean, frolicking by the windmills. Her mother’s sister lives in a cottage on the coast with seven musical elves from the blistering cold North Pole. Very few people know that the elves, also called the Mistletoes, live with her aunt, who hides them in her attic. Sinterklaas asks them to live in Holland instead of the North Pole, so they can deliver gifts for him at Christmas. Of course, the Mistletoes pretend to be humans, but they have magical powers in song that they use for good deeds. Their names are Joyful, Cheerful, Merry, Peaceful, Carol, Nightfall, and Claus. 

This Christmas, the Mistletoes explain to Daniëlle that they found her aunt dead. Apparently, her aunt could never find the words to tell Daniëlle, but her stepmother is a witch and killed not only her mother, but now her aunt. At once, the Christmas Dutch Girl and the seven musical elves set out to save Daniëlle’s father from the witchy stepmother. Daniëlle must get to her father before the hands on his pocket watch stop, or the witch will have killed him. 

When Daniëlle and the elves reach her father’s home, Daniëlle bursts through the castle with the Mistletoes who sing in full voice. The witch—who grew as big as the ceiling—holds a large knife at Daniëlle’s father’s throat, as the Mistletoes sing in harmony, shrinking the witch back to normal size. Before the witch can regain her large stature, Sinterklaas lands in the front yard with Rudolph and his sleigh of reindeer. Daniëlle wrestles with the witch until she drops the knife on the kitchen floor. Her father stabs the witch in the heart until she dies. As the years go by, Sinterklaas brings both Daniëlle and Meneer Kappel true love. Dead as a doornail, the wicked witch never bothers anyone in Holland again, and Christmas lives on in peace. 

Wednesday, June 26, 2019


The circus coming to town costs one mother more than she bargains for. 

When the circus comes to town, 8-year-old “Tiny” Tina wants an elephant for a pet, so she befriends Charley, the Magnificent Elephant, and takes him home with the rest of the circus. After arriving home with the circus animals, Tina’s mother thinks she should sell tickets for the fiasco in her backyard to pay for the very large grocery bill. Her mother wishes she could send the animals back to the circus. 

Third grader “Tiny” Tina wants to join the circus, or at least watches a few shows. After all, her mother tells her the circus is coming to town to perform in a big tent. Of all the animals, the elephants are supposed to be the largest and the most fun. Since everyone laughs at Tina for being three inches shorter than she should be at 8 years old, Tina decides if she has an elephant for a pet, then everyone would be nice to her. So her plan is to befriend the largest elephant in the circus as her new pet. As Tina approaches the elephant circus train car, she sees a purple tail sticking out the door. She climbs up the steps on the train car and tugs at the tail until the elephant wakes up. She asks the elephant to come with her because she could use a new pillow at night. She wants to walk through the fields in the day, and he can lift her to pick apples from the trees. The elephant wants to know if she has a big backyard. In fact, she has a whole acre where they can play. The elephant decides that he’s tired of riding bicycles for cheering crowds, and he doesn’t like standing on his head. He especially doesn’t like balancing balls or jumping through rings of fire. He thinks the girl is much nicer than the nasty Circus Trainer who cracks his whip at him. The elephant roars and stamps his feet on the train car, shaking the entire train on the tracks.

Tina pulls the elephant’s tail again. She names him Charley, the Magnificent Elephant, and declares that they will be best friends. Charley swings open the train door with his snout and lifts Tina on his back. He stomps out of the train car onto the ground, waking up all the other animals. The purple elephant looks left and then right, and the Circus Trainer is nowhere to be seen. Suddenly, Charley decides the rest of the circus animals are coming with them. He just can’t possibly leave them there alone. One by one, Charley shakes loose the rest of the animals on the train, and Tina holds on tight. By the end of the night, the circus animals are behind Charley in a straight line. The circus marches two-by-two down the street: unicorns, horses, lions, giraffes, and tigers. Then come the camels, kangaroos, monkeys, seals, ostriches, leopards, llamas, and grizzly bears. When the circus reaches Tina’s house, all the animals except Charley creep quietly into the backyard. Instead Charley slips through the window of Tina’s bedroom and lands right on her bed. 

Then Tina crawls through the window and climbs on Charley’s back—he is softer than a pillow. Two seconds later, the entire bed crumbles onto the floor, causing a crack in the wall. Tina’s mother runs into the bedroom crying. Tina tells her that she set the elephant free from the circus. Her mother peers out the bedroom window to find the animals munching on her vegetable garden. Since the animals need a home with a nice family, Tina asks if they can keep them. Tina’s mother wishes she would have never told her that the circus was coming to town. Since the grocery bill is going to be so large, she imagines that her daughter should sell tickets and get their money back for the expenses. Once a circus, always a circus. 


Monsters hide in the most unlikely places. 

When a sister and brother play in the sandbox, the dirt sucks her brother into its pit and out comes a Sandbox Giant. Despite the mother’s denial that nothing is wrong, the girl battles the Giant, trying to free her brother from the tormenter. Eventually, the water from the garden hose brings her brother back to life, and the Giant melts away after a fierce struggle. 

