(Don’t miss coloring page downloads at the end of chapter two!)
Chapter One and Two - Goodwill Ambassadors
Tick tock, tick tock, tick tock sweeps the minute hand on the clock.
Rasmus rabbit nibbles the paper corner off his writing assignment.
Guinevere twirls a pencil in her long white fur. She dreams about being a shorthaired guinea pig. She would spend less time fixing her fur and more time playing.
Pedro taps his paw. He is anxiously waiting to get his English report card. He sneaks a snack of Small Pet Select Timothy hay to calm his nerves. It tastes like the hay he had when he was a baby chinchilla in Peru.
The teacher said, “Rasmus, please read your last poetry assignment to the class.” Rasmus lifted his head up. He turned one tall ear to the side then quickly obeyed the teacher. With a hop to the front of the classroom he proudly read:
One, two, three, four
The number of bags we pack
Small enough to fit on our back
Five, six, seven, eight,
Steps to the train on the iron track
See the coal smoke from the stack
Nine, ten, eleven, twelve
Ambassadors for pets who have no home
Everyone please adopt so they are not alone.
Ding dong, ding dong, ding dong rings the dismissal bell. Cheers roar!! All students, small to tall, rush to wish their friends a happy summer vacation!
Tilly parrot flutters around Blueberry Lane Farm. She is waiting for Guinevere, Pedro, and Rasmus to arrive home with report cards. Coral Bell waits by the garden gate to greet them. She has a surprise for them. It is a basket of fresh picked parsley and romaine. Rasmus hops down the lane with Pedro right beside him. They race to the door excited to eat their afterschool snack. Meanwhile, Guinevere dilly dallies along picking wild blueberries. Then she dilly dallies stuffing blueberries in her pack. Then she dilly dallies to untangle her fur from off the brambles. Then she gets home late. She’s always late!
Using her beak, Tilly snatches everyone’s report cards from their back packs. She flutters upstairs to the library. Proudly she pins them on Coral Bell’s bulletin board. Coral Bell has lots of interesting things on her bulletin board. Tilly sees seed packets, garden notes, and pictures of herbs.
Tilly saw gold star stickers on Rasmus’s report card. Then she saw the grades on Guinevere’s report card were scribbled out. The scribbled ink was a different color than the teacher’s ink. Hmm, Tilly wondered, this was odd. Why was there scribbling?
Tilly perched on her favorite desk chair. It has wheels on it. When she flaps her wings, the chair spins around. Tilly likes to wonder and think about things while the chair spins. She remembered Rasmus won a geography contest in school. That would explain the gold stars, she thought. Then she remembered Guinevere got in trouble for fussing with her long fur in school. Her fur always distracts her. Maybe she turns her work in late. Coral Bell always said “Guinevere, stop playing with your fur, you will make us late again!” Then Tilly would sing “we’re late, we’re late, we’re late for a very important date.”
Now that it’s summer vacation, Tilly wondered if they were going on a trip. She flapped her wings and flew from one end of the bulletin board to the other. Yes! There were travel plans. Four train tickets, a list of addresses, and a schedule were pinned to the board. Coral Bell scheduled the group to visit shelters and be ambassadors for pet adoption. After all, Rasmus, Pedro, Guinevere, and Tilly knew what it was like to be abandoned or lost. They all remembered a lonely life in a shelter. They wanted to give back to the community.
Rasmus is an organized bunny. He planned the first ambassador trip. They had train tickets to go from Peapack to Philadelphia. Rasmus told the others they could travel by boat or hot air balloon on the next trip. It would be more fun that way. And besides, there would be less traffic.
Thump. Thump, thump. Thump, thump, thump. Rasmus called a group meeting. He demanded everyone pay attention. Everyone needs to know the important details. Everyone needs to have their assignments. Rasmus reminded the group he got an “A” in geography, so he assigned himself to handle maps and directions.
“Pedro, you are in charge of packing snacks and hay. Take your time packing. Don’t get nervous. When you get nervous you eat too much. Make sure you pack extra for nervous days.”
“Tilly, you are in charge of our paper stuff: tickets and travel schedules. You are the only one who won’t be tempted to shred them. Don’t worry, I folded the paper stuff very small so it will fit neatly in your little pack.” Tilly flapped in excitement. She loved to have a purpose because it gave her confidence.
Tilly could see further than Rasmus, and she secretly wanted to fight him for the map keeper job. After thinking it over, she decided it was more important to be a team player.
Snoring sounds came from the corner. Oh dear, Guinevere! She fell asleep during the important meeting! Rasmus loudly THUMPED his foot with force. Guinevere awoke in a startle. Sleepy and yawning, she rubbed her dark little eyes and rolled over. She had bed head fur. That’s when chaos broke out.
Tilly cackled in laughter. She flapped her green wings, and flew to her perch to get a better view.
Pedro exclaimed, “oh, señorita, your fur is el messo! eres azul!”
Rasmus ran the bunny-500 around the library then stopped with a quick halt. “Guinevere, your fur is blue. There is a blueberry in your ear! You cannot go on the train with blue fur! Now you will have to stay home. Instead, you can weed the garden for Coral Bell when we go to Philadelphia.”
Tears rolled down Guinevere’s cheeks. She saw her reflection in the window glass. Her long white fur really was blue. There really was a plump blueberry in her ear. Pedro was so nervous, he plucked the blueberry from Guinevere’s ear and ate it.
