Just for Fun: A Collection of Stories and Verses

Just for Fun: A Collection of Stories and Verses

by Robert Lawson (Illustrator)

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Overview

The master illustrator of Mr. Popper's Penguins and The Story of Ferdinand brings new life to a bevy of traditional tales. More than forty of the artist's enchanting pen-and-ink drawings grace thirteen fairy tales and poems of wizards, dragons, and princes in disguise by Padraic Colum, Beatrice Curtis Brown, Eunice Tietjens, and other distinguished authors.
Contents include "Auntie Grumble Meets the Wizard" by Carol Johnstone Sharp; "Jonathan Bing Does Arithmetic," "More About Jonathan Bing," and "Jonathan Bing Dances for Spring" by Beatrice Curtis Brown; "The Pelican" by Mildred Plew Meigs; "The Wogg and the Baggle" by Laura E. Richards; and "The Man with the Bag" by Padraic Colum. Other features include Eunice Tietjens' "St. Valentine," "Story Tell" by Laura E. Richards, "The Little Dragon" by Constance Savery, Nancy Byrd Turner's "Planting a Tree," "Penguins" by Anne Brewer, and "The Piping on Christmas Eve" by Florence Page Jaques.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780486497204
Publisher: Dover Publications
Publication date: 07/17/2013
Series: Dover Children's Classics Series
Pages: 72
Product dimensions: 8.10(w) x 10.90(h) x 0.30(d)
Age Range: 7 - 11 Years

About the Author

Winner of both the Newbery and Caldecott awards, Robert Lawson (1892–1957) designed camouflage for the military during WWI and afterward wrote and published his own books. He is the illustrator of Munro Leaf's The Story of Ferdinand.

Read an Excerpt

Just for Fun

A Collection of Stories & Verses


By Robert Lawson

Dover Publications, Inc.

Copyright © 2013 Dover Publications, Inc.
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-0-486-31604-8



CHAPTER 1

Auntie Grumble Meets the Wizard

By Carol Johnstone Sharp


FROM all directions the little people of Vilville came running to the Round Square. There stood the town notice board, as usual, but what was most unusual, there was a notice on it! Such a thing had not happened since dear knows when—at any rate not since the Wizard of Vilville had packed up his magic one day and journeyed away to do a little freelance wizzing in near-by towns. But here was a notice, and this is what it said:

GOOD PEOPLE, TAKE NOTICE I shall return to Vilville on Thursday noon. I have disguised myself as a rabbit so that none of you shall know me. I shall be VERY HUNGRY. The first person who feeds me shall be granted A PECULIAR POWER from noon until six o'clock. {Signed) THE WIZARD OF VILVILLE


Such hurrying and bustling about, as the Vilvillians and the little Vilvillianesses began to collect food for the Wizard-rabbit, for the very next day would be Thursday! No one was quite sure what the Peculiar Power might be, but they were certain it would be quite magic and nice.

Long before noon on Thursday the road that led into Vilville was lined with eager people with arms full of wizard food and rabbit food and food that no rabbit or wizard could ever, ever eat. About a quarter of twelve a boy with sharp eyes suddenly began to jump up and down and scream, "There he comes! I see him!"

All the people looked, and sure enough, down the road came scampering a brown bunny. Now it just happened that a little real rabbit who lived in the woods had grown very hungry that morning, and had decided to venture into the village to look for a scrap of something to nibble. Of course, the people did not know that. They were sure this was their Wizard and they began shouting and rushing toward him with things to eat in their hands,

Well, when the poor little woods bunny looked up and saw two potatoes, a bag of peas, and a lamb chop come flying through the air, he dodged, jumped ahead-and found himself right in the midst of a crowd of excited people all tossing food at him.

"Here Wizzy! Wizzy! Wizzy!" shrieked a dozen voices.

"Take mine! Take mine!"

"No, mine! Youll like mine better!"

"Open your mouth, bunny, and 111 throw it in!"

The rabbit's ears stood right up on end with fright.

"For goodness sake!" he thought. "Is everybody in this place crazy? If I don't get out of here, I'll certainly die of overfeeding!"

