A NEW DAY
It all began at the beginning of the beginning of another day in the life of Mr. Pumpkinhead.
Mr. Pumpkinhead was a mischievous pumpkin who lived on Friendly Farm, in Wonderplace County. He had a bit of pumpkin magic and some hard-to-believe pumpkin powers which enabled him to do things other pumpkins could not do. That was because there was something very special about Mr. Pumpkinhead's seeds. Whenever he was in trouble, or needed a little extra power, his seeds would join in to help him.
Mr. Pumpkinhead had some very special friends, too. One of those friends was Ruffled Rooster, the farm's living alarm clock.
Every day, Ruffled Rooster started early, very early, fluttering around, from one fence post to another, waking everyone. “Cock-a-doodle-a-doodle-do! Don't doodle, there's a lot to do! Get up, get up! Get up! The sun is bright! The day is light! Get up, get up...get up!”
Ruffled Rooster's chest always swelled with pride when he glanced around and saw the barnyard alive with activity. He just knew that the day could not get off to such a good start if he did not crow and do his part. So, when he had finished crowing, he cackled away, eating his breakfast and enjoying the day.
Mr. Glow Circle was already rising in the sky, throwing warm rays all over Friendly Farm. His rays flickered high. His rays flickered low. They frightened away the night’s shadows.
They filled all the corners of the pumpkin patch, where Mr. Pumpkinhead and the other pumpkins were soaking up their warmth.
Goldie Retriever lay quiet as a mouse on the front porch of the farmhouse. Goldie was Farmer Rubenstein’s body guard. She felt it her duty to be with him everywhere he went. She followed him into and out of the barn. She traced his steps into and out of the woods. She shadowed him into and out of the pasture. She hounded him into and out of the farmhouse. Whether it was in the meadow, or in the forest; in the rain, or in the snow; on top of the mountain, or way down by the creek, she was with him wherever he went. Now she was waiting for Farmer Rubenstein to start his day so that hers could start, too.
TAKING IT EASY
From the forest, Buck Points and Dainty Doe brought their twins, Springstep and Stamphoof, to drink at Fishy Pond. The fawns looked into the water and saw their own faces looking back at them. They giggled with glee when Fenton Frog splashed into the pond, and rippled their faces for them to see.
Henry Horse was minding his own business when an acorn hit him on the head. “Neigh, neigh,” he said, shaking his mane. He looked up just as Curly Squirrel ducked behind a limb of the giant oak tree. Henry glared a horse glare, but Curly didn't care. Another acorn just missed Madame Moo-moo, who was standing there, too. “What are you doooing?” Madame Moo-Moo asked Curly.
“Playing hide and seek!” said Curly. He jumped here; he jumped there. First they saw him and then they didn't. “See who can find me!” he shouted from behind another limb.
Henry Horse and Madame Moo-moo didn’t want to play just then, so Curly asked others to join in the fun because it was such a hide-and-seek day.
Freddie Feline stopped lapping his milky breakfast long enough to purr, “I’ll play, but not me-now. Let me finish eating fuurrrst. Then I will find Rusty Rat, and we all can play together.”
“And I will call Cheery Chipmunk from the forest,” said Curly. “What fun it will be!”
So Freddie Feline finished his breakfast while Curly Squirrel went to find Cheery Chipmunk. Then they all went to the barn to play hide and seek with Rusty Rat.
In the trees, songbirds were singing. In the breeze, flowers were dancing. Butterflies were fluttering. Crickets were chirping. The donkey was hee-hawing; the chickens were clucking. And the smelly pigs were getting even smellier with all of their wallowing in the mud. It was a take-it-easy, hide and seek day at Friendly Farm. But it didn’t stay that way for long.
THE STRANGE VISITORS
From high in the sky came an alarming cry. It was Raven Crow, the farm's lookout. When Raven saw anything strange, an alarm he would shout.
“Caw, caw, caw! Alert! Alert!” he called from his beak. Caw, caw, caw! Please listen as I speak! There is a strange car coming! I’m warning you! It is a bug-like car, colored yellow and blue!”
