THE MYSTERY OF SIDNEY SEAHORSE®

The bright sun placed radiant reflections along the waves of the Atlantic Ocean. With each crash of the wave to the shore, the water shimmered. The waves looked like very sparkly gem stones, Kara thought. “Not just diamonds,” she said aloud to her best buddy Ella the Pug.

Kara and Pug traveled from Brooklyn, New York to her grand papa’s home on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. It was a summer ritual. Kara continued placing sea shells into her bag.

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“Two whole weeks of this wonderful beach,” Kara told Pug. “I might have to try surfing.”

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Pug’s ears flew back, and she tipped her head one way and then the other.

“Pug, why the look of worry?” Kara asked. “It will be spectacular as I ride the waves”

Kids running down the beach brought Kara from her daydream of catching a wave to shore.

“Look, Pug,” Kara said, pointing her finger toward the sky. “Kites! We need to fly one.”

Following the kites, Kara and Pug ran up the beach. Soon, they came to the oasis of kites.

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“Wow, Pug,” said Kara in amazement. “Have you ever seen so many kites? Look, there’s one that looks like a seal.  And there’s one of a starfish. And look at that one, Pug. A seahorse!”

Kara was about as excited as she had ever been.

“How much does it cost for the seahorse kite?” she inquired of the owner.

“Twelve dollars,” he replied.
Pug looked at Kara with that worried look again.
“Oh well,” She said scooping Pug up off the sand into her arms. “Not today, Pug.”

On the boardwalk, there were many souvenir shops. Pug followed close to Kara, every once again trying to break rank and chase a sea gull. “There it is,” Kara said walking into one of the shops. “We don’t have enough money for the kite, but I can buy this pin.”
Kara held the object in her hand. She ran her finger along the ridges of the wood carved pin and traced the small gem stones inlays. She loved the way it sparkled so much like the gems the sun made over the ocean.
“That will be five dollars,” the clerk said.
Kara placed the pin on her shirt and took a glance in the mirror. “Perfect,” she said.

“Pug, this is Sidney Seahorse and this is Pug.”
In approval, Pug’s ears stood tall as they could. The three of them continued their tour of the boardwalk until they reached Grand Papa’s house. It was blue with white shutters and a little white picket fence. It sat just off the boards, away from much of the crowds. Kara sat on the bench, under the umbrella and poured a glass of lemonade Grand had made earlier.
“I just love my new pin…” her voice stopped. The pin was gone!

“Oh, no. Oh, no,” she sobbed. “Pug we must track our steps to find Sidney.”

Pug lead the way up the boards sniffing and stopping. They searched everywhere Kara had been. Exhausted from the walk and saddened they did not find Sidney Seahorse, Kara and Pug returned to Grand Papa’s. Kara’s head hung low as she opened the gate to where Grand Papa sat under the umbrella.
“You have quite a collection of shells here,” Grand Papa said. “And this seahorse…”
Kara looked up and saw the shimmering Sidney Seahorse dangling from her Grand Papa’s fingers. She ran and placed her arms around his neck.
“I love you Grand,” she said and then kissed him on the cheek. “I thought we lost Sidney. Grand, this is Sidney Seahorse and this is Grand.”
“So you like Seahorses,” Grand asked. “They are magnificent. They are the only creature on earth in which the male carries and gives birth to the babies.”
Kara placed Pug on a chair next to where she was sitting listening very closely to her Grand Papa.  Grand Papa reached over and pinned Sidney Seahorse to Kara’s shirt.

Sidney Seahorse shimmered as the gem stones reflected light of the rays from the afternoon sun.
“It looks like a rainbow, Pug,” Kara said.
“You see,” Grand Papa said. “Even though something is different it still has beauty.”

THE MYSTERY OF THE MISSING BUNNIES®

Breezes pushed the leaves of the wild blackberry trees. On the first day of summer, Shirley Squirrel climbed to the highest tree limb. Chattering.
“Tsik Tsik Tsik, Chrrrrrrrr”
Squirrel watched as the others began to gather. In the distance were Betty and Buster Groundhog. Gliding the blue sky was Cardinal Charlie and his mate, Louise. As he descended gracefully, his red feathers glistened like a bright light on the fireman’s truck.
In the far distance were Jeb and Rae Jackrabbit. Squirrel was excited. The Jackrabbits were bringing their babies.
The Cardinals hunched on a branch.
“Good day,” they chirped.
“These blackberries are a good crop,” said Betty Groundhog.
“Save some for us, Groundhogs,” chuckled Squirrel.

