So my youngest son is home today sick, and was not much interested in taking a nap. To be honest, I heard him softly weeping in his bed. So I came in, lay down beside him, and told him a story to make him feel better. As this is an interactive story, there are two settings-- the story, (and the bedroom).
As we lay in bed, I asked my son if he would like me to tell him a story. He nodded yes and snuggled close as he wiped the last few tears from his eye, and the story began.
Mid Morning Story: An Interactive Adventure
--by Janin Wise (with inserts by my youngest son)
Once upon a time, long, long ago, and quite some distance away, there was a handsome blond traveler with beautiful blue eyes. He was walking down the main road, when he came to Three Rocks (holding up three fingers) in the middle of the road that led to three separate paths. The stones were HUGE! And very, VERY tall!
To the left (accenting the left of the three fingers) lay a farmer's market-- filled with a wealth of farm animals, produce, and food markets. Why! You could find -anything- in the world to eat there!
Down the middle path (accenting the middle of the three fingers) lay a wealthy town with an enormous bazaar! Silk, brocade and every fabric imaginable! Gold, jewels, gems! A veritable treasure to explore!
And to the right (accenting the right of the three fingers) lay a gentle path into the woods.
("Which path would you like to choose?," I asked my son. He leaned over and tapped the left of the fingers. "To the farmer's market, then?" And he nodded yes.)
So the traveler chose the path to the left, and continued on his travels past the three stones in the middle of the road, though he knew not where he was going.
The path was lovely! An easy walk with the sun shining gently down upon his face. He lifted his face to the sun and received a warm kiss (kissing my son on the cheek) from the son as he continued on his travels. The sweet, sweet smell of grass and flowers growing filled his nose (taking a deep breath). The birds sang beautifully in the trees above (whistling bird songs). The bees and the butterflies danced amongst the flowers, and a merry bubbling brook kept him company as he traveled.
Soon, he could hear a hubbub in the distance of hundreds of voices speaking (mumbling like a lot of people talking) and came to a hill that the path took him over. As he reached the top, he stopped and marveled at the sight that lay before him! It was the largest farmer's market he had -ever- seen! He had never imagined there could be this many people and animals in a single place! Why, there were cows (lifting one finger), horses (lifting another), sheep (another), goats (another), chickens (another) ("How many different kinds of farms animals is that?" "That's 5 Momma." "Very good!") and many more than he could possibly count! Oh and the smells!!! The wonderful, delicious smells of all the kinds of food you can imagine cooking! But the smell that stood out to him the most, the one that caught his attention, ("What do you smell, honey?" "Cookies!") was COOKIES! He absolutely LOVED cookies!
He followed his nose through the farmer's market, wending through the merchants and stalls until he came to the most fabulous bakery his eyes had ever beheld! There were all kinds of baked good there. Every kind you could ever imagine! Cakes! Cookies! Candy! Pastries! OH! The smell of it was almost overwhelming! He wiped the drool from his mouth (wiping my mouth) and entered the bake shop.
There were all kinds of cookies!
("What kind of cookies were there?", I asked my son. "There were ginger bread man cookies!" Raising a finger, I replied"Ooo! I like ginger bread man cookies! What other kind of cookies were there?"
"There were chocolate cookies."
Raising another finger, "I bet -those- were delicious! Were there other cookies?"
Nodding, "Yes, there were vanilla cookies." Raising another finger, "Brother would really like those! Were there any other kinds?"
"Were there any chocolate chip cookies?" "Yup."
"How about Oreo cookies?" "Oh, yes! Definitely Oreo cookies!"
"Were there any oatmeal cookies?" Shaking his head no for the first time, "No!"
"There weren't any oatmeal cookies?" "No, Momma. There weren't any oatmeal cookies. Just horse shaped cookies."
I said, "Okay," as I smiled at him, holding up 10 fingers for all the cookies listed and asked him how many kinds of cookies there were. We counted each finger until we'd counted 10, and then I asked, "Which was his FAVORITE kind of cookie?"
To which my youngest answered, "The horse shaped cookies, Momma!")
So the traveler chose his absolute FAVORITE kind of cookie and bought a horse shaped cookie!