The animals waited for a hoot from Onlia Owl. For Onlia always kept a watchful eye on everything below. If anything was wrong, she would surely let them know. But Onlia was not back from her flight, where she had been out hunting all through the night. Without her Whoo! whoo! no one knew what to do!
Henry Horse neighed loudly. “I will see what I can see,” he said and galloped off to get a closer look at the bug-like car. Then He galloped back as fast as he could. He shook his mane and stamped his horseshoe. “There are two strange people in the car. Be careful,” he said, “whatever you do!”
Everyone moved quickly. Buck Points and Dainty Doe took Springstep and Stamphoof to the edge of the field. Raven Crow shooed all the birds to the highest branches of the trees. Curly Squirrel ducked into a hole in the big oak tree. Likely Lamb bounced over to Eonkey Donkey’s side. Calves clung to their mothers' knees. Chickens clucked. Ducks quacked. Pumpkins ducked behind their leaves. Everyone watched and waited to see who was
coming up the dirt road. But no one wanted to know more than Mr. Pumpkinhead.
A False Alarm
The blue and yellow bug-looking car stopped right in front of the farmhouse. The horn tooted. The people got out. One was a lady. The other was a young boy in a T-shirt and baggy pants. But no one was looking at the T-shirt or the baggy pants. Instead, they were all wondering about the strange looking thing tucked under the boy’s arm. They had never seen anything like it on Friendly farm. It was somewhat flat, with round things on one side.
Farmer Rubinstein came out of the farmhouse, clapping his hands. He hugged the lady and the boy. Then the lady and the boy hugged Goldie Retriever, and they all went inside.
Everyone else gathered around Onlia’s tree. Why she was not there, they could not see. They clucked and neighed. They buzzed and quacked and brayed. Who were these strange people who had come to Friendly Farm? And what was that strange looking thing tucked under the boy’s arm?
The farmhouse door opened again. The quacking and clucking and buzzing and neighing and braying all stopped. The boy came running out. He threw the strange looking thing on the driveway. As it started to roll, he ran and jumped on it! He rolled all the way down the driveway. Then he turned around and rolled all the way back.
“Totally radical!” he shouted.
Mr. Pumpkinhead’s seeds churned in his tummy. “Totally radical?” he said. “What does that mean? And what is that strange looking thing?” But nobody could tell him because nobody knew.
Then, from somewhere no one had seen her go, Gladlips Goose waddled up to let them know.
A STRANGE NAME
Gladlips Goose clucked as she always did and always will when opening her bill. “Gather round and I will tell you mostly all I know. I will tell you about the strange looking thing on which the boy is riding.
I have flown all over Wonderplace County, and I have seen a lot of things. As far as I can see, the strange looking flat thing with round things on it is a favorite toy of young people with baggy pants.”
As Gladlips stopped to catch her breath, Likely Lamb asked, “But what is this thing called?”
Gladlips flapped her wings. “What is it called, you ask? What is it called? Hmm…well, now, that’s easy. See how it is flat, and yet it is curved? And see the round things on the bottom, how they turn as the boy rolls along?”
Everyone took another look. Sure enough, the strange looking thing was flat, but it was curvy, too. And sure enough, the round things on the bottom were turning as the boy rolled along.
Gladlips went on, “It is quite clear to me that the boy is standing on a piece of tree bark. The bark gets that curvy look from growing around a tree. The little round things on the bottom turn and roll, so they must be called ‘rollies.’ So, as far as I can tell, it is a ‘curvy tree bark rollie.’”
“A curvy tree bark rollie?” asked Mr. Pumpkinhead.
“Yes, of course,” said Gladlips. “A curvy tree bark rollie.”
Just then, Farmer Rubenstein came back outside and went to the barn. There were banging sounds and dinging sounds; clanging sounds and buzzing sounds. When the noises stopped, out came Farmer Rubenstein, carrying a large, slanted, box-like thing.
Hatchess Hen was the first to speak. Wise words came from her beak. “I have no proof,” she said, “but that looks like part of a chicken coop roof!”
