Children's Chapter Books

Children's Chapter Books
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Woody By Jessica Bertrand

My friend, Jessica, and I saw a picture of a frozen frog called an Alaskan wood frog. We decided to write different perspectives of the same picture. I wrote about the ice covering the frog and you can read that story here.

Jessica wrote about what may go on in the frog’s life when the frost comes. Her story is this week’s blog, below. Enjoy!


Jessica Bertrand

“Was I this bad last year?”

          “No,” West croaked, “You were worse.”

          I looked at him and he only shrugged. It isn’t always easy getting accustomed to the flood of sugar that comes into an Alaskan Wood Frogs body when their feet get cold. Winter is coming and I started to wonder when Frost would get here. I couldn’t help but watch Echo ping pong his way up a tree. He screamed at the top. West and I laughed.

          “Pine needles hurt don’t they Echo.” Mud shouted.

The three of us were funny friends, Echo made us a group of four. The only three types of frogs and toads in Alaska. West is a Western Toad. No, not all of them are named West. He is the biggest of the three of us. He likes to spend his winter sleeping in abandoned burrows. Last year’s home we chased a fox out of her den. Don’t ask. I would apologize for it if I knew she wouldn’t eat me.

Then there is Mud. He’s crazy. Mostly when he starts drying out and twitches until we find water. So he doesn’t leave the lake too far behind. He sleeps in the mud at the bottom of the lake when Frost freezes the top of it.

I’m excited. This is the first year we are hibernating so close together.

“Bonsai,” Echo cried out.

“Ugh.” All of the wind rushed out of me. My nose was pushed deep into the moldy fall leaves. The ones that turn all brown and wrinkled. It was great. I didn’t want to get up.

“Hey Woody, you can’t sleep yet. Frost isn’t here.” Echo came nose to nose with me.

I grunted all the way up.

“What is it like to be in a mid-life crisis? I mean two it so old.”

“Why you…” I made a fist.

“Fox!” West yelled.

He and Mud disappeared up the tree. Echo jumped to join them but tripped over a pine cone. She was going to eat him. I landed on top of Echo just as a clawed paw grabbed me.

She didn’t eat me or kill me. Great. A fox who likes to play with her food. Her big round eyes were staring into mine. Her coat was starting to turn white from the normal gray. She looked familiar.

“Uh. Oh.” My heart beat so fast it was going to come out of my chest.

“Uh oh is right.” She let me fall to the ground and pinned me under a furry fist. “I thought that was you. Last year you destroyed the den that my family has returned to for seventy-five years. Something I’m sure you can’t even think about because four years old is about all you live.” Her hot breath almost thawed out my hands.

“If Grandpappy lives through the winter he will be five. So there.” She looked up into the tree, sharp teeth showing when she smiled.

“You’re not helping Echo. Keep quiet.”

          “Have you learned since last year?”

          “Yes Ma’am.” If I was going to apologize it would have to be before she ate me. I pulled in a lot of air. “Could I say something before you have me for lunch?”

          “Eat you? I’m not going to eat you. Where would the fun be in that? I am going to wait until you freeze solid and use you for a hockey puck.”

I whimpered.

          “The winter games were quite fun last year.” The chimes in Frost’s voice lifted my spirits. But could she save me? Frost landed on the Fox and a dark gray patch turned white. Her blue silk dress swayed in the chilly arctic wind. “But I don’t know if Woody would make a very good puck. He never falls asleep all the way tucked in.”

          “Hmm. That is a problem. But he destroyed my den last year. I’m sure his friends helped him out.”

          “I wasn’t that worried to find a house,” West’s deep voice held an edge.

          “He did try and talk me out of it.” She pushed down a little harder. There would be a frog-shaped dent in the ground soon.

          “Piper, you should let him breathe so he can tell you something.” Frost touched her ear and it turned the color of fresh snow.

          Piper bent down, “I will listen to him plead for his life.”

          “I am really sorry I destroyed your den last year. That is all I thought about through the winter. When I was in a thinking mood.”

Piper gasped.

“Grandpappy taught me that it isn’t kind to do things like that even to animals who could snack on you. Because God made us all to be who we are and most animals have to live in houses. Will you forgive me?”

          Piper shook her head and backed away. She rushed over to the large rock we jump off of when we swim in the summer.

          “Frost, what’s wrong with her?” I looked at my blue friend.

          “No one has ever told her they were sorry. This happens sometimes when people feel kindness for the first time.”

          “I have a lot to learn.”

          Mud came screaming out of the tree. “I can’t take it anymore. It’s too dry. Have a good winter guys!” The lake surface barely moved and Mud was gone for the cold season.

          “I’m going to bed too,” West yawned. “Frost has turned it too cold out here for me.” The rock in front of his hole clicked into place.

          Frost looked over at the fox she had streaked with blue. “Piper! Could you take Woody and Echo to the church on the other side of the lake? There is a wonderful Paper Birch that has rotten leaves they will like.”

          The wind howled past my head. I had seen jets in the sky and knew this is what it felt to ride one. Piper skidded to a stop.

          “Why are we here Frost?” The leaves were perfect to sleep in. Soggy. Wet. Like a pillow.

          “The pastor last year had a very good verse just before everything melted. He said, ‘Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.’ I think wonderful words like that would be great to hear all winter.”

          “I get to listen too?” Echo smiled. “Whoohooo!”

          Piper turned to leave. A spring was now in her step.

          “Hey Piper.” She turned. “Can I help build you a new den in the spring? I wake up before everyone else.”

          “No.” I hung my head. “But I would like you to play with my pups after they are born. I need to teach them how to be good friends.”

          Frost covered me with a lacey blanket of ice. “Time for you two to freeze solid.”

          It was going to be a good winter, but for once, I was excited for the hope of spring.