He stepped out of the shop and was just about to eat the delicious cookie, but as he brought it up to his mouth to take his first bite, the cookies spoke to him! (Gasp from my youngest son as his eyes grew round.) "PLEASE don't eat me sir! I am under a curse! If you will take me to the babbling brook and place me in the water by the edge, I will turn into a REAL horse. I will grant you two wishes and take you on a great adventure!"
("Does the traveler eat the talking cookie or does he take it to the brook?" "He takes it to the brook, Momma.")
So the astonished traveler took the talking cookie to the the babbling brook that had kept him company on his way to the farmer's market. When he reached his destination, he placed the cookie in the water at the edge, and Lo and Behold! It turned into a REAL horse!!!
"Thank you, Master," said the talking magic horse, "That bakery is cursed, and I was under a terrible, terrible spell. But you have released me and I will keep my promise, (I turned to my son and looked him in the eye as I asked,) "What is your first wish?" (To which my youngest responded,) "I wish for a camel."
"You wish for a camel?" (To which my youngest nodded,) "Yes please. I wish for a camel."
So the magic horse told the traveler to climb upon his back and hold on fast for it was a LONG journey. The traveler clung to the back of the magic horse. First the horse jumped one yard, then he jumped two yards, then he leaped over vendors and stalls, his jumps getting longer, his jumps getting further until he landed in the middle of the great, great desert! It was dark, for it had taken a day and a night to travel that great distance, and the horse and traveler stood there on the sand dune admiring the stars as they twinkled in the night sky.
"We must travel at night in the desert to get your camel. For unlike the camel you seek, we carry no water and would perish in the hot, hot sun should we travel during the day. I will take you to a merchant of camels, just beyond these dunes, but be warned! He will offer you a -white- camel, (raising one finger) Do NOT take it! He will offer you a -red- camel, (raising a second finger) Do NOT take it! He will offer you a -black- camel, (raising a third finger) Do NOT take it! He will offer you a -brown- camel, (raising a fourth finger) Do NOT take it! And he will offer you a -blue- camel, (raising a fifth finger) THIS is the camel that you want. Do you understand?" (To which my youngest and I had a couple of minutes conversation over the number and color of the camels and which one the magic horse has told the traveler that he wants.)
The traveler nodded, the climbed off the back of the magic horse and entered the camel seller's tent, and informed the merchant that he would like to buy a camel.
"Well good evening, good sir! I have many great camels to offer to you! Why, just follow me over to this stall and I will show you the finest camel I have to offer! Here is the amazing WHITE camel! (Holding up one finger) Why, he spits diamonds, he does! And is never cold, even if you took him through the deserts of ice! A steal-- I will sell him to you for a mere million dollars!"
("Does the traveler choose the white camel?" To which my youngest son shook his head, "no.")
"Alas. Well, in -this- stall, I have the RED camel! (Holding up the second finger) He is strongly spirited and can spit flames upon your enemies! He is a terror in battle and can withstand the worst heat! I will sell him to you for a measly thousand dollars!"
("Does the traveler choose the red camel?" To which my youngest son shook his head, "no.")
"No worries! Here I have the BLACK camel! (Holding up the third finger). Why, he can sail across the very night sky itself and blend in with any shadow even on the brightest day at high noon. You can travel wherever you wish and never be seen if you wish it! I will practically give him away for a a hundred dollars!"
("Does the traveler choose the black camel?" To which my youngest son shook his head, "no.")
"Hmmm.... Well, in this stall, I have just a plain BROWN camel. (Holding up the fourth finger). There is nothing remarkable about this creature. I will let you rid me of him for a mere ten dollars."
("Does the traveler choose the brown camel?" To which my youngest son shook his head, "no.")
"Really? Well.... all I have left (lifting up the fifth finger) is the near dead BLUE camel. It is a waste of feed, a hassle and a bother! I will let you take that off my hands for free and wash my hands of both of you!"
("Does the traveler choose the blue camel?" To which my youngest son nodded his head and reached out and touched the last finger.)
So the traveler lead the blue camel out of the merchants tent and back to his talking horse who was waiting for him.