“Why, yes, of course!” said Gladlips. “Yes! Yes! That’s just what it’s called—a chicken coop roof!” Farmer Rubenstein placed the chicken coop roof at one end of the driveway. Then he went back to the barn. He returned with another chicken coop roof and placed it at the other end of the driveway.
“Totally Radical!” the boy shouted even louder.
Right then and there, Gladlips Goose decided she must find the meaning of those words. When she did, she would let the others know.
THE STRANGE WORDS
The boy in baggy pants jumped onto the curvy tree bark rollie. With a wham! slam! he hit the first chicken coop roof and rolled right to the top of it. But he didn’t stop there. Up, up into the air, like a bird, he flew. He came back down with another wham! slam!
“Totally Radical!” he shouted. He rolled to the other end of the driveway and hit the second chicken coop roof. Wham! Slam! He flew up into the air again and came back down. He jumped off of the curvy tree bark rollie. He ran to Farmer Rubenstein and gave him a big hug.
“Thanks, Grandpa!” he said. “They are totally radical!” Then he jumped onto the curvy tree back rollie and rolled down the driveway again.
Onlia Owl swooshed down from the sky and lit on her perch. “Whooo, whoo! How are you? And you? And you?” she asked each animal in turn. “What are all of you up to…whoo, whoo?” Gladlips Goose was only too glad to tell Onlia about the curvy tree bark rollie the boy had brought to Friendly Farm, and how it was totally radical. And Mr. Pumpkinhead added,
“‘Totally radical’ is something good, it seems. But Gladlips cannot tell us what it means.”
Onlia spoke as she looked down. The animals stopped talking and gathered around.
“Farmer Rubenstein has a family, like you and me,
As do all people; that’s how they came to be.
The two people who came in the bug-like car
Have come to visit the farmer from afar.
The woman is his child, now big, like he;
The boy is her child; that’s plain to see.
The boy wears baggy pants and rides a toy;
The weird words he shouts are words of joy. “
“Yes, yes!” said Gladlips. “That’s what I thought, too. Words of joy! Words of joy from the boy on the toy!”
Onlia Owl waited until Gladlips was through. Then she said,
“Now I must hurry; there's a lot to do,
And I would advise you to do the same, too.
There’s so much work that must be done;
So break up this party, everyone.”
With that final word, Onlia flew away. The others left to do their chores for the day. All except Mr. Pumpkinhead, that is. He rolled even closer to the driveway. As he watched the boy ride the curvy tree bark rollie, the seeds in his tummy churned with all their might. His pumpkin eyes grew large and bright.
A TOTALLY RADICAL DREAM
Mr. Pumpkinhead closed his eyes and began to pumpkin fantasize. In his pumpkin mind, he was sitting on the curvy tree bark rollie. His friends had all gathered round. Onlia Owl was there, too. “Whoo, whoo!” she said. “Here to entertain you is our very own Mr. Pumpkinhead!”
The crowd gave a cheer as Mr. Pumpkinhead rolled near. Pumpkin smiles covered his face. His husk tightened; his stump stood up in place. He called on his seeds to give him control. The curvy tree bark rollie began to roll. He moved fast and did the pumpkin cannonball. He slowed down and did the Pumpkinhead crawl. He rolled and twisted, making pumpkin bends. He smiled as he waved to all of his friends. Then faster he rolled, with all his pumpkin might. He soared in the air like a bird in flight. He did the pumpkin flip and the pumpkin spin, landing on the curvy tree bark rollie again. He saved his best trick for the very last. It was the Pumpkinhead double-backward-blast.
Beep! Beep! A horn ended Mr. Pumpkinhead’s fantasy. It was Farmer Rubenstein, in his little blue truck. The woman who was his child got into the truck with him. The horn tooted again. The boy in baggy pants came running and got into the truck, too. In no time at all, the farmer family was heading down the lane. Soon the little blue truck was out of sight.
Mr. Pumpkinhead was disappointed to the point of boo-hooing. He had liked all the tricks the boy had been doing. He took in a big pumpkin breath and turned to roll away. Then something caught his eye on that sunny day. He did a quick pumpkin double-take. The curvy tree bark rollie was there, beside the garden rake!
Mr. Pumpkinhead's skin turned bright orange. He looked at one chicken coop roof and then the other. He looked at the curvy tree bark rollie. Why not? he thought in his pumpkin mind. Surely I have time for one fun ride! But I must act fast, and that’s a fact. I must have my fun before the farmer gets back.
Now Mr. Pumpkinhead was filled with pumpkin glee. “What a totally radical adventure it will be!”
THE TOTALLY RADICAL ADVENTURE
Mr. Pumpkinhead rolled toward the curvy tree bark rollie. He sat on his rind and called on his pumpkin seeds for help. He thumped his stump. But just as he was tightening his husk, and getting ready to jump, Onlia Owl landed on the tree stump nearby.
“Whoo, whoo,” she said. “What are you up to, Mr. Pumpkinhead?”
“Hello, Onlia. I have thought up another great adventure. I plan to ride on this curvy tree bark rollie. I have been watching the baggy pants boy. He rolls high; he rolls low. He rides right up the chicken coop roofs. He does tricks in the air! I want to do some tricks, too. I want to do whatever the boy can do. It will be totally radical!”
Onlia spoke as only Onlia could...
“Mr. Pumpkinhead, you are not a human; that’s for sure.
And the boy is not a pumpkin; that is very clear!
That curvy tree bark rollie is made for human functions;
The garden’s pumpkin patch is made for pumpkins.
The boy has legs and feet; and hands on his arms.
You have only a pumpkin rind that you could surely harm.
My advice to you is to be your pumpkin self.
Put this silly adventure back on the shelf.”
And with that, Onlia Owl hooted and flew away.
Mr. Pumpkinhead thought about Onlia’s advice, but not for long. The idea for the totally radical adventure was already planted deeply in his pumpkin mind. Riding the curvy tree bark rollie can do no harm. I will be the envy of everyone on Friendly Farm.
A CALL FOR HELP
Mr. Pumpkinhead rolled even closer to the curvy tree bark rollie. He took a deep pumpkin breath and tried to lift his pumpkin body. Nothing happened. He tried again. Again, nothing happened.
In his pumpkinny hard head, he thought pumpkinny hard. The boy runs and jumps and then rolls on his way. But I cannot run, and I cannot jump.
His eyes got bright. He tightened his husk. He thumped his stump. He called on his pumpkin seeds for help. He called on his orange power for even more help. Suddenly, he began to roll, faster than he had ever rolled before. He rolled right up the chicken coop roof. He rolled to the top, but he didn't stop there. Instead, he rolled up, up, into the air! He came down with a thump on his pumpkin rump, right on top of the curvy tree bark rollie!
“Totally radical!” he shouted. He held on tight. But the curvy tree bark rollie did not roll a mite. When it did not move at all, his hopes of riding began to fall. He thought and thought, till his skin turned blue. At last he knew what he had to do. Maybe his dream of riding would at last come true!
“I just need some help, for goodness sake,” he said, with a glance toward the garden rake. “I need a push to get started, that’s all. I know Curly Squirrel will help if I call.”
He took a deep breath. His lungs filled with air. He looked up and called, “Curly Squirrel, are you there? Come down here, please! Please come to my side! I need a small push to get on with this ride!”
Curly Squirrel heard Mr. Pumpkinhead’s call. Down from his nest, he scurried in a hurry. But he stopped short when he saw Mr. Pumpkinhead sitting on top of the curvy tree bark rollie.
“What are you doing, Mr. Pumpkinhead?” he said.
“I cannot get the curvy tree bark rollie to move,” said Mr. Pumpkinhead. “Please get behind me and push it ahead.”
Curly scurried around behind Mr. Pumpkinhead. He put his front paws on the back of the curvy tree bark rollie. “On the count of three…” he said.
“One! Two! Three! Wheee!” they said together.
Curly pushed with all his might. But the curvy tree bark rollie sat tight. He
pushed and pushed and pushed some more. He pushed until his paws were sore. He strained and grunted and puffed a lot, but the curvy tree bark rollie did not move from its spot.
