Swoosh, the screen door swung wide open.
Bang, the screen door clattered closed.
Plop, went the shopping bag - hope nothin’s broken.
Thump. Thump, thump. Thump, thump, thump.
Rasmus’s strong feet gave the signal that something was happening. Pedro, Guinevere, and Tilly were warned to be on the lookout. Rasmus remained still, like a statue. True to rabbit alert procedures, he listened for more sounds. Then he turned his tall brown ears this way and that way. Rasmus announced the coast was clear for there was nothing to fear!
The sudden thumping made Tilly drop the comb from her beak and Guinevere fell off the piano bench. Tilly was practicing new “hair dos” on Guinevere for her first day back to school. All the commotion startled Pedro from his nap on the sofa.
Guinevere tip toed over to peek into the kitchen. She stretched her little neck to peek around the corner. Rasmus hopped behind to see for himself. Guinevere’s long fur was in an “up do” and blocked his view. So Rasmus balanced his two front paws on Guinevere’s back. He lifted himself up for a better view over her fluff and curls. Then, at the sound of a paper bag crinkling, Rasmus quickly twisted his tall ears forward, and he lost his balance!
The spying duo fell over!! Guinevere hollered, “Rasmus, get out of my fur this instant! Go use those big ears somewhere else. Look what you’ve done! You goofed up my new furdo. Did you know Tilly has to fly around with a comb in her beak to style my fur? Did you know how patient she is putting curlers in my fur? Rasmus, I am so excited about the first day of school, and my fur must look JUST RIGHT! I’m so worried I won’t be pretty enough! Besides, once Tilly perfects my furdo, I want to enter the Top Ten Cuties contest at Small Pet Select!
Rasmus felt ashamed. He put his head down and thought about Guinevere’s feelings. Then he perked up and said, “Guinevere, I am sorry your fur is goofed up. Maybe Tilly should cut it short like mine. You worry too much about it. If you don’t worry about how you look, you can think about good things. You can focus on earning good grades in school instead of how you look.” Guinevere wrinkled her nose in protest. Guinevere thought the best thing about school was being with her friends. She always wondered why a long-haired guinea pig needed to know things like math.
Crunch crunch. Crunch, crunch, crunch. Crunch.
With all this commotion, Pedro nervously nibbled the timothy hay he had hidden under the sofa cushion. At the sight of the scattered hay, he realized Coral Bell would not appreciate the mess. His little paws scooped up every piece of stray hay. He stuffed it all in his cheek pouches to hide the evidence.
Coral Bell called everyone into the kitchen. The paper bag crinkled while she pulled out the surprises. New school supplies for the furry ones and a new record for Tilly. For once, Tilly was happy she was not a student because she thought her record was much more fun than school stuff.
Tilly considers herself a working girl. When Coral Bell tutors her students in the library, they are entertained by silly Tilly when she “parrots” their Spanish lessons. Tilly’s mimicking even helps the students remember their lessons in a fun way. If she’s in the mood, Tilly pretends her bird cage is a stage, and she sings opera songs after the students have a good lesson.
The crinkling paper bag was enticing to Rasmus and Pedro. Paper bags make wonderful hiding spots for chinchillas and bunnies, and they are fun to shred! It was a bonus when Coral Bell left the bag for them to play with.
Pedro counted his pencils. Then he had Tilly recounted his pencils with her beak. He tucked the new eraser in the red pencil case with emergency hay and a few meadow loops. He reminded himself it’s better to have extra snacks for nervous energy. Then he rechecked his red pencil case to make sure all the pencils were still there, with the pencil sharpener. Lastly, he stuffed a whole box of Small Pet Select Fidget sticks in his back pack for extra, extra nervous energy.
Chomp, chomp, chomp.
Pedro was feeling nervous about going to school. Without realizing it, he started chewing on his supplies. “Uh oh. Oh my. Oh no. That was an accident, I’m not supposed to chew composition books.” Pedro whispered to himself, but he kept chewing, he couldn’t help it. Rasmus finished packing his back pack and hopped over to share extra supplies with Pedro.
“Pedro! Your new notebook has a corner chewed off!” Pedro’s cheeks were stuffed. He hastily swallowed so he could answer Rasmus. “Si señor, my notebook, but I can still write all of my assignments. No problemo señor.” Rasmus replied, “Pedro, we must put our best paws forward to show Coral Bell that we are responsible to take care of our school supplies.”