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The Jackrabbits arrived out of breath.
Rae screeched almost like a rooster crowing. “Has anyone seen the babies?”
Charlie swooped to the grass.
“Whatever do you mean?”
“When we woke up, they were gone,” Jeb echoed.
Betty growled, “We need to spread out.”
Stanley Snake appeared. “Misssssing bunniessss, eh?” his tongue slithered out of his mouth. “I am headed to the briar patch. I will sssssee if they are there.”
Rat moved from under the bush. “I’ll go with snake,” he burped.
“Aren’t you afraid I’ll have you for breakfassssst,” Snake hissed to Rat.
Rat glared at Snake with his beady, little eyes. His sharp nose took a whiff as the breeze filled the air with the sweet scent of honeysuckles and wild blackberries that Rat could not resist.
“I’ll check the pasture,” squeaked Rat. He spun waiving bye bye with his thin, long tail.
“As I was saying,” Betty spit as she spoke. “Everyone spread out. We will find the missing bunnies”
Cardinals investigated the hill where Charlie thought he had seen something.
“Oh dear,” Louise chirped. “That is not the bunnies at all.”
Charlie moved the bundle with his beak. “It’s only an old scarf someone lost.”
The Jackrabbits were sad. Everyone had been searching all morning. Still no bunnies.
Tired of looking, Buster began grazing the wild blackberries. Rat joined him.
A bulging Snake slithered from the briar patch. He had big lumps in his skin where everyone could see he had eaten well while looking for the missing bunnies.
Betty, Louise, Squirrel and Rae huddled near one of the honeysuckle bushes.
“Snake looks like he had a nice meal,” Squirrel chirped.
“You don’t think he ate the bunnies,” Groundhog’s teeth chattered as she spoke.
Rae Jackrabbit couldn’t bear the thought. She placed herself down on the ground, her head locked in her front legs. She was sad.
“Don’t despair,” the lady animals told their friend.
Charlie landed next to them. “I’ve given the land a bird’s eye view.”
Louise pulled a honeysuckle placing it to Charlie’s beak. “You have to keep flying,” she chirped. “Return and search the nest.”
He glided over Ripple Creek. His wings touched the leaves of the cornstalks as he zoomed through the rows of farmer Tem’s corn. He rested himself on the arm of the old scarecrow. He squinted one eye against the glare of the sun focusing on the barnyard animals in the distance. Rat knows the layout, he thought.
Catching the backwind, Charlie returned to the wild blackberry field.
He swooped down so fast picking up Rat by the neck that the other animals hardly knew what happened.
“Hey. Where are we going?” They could hear Rat in the distance. They watched as Charlie flew with Rat hanging on for dear life. Once landed safely, Charlie hopped around. Rat headed directly for the hog trough.
Charlie stood on the barn roof. He hopped along the roof’s edge, following the faint cry. He peeked into the opening. “Is anyone in there?” he sang. The crying got louder. It was them! Charlie has found the missing bunnies – Suzie, Lucy and Tye.
“Hang on,” Charlie sang. “We’ll get you out.”
Rat slipped into the spout. “Come. Follow me.”
Jeb and Rae were so happy to see their babies.
“We were going to surprise you and get to the field before you, “Suzie purred to her Mother. “We headed in the wrong direction. We will never do that again.”
The Jackrabbits were forever grateful to all their friends.

THE MYSTERY OF THE FALLEN STAR®

The fireflies blinked on and off again among the leaves.  Kara laid on the hammock with her best buddy Ella the Pug.  She gazed at the sky as the sun melted away and the moon provided light.
“Oh look, Pug,” she said.  “I see the first star tonight. I am going to make a wish.”
She wanted to close her eyes to make the wish. But Kara was afraid she would miss a falling star; the luckiest of them all. So instead, Kara continued her star gazing.
“Look, Pug!” Kara screamed as she jumped from the hammock. She rose so fast that poor Pug was lifted from the hammock into the air falling directly into Kara’s arms. “It’s there,” she exclaimed. “It’s falling. We must follow and see where it lands.”
Kara ran fast. She carried Pug into the woods, every now and again stopping to track the star.
“There it is,” Kara pointed above the trees as she and Pug continued deeper into the woods finally reaching the babbling brook.  The sounds of the brook at night were far scarier than in the daytime. The ripples splashed as Pug took a drink of the fresh water.
Thankfully there was still a little moonlight streaming in between the trees. Kara and Pug stopped by the running water. With Pug on the ground at her side, Kara twirled around and around, her head cocked so far back she got dizzy.
“Ribbit. Ribbit. Ribbit.” The sound came from up stream.  Pug began to bark at the large toad on the slippery rock.  “What are you doing in the woods this time of night?” Toad said.
“We watched a star fall from the sky and we’re headed to see where it lands,” Kara told Toad.
“I want to see, too,” Toad said hopping from rock to rock following Kara and Pug as they continued the journey deeper into the dark woods. Pug had little legs and a short snout and could not move as fast as Kara.  Tired out. Pug sat and barked at Kara as if to say “I can’t go much farther. Are we there, yet?”

“Come on, Pug,” she said.  “I know we are close. The star has disappeared near the horizon at the end of the meadow.”
The reflection of the fireflies flashing amber on and off again helped guide Kara, Pug and Toad to the open meadow.   Pug laid in the cool grass and barked at Kara.
“I’m not sure yet where it is, Pug.  Maybe Owl has seen it.”
“Whooo.  Whooo. Whooo.” Owl called from the large oak tree.  “Whoooo are you looking for, child?”
Pug moved behind Kara as the big orange eyes of Owl blinked down at them. “The fallen star,” Kara said.  “We watched it fall into the horizon.  Do you think it is stuck in one of the trees yonder?”