"Good job, Master! For if you had chosen any of the other camels, they would have killed you the moment the stall was opened! Now, you must climb upon my back and lead your camel to the fountain in the middle of the desert."
So the traveler climbed upon his back, holding the lead of the camel, and the horse led them to the fountain in the middle of the desert.
"Alright, now listen closely, for this camel is enchanted, but if you follow my directions, you can break the spell. You must lead him in a circle around the fountain TWICE, and -only- twice, then let him drink from the fountain and the spell will be broken."
("How many times did the horse say to lead the camel around the fountain?" "Twelve!" (lol) "No baby. The horse said, "TWICE". "Okay, Momma. Twice.")
So the traveler lead the camel around the fountain (Making a circle with a finger like stirring a pot-- "How many times was that?" "That's once, Momma." "Good job!") once. Then he lead the camel around the fountain again (holding up a second finger while making a circle-- "And how many times was that?" "That's TWICE!", my son exclaimed.) and then he let the camel take a drink from the fountain-- and the blue color fell away! He was healthy and restored! And more-- he was a MAGIC camel! For he not only broke the curse upon the camel, he broke the curse upon the fountain-- and an enormous castle palace grew up around the fountain-- and the camel, having drunk from the magic fountain would never need to drink AGAIN and could turn into ANY color, as well! (As my son's eyes got huge, and he clapped and "Oooohh!"ed.)
Then the horse spoke to the traveler and said, "You have done a wonderful thing, Master-- and the palace is your reward. Your magic camel will stay in the stable. But now, (I looked my son in the eye and ask,) "What is your second wish?" (To which my youngest responded,) "I wish for a giraffe!" ("A giraffe?" As he nodded, "A giraffe!" "Alright, a giraffe it is.")
So the horse told the traveler to climb upon his back and hold on tight for it would be a long journey. Once the traveler was on, holding a firm grasp in the horse's mane, the horse began to jump. First he jumped one yard, then he jumped two yards, then he jumped over the sand dunes and the palace itself and landed in the heart of Africa!
But it had taken time to travel, and now it was the middle of the hot, HOT day! The sun burned down on them relentlessly. Their skin was sticky, and the traveler's clothes were damp with sweat. ("Ew! They got sweaty?!" "Yes Baby, they got hot, and sticky, and sweaty from that sun." "That's gross, Mom." "Well, you know. Maybe he'll take a shower later, okay?" "Okay.")
"You must stay on my back until we reach the water hole, for there are lions hiding in the Savannah and they would make a quick meal of you!" (To which my son's eyes got huge and he snuggled closer) Then they traveled to the watering hole and both took a refreshing drink (miming taking a drink from my hand). "Listen carefully, Master, and you shall have your giraffe. First, you must be -absolutely still- upon my back, until I tell you otherwise. And you must make no noise! ("Can you do that? Can you hold absolutely still and make no noise?" To which my youngest nodded-- then when rod still and clamped his lips closed.)
(Whispered) "Soon, the animals will come to drink from the water hole. When the giraffe stops to eat from that tall tree there, you must -slowly- climb down from my back, then follow the lead of the lion and slink unseen through the tall grass. When you reach the tree, climb it slowly that you won't spook the giraffe, and then you must JUMP upon his back! Do NOT let go!"
And presently, a herd of zebra came to drink from the watering hole. And not far behind them, stopping at trees along the way, came the long necked giraffe.
"Now, go!" And the traveler slowly, slowly climbed off the back of the magic horse. Then the traveler quietly, quietly snuck through the tall grass towards the tree. Then he climbed up, up until he was above the giraffe.
"Jump now!" yelled the magic horse. And the traveler leaped upon the back of the giraffe holding on for dear life. "You must NOT let go! If you can ride him for -10- seconds, he will be yours!" (To which my son and I counted out, "One!" "Two!" "Three!" "Four!" "Five!" "Six!" "Seven!" "Eight!" "Nine!" "TEN!!!!") And the mighty giraffe stopped his valiant fighting, and bowed his head low, admitting his defeat and bestowing his loyalty on the traveler.