Pedro cried. Tears dripped over his cheeks. “Rasmus, estoy muy nervous about school. You know when I am nervous I eat. We will have to tell about our summer vacation in front of the whole class. My English is no good enough. What if no one wants to play with me at recess? What if I have to eat lunch all by myself?” Tilly was observing from the window sill. Being a thoughtful parrot, she fluttered over and wrapped her green wings around Pedro to comfort him. Pedro nestled his teary face into Tilly’s tiny chest. The warmth and softness of her feathers was comforting.
Rasmus had to think of a way to encourage his friend. “Pedro, you have special talents. Like Spanish. You can teach your friends Spanish! You can teach us how you played hopscotch when you lived in Peru. Just be yourself and everyone will love you.” Tilly chirped in, “Rasmus is right. Be yourself. You are kind. You always do what is right. You always tell the truth. Your old friends will be glad to see you. It’s your turn to welcome new students and make friends with them. Remember, there is no one else like you, and that is what makes you special.
Guinevere, with her long fur splayed over her eyes, scooted into the conversation. “Pedro, we can tell our summer vacation story together. We can talk about boarding the train in Peapack and the scenic ride to Philadelphia. We can talk about being ambassadors for pet rescue & adoption. You won’t be stuck with the whole report by yourself. Rasmus and I can help. Besides, everyone will be looking at me and my nice furdo, so they won’t be looking at you!”
Guinevere babbled on, “Never mind all that. Look at my glittery pink pencil case. Coral Bell got me a matching lunch box too. It’s just the right size for extra blueberries. Tilly, can you find some pink ribbon for my furdo? I want it to match my school supplies. I bet Coral Bell has some.” Tilly promised she would fly upstairs to the library room and look in Coral Bell’s sewing box. The library was where all sorts of neat things were kept with the books, like playing cards, buttons, fluffy stuff for sewing pillows, and a checkerboard game. Tilly’s bird cage was there too, by the window, with her record player and opera records.
The first day of school was a sunny morning, but mixed emotions were in the air. Rasmus was very excited to start the new school year; he loved to learn. Rasmus dreams of being a teacher someday. Pedro nervously ate a healthy breakfast, packing in lots of hay, basil, and chamomile. Pedro especially likes the calming effect of chamomile. Meanwhile, Tilly finished styling Guinevere’s furdo on the piano bench just in time.
Thump. Thump thump. Thump, thump, thump.
Rasmus gave the thump signal that it was time to leave. The trio scampered out the screen door with their new packs and lunch boxes. Rasmus led the way down Blueberry Lane. As usual, Guinevere dilly dallied, picking wild blueberries to eat along the way. She was hungry because she missed breakfast. Tilly perched on the porch in a pot of parsley. Her sharp eyes watched them go down the lane, and she realized she would miss them. Tilly said to herself “Oh well, I’ll keep myself busy with the new toy I saved for today.” Even Tilly had mixed feelings about the first day of school, and she was not a student!
Bbbrrring, Bbbrrring, Bbbrrring.
At the chime of the first school bells, the students excitedly rushed to their desks. Rabbits with tall ears were seated in the back. Rasmus liked this because he could keep an eye on Pedro and Guinevere who were seated further toward the front.
During recess, Guinevere invited the new student, Marcelle, to join her friends for jump rope and songs. “G, my name is Guinevere, I live in Greenville, and I sell goats”. B my name is Babs, I live in Barkley, and I sell biscuits. Marcelle’s turn was next. “M, my name is Marcelle, I live in Montreal …… ….. ….. …..
Marcelle bumped into Guinevere. The rhythm of the turning rope was broken, and Guinevere fell. To her horror, her furdo unfurled. It was a calamity. Worse yet, her long fur got tangled around the rope. The jump rope games ended.
Pedro was hunched all alone under a rose bush. He watched the others play. He saw the jump rope accident and dashed to Guinevere’s rescue. “Oh, Pedro, my furdo is a furdon’t now. What shall I do?” Pedro replied, “Señorita, no problema, no problema mi amiga. I will untangle your fur. I know how. I watch Tilly do it a million times.”
“Pedro, get my comb from my pink pencil case. That will help. I don’t want split ends and frizzy fur. Whatever you do, don’t tell Rasmus!” Pedro replied, “Rasmus is playing hide n’ seek. If he is peeking, he will know. I will not lie to Rasmus or anyone else Señorita! Why is your comb in a pencil case? Jeepers, girls make no sense.”