There is a sister and brother who like to play in the sandbox in their backyard. Their father has built the sandbox, and it is much better than digging in the dirt. They use their scoops, shovels, and pails to build castles and sculptures galore. Until one dark night, a thunderstorm comes that is unlike other thunderstorms. It shakes the house, and the lights go out; there is no electricity for hours, only candles. The mother tells the children: “We should go to sleep early tonight. The sun will come out tomorrow.” The sister tries to fall asleep, crawling into bed, counting backwards from one hundred. Her brother is already fast asleep on the couch, as if he had never even heard the storm.

Sure enough, the next morning, the sun is shining strong and bright, not a cloud in the sky. The two children head to the sandbox with their shovels and pails. Then the girl noticed sandy footprints in the grass. The boy thinks it was just the storm from last night, and he fills up his pail with moist sand. As the girl puts her feet in the sand, a fierce wind blows through the tree behind her. The sky becomes black and a loud clap of thunder fills the heavens. Then the sandbox begins to swirl and whirl, pulling the boy into its grip until he disappears. Out of the sandbox comes a very large monster made of sand that roars and growls. His face looks just like her brother, but it wasn’t him at all. The creature looms high above the sandbox, almost as strong as brick-and-mortar. The girl yells at the monster, asking what happened to her baby brother. The Sandbox Giant reaches for the girl, but she escapes his grasp.

Although the girl yells for her mother to come quickly, her mom is inside cleaning the house and doesn’t hear her cries. The girl continues to yell at the monster, asking it what it wants with her brother. She throws her shovel at the monster. The monster growls back at the girl, saying it wants her brother to stop playing in the sandbox where he lives. Then the girl explains that the monster doesn’t live in the sandbox because her father built it. She tells the monster to go back to where it came from. From the corner of her eye, the girl notices the garden hose in the bushes. She dives to grab the hose, hoping she can melt the Sandbox Giant with water. As she grasps the hose, the monster lunges for her and almost catches her waist. Before he can strangle her, she sprays the water in his face. The Sandbox Giant tries to cover himself from the stream of water. As the monster screams, it slowly shrinks in size. The girl yells that she wants her brother back. Then, finally, her mother calls from the kitchen window. The daughter yells at her mother that her brother is missing, still spraying the monster with water. The mother says that the brother is just hiding. When the girl turns back around, her brother is sitting in the sandbox building a castle. He looks just like himself, and the awful monster is gone. 


If the Evil Squid Ink doesn’t steal the Great Magician’s story magic, Ink Fairies just might deliver a book to your beside from the Timeless Library. 

When the Evil Squid Ink wants to destroy the Great Magician and his storytelling, it takes twelve Ink Fairies with magic ink to combat the nemesis and keep him at the bottom of Lake Doom. Meanwhile, the rest of humankind can read all about his wiles in the latest story published on the Ink Press. 

When the Great Magician in the Kingdom of Reynes runs out of ink in his jar, he calls the Ink Fairies for help. Like all magicians, the Great Magician has a special gift that distinguishes him in the kingdoms—his is storytelling. In fact, whether or not people know it, he is responsible for writing all the stories in every kingdom of the world. After he writes the masterpieces, the Ink Fairies take his work and put them in the Timeless Library, where all stories are saved despite space or time. Then, when an author or scribe needs a story, the Ink Fairies deliver the book to his or her beside at night. When they wake in the morning, the story has been inscribed in their memory through the Magician’s spell. Of course, only the Great Magician and the Ink Fairies know this secret. If humans knew of the Magician’s power, they would be jealous and covet his magic, which they already think is their own. 

As Pherenice the Fairy drops off the latest batch of fairy ink, the Great Magician checks off the names of the Ink Fairies as they deliver their full ink jars: Blossom, Cherry, Dewdrop, Euclea, Flutter, Glimmer, Moonshadow, Songbird, Twinkle, Veil, and Wonderspell. Upset about a threatening letter from Evil Squid Ink at the bottom of Lake Doom, the fairies tell the Magician that their enemy has been plotting to steal the magic ink and take over the Ink Press and Timeless Library. In preparation for a long battle against the Squid Ink Army, the Ink Fairies secure the Ink Press and call for the neighboring fairies to come to their defense. However, the Magician decides he must write about what’s happening in a story, so it gets published in the human world, then they can know the lies of the Evil Squid Ink. If the story gets published, the Evil Squid will stay at the bottom of the Lake Doom in hiding, fearful that the humans will destroy him. The story must make it to the Timeless Library by midnight of the last day of the month for it to be available to its author in the current season. Otherwise, it has no chance to get published until next year, so the Magician has three days to deliver the story to the Timeless Library and its author. The Evil Squid Ink only wants to use the Ink Press and Timeless Library to promote his own meaningless and dark stories.