Tilly flew to the desk chair. She flapped extra hard so the chair would spin for an extra-long time. She needed extra thinking time. All this flapping was hard work for a parrot. Tilly was in a tizzy.
Rasmus thumped again. “Calm down everyone. No need for all the fuss. It’s settled. Guinevere can stay home. Or maybe she can get a wig. Never mind all that, now it’s time for a nap.”
Tilly knew she must help Guinevere. It was too hot to wear a wig. Besides, where would they get a wig for a guinea pig? And who would carry Guinevere’s pack?
While the boys napped, Tilly got busy. She collected a towel, lavender soap, a tea cup of warm water, and a comb. Then she went to work on Guinevere. Tilly used her beak to gently scrub away the blueberry stains. Soap bubbles floated through the air until the blue faded to gray. Guinevere’s fur smelled fresh and clean, but it had to be combed. This was the real work. Tilly used her beak to untangle the knots and pick out some brambles. Her wet, messy fur looked like a spaghetti factory. Tilly combed until they both fell asleep for the night.
Thump. Thump, thump. Rasmus called an early morning meeting. This one was urgent. No time to prepare. Guinevere stumbled in with her fur still a mess. Tilly explained it was work in progress. She stood up for Guinevere and said, “We were up all night washing and grooming her fur. We’re almost done. If she can’t go on the trip, then I won’t go either.”
Rasmus turned his tall ears left and right, then toward each other. His nose twitched. Tilly hollered, “Rasmus, stop turning your ears. You are not getting any radio signals doing that.” Rasmus thumped in denial.
Pedro was feeling nervous. He ate some basil. Pedro wanted to speak up. Then he ate some thyme. He had to be brave. “Señor, the guinea pig should come. Her fur es mucho better.”
With all this pressure, Rasmus decided Guinevere could go. He made her promise to be on time. He made her promise not to cause a fuss. He made her promise to have her fur ready early. Otherwise, Tilly would sing, “we’re late, we’re late, we’re late for a very important date.”
Pedro wanted to help the petite guinea pig. He gave her wise advice. “Guinevere, it’s time to put others first. You cannot just think about your fur and how pretty you look. It is best not to worry about what others think. Look at me Senorita. My English and Spanish get mixed up all the time. I make mucho grande mistakes, but what matters is that I try. I don’t worry about what others say about my English.”
Guinevere tried to understand Pedro. Her fur is too beautiful not to fuss over she thought. She wondered if it would be better to concentrate on her eyelashes instead. After all, they were much easier to take care of.
The next day when the group met, Guinevere kept her promise. She arrived on time. a pink bow hid her gray fur. Rasmus took attendance and checked back packs. Then they waved good bye to Coral Bell. From Blueberry Lane, they scurried with excitement to the Peapack train station.
Toot. Toot, toot. “All aboard,” the conductor bellowed. The boys hopped up into the train. Guinevere was next. Her little legs were short. She took a running leap on the step. Oops. Ouch. Ow. Her pink bow unfurled and got caught on the train track. “Tilly, Tilly please help me. I cannot get on to the train, and Rasmus will be so mad.”
Toot. Toot, toot. The train signaled for departure. It started to chug forward.
Rasmus thumped, “Guinevere, what are you doing? Where are you? What’s taking so long?”
Guinevere was in a panic. Tilly quickly untied the tangled ribbon with her beak and helped little Guinevere up into the train. “Oh Tilly, how does my fur look? Is there dust on my eyelashes?” Tilly does not like to tell a lie, but it was a mess again. She promised to comb her fur on the long train ride to Philadelphia. There would be plenty of time to fix a pretty pink bow too.
The ambassadors enjoyed a scenic train ride from Peapack. The train rolled over hill and dale until they reached Philadelphia. It was a busy city. No sign of wild blueberries or fresh hay here. Since they were guests of honor, they stayed overnight at each shelter they visited. They had plenty to eat, and shared their Small Pet Select snacks with new friends.
They met bunnies, chinchillas, ferrets, birds, guinea pigs, and other pocket pets in need of homes. They worked hard to promote adoption from shelters. They talked of the importance of adopting old and sick animals. They championed for all who needed a home, a warm bed or bird cage to call their own. They told stories of how it makes a difference to be loved and feel secure. Guinevere even gave lessons on grooming and fur styling.
When they returned to Blueberry Lane Farm, Coral Bell was eager to hear about their trip. As they shared their stories with Coral Bell, they realized they learned new lessons in Philadelphia.
Pedro learned confidence. He could speak in front of strangers and not be nervous.
Rasmus learned to appreciate passion for being brave and speaking up for what is right.
Tilly learned the importance of helping a friend in need and how it made her feel good about herself.
Guinevere learned she is loved for who she is, even if her fur is a mess or her eyelashes are dusty.
They all learned that together they made a difference. They learned that their messages made a difference, and many animals in need will receive the gift of a home to call their own.
The foursome agreed they will have the best summer vacation stories to tell when they return to school.
They were happy to be back home at Blueberry Lane Herb Farm, a place they could call home, happy to be a family, and grateful to enjoy their Small Pet Select meals together.
Be on the lookout for our next quarterly installment… coming this fall!
And here are the links to the coloring pages: