Friday, March 16, 2012

Ellie and The Magic Teapot Off to the Zoo: March Blog 3- Letters from Mom & Mimi

My Dear Darling Baby Girl,

Happy St Patrick’s Day!  Being Irish and Catholic, we definitely like to celebrate tomorrow by wearing the color green and shamrocks (it is said that Saint Patrick used the three-leaved plant to explain the trinity).

And now here is our yearlong bedtime story/stories (with many chapters to write!) for you. 

We have specific weekly guidelines.  I will write a piece, then your Mimi has to finish it and we will do this every week (your Mimi’s part is in italics and mine is in regular font).  The only things your Mimi and I agreed on were the characters- Ellie and a magic teapot.  Anything else is fair game.  However, we are giving ourselves a time limit (because we know otherwise we will fall in love with this creative writing project and get nothing else done)- 45 minutes for me and 90 minutes for your Mimi (so whether that means 3 sentences or 3 pages, that’s what the other person has to work with).  And we each have an additional 30 minutes every week to figure out an illustration to go with our part.  Our goal Ellie is to have a beloved bedtime tale for you and future generations.   

And thus begins our journey. 

Ellie and the Magic Teapot: Off to the Zoo- Part 3

“Wait,” cried Ellie, “Before we head to Benny the Bear’s Den, I need to go back to Zoe’s Zebra’s hut and grab my detective gear.  It sounds like we may find more clues.”

As they ran into the hut, Ellie and Lion zipped by Zoe Zebra with a quick wave.  They reached the back where the red ribbon, purple smudged glass, and the hairbrush with sprinkles through the bristles were still out.  Ellie thought she better take the clues with her so she stuffed them into her detective desk drawer before she folded up the desk into the small package that originally fit into her pocket.  Lion thought that was the coolest thing he had ever seen but he didn’t have much time to be impressed- they had a mystery to solve!  They raced back out past a very confused and still very stripeless Zoe Zebra.

Benny the Bear’s Den was down a few exhibits from Zoe’s.  And by the time they reached the Den, it was empty.  Ellie was discouraged, “I don’t understand.  We just heard all that commotion only a few minutes ago.  Who was here?  And whoever they were, did they leave because they knew we were coming?  And where is Benny the Bear?”  Just as she said her last word, a feather from Toucan Tillie landed on the top of Ellie’s right foot.  They then heard Toucan Tillie fly off from where she was evidently perched at the top of a rock up ahead.  “I think we are being spied on and someone doesn’t want us to know where Zoe the Zebra’s stripes went,” she whispered to herself as she picked up the feather.

Just then, Lion started jumping up and down, “Look!  I think I found another clue!”

Ellie turned to see what he was looking at and found some bits of colored shavings and pieces of scraps of rainbow colored paper.  Ellie immediately took out her detective kit from her pocket and set up the life-sized desk next to the clues.  She dug into one of the top drawers and found what she was looking for.

“What’s that?” asked a curious Lion. 

“Tweezers and a Petri dish!  I don’t want to ruin these delicate pieces until I find out what they are,” Ellie said as she started to pick up the colored bits and put a few into the Petri dish.  Then she went back over to her desk and pulled out a piece of white paper.  With the tweezers, she pulled out a colored red bit and dragged it across the paper revealing a waxy purple line.  She did the same with the blue and green bits with saw the same results.   “Aha!  Just as I expected… Crayons!”

Lion scratched his fuzzy orange mane as Ellie went over to the scraps of paper.  At the bottom of one of the pieces, she squinted.  She could make out a few fuzzy letters so she grabbed her magnifying glass to inspect more closely.  She could now clearly see GUIN.  “Hmmm…,” Ellie thought aloud, “That’s not a word.  What could it mean?”

Lion jumped in, “I know, I know- PENGUIN!  It got cut off,” he said as he held up the matching piece of scrap paper that had the letters PEN written.  “But why would Benny the Bear be writing about a penguin?” Lion asked Ellie.

“I think that’s a questions for Penny the Penguin,” she answered as she pointed to the water tank across the walkway.

“Let’s go!” Lion said as he started across the path.

“Wait for me!” Ellie shouted as she folded up her detective desk and stuffed it into her pocket.  She straightened her hat and stuffed the new clues into her trench coat pocket, “We have a mystery to solve!” 

And just as they walked into Penny the Penguin’s arctic home, they heard the flapping sounds of a bird above them.  Ellie was now sure they were being followed.

“Don’t worry about Tucan Tillie, Lion.  We’ll deal with her later.  Right now we need to find Penny Penguin,” Ellie whispered.   And with that thought she grabbed Lion’s arm, walked to the far corner where the glass tank connected with a mesh fence.  Together they scaled the fence and landed on a narrow patch of solid ground inside Penny’s arctic home.