The fireflies finally caught up.  Hovering under the pine tree where Owl was perched, they listened closely.
“Oooooh,” Owl began. “What you saw is a streak of light.  It looks like a star has fallen from the sky.”
“Whatit? Whatit?” Toad tried harder to listen.
“Yes,” said Owl. “It is not really a star.  The reflection of light makes it appear a star has moved and fallen to the ground.  But it is not Soooooo.”

Owl blinked his big orange eyes again and spun his head around until it looked like he disappeared. With his wide, round eyes open, he fluttered his wings to balance himself on a lower limb.  He wanted to be closer to his audience.

“They may appear to have an enchanting glow as the stars that twinkle above.  But they are actually tiny pieces of dust and rock.  When they hit the earth’s atmosphere, they burn up.”

“I think Owl is right about this,” Toad croaked.
Kara sighed.  She laid down into the cool grass in the meadow and stared again at the night’s sky. The shining, bright stars from the sky, the moon so full it looked as if it would spill out and fireflies blinking amber lights around her.
“Thank you, Owl.” Kara said.  “I will now tell every star above just how wise you really are.”

THE MYSTERY OF MISS VICKI®

Kara and her best buddy Ella the Pug sat on the stoop of the old brownstone. It was a very hot day in Brooklyn. If there was a tree growing in Brooklyn, they have yet to find it. Kara twisted her hair into braids that outlined both sides of her face. She and Pug had just finished playing a game of tag ball and she was sweating. Pug panted hard as she stretched her body out fully along the cement, trying to get cool.
“Here kitty. Here Kitty,” Mrs. Bird was calling for her cat.  “Sppssssppspss.  Spppssssss,” she made the noise in a whistling sort of way. She was tall.  Her hair piled higher on her head actually made her appear gigantic.  She was lanky. Kara thought Mrs. Bird must eat like a bird.
“I can’t find Miss Vicki,” Mrs. Bird stood at the bottom of the stoop looking over her specks at Kara. “Has Pug chased her?”
“No. Pug has been with me all morning,” Kara spoke wiping sweat from her brow. “Maybe Miss Vicki is inside keeping cool.”

“There’s a five dollar reward to whoever finds her,” Mrs. Bird said as she made her way through the front door into the cool of the vestibule.
Kara’s eyes lit up. “Did you hear that Pug? Five Dollars! We can buy a lot of snowballs with that.”  She stood up from the stoop and pointed down Pineapple Street. “Let’s start at the corner.”
Pug was already down the steps. Her tail swaying back and forth as she strutted slightly ahead of Kara.
“We have to think like Miss Vicki, Pug,” Kara said changing her gait to a skip. “If you were a cat in this dreadful heat, where would you be?”
Pug turned the corner onto Peach Road. She sniffed and stopped. And stopped and sniffed. She barked and began running.

“Slow down, Pug,” Kara commanded.

Pug stopped at her friend Cello’s house. Cello was at the front window barking out, but Pug could barely understand. She barked back. Cello could not get out and Pug could not get in. Pug ran toward Kara and back to the window again. Finally, Kara stopped.
“What is it, Pug?  Do you want me to see if Cello has seen Miss Vicki?”
Kara rang the bell. Her friend Mary came to the door with Cello barking behind. Kara explained to Mary they were looking for Miss Vicki.  Cello and Pug shared a few sniffs, whispers and small barks to each other. Mary told Kara she had not seen the kitty.
Pug ran down the steps and began barking for Kara to follow.
“I think Pug is onto something,” Mary said. And she and Cello joined Kara skipping down the long block. Pug was in the lead, with Cello close behind.  The two barking, running and panting.
Cello stopped running and took time to sniff the sidewalk alongside Kara and Mary. They could hear Pug up ahead barking. From the distance Kara saw a tree.  Pug was barking upward at the tree.
“Mary,” Kara said. “Let’s run to Pug.”
Mary picked up little Cello, tucked him in her arm and ran with Kara to the tree. The tree was white and its bark was shedding. Pug and Cello sniffed the base of the tree. Both stood on hind legs, with front legs and paws outstretched toward the top of the tree. The tree was so full of leaves the shadow sprawled out on the sidewalk creating a very nice umbrella of shade.  The girls found it refreshing, as they sat down crossed-legged on the cement. Pug barked and nudged Kara’s arm.
“What is it, Pug? I think you have brought us on a wild goose chase.”

Through the silent air, Kara heard a faint “meow” Pug ran back to the tree. Kara and Mary looked up to see Miss Vicki. Her white fur sprawled out along the white shedding branch was like camouflage.
“Miss Vicki! Come down at once,” Kara coaxed.
Mrs. Bird handed Kara the promised five dollars.

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“Let’s go and get snowballs,” Kara said to Pug, Mary and Cello.  “Isn’t it just like a cat to find the only tree in Brooklyn?”