As Pherenice and a group of fairies from neighboring kingdoms fly through the window to pick up the masterpiece “The Story of the Evil Squid Ink,” the Evil Squid Ink blows open the front door of the Great Magician’s chambers with an especially potent ink bomb. While the fairies take off to the Timeless Library with the manuscript, the Evil Squid Ink wrestles the Great Magician on the chamber floors. The Evil Squid Ink almost strangles the Magician with its tentacles until the Magician stabs him with his feather pen. The beast crawls away before the Magician can kill him, and it shrinks back into Lake Doom with his army.


They’re only ants! Who cares? But what if they’re covered in chocolate . . . 

Don’t run over the little people! When 11-year-old Jane Johnson tries to protect the ants in her driveway from being run over, she decadently covers them in chocolate as way to make them extra special. A chocolate ant farm makes even the smallest creatures sweet. 

Eleven-year-old Jane Johnson yells at her 12-year-old friend and neighbor, Raymond Rocky, to make sure he doesn’t run over the ant family. He says that they’re only ants and that he likes playing with her wagon, rolling down her driveway. The brightly painted red wagon is Jane’s birthday gift from Raymond, but she thinks he likes it more than she does. Jane tells him to remember the little people, scooping up the family of ants into the palm of her hand. She explains that there are such things as fire ants and honey ants. She also says she loves the beetles, and lady bugs, and grasshoppers, studying the driveway for more insects. 

So during the middle of the night, when her parents are fast asleep, she sneaks into the kitchen and gets all the chocolate out of the refrigerator: chocolate syrup, chocolate butter, chocolate bars, chocolate pudding, and chocolate powder. Then she dilly-dallies into the driveway and spreads as much chocolate as she can over the insects, especially the ants. She works on the chocolate driveway until the wee hours of the morning, until she decides to take the last bits of chocolate and cover the strawberries in the refrigerator. While eating the strawberries, she considers that her parents’ cars might get chocolate on their tires. As she slips back to her bedroom, she shuts her eyes until the sun shines through the bedroom windows.

In the morning, Jane’s mother thinks she ate chocolate the previous night as a midnight snack. Hoping her parents don’t overreact when they see the chocolate driveway, she suggests that her dad takes the bus to work. Once her father sees the chocolate all over the driveway, she explains to him that she didn’t want the ants to get run over, and she thought they would be considered more special if they were covered in chocolate. Her mother immediately runs to get a bucket of water to rinse the driveway. Jane tries to stop her and tells her that the driveway could just be the chocolate ant farm. She points out that the ants have already started to build a little hill by the side of the grass. Having a bit of compassion, Jane’s father bites his lip and says he will tolerate the chocolate ant farm until it rains. Mrs. Johnson says it better rain tomorrow. By the time the rains come, the ants have built up a castle in the driveway, never to be washed away. Jane only rides her wagon through the halls of her parents’ home with Pepper, where she is sure there are no ants. As for Raymond, he still runs over everything in his path, unless Jane stops him first, which is often. 


Zavier the Zebra and Onyx the Horse combine musical styles for a perfect blend.

When Zavier the Zebra needs a duet partner, he does auditions to the point of exhaustion, only to meet Onyx, a black mare, an unlikely choice for him as a zebra. Then a gray stallion taunts the couple as they perform, saying that Zavier should have a zebra as a partner instead of a horse. A black and white situation, almost like piano keys, no one should be judged by their color. 

The crowd calls to the stage of Zavier the Zebra, asking him to play them a jazzy tune. “Stripes” is known for his piano playing every Thursday night at the Black and White Stage on the banks of the Orange River in South Africa. Of course, one piano is not enough for Zavier; he plays two honky-tonk pianos at once with one hand over the other. The right hand plays the bass clef’s part on the piano to the left, and the left hand plays the treble’s part to the right. He wobbles on the piano bench with his black-and-white-striped legs stretched between the two pianos’ silver pedals. A fan from the crowd calls to Zavier as he played, pointing out that his stripes match the piano keys. By the end of the song, Zavier drips sweat onto the keys. Then he announces to the crowd that he needs a duet player. 

Because of his disappointment, Zavier stops looking for a duet partner. Now just with that, a black mare walks into the music studio, who insists that he doesn’t need a zebra duet partner, but maybe a black mare. He says he usually only works with zebras, admiring his sleek black and white stripes. She says that her name is Onyx, she plays classical piano, and she can keep up with his jazz licks any day of the week. After realizing that she is a jewel, he asks her to play him her best number, and he only has a few minutes. As Onyx sits down at the piano keys, she straightens her radiant mane before starting to play flawlessly. As the audition number ended, Zavier decides that he better take her as his duet partner before someone else does. She only smiles at him as he is transfixed on her beautiful eyes.

