Sep 9

Picture Book

I LOVE picture books. I love their glossy pages. I adore their colorful illustrations. And I go crazy over their lilting, rhythmic style.

And even though my kiddos are starting to move beyond those 32 shiny pages, we still read them together. Some of the books still make me laugh, others make me cry, and some feel like old friends, reminding me of when I had four teeny kiddos nestled around me on the couch with a stack of books two feet high to read.

When I first began writing, I started, as a lot of us do, by writing picture books. I loved writing them, and even won a few contests with some of my attempts. Today, I was browsing through some of those old manuscripts. Miss Franny’s Purse. Charlie’s Monkey Suit. A Piece of Heaven. Some of them made me blush at their utter awfulness, while others made me smile and remember writing it…sort of like an old friend.

So, I’ve decided to post one of my old attempts at a picture book. I hope you enjoy. (Oh, and remember, most often picture book writers do NOT create their own illustrations…hence, no illustrations here)

So without further ado…I give you:


The day the chickens found the box of hats in the barn was the day that trouble began at Littlepage Farm.

They sang like opera divas in their fine hats.

They trilled out melodies, and clucked out harmonies, so much so, that Farmer Littlepage sauntered down to the coop to see what all the ruckus was about.

He said to himself, “Jumping barley beans! This will never do. How can I have chickens wearing hats and singing around the farm? They’re sure to never lay eggs again.”

Farmer Littlepage tried to take the chickens’ hats off, but he learned quickly enough not to mess with a chicken in the middle of her operetta.

The horses weren’t fond of the noise the chickens were making, but they could see they were having fun. The horses looked in the box where the chickens found their hats and saw an endless supply of paints and brushes, and smocks.

At once they began painting.

Farmer Littlepage, who was still trying to figure out a way to get the hats off the chicken’s, huffed and puffed his way down to the barn the minute he saw the Mo-niegh painted on the side.

“Flying flea circus! This will never do,” he thought. “No one can ride a horse while he’s painting.”

He tried to remove the hats and the smocks and to throw away the paints and the brushes. But the farmer learned quickly enough to never interrupt a class on self-portraits.

The cows couldn’t stand the singing and were annoyed by the painting, but it looked like fun. So they burrowed their snouts into the  same box and the cows found the snazziest dance costumes they’d ever seen.

Once they’d squeezed themselves into the costumes, they were amazed at how fun it was tap on the barn floor, not to mention how beautiful they looked.

And so they tapped. They click-clacked on the fence. They shimmied in their stalls and made quite a commotion while doing it.

The farmer, who was wondering how to get the hats off the chickens, and the paints from the horses, couldn’t believe what he saw when he went to milk the cows the next morning.

“Great Goat’s tail!” he thought. “Cows that dance around in costumes? This is ridiculous. I can’t milk cows while they’re tapping on their toes.” And so he tried to take their tutus off, but he learned quickly enough to never interrupt a Barnway performance.

“This just won’t do,” he said. “I’ve got to put a stop to this once and for all.”

That night while all the animals were asleep, Farmer Littlepage took the hats and the paints and the costumes and hid them where he was sure they would never be found. “Now there won’t be any more of this nonsense.”

But the next morning, he was awakened by a lot of singing, tapping, and nieghing. He peered through the barn door. The animals had found their hats, and their paints, and their costumes. It was quite a commotion.

When Farmer Littlepage tried to settle his animals down, a harmonica, and an old straw hat fell on his head.

“Hopping Hogwash,” Farmer Littlepage yelled and grabbed the harmonica, ready to pitch it.

Then he stopped.

He stared down at the small golden instrument. He turned it over in his hands. Then he put that harmonica to his lips and played a jingle-jangle tune that got his feet tapping and his legs wiggling.

But a harmonica-playing, two-step-dancing farmer would never do.

So the chickens, horses, and cows tried to take the harmonica and the hat from Farmer Littlepage.

But they learned quick enough to never interrupt a harmonica-playing-farmer in the middle of his Mountain Top Jig.

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