And did I mention she’s my daughter? Yep, I’m one proud daddy. Years ago when Olivia was only four-years-old, she created a story about a meanie stealing the nighttime stars. In her story, a prince defeats the meanie and returns the stars to his princess, because without her stars, she couldn’t sleep. Her story idea was so well conceived that my wife and I didn’t believe she created it at first. We contacted her Pre-K teacher, grandparents, and Sunday school teacher to ask if they had shared a book or movie involving similar themes. Each person said they hadn’t.
In that moment, we knew Olivia’s imagination was beyond what we thought capable of a child her age. And being a writer, my wife prompted me to sit down with Olivia to tell her story.
And we did.
The end result is a children’s story called Ferdinand and the Stars in a Jar. The tale begins when an ogre can’t sleep because stars are shining on his head, keeping him awake. He devises a plan to steal the stars, and thus sets the stage for a conflict of bedtime proportions.
Today, Olivia had an opportunity to share her story with classmates. To say the kids enjoyed the story is an understatement. They were hooked from the beginning and giggled at all the right moments. Several kids asked Olivia when the book would be out, because they wanted their copy now. This reaction touched Olivia’s heart in a huge way. My wife said when she picked her up from school, she was literally jumping up and down with joy. Man, talk about …
Olivia is currently illustrating the story herself. The book will be published (fingers crossed) before the school year ends. My hope is that she will be able to give a copy to each classmate as a gift.
Anyway, if you’d like to read Olivia’s story I have included it below. Let me know what you think, and I’ll relay your messages personally to Olivia.
Yep, I know the author.
FERDINAND & THE STARS IN A JAR
Written by Olivia Douglas & her Daddy
From the day he was born, Ferdinand liked to sleep. The nasty old ogre slept from sunup to sunset, moonrise to moonfall. All he did was sleep. He slept so much his fingernails grew three feet long and the hair in his ears curled into braids. And when he slept, the darker the better. Not a nightlight in sight. So one evening when a light shone bright and peaked inside his castle’s walls, Ferdinand became angry.
“Argh!” the smelly ogre boomed as he climbed to his feet. He went to the window and threw back the curtain, before taking a peek. “What blasted light is keeping me awake?!”
A star twinkled high in the midnight sky.
“Argh!” Ferdinand yelled again. He covered his eyes and stomped his feet. He threw the loudest tantrum the likes never seen. “The light! It is so bright! It is toooooo bright!” He looked at the star and growled beneath his breath, then he threw back the curtain and snuggled into to bed.
But the light kept shining right on his head.
“Argh,” he bellowed, deep and with a burp. “That star has made me ANGRY!” He crawled out of bed and stomped around his room, asking himself, “What to do? What to do?” He scratched a wart on his chin. “I can’t sleep.” He picked a booger from his nose. “I can’t think.” He ate it. “I can’t think when I can’t sleep.”
But then Ferdinand saw a glass jar on his bedside table. The ogre snatched it up and stalked to the window, glanced back and forth between the jar and the star.
Jar. Star. Jar. Star.
“I kow what I’ll do,” Ferdinand finally said to a shoe. “I’ll capture that star, and put it in this jar. Then I’ll bury it deep, so it can’t make a peek.” But he couldn’t stop there. He’d have to capture them all if he were truly to get some rest. So Ferdinand went outside, which he rarely did, and traveled the world while collecting the stars. He scraped them out of the sky with his long fingernails, and flicked them into the bottom of the jar. Scrape and flick. Scrape and flick. Until the stars in the jar created a glare so bright, Ferdinand had to wear sunglasses to block the light. He grew tired, but he couldn’t rest, not until he’d captured …
Now, legend says that when he removed the last star from the night sky the whole world conked out and never woke up.
Here’s what really happened: Ferdinand went back home, simple as that, and put the jar of stars under his bed so the light wouldn’t shine on the top of his head. And after he had fallen fast asleep, he happily dreamed of stink-farts and pop-tarts and the smells of his dirty feet.
Now far away, many towns and rivers and forests away, a princess awoke in the dark. “What happened to my night light?” said Ophelia, rubbing her eyes. She sat up and went to the window. “What happened to all the stars?”
“Hey, baby!” called Prince Claudius, with a wide-brim hat and mad-skillz when he rapped. Why just last week in a rap-battle with Motha-Goose, he impressed with his rhymes as he quoted Dr. Seuss. “An ogre came at night, and has stolen all the light. So I’m head’n to his castle, to give him a good hassle. But don’t you worry now, or wrinkle your fine brow. I’ll return after battle, to give you back your dazzle. Chica-chica, yeah.”
Princess Ophelia giggled. Prince Claudius bowed. And with coolness and courage and clever ideas, he whipped the reigns of his horse –which was named Star, go figure –and headed toward the north to try and retrieve the stolen light.
Hours passed. No one could sleep. Save Ferdinand, of course, who kept everyone awake with his wheezing nostrils.
He snored with such racket and ruckus that everyone wore earplugs and shouted to be heard. Until the prince entered his bedroom, not uttering a word.
Claudius studied Ferdinand sleeping in his bed. He was pretty gross – well, what do you expect? He’s an ogre! – and tried to find the stars. A light sparkled from underneath the mattress. Hmmm, the prince thought with a tip of his hat. I’ll just time the ogre’s snores as I sneak in like a cat.
He put in some earplugs, and tip-toed into the room.
The earplugs slipped out, and the prince’s ears rang.
He reached up under the bed, and felt a smooth, round jar.
Those ogre eyes popped open, and Claudius froze so he would not be seen.
“Argh,” Ferdinand yawned. “Is that you, momma?”
The prince made his voice rough and deep.“Uh-uh-yeah, baby, momma’s here for you. Just lay back and rest a bit, I know just what to do. I’ll rap you a lullaby, filled with all you love. So close your eyes and get some sleep, you flea-bitten dove. Chica-chica, yeah.”
And so the prince did. He rapped booger raps and danced booger jives, told fart jokes and squirted fart sighs. He built an ogre cradle that smelt of toe-jam jelly. He made a makeshift paci and rolled him on his belly. Then he grabbed the jar of stars and hid them under his hat. He tip-toed to his horse and fled in no time flat.
Well, Claudius kept his word. And in two shakes of a billy-goat’s gruff, the prince shook the jar of stars and untwisted the top.
Alla-bam! Light spewed out like soda from a can, and …
Alla-beep! The stars returned to heaven for all the world to keep.
Later that night, something woke the princess. Tap! Tap! Tap! Someone was throwing pebbles at her bedroom window. Ophelia crawled out of bed and went to take a look. Claudius stood there smug, with a jar full of bugs.
“I’ve returned with your dazzle,” the prince said with a grin, as he nodded to the sky. Ophelia glanced right up and couldn’t help but smile. Then he held up a jar of yellow-glowing fireflies.“And a nightlight for your bedside desk, so you’ll never wake again distressed. Chica-chica, yeah.”
Princess Ophelia sighed. And, despite the eventful evening – and the smelly ogre’s feet – the two lived happily ever after.
But what happened to Ferdinand, you ask? Well, that nasty ogre could no longer get out of bed, stuck in his cradle with a light shining on his head. He tossed and he turned and he hid beneath his pillow, with his hiney in the air like a burrowing armadillo.