After he claims her as his, he asks her to play with him that night at the Black and White Stage. When the duo takes the stage that evening, the audience cheers and applauds. However, a gray stallion in the audience chides that he should have a zebra as a partner, not a black mare. The stallion throws a big fat tomato on the front of the stage. It splats everywhere, landing on Onyx’s mane. With more dignity than most horses, she wipes it from herself and quietly decides to be the better horse. Another zebra from the crowd insists that the gray stallion stop saying such cruel things. A white horse insists that the gray stallion be escorted out of the building. With that, the crowd removes the gray stallion out of the Black and White Stage as the concert starts. Onyx has the opening number, an original classical piece that she has written by herself, and Zavier backs her up. Before the evening is over, Zavier and Onyx play the best duets that anyone has ever heard along the Orange River. The crowd rocks and rolls to the jazzy honky-tonk licks and sways and dips to the classical passages. Zavier tells Onyx that their performance should teach the crowd not to judge a zebra or a horse by his or her coat. Onyx kisses Zavier on the cheek and says it’s only black and white, no different than this piano.  


What’s behind the curtain?

When 10-year-old Rosalie Pinker isn’t invited to meet the guests on Uncle Frank Boyd’s “Old Time Radio Hour,” she sets out to figure out what is going on in his recording studio, only to find out that her uncle was faking the voices all along, and he never had any guests. He says he was only telling her what she wanted to hear to make her happy. As she gets older, she has her own national radio show with real guests and never fakes a thing. 

Uncle Frank Boyd runs his “Old Time Radio Hour” every Sunday night from the studio in his home. His niece, 10-year-old Rosalie Pinker, who is intrigued by the guests on his show, always tries to sneak on the set. This Sunday night is no different. Before she can whisk her way into the studio, the door slams shut. Returning to her house to listen to the show on the radio, she props her feet up on the sofa, turns on the living room radio, and positions a pillow behind her head. As Rosalie listens to the end of the show, she turns the radio off and runs next door back to Frank’s house. At the chance that she might meet one of the sensations leaving his home, she stands by the studio door. 

For the next few weeks, Rosalie is so angry at Uncle Frank that he doesn’t let her meet the guests on his show, so she unplugs the radio and refuses to listen to one word of Uncle Frank’s “Old Time Radio Hour.” In fact, she sticks her fingers in her ears anytime she hears his voice. Instead, Rosalie starts to read. She loves a particular classic called The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum. Then, after months pass, Rosalie finishes reading all fourteen full-length Oz books by the famous author. One morning, she sits up straight in bed and determines that she will get to the bottom of Uncle’s Frank “business.” After having toast with butter and jam for breakfast, Rosalie creates a plan to outsmart Uncle Frank. She buys a dog at the puppy shop just like Dorothy’s dog Toto in The Wonderful Wizard of Oz and names him Scarecrow after Dorothy’s friend. She trains him to stick his tail in the studio door, so that when Uncle Frank tries to lock her out, she can slip in after she starts recording. 

After coming back from the puppy shop with her new dog Scarecrow, Rosalie spends days training him to stick his tail in her bedroom door. As Rosalie walks down into her mother’s kitchen, Uncle Frank eats strawberry shortcake from a bowl, explaining how he has secured L. Frank Baum for his next radio show. When the author supposedly arrives, Uncle Frank pops his head out of the studio door as Rosalie holds Scarecrow in her arms, and he explains that Mr. Baum is so sorry, but he just can’t possibly speak to her with a dog. Then, she peers through the crack in the studio door, looking at an empty guest chair. Rosalie wonders where he went. As he turns to shut the studio door, Rosalie drops Scarecrow onto the ground, and he runs to stick his tail in the door. Rosalie puts her finger in front of her mouth, motioning to Scarecrow not to bark. Then, she puts her foot in the door. She slips through with Scarecrow in her arms and discovers that Uncle Frank has been faking the voices of the guests on his show. He says he thought he was making Rosalie happy. Rosalie runs out of the studio with Scarecrow and slams the door shut. Her mother stands at the kitchen door with tears in her eyes. As Rosalie gets older, she studies broadcasting and had her own national radio show every Sunday night with real guests. 


A well-meaning owl chased by nasty park rangers likes to give unwanted advice to visitors at Yosemite National Park. 

Patience is a virtue, according to Mr. Midnight Owl, the resident sage of Yosemite National Park, who gives unsolicited wisdom to campers until two park rangers try to unsuccessfully capture him time and again. 

Mr. Midnight Owl is wide awake at midnight, sitting on the edge of a tree branch in the moonlight at Yosemite National Park. Each night, he tries to give advice to visiting campers, but of course, avoiding silly park rangers. Before Mr. Midnight Owl can decide which way to fly, a flashlight glares in his face and blinds him. Park Ranger Scott warns the Owl to stay away from the campers. The Owl is not supposed to disrupt the tourists’ sleep with unwanted advice in the middle of the night. As Mr. Midnight Owl flies away, he plops owl droppings like pellets on the park rangers’ heads, and Park Ranger George threatens to lock him up in a cage if he catches him. Before getting back in their beat-up truck, the park rangers scrape the owl droppings from their hair and shoulders. Then, they wash their hands in Tenaya Lake, wishing for some soap. 