“Ouch, ooh. Ouch,” Guinevere whimpered while Pedro diligently untangled the mess of fur. “Señorita, Rasmus is right. You need a nice short fur. You don’t need a mop on your head. It always causes problems Señorita.” Again, Guinevere wrinkled up her nose in protest. Pedro continued to untangle fur from this way and that way until the rope was free. Just in time for the afternoon class bell.
Bbbrrring, Bbbrrring, Bbbrrring.
Rasmus noticed Guinevere looking topsy turvy, but he decided to concentrate on his lessons.
Guinevere’s friends were so impressed with Pedro’s kindness and his policy of being honest. They were busy whispering behind the teacher’s back and telling the story of Guinevere’s accident. Meanwhile, at Blueberry Lane Herb Farm, Tilly was feeling lonely. She practiced her opera singing in a mirror, but quickly tired of it. It wasn’t the same as having a real friend to play with. So, she decided to fly to school and keep a bird’s eye on things.
“Class, what is so important that you are chattering when I turn around to write on the board? Who will stand up and share the news?” Marcelle shyly raised her paw. Being the new guinea pig in class, most students did not know she had a French accent. “Madame teacher, Mr. Pedro was ever so kind to help Madame Guinevere when she took a tumble playing jump rope. He patiently untangled her fancy fur from the jump rope when it got all tangled up. It would be a privilege to be his friend.” Then Marcelle turned to Pedro and batted her eyes at him. Pedro blushed. Guinevere rolled her eyes.
T H U M P
One big thump from Rasmus and the class knew he disapproved such silliness. He scribbled a reminder on his assignment pad to tell Tilly she must cut Guinevere’s fur. All this fur business is too distracting for such a studious rabbit. The class settled down for their afternoon assignment. It was time for students to give their presentations about summer vacation!
Marcelle was eager to feel a part of the class, so she volunteered to tell her story first. Meanwhile, Pedro was shaking in his seat and secretly nibbled on parsley and Small Pet Select goji berries that were stashed in his red pencil case. Guinevere fretted in her seat over how she looked while Rasmus straightened his tall brown ears to organize his thoughts.
When the teacher called on the trio, Rasmus eagerly hopped to the front of the classroom. Guinevere skulked up and tried to hide behind him. Pedro stuffed a pawful of hay in his cheeks. He turned his face to the window so the teacher would not see him eating in class. To his delight, Tilly was perched on the outside windowsill; she was looking in at him! Tilly tweeted words of encouragement to Pedro in Spanish and English, “Puedes hacerlo, Pedro, you can do it Pedro!” With Tilly’s support, Pedro nudged Guinevere to stand beside Rasmus. He discreetly held her messy fur behind her ears so she would feel more pretty.
Rasmus talked first. He described how they wanted to do a good deed on their vacation. Their purpose was to promote pet adoption. Even though Rasmus was born in the herb garden on the farm, it was an important issue. If Guinevere and Pedro had not been adopted from a shelter, Rasmus would be lonely. He talked about how lonely and sad animals are until they are rescued and have a real home.
Pedro went next. He told the class about their individual jobs to plan the trip. He described how they used their talents make the trip go smoothly. For example, since Rasmus excelled in geography, he was in charge of reading maps and route planning. Pedro was in charge of packing lots of hay and snacks. Guinevere talked about how she learned team work and to stay focused on their goals instead of taking care of her long fur. The classroom boomed with cheers and clapping for their inspiring story.
Tilly was very proud of the trio. She flapped her glistening green wings in excitement. She rapidly flew back to the herb farm to tell Coral Bell all about it. Out of breath, Tilly perched on the edge of the parsley pot, her favorite one on the porch. Coral Bell took a break from weeding the herb garden to listen to Tilly’s tale. She rocked on the porch swing while Tilly tweeted on and on.
She told Coral Bell that Pedro was able to speak up in class because he felt appreciated for his honesty. Coral Bell laughed over Tilly’s description of Guinevere’s jump rope calamity. However, Tilly reminded her that Rasmus is wise. He keeps encouraging Guinevere to not worry about her looks. Tilly pointed out to Coral Bell that this family is a real team on Blueberry Lane Herb Farm. Coral Bell felt very grateful for the relationship her adopted friends have. She realized they take care of each other and love each other. Coral Bell’s heart was satisfied knowing that through adoption, they have become a gift to each other.
Until the next adventure, the end!