Curly sprawled out on the ground. “It’s no use,” he said. “I cannot make it move, Mr. Pumpkinhead.”
Mr. Pumpkinhead’s smile turned to a frown. Sadly, his pumpkin eyes drooped down. “Oh, I did so want to ride,” he said. I want to do more than just lie on the ground. But I’m just a pumpkin, big and round.”
“Either you are too big and heavy, or I am too weak and small,” said Curly. We need someone bigger and stronger, that’s all! So, don’t worry, and have no fear. I know what to do. You wait right here! Cheer up, Mr. Pumpkinhead. You shall ride in the end, for I’ll get some help from a farmyard friend.” And with that, Curly scampered off to the sheep shed.
THE “ALMOST” RIDE
In no time at all, Curly Squirrel returned with Likely Lamb skipping close behind.
“Haaalo, Mr. Pumpkinhaaaad,” bleated Likely. Curly saaays you need some haaalp.”
“Yes,” Mr. Pumpkinhead replied. “This curvy tree bark rollie I want to ride. It seems to be stuck in the ground. The rollies will not roll around. I’m sure it would work fine if you could give me a push from behind. But we must act fast, and that’s a fact. I must have my fun before the farmer gets back.”
“I will be glaaad to haaalp,” said Likely.
“That’s totally radical of you!” Mr. Pumpkinhead said, just to sound cool.
“Totaally raaadical!” Likely Lamb said, too, just to sound cool. Then she stepped around behind Mr. Pumpkinhead. She put her nose against the curvy tree bark rollie. “Are you raaady?” she asked.
“Ready!” said Mr. Pumpkinhead.
“One! Two! Three! Wheee!” they all said. But the curvy tree bark rollie did not move ahead.
Likely Lamb pushed and pushed and pushed some more. She pushed until her nose was sore. She strained and grunted and puffed a lot, but the curvy tree bark rollie did not move from its spot. At last, she said, “It’s no good, Mr. Pumpkinhaaad. I cannot make you move ahaaad.”
“Either you are too big and heavy or Likely is too weak and small,” said Curly. “We need someone bigger and stronger, that’s all! So, don’t worry, and have no fear. I know what to do. You wait right here! Cheer up, Mr. Pumpkinhead. You shall ride in the end, for I’ll get some help from another farmyard friend.” And with that, Curly scampered off to the goat shed.
In no time at all, he returned with Goatee Goat running alongside. Goatee stood behind Mr. Pumpkinhead and put his horns against the curvy tree bark rollie. He said, “My horns are strong, Mr. Pumpkinhaaad. If I can’t push you, nobody caaan.”
“One! Two! Three! Whee!” they all said together.
Goatee pushed and pushed and pushed some more. He pushed until his horns were sore. He strained and grunted and puffed a lot, but the curvy tree bark rollie did not move from its spot.
“Either you are too big and heavy or Goatee is too weak and small,” said Curly. “We need someone bigger and stronger, that’s all! So, don’t worry, and have no fear. I know what to do. You wait right here! Cheer up, Mr. Pumpkinhead. You shall ride in the end, for I’ll get some help from another farmyard friend.” And with that, Curly scampered off to the stable.
In no time at all, Henry Horse galloped up, on the spot, with Curly Squirrel riding on top. A cloud of dust rose in the air as Henry and Curly came to a stop.
Henry shook his long mane. “I’m here to help with whatever you neeeed,” he neighed.
“Totally radical!” Mr. Pumpkinhead said. “This curvy tree bark rollie I do so wish to ride. It will not move no matter how we have tried. But we must act fast, and that’s a fact. I must have my fun before the farmer gets back.”
Henry clip-clopped around behind Mr. Pumpkinhead. He put a shoed foot on the back of the curvy tree bark rollie.
“One! Two! Three! Wheee!” they all shouted together.
Henry Horse pushed hard with his foot. But the curvy tree bark rollie stayed put. Henry pushed and pushed and pushed some more. He pushed until his foot was sore. He strained and grunted and puffed a lot, but the curvy tree bark rollie did not move from its spot.