So he hopped wildly from one spot to another, dodged a chicken sandwich, a pot of coffee, a basket of spinach, and two bowls of soup and finally gave one great leap over the head of a puffing old woman who was thrusting a rice pudding at him.

Jump, jump, and away! As fast as any rabbit could hop, he dashed right through the middle of the town and down the far end of the street. After him streamed the entire crowd of Vilvillians, calling and shouting and dropping their food gifts along the way as they ran. Not a soul was left in the village!

That is, there was no one left except old Auntie Grumble, who lived in the Last Street. The most unpleasant person! To begin with, she did not care a bit for magic, and didn't believe in the Wizard at all, though she had seen him in half a dozen disguises and had recognized him every time! She was so cross and disagreeable that no one paid much attention to her, and no one even thought of her today. So there she was, left alone in her crooked old house, complaining to herself as usual in her grumpy way.

"All that commotion!" she grumbled. "People racing through the town! Wizard—humph! As if there were wizards! Best food, too—all this racket and bother—street littered with food—" Mumbling and muttering, Auntie Grumble hobbled out to her front gate.

"And just see that!" she complained, stooping to pick something off the ground. "Here's a carrot some careless person dropped—makes my gateyard look as bad as the rest—trash!" And very crossly Auntie Grumble threw the carrot as far out into the road as she could.

But while the people were chasing a scared little woods bunny out of the other side of town, and while Auntie Grumble was hobbling angrily back into her house, where was the Wizard of Vilville?

Yes, where do you suppose he was?

Why, he was loping slowly into the village, disguised as a rabbit, wondering what on earth had happened to his old friends the Vilvillians. He looked about him amazed, for the houses and streets were empty. There was no sound in the little green yards, although he thought he heard a far-off commotion beyond the other end of the village. But not a soul did he see. It actually seemed as if nobody cared whether he came to town or not!

He hopped along, growing more annoyed at every step. He was about to become hopping mad! "So that's how it is!" he exclaimed. 'If they do not care any more for me than this, then I will go away and never do another wiz for them, ever, ever again. Here I am, nearly starving, and—"

WHOP!

The Wizard leaped into the air as a great big luscious carrot hit him right between the ears. And who do you suppose had thrown it?

You're right! Auntie Grumble!

Hungrily the Wizard fell upon that lovely carrot and began to nibble it, forgetting how vexed he had been a moment before. As the last sweet bit slid down his little red lane he wiped his whiskers, twitched his nose, and went hop-hopping up to Auntie Grumble's house. There he found old Auntie seated on a stool, scowling and scolding to herself.

The Wizard bowed until his ears touched the floor.

"Many thanks, good lady, for the delicious food!" he said to her very politely. Auntie Grumble looked up and squinted her eyes at him. "And who are you?" she demanded. "What do I look like?" asked the Wizard, surprised. "You look like a rabbit, of course!" "Good!" said the Wizard with satisfaction. "I have disguised myself as a rabbit purposely to look like one. I'm glad it works!"

"Oh, then you must be—" Auntie Grumble could not say "the Wizard" because she thought she did not believe in wizards.

"Why, Madam, I am the Wizard of Vilville!" announced the rabbit proudly. He bowed again.

"Now I must grant you the Peculiar Power, as advertised on the town notice board. Gizzick! Gizzock! Gizzook! There, my good lady; you have it."

"Have what?" said the old woman.

"The Peculiar Power. From now until six o'clock, if you say it is—it is! Just remember that, and use it wisely, please. Now I must be hopping along. Good day!"

"Now what on earth did that rabbit mean?" said Auntie Grumble when the Wizard had gone ka-hop, ka-hopping out of sight.

"Well, if I have any Peculiar Power it isn't hurting me anywhere. If I say it is, it is!' The idea! Such talk! Well, I must go and get a broom—can't tell what gets tracked in—rabbits all over the house like this—"

Old Auntie Grumble stopped suddenly and began screaming, "Eeee! Eeee! Eeee!" For in just that moment the house was full of rabbits, just as she had said—although she hadn't meant exactly that, really. But she had said it. The Peculiar Power worked!

And now what was she to do with all these rabbits? Here they were, hopping madly all over the house, scurrying under the beds, leaping over the chairs, scampering into every corner, and having the best time! Old Auntie seized her broom and began waving it wildly about, chasing the rabbits out of the house. They gave her a merry run of it before they finally fled through the door—and if rabbits really do laugh, then every one of those bunnies was certainly giggling as he ran. Poor Auntie Grumble sat down panting and gasping.

"Now, whatever made that happen?" she sighed, fanning herself with her apron. "Just at my hands, chasing those dirty animals under the furniture. I'll have to wash them—they are simply black!"

Ugh! Ugh! What a funny feeling, creeping over her hands! She looked at them quickly, and then even more quickly she hid them under her apron and looked up at the ceiling, pretending she had not seen anything unusual at all. But just the same, she was terribly startled, for her hands certainly—were—black!

Outdoors the Vilvillians were coming slowly back into town. Poor people! They looked so downhearted. After getting ready such nice things to eat, and after chasing that bunny all over the place, here it had not been the Wizard at all! Perhaps, they thought, the Wizard never would come back now! Sadly they carried home what was left of their food gifts.

Auntie Grumble leaned out of her window. "Humph!" she said jerkily. "Here they all come, tired out for nothing. They ought to hurry home where they belong—it'll be raining cats and dogs in a minute/'

Sixty seconds passed.

And then, to be sure, the air was suddenly full of little furry or hairy things that came plumping down to the ground crying, "Yip el Yip el" and "Meow I Meow!" and "Ffft! Ffftr and "Bow-wow-wow!"

It was raining cats and dogs!

The commotion was dreadful. Everyone scampered for shelter, holding his hands over his ears to keep out the awful racket that all those live raindrops were making. They bounced to the ground, rolled over one another, barked and mewed—and kept right on coming down!

The old woman who had caused all the fuss found herself jumping up and down in her excitement, and before she realized it she was exclaiming, "No, it isn't! No, it isn't! It isn't raining anything!"

Sssshl The noise stopped just as suddenly as it had begun, and not a single other cat or dog or kitten or pup fell from the sky. And as fast as they could, every little boy in Vilville ran out and caught a cute puppy for himself, and each little girl captured a kitty for her very own, and the rest all scampered away.

But now old Auntie Grumble had to sit down and think it over. There was no use denying it any longer. She certainly had a Peculiar Power! And who had given it to her but the rabbit who had called himself the Wizard of Vilville? Well, well, well; maybe it was true, after all. But how should she use it wisely, as the rabbit had said?

She rocked and puffed and winked and snuffed and tapped her toes and wrinkled her nose and tried to think. It was true that she was a very unhappy old woman. She disliked everybody, and of course everybody disliked her. When anyone tried to be nice to her she only frowned and mumbled. She was so snappish with children that they ran to hide if they saw her coming. It was no wonder that Auntie Grumble was unhappy. But then, it actually seemed as if she liked to be that way!

As she sat rocking and shaking her head and being sorry for herself, the strangest thought came to her! Perhaps it was the Peculiar Power doing a little work on its own account. Anyway, Auntie Grumble suddenly had the feeling that she wanted to be happy! Oh, how much she wanted to be happy! She actually felt she had to do something about it right away!

"If I say it is, it is! Well, why not?" suddenly exclaimed Auntie Grumble, leaping from her chair and walking to her door. "I might as well give the thing a try, anyway." She smoothed her apron, patted her hair into place, folded her arms across her middle, and standing quite still she said soberly, "I am very happy!"

And then, "Oh-h-h!" she exclaimed, in the sweetest, most delighted tone of voice. "How lovely, how beautiful, how—how happy everything is!" She looked up and down and all about her, tilting her head this way and that, and noticing for the first time that there were birds on the roof, pinky flowers growing along the fence, and soft green moss snuggled about the foot of the tree near her doorstep.

Auntie Grumble felt so lighthearted and brand-new, some how, that she found herself laughing out loud. She laughed and shook and shook and laughed, and all the frown-wrinkles on her face began to crack into pieces and fall to the ground with a curious little tinkling sound. She kept on laughing until the windows of the house began to jiggle and jingle, and the shingles on the roof started slapping and clapping, and the tree fluttered its leaves, and the birds opened their little beaks and began to sing in time to the funny little music dance that was going on. It just sounded too jolly for anything!