"If you had fallen from his back, or let go before the time, he would have smitted you where you fell, for he is a magic giraffe and has the power to travel ANYWHERE that you might wish, merely hold the image in your mind and he will take you there. All all you must do is think of him, and he will come to you, where ever you might be in the world. But now, we are reaching the end of my promise, and you must climb upon my back." ("But Mom! If I leave my giraffe, the lions are going to eat him!")
"Before we go, pull a single hair from my mane and weave it into the hair of your giraffe's tail. (As my son mimes plucking a hair and weaving it in)-- Now your giraffe has both the speed and guile to avoid anything that would hunt it or cause it harm-- be it lion, hunter or even hyena."
("Is the traveler ready to climb on the magic horse's back now?" "Okay, Momma. He's ready now.")
So the traveler climbed up on the back of the magic horse and clung tightly to his mane. The horse jumped and bounded. First he jumped one yard, then he jumped two yards. Then he jumped over the vast and boundless sea..... and landed in front of the bakery shop back in the farmer's market.
"Listen carefully, Master, for the bakery is cursed and run by a wicked, evil witch! (My son's eyes grew round and wide.) But you can break her evil spell. She will offer you cakes (holding up one finger) but you MUST NOT eat them! Tell her that you want a bite from the day old bread instead. She will not want to give it to you, but you must persist. In the end, she will have no choice, and the spell will be broken. She will offer you cookies (holding up a second finger) but you MUST NOT eat them! Tell her that you want a bite from the day old bread. She will offer you candies (holding up a third finger) but you MUST NOT eat them! Tell her that you want a bite from the day old bread. She will offer you pastries of every kind (holding up a forth finger) but you MUST NOT eat them! Tell her that you want a bite from the day old bread instead. Then she will have no choice but to offer you the day old bread. Take a single bite, and the spell will be broken!"
So the traveler entered the bakery and the witch said to him, "Ahhhh (hissed like a witch might)! Welcome to my bakery. May I interest you in a delicious cake?" (I raised a finger. My son shook his head, no, and said,) "No thank you. I want a bite from the day old bread."
"No, no, no!" hissed the witch. "You don't want -that-! Let me offer you one of my cookies instead!" (Raising a second finger.)
("Does the traveler want a cookie?" As he shook his head, no, my son said,) "No thank you. I want a bite from the day old bread."
"No, no, NO!" hissed the witch as a frown creased her brow. "You don't want -that-! Let me offer you one of my candies instead!" (Raising a third finger.)
(Really getting into it, shaking his head NO, my son said,) "No thank you! I want a bite from the day old bread!"
"No, no, no, no, NO!!" practically screamed the angry witch. "You DON'T want that! Let me offer you a pastry instead!" (Raising a fourth finger.)
"No thank you! I want a bite from the day old bread!"
And the witch had no choice (raising the fifth finger) but to offer the traveler the day old bread. He took but a single bite from it-- and the spell was broken!
The witch turned into nothing but a pile of bones and dusty, dry old flour, and the bakery crumbled down around him to reveal an astonishing treasure of the likes of which you can barely imagine! As the traveler looked up, the magic horse approached him.
"Master, I have kept my promises. I have granted you two wishes and taken you on a great adventure. Now, you must pluck a hair from my tail (my youngest son miming doing exactly that) and weave a ring (miming this as well) to wear on the pointer finger of your right hand (lifting mine to demonstrate). Turn it twice and it will take you and your treasure to your desert palace. From there, your giraffe can take you anywhere and your camel will provide you many more adventures. But for me, I have reached the end of my magic, and there is no more."
And with that, the magic horse turned back into a horse shaped cookie. The traveler picked it up, saying, "Magic horse?" But the cookie did not answer, for his magic was over.
("Did the traveler eat the horse shaped cookie?" After a brief pause as my youngest considered, he shook his head, "No.")
So the traveler placed the horse shaped cookie in the pocket closest to his heart, then turned the horse hair ring twice where he and his treasure arrived in his grand palace in the center of the desert. He placed the horse cookie in a place of honor where he could see it always and remember how it had changed his life. And lived happily ever after.