In the meantime, the Owl sets off on his nightly flybys, where he looks for camp guests in need of help. Even if the campers don’t know that they’re in need of help, he’s sure he can identify those people looking for advice. Watching the park rangers approach with big flashlights, a sleepy little girl takes pictures of the moment. The father explains to them that the Owl has been keeping them awake by talking about patience for the last few minutes. Park Ranger Scott throws a lasso around the Owl without the bird realizing that the rope was even in the dark air. Park Ranger George grabs Midnight by the feet, explaining that he was clearly saving the campers' lives by teaching about patience.  

With that, the park rangers wrap the lasso around the Owl, put the Owl in an iron cage in the back of their truck, lock the door, and throw away the key, but Mr. Midnight Owl whispers that he is patient enough to get out of any situation. As the truck pulls away, the park rangers taunt the bird. When they aren’t looking, Mr. Midnight Owl uses his beak to chew through the lasso and unlock the door. He pushes the door open with his wings and flies out into the night sky. Park Ranger George spots Mr. Midnight Owl in the dark sky, wondering how he got out this time. Park Ranger Scott threatens to quit if the Owl doesn’t stop tormenting them with his wisdom. Both park rangers decide that if they can only have patience they will eventually catch the Owl, even if it’s not tonight. 

HAPPY SNAIL synopsis

The happiest snail is sometimes the slowest. 

When Happy Snail has to move across town, he does it his way. He moves at his own speed, makes new friends, and watches the clouds, even if his family makes fun of him for his slow pace. Who cares how fast you move in life, as long as you’re happy and enjoying every step! 

Happy Snail, the slowest of all the snails in his large family, loves to smell the springtime flowers and warm himself in the sunshine, waddling with his big shell. Even when it rains, he enjoys the tender rain drops on his tongue and washes his tiny body. In the winter freeze, he hides in the crevices of the garden, hibernating underneath a layer of slime. Now that it is spring, he is happier than ever, ready for summer and all the joy with it. More than anything, Happy Snail likes to watch the clouds, watching for a cloud that looks just like him. Despite all Happy’s kind rebuttals to his family, Meany threatens him that the Gardener who runs the garden is moving it across town, and Happy will be too slow to ever make it to the new garden. Happy says he will enjoy every minute of making his way to the new garden, and he’ll make new friends. As the days go by, the Gardener plucks Happy Snail’s favorite flowers, and he moves across town. Happy just decides to enjoy the journey, watching his entire family creep past him in the grass.

The Snail family ridicules Happy as he tries to make his way to the garden, saying summer will be over by the time he gets to the new garden, but Happy Snail has never been happier, dilly-dallying across town at his own speed. He bumps into his friend Mr. Sloth, watching the clouds, and asks him if he wants to come with Happy to the new garden. As Happy Snail and Mr. Sloth make their way across town, Giant the Tortoise catches up to them. He wants to come to the new garden, too. He says he hopes he can keep up and not get lost. Then the Tortoise joins the group, pointing out that Happy Snail’s family is not that much quicker than they are, creeping only a few inches in front of them. Let them think what they want if they are happy, Happy Snail says. He knows they never notice the clouds or make new friends. They’re trying to be so much faster than everyone, but they’re missing out on what makes them special. All of a sudden, Koala the Bear decides to the join the pack, because he thinks if you’re slow, you might as well love being slow. Slug the Slowest agrees, acknowledging that speed doesn’t do him any good—even if he’s on time, he’s still late. Of course, American Woodcock, the world’s slowest bird, fit right in with the Happy Snail. He loves being himself, and no one is really like him. 

By the time Happy Snail, Mr. Sloth, Giant the Tortoise, Koala the Bear, Slug the Slowest, and American Woodcock made it across town to the new garden, they become the best of friends, finding each other’s faces in the clouds. The Snail family, of course, only arrives to the garden a few moments before Happy Snail and his sidekicks. However, they have no new friends and have missed out on the spectacular cloud show in the mid-day sky. Meanwhile, Happy Snail is happier than ever.  If the Gardener hadn’t moved the garden, he would have never grown to love his new group of friends. He asks them to never walk faster than he does, because he needs all of them with him forever. 

BOOK NOOK synopsis

Zig Zag the Worm and Wooly Bear the Caterpillar get better with time like fine literature. 

When Wooly Bear the Caterpillar has to enter a cocoon to become Monarch the Butterfly in a French castle among many books, his friend Zig Zag the Worm stands by waiting for his transformation only to fly off into the distance together on Monarch’s new wings. 

