How Legends Are Born (and some midgrade novels)

Scene: a chipmunk hole where a half-dozen chipmunks are gathered, nibbling on apple cores. One chipmunk is off to the side.

One of the other chipmunks starts to speak.

“See him? That’s my crazy Uncle Ted. He’s the one who battled the red-tailed hawk!”

The other chipmunks all gasp, while Ted looks up, startled.

“Totally true! See those scars on his side? That’s from the talons!”

Ted looks totally uncomfortable now. The younger chipmunk picks up speed.

“He was on some lady’s front lawn taking seeds that fell out of the birdfeeder, so there’s totally no cover anywhere, which is why we never go, but my crazy Uncle Ted loves those sunflower seeds. He was on the side of the big road when he saw the hawk overhead, and he stayed still, like you do so they don’t spot you. Only it doubles back and circles over him, and he knows it’s going to come for him. We’re all saying our prayers because this is pretty much it for Uncle Ted. But guess what he does?”

The other chipmunks all indicate they have no clue.

“He waits so long we think he’s frozen with fear, but not Uncle Ted! Instead at the last possible second he bolts right across the road. It’s the very top of the hill, and there’s this huge car coming toward him, but he runs like mad because he’s totally got a plan! Like we all thought he was a goner, but instead, he gets to the opposite side of the road right before the car would have squashed him!”

The other chipmunks gasp. The nephew continues.

“So that’s when this hawk crashes down from the sky and grabs him in its talons!”

They all gasp again; one of them shrieks.

“But just as the hawk takes off with him, the car passes, and the wind from the car’s passing knocks the hawk off balance and he drops Uncle Ted! Just like Uncle Ted planned all along! Isn’t that great timing? So Uncle Ted ran into the bushes before the hawk could get him again — and then, when the car passes, guess what it has on the back?” The young chipmunk pauses. “A bumper sticker that says ‘Angel.’ So it must have been an angel that came along to help Uncle Ted with his plan!”

The young chipmunk turns to his Uncle, who looks more than a little unnerved and has a nervous tic.

“That’s how you planned it all, right, Uncle?”

“Um.”  Uncle Ted looks at the cluster of wide-eyed young chipmunks. “Um, yeah. Yeah. That’s right.”

“See?” The young chipmunk laughs. “Uncle Ted, you’re the awesomest.”


  1. Jason Block

    Did I ever tell your sense of humor is the “awesomest”!

  2. Ana

    Ditto! 🙂