Mr. Pumpkinhead was disappointed deep inside, wondering if the curvy tree bark rollie he would ever get to ride. The farm animals wondered, too. They had gathered to see what Mr. Pumpkinhead was up to.
Curly Squirrel gave a sigh. He couldn’t give up now. So off he scampered, to the meadow.
In no time at all, he returned with Eee-Onky Donkey, who was trotting nice and slow.
“Hee-haw, Mr. Pumpkinhead. I hee-ear you need my hee-elp,” he said.
“That's right, Eonky,” Mr. Pumpkinhead replied. “Give it all your strength inside, for this curvy tree bark rollie I aim to ride! But we must act fast, and that’s a fact. I must have my fun before the farmer gets back.”
So Eee-Onky Donkey trotted around behind Mr. Pumpkinhead. “Are you hee-ready?” he brayed.
“Ready!” said Mr. Pumpkinhead.
Eonky turned his back to Mr. Pumpkinhead. With one swift kick of a back foot, he sent Mr. Pumpkinhead and the curvy tree bark rollie flying down the driveway toward the chicken coop roof!
Wheee!” said Curly, with a great deal of pride. Mr. Pumpkinhead is finally getting to ride!”
THE TOTALLY RADICAL RIDE
With Eonky Donkey’s swift back kick, Mr. Pumpkinhead flew down the driveway on the curvy tree bark rollie! He rolled so fast that his pumpkin skin turned yellowish-white. He tried to smile and give a joyful shout, but the words he was thinking would not come out. He held on tight with all his might. He was headed straight for the chicken coop roof! Wham! Slam! He rolled right to the top, but he didn’t stop there! He went up, up, into the air! The curvy tree bark rollie flew out from under him! It twisted and twirled and bumped his head. He blinked his eyes. He was filled with dread!
Higher and higher, into the sky! He opened his mouth and let out a cry. Around and around he spun before he started coming down. At last he landed on top of the curvy tree bark rollie! They both came down on the other chicken coop roof! Wham! Slam! Ker-plump!
He rolled to a stop beside the tree stump. He looked around. He was thankful to be back on the ground. His farmyard friends were standing near. They all cried out and gave a cheer.
Slowly and painfully, Mr. Pumpkinhead rolled off of the curvy tree bark rollie. He turned around to face his friends. His pumpkin husk hurt pumpkinnybad. It was the worst hurting he had ever had. He felt a large bump rising on his noggin. He felt pumpkinnysick, for his seeds were sloshing.
His friends all shouted, “More! Give us more!” But Mr. Pumpkinhead’s body was very sore. He didn’t want to ride the curvy tree bark rollie anymore. He wanted to go back to his pumpkin patch bed and nurse the growing bump on his aching head.
Onlia Owl looked down from her tree. She could see that Mr. Pumpkinhead was in misery. She must help her friend, and that she would do. She swooshed down from her tree with a friendly “Whoo! Whoo! Listen up, everyone! The farmer and his family will be back soon! Give Mr. Pumpkinhead one final cheer, and then you had better move away from here.”
So the animals did as Onlia said, but not before they turned to Mr. Pumpkinhead.
“Totally Radical!” they shouted as they went on their way. You are THE BIG ROLLER! Hooray!” And with that, they went back to their chores of the day.
Onlia Owl turned to Mr. Pumpkinhead and said,
“If you had just listened to advice given you
You would not be hurting and feeling so blue.
You are a pumpkin; you're big, and you're round.
Pumpkins are meant to stay on the ground.
Humans have hands, feet, and different functions;
Pumpkins aren’t humans, and humans aren’t pumpkins.
Now hurry back to your pumpkin patch bed
And put some dew drops on your sore pumpkin head.
Learn a lesson from all that happened today:
Find pumpkin games you were meant to play.
A pumpkin’s life can be great, you will see;
Be happy with what you are meant to be.”
“You’re right, Onlia,” said Mr. Pumpkinhead. “I belong on the ground, and I’ll stay here, too. From now on, I will leave the flying to the boy and you.”