Zig Zag the worm, who lived in the Book Nook hidden in the corner of the library in an abandoned French castle near the Rhine River, likes to worm his way through fine literature. Although there is an entire castle to explore, Zig Zag crawls through volumes of the world’s best stories. He has become an expert in kings and queens, princesses and knights, witches and ghosts, and even fairy elves. Along with fiction, he reads theses in education, health, science, the Arts, world history, and politics. One day, a fuzzy caterpillar named Wooly Bear wiggles its way into the library and opens The Encyclopedia of Butterflies. Wooly Bear asks Zig Zag how it is possible that he will one day be a butterfly. Zig Zag puts on his reading spectacles and scrunches his nose, paging through The Encyclopedia. Zig Zag explains that it seems like he enters a cocoon as a cave or sorts, and then he emerges, coming out with brightly colored wings. All of the fuzziness on the Caterpillar’s skin stood on edge, listening to the Worm, and the Caterpillar could not even feel his body, dreading the process of becoming new. 

During the winter chill, Wooly Bear Caterpillar makes its home in The Encyclopedia of Butterflies. Despite all odds, it snuggles up against pictures of what it would one day become—a lovely butterfly. Zig Zag tells Wooly Bear he hopes to see him in the springtime, and Wooly Bear says that when he sees him to call him by his new name: Monarch the Butterfly. Wooly Bear’s cocoon grows sticky and quite uncomfortable for the Caterpillar, even when he’s not sleeping. Great magic goes on inside the cocoon, which the Worm has never read about in the pages of the Book Nook. 

The Worm talks to the cocoon, wishing he could become a butterfly, too. He is so sad that he is aging and his skin is drying up, and he wishes he could also become new. Of course, Monarch did hear Zig Zag and didn’t want him to die. When springtime approaches, one day the owner of the castle returns for its annual spring cleaning. He tromps and stomps all throughout the Book Nook, straightening the novels and making dust clouds. The Worm hides from the dustpan, knowing that Monarch has to make it out of the cocoon before he’s squashed in the cleaning. Zig Zag pushes The Encyclopedia of Butterflies under a large red curtain by the tall window and he tries to unravel the cave-like womb, asking Monarch to come out of the cocoon now. He warns him that the owner of the deserted castle has come back and is in danger of killing the soon-to-be-butterfly. Breaking lose from the cocoon, Monarch spreads his wings in an attempt to save his own life, as well as the Worm. The beautiful orange and black butterfly swoops out of the cocoon and grabs the Worm with its wing. Zig Zag and Monarch fly off into the sunset until they find a new home, a castle with many cocoons. 


A gingerbread man named Cinnamon helps a young girl find her way home by Christmas morning. 

When shrunken 10-year-old Nicola Claire can’t find her way home from a dream, a gingerbread man named Cinnamon suggests she eat the gingerbread house in her dream. With each morsel, she grows in statue and tries to avoid the looming cats. She eventually eats the entire house and Cinnamon himself, only to return to her parents’ kitchen table with St. Nicholas who gives her a stuffed gingerbread man named Cinnamon. 

Ten-year-old Nicola Claire must make her gingerbread house before she goes to sleep on Christmas Eve. As Nicola places candy pieces artistically on the house as a creative masterpiece, she says how much she’d like to live in the Gingerbread House. Then, she places her head on the table for a moment’s rest, closing her eyes for a second, which then becomes minutes until she is asleep. In her dream, her stature shrinks, and she stands as tall as the gingerbread men in the kit, which is much smaller than real life. 

As the dream goes on, she wanders through the rooms of the gingerbread home and holiday candies enjoying the sweet-smelling house. She makes her way to the kitchen with a peppermint fireplace and meets a gingerbread man named Cinnamon hanging a sugar wreath. Cinnamon tells her that he hopes she will be able to find her way home by Christmas morning. Since Nicola is not even sure how she got where she is in the first place, she doesn’t know how to find her way home. She sits down on the chocolate bar floor and sheds tears, melting part of the ground. Then, Cinnamon tells her a secret: if she eats the Gingerbread house, it won’t exist, and she’ll soon be home. Since her stomach shrunk, she has no idea how to eat the entire Gingerbread House. Cinnamon suggests making herself bigger, so the house becomes smaller and fits in her stomach. He places a jug of milk on the table. Nicola wonders if she concentrates enough if she can swallow the house whole. Cinnamon suggests that it might be better to take small bites. As a warning, Cinnamon reminds Nicola of cats in the neighborhood that would attack her. 

So Nicola sets about eating the Gingerbread House one wall at a time, then the roof, the chimney, the floor, the door, the windows, and the front porch. As she eats the home, she grows in stature, and it becomes smaller, little by little. When the cats circle, she tries to hide until they leave. She must be gone before they return. So, she eats every last crumb of gingerbread, icing, and sugar. By the time she grows back into her real-life state, Cinnamon is very tiny, and she picks him up to look at him. As a friend, she can’t possibly eat him, but he insists that she swallow him, too. He says that he is the last morsel she needs to eat before she returns home. He is a gingerbread man and made to be eaten by a lovely girl like Nicola. As she eats her gingerbread friend whole, she takes a big drink of milk afterwards. Then, she awakes back at her kitchen table in her family’s home on Christmas Eve, far past midnight. Standing beside her is St. Nicholas, admiring the Gingerbread House that she built before dozing off into a dream. St. Nicholas hands her a stuffed gingerbread man as a Christmas gift named Cinnamon. She says she will love him forever. 