You may believe that it was not very long before children began peeking over the gate, and older people came cautiously into the little yard to see what all this odd music was about.

"Can that be Auntie Grumble? She seems so changed!" someone whispered.

"Yes, it is really she. But what has happened?"

And now came the greatest surprise of all that surprising day.

"Good afternoon, dear neighbors!" said Auntie Grumble, most cheerfully! She had finally stopped laughing, but her face was still sweet and merry. "While you were off chasing a woods bunny, the Wizard of Vilville came to my house, disguised as a rabbit/'

"Oh-h-h!" gasped the Vilvillians, opening their eyes very wide.

"By the merest chance," went on the old lady, "I was the first to feed him. In return for a single carrot, he granted me the Peculiar Power!"

"Ah-h-h-h!" whispered the people of Vilville.

"He told me this, 'If you say it is—it is!'"

"Wha-a-at?" they said.

"And he told me to use it wisely. I—I guess I haven't used it very wisely," the old lady said, smiling a little bashfully.

"You see, I made it rain cats and dogs awhile ago, but that was quite an accident. And look! This was an accident too!" She held up her hands for the people to see, and of course they were still pitchy, pitchy black.

"I will show you how the Power works, if you like. See! My hands are white!" In a flash the black vanished, and her hands were gleaming white again.

"Oh, wonderful! Wonderful!" cried the people.

"But now, good neighbors, I think I have found a way to use the Peculiar Power wisely, as the Wizard told me. If you will hurry up and tell me your troubles, I shall do my best to make you all happy. But please do not delay."

The people all began chattering at once, and clamoring to be the first to be heard by Auntie Grumble. they were trying to discover a lot of troubles for her to set right, and they made a terrible racket about it. It took them so long to become ordely that suddenly Auntie Grumble threw up her hands in dismay.

"Oh! Oh! Oh!" she cried. "It is six o'clock, and the Peculiar Power is—is—oh dear! It isn't anymore! It was only supposed to last until six o'clock!" She picked up her apron and began to wipe her eyes, for there were big tears rolling from them.

The people, startled and ashamed of their clamor, stopped their noise and whispered uncertainly among themselves. What had they done?

Then a plump old man with jolly whiskers stepped out of the crowd and climbed the steps beside Auntie Grumble.

"Now, now, now! Do cheer up, good folks!" he said in a most jovial tone. "Our nice Wizard has come back to us again, and aren't we happy over that?"

"Of course," said the people, a little doubtfully.

"And really," the old man went on, "you know that not a single one of us has any real-for-sure-enough troubles. So why should we need a Peculiar Power to make us any better off? Why, the only thing in Vilville that needed a little fixing was Auntie Grumble's grumble. And look at her now. Isn't she the sweetest, cheerfullest old lady you ever saw?"

The people looked. They smiled—they began to laugh with pleasure, and all of a sudden they were cheering for pleasant old Auntie.

The next day, everybody was crowding about the Town Notice Board again, talking in excited, happy tones about a new notice that was posted there—a message to the Wizard this time:

Dear, Good Wizard! Thank you! Thank you! Please come to Vilville soon again. (signed) A untie GENTLE (who used to be called Auntie Grumble)


(Continues...)

Excerpted from Just for Fun by Robert Lawson. Copyright © 2013 Dover Publications, Inc.. Excerpted by permission of Dover Publications, Inc..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

Auntie Grumble Meets the Wizard by Carol Johnstone Sharp
Jonathan Bing Does Arithmetic by Beatrice Curtis Brown
The Pelican by Mildred Plew Meigs
The Wogg and the Baggle by Laura E. Richards
The Man with the Bag by Padraic Colum
More about Jonathan Bing by Beatrice Curtis Brown
St. Valentine by Eunice Tietjens
Story Tell by Laura E. Richards
The Little Dragon by Constance Savery
Planting a Tree by Nancy Byrd Turner
Jonathan Bing Dances for Spring by Beatrice Curtis Brown
Penguins by Anne Brewer
The Piping on Christmas Eve by Florence Page Jaques

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