Keeping the peace has never been so dangerous than at Christmas!

When the Heavenly Toy Soldier loses his job at the Toymaker’s shop in New York City, the manager insists that the company doesn’t need his skills anymore. After all, there has been nothing but peace in the store for years. However, as soon as the neighborhood finds out that the Soldier is fired, hoodlums plot to destroy the store on Christmas Eve until the irreplaceable hero saves the toy store from destruction and ruin. 

The Heavenly Toy Soldier is trying to keep the peace by standing in the doorway of the Toymaker’s Shop, the most famous Fifth Avenue toy store in New York City. He does such a good job that nothing dangerous ever happens in this store. On that day, Mr. Cartwright, the store manager, walks over to the Heavenly Toy Soldier and stands in front of him with a sigh, shaking his head. He tells him that the store is letting him go. Nothing bad ever happens in a store full of kids, and the salary for the soldier is a waste of money. The soldier’s last night will be Christmas Eve. As the Heavenly Toy Soldier fights back a tear, he finds the courage to say that he understands. Then, he looks across the store full of strangers he is protecting. 

When word gets out that the customers have heard of the soldier’s departure, Bubba Joe and Brother Jim, two of the worst hoodlums in the neighborhood, happen to find out. Without anyone knowing, they plot to ruin Christmas and set the store on fire. When Christmas Eve arrives, the Heavenly Toy Soldier feels sadder than he lets the customers know. He has no idea where to find another job. Even still, the soldier keeps his chin up, trying to be thankful for the opportunities that he has had for years in the heart of New York City. 

On Christmas Eve since the soldier is the last one in the store, he decides to spend the night. The Heavenly Toy Soldier bides his time, shuffling toys back to their shelves. Then, he locks the front door behind everyone, sits down in Santa Claus’ armchair, and cries while watching the lights on the store Christmas tree flicker in the darkness. Before the Heavenly Toy Soldier has a chance to get a tissue, someone throws a rock through the front store window. He grabs his toy gun and sounds the store alarm. Then, Bubba Joe and Big Jim jump through the broken window, with giant, flaming torches. The Heavenly Toy Soldier aims his gun at them and shoots his pellet gun. Then, he grabs a water gun from the nearest shelf, fills it from the hose on the store fire engine, and douses the torches before Bubba Joe and Big Jim can burn anything. With that, the New York City Police Department arrives and arrests Bubba Joe and Big Jim, who definitely have a memorable Christmas behind bars. A squad of police cars with loud sirens and K9 police dogs fills the streets. By morning, the Heavenly Toy Soldier is the Christmas hero of the nation, the defender of Fifth Avenue in New York City. Of course, he keeps his job for years to come, keeping the peace for adults and children everywhere. 


The Polar Forest is tested by the Nasty North Wind until three evergreen trees save the Littlest of Little Birds. 

When the Nasty North Wind wants to test the Polar Forest’s loyalty, it almost kills the Littlest of Little Birds until the Three Evergreen Trees come to its rescue. The Christmas Frost King then banishes the Nasty North Wind to the Arctic, except for the winter season. Although he can leave the other trees naked, he can never again pluck from the Evergreens, and the Little Bird sings in the court of the Christmas Frost King forever. 

The Nasty North Wind is in a fierce argument with the Christmas Frost King about the Polar Forest. It wants to test the trees of the Polar Forest to see if they are faithful to the Christmas Frost King. Sure of the love and compassion of the Polar Forest, the Frost King says the Nasty North Wind may test the trees, but he cannot kill them, and only for the winter season. The Nasty North Wind is sure the trees won’t care about the animals of the forest or their king. The Frost King slams his ice scepter again the palace wall, sending rays of light into the North Wind, causing him to shrink. He tells him to be gone and don’t return until the test is complete. Furthermore, he is sure that the Spruce Tree, the Pine Tree, and the Little Juniper Tree will stand tall against the wind, and if the Frost King is wrong, then he will give his throne to the Nasty North Wind. However, if the North Wind is wrong, then he will be banished into the Antarctic never to return to the North. 

So, the Nasty North Wind sets out through the Polar Forest, sending the worst storms in years with sleet, rain, snow, and ice. However, a creature like the Littlest of Little Birds can’t even fly fast enough to escape the wind to shelter. The Little Bird has lost most of its feathers by now, has a hard time flying, and can no longer sing with its sore throat. With that, the Spruce Tree, Pine Tree, and Little Juniper Tree pick their roots from the ground and walk forward through the Polar Forest, past the Birch Tree, Oak Tree, and Willow Tree, and shield the Littlest of Little Birds. The Three Evergreen Trees, who are green in every season, spread kindness in the Polar Forest, causing all the other evergreen trees of the Polar Forest to defend every large and small animal throughout the wintertime storms. Although the Nasty North Wind blasts gales and gusts, which are deathly typhoons, the Evergreens stand tall. The harder the Wind blows against the Evergreens, the more resolute the Three Trees become to defeat him. So, the Little Bird lives to see the springtime and sings a new song. 

When the Nasty North Wind returns to the Christmas Frost King, the Wind cannot believe that he has lost the wager. The Christmas Frost King decrees that for the rest of his days he will not touch any spruce, pine, or little juniper trees on Earth. He is banished to the Arctic, except for the winter season. Each fall when the season turns to winter, he may wreak havoc on the other trees, especially the birch, oak, and willow trees. If he must, pluck their leaves and leave them naked. However, he will never pluck a needle from the Evergreens of the Earth. He will also never attack the Frost King’s palace again. Then the Christmas Frost King calls forth the Littlest of Little Birds. For the rest of her days, the Little Bird sang in the court of the Christmas Frost King, winter, spring, summer, and fall. 


There’s always time to sing praises full of Comfort and Joy!

The Hallelujah Angel Orchestra is getting ready to perform for the most important night in history: Christmas Eve. Although it doesn’t go exactly as planned when the shepherds run for the hills taking the sheep with them, the angels Comfort and Joy find Mary and Joseph in the manger with a new baby boy. Eventually, the shepherds somehow make it to the manger after all, even if it doesn’t seem like they will ever find their way. 

The angels Comfort and Joy get orders from the higher-ups that they’re performing a last-minute concert over Bethlehem tomorrow. The occasion is none other than God decided to send his Son to live on Earth, and this is his entrance, or according to Gloria, the Hallelujah Angel Orchestra’s supervisor, it’s one of the most important evenings in history. 

The Hallelujah Angel Orchestra practices into the wee hours of the morning and into the next afternoon. By the midnight hour on Christmas Eve, the angels are in place over Bethlehem. When Comfort and Joy appear in the sky with the glory of God, the shepherds stop in place, shaking in fear. They start to run for the hills. 

At that, the sheep scatter, and the shepherds drop many of their crooks in the chaos of the event. By the time Comfort and Joy finish the script, some of the shepherds have stood still long enough to listen to the song. Then, the shepherds run off as fast as they can, taking a few sheep with them, but losing the rest in the terror. Gloria thinks the effort is a complete failure. Comfort and Joy fly across the sky to give Gloria a hug, and the rest of the angels stand in silence with disappointment. Comfort and Joy fly to the manger to see if the shepherds made it, just in case. By the time Comfort and Joy find Mary and Joseph in the manger with the baby, the shepherds have just arrived. Comfort can hardly believe his eyes, admiring the gifts of three very wealthy men that sit next to the shepherds. The shepherds were listening after all, Joy realizes, laughing out loud. Then, out of nowhere, Gloria lands in the middle of the manger. Because she is so upset, she pulls the shepherds by the ears. Every year from that year on, Gloria takes her annual vacation at Christmas, and Comfort and Joy are put in charge to spread the Christmas spirit. 


Two is better than one during the holidays. 

When Cookie Roberts and Ernest Plum skate on ice, magic happens. Ernest has been in love with Cookie for years, and she has never agreed to marry him, despite his devotion. After he finally quits being her ice-skating partner, and she can’t find anyone who brings the same magic, he asks her one last time to marry him, and she says yes. 

Each Christmas Eve, the Rockefeller Center Skaters put on a spectacular ice show at the Rink at Rockefeller Center. Only steps from Times Square and the Broadway Theater District, visitors gather all month long for skating lessons until the 24thof December. Then, everyone in New York City gathers on the plaza beside the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree to enjoy the holiday event. This year, Cookie Roberts and Ernest Plum are the featured skaters in the festivities. However, the duo doesn’t always get along as one might expect, mostly due to Ernest’s unrequited love for Cookie. When Cookie hurts her foot and Ernest carries her to the emergency room, Ernest suggests taking Cookie out for dancing on New Year’s Eve when her foot is better. Cookie asks him to give up and says they have a business relationship as an ice-skating partner—that’s it. So he quits. 

The next morning, Cookie returns to the Rink at Rockefeller Center, explaining to her coach that she injured her foot, but it will be better for the Christmas Eve performance. She explains that the bad news is that Ernest quit being her partner. The coach says she’ll have to skate with Roy. 

By Christmas Eve, Cookie and Roy dazzle New York City in their white jump suits with silver sparkles on them. However, the performance has less heart and soul than when Cookie skates with Ernest. More than once, she almost falls. When she looks up, she sees Ernest watching her from the plaza. Before leaving the ice rink, Roy shakes Cookie’s hand and runs to meet his wife, giving her a hug with their son. After spending Christmas Day with her parents in Upper Manhattan, she spends the rest of the holiday week shopping. This year, unlike the past several years, she receives no gifts from Ernest. Sad about facing the New Year alone, she sulks in the bathtub alone. On New Year’s Eve, she hears a knock at the door. Cookie opens the doors, and Ernest grabs Cookie and kisses her. He asks her to marry him, and she finally says yes.