“Ouch!  That hurt” cried Lion.  “Why didn’t we just come in the easy way?” he mumbled to Ellie while pointing to the zoo keepers door that stood not five feet from them. 

“Never mind that Lion.  We’re detectives and we have to do things the detective way!  Now get up and brush off that little bit of snow on you.  Here’s my plan.  I’ll search around the icebergs to the left of this little exhibit and you search around the icebergs to the right.  Make sure you peak inside the ice caves too as they would make great hiding spots!” Ellie suggested.

“Clever thinking!”  Lion answered as he got up; turned and waddled towards a narrow puddle where the closest iceberg butted up against the dry land he was standing on.  Hopping over the puddle onto its icy ledge, Lion peered inside the cave’s dark opening all the while flapping his hands close to his waist hoping to lure out Penny Penguin if this was where she was hiding.

“Do you have a cramp in your body lion?  Are you feeling dizzy?  What’s wrong with you?” questioned Ellie has she watched Lion change into something totally not lion like!

“NO, El!  I thought if I walked like a penguin and flapped my arms like a penguin, then maybe I would start thinking like a penguin.  And you know what El??? El!!!!!!”

“What?” Ellie questioned back.

“A clue!  I think I found another clue!  Come here and come quick before it disappears!”  Lion squealed with excitement.

Ellie ran over to examine Lion’s findings, and sure enough it looked like a clue to her also.  They both were crouched over what looked to be a stepped on, empty, brown cardboard container that had apparently held at one time a colorful gooey mixture.   She knew she had to act quickly before the water from the icy puddle diluted their findings completely.  Ellie would need some of her detective tools, so she opened her trench coat and reached her hand into her back pocket pulling out the detective desk package.  As she opened the flap, out it popped settling itself right in front of them again.  Every time Ellie did that Lion would forget for a moment what they were actually doing because he was more fascinated with the monstrous object inside the teeny tiny detective package!  And every time, Ellie also had to remind Lion not to focus on the expandable desk while she nudged him back to reality.  She then quickly opened the drawer that held a miniature microscope set.  Pulling it out Ellie set it on top of the table giving Lion the eyedropper to gently suck up some of the goo and transfer it to the plastic slide.   Quite pleased with himself and his success at completing such a difficult task, Lion handed it back over for Ellie to put under the microscope.   Looking at the contents through the lens’ eyepiece, Ellie was not surprised by what she saw.  She knew Lion would want to see too, so she stepped aside letting him view the magnified contents.

“Ellie…. is that chocolate, strawberry, and vanilla swirl ice cream that we are looking at?” questioned Lion. 

“I believe so,” stated Ellie.

“Well maybe then this isn’t a clue at all but rather a visitor’s snack,” Lion tried to justify.

“I don’t think so Lion,” Ellie said, “Look on the ground next to the container.”

“Nothing else is there El, other than some kind of tire tracks.  Probably a baby stroller… the kind with four wheels,” Lion answered blankly.

“My point exactly! Well, not the baby stroller part.  Remember we are on the inside of the Penguin Exhibit where visitor’s are not allowed to be.”  Ellie concluded. 

Grabbing Lion’s hand she pulled him to follow her as she followed the tire tracks.  “Look over there Lion,” Ellie said pointing to a rather large opening in the fence that was partially hidden by one of the icebergs, “The tire tracks are not coming from the zookeeper’s door at all but rather from that hole in the fence!”  Walking up to the hidden opening, Ellie exclaimed excitedly,” And look, here are a lot more containers filled to the brim with ice cream!”

Lion’s mind was racing with questions.  So he rattled them off to Ellie, “Where do you think these containers are going El?  And who do you think is taking them?  More important, why did they stop so abruptly?  And what does all this have to do with Zoe’s striped coat?  It’s almost like someone is afraid of being caught!  Do you agree Ellie?”

As Lion asked his last question Penny Penguin and all her penguin friends came out of hiding and quickly waddled towards the pair of detectives squawking at a high piercing level while flapping their wings in a very scolding manner.  It was just enough to scare Ellie and Lion into running for the other side of the fence.  Once outside Ellie winked at Lion and said, “Now I know my hunch was right.  Do you see what I see?”  And as Lion’s eyes followed Ellie’s gaze, he could see not only the tire tracks but also little drops of melted ice cream that lead down the path towards Edna Elephant's domain.  And right in front of Edna’s tasty hay filled trough sat an empty traveling cart with four tiny tires.

“Let’s go Lion!  I think we are on the right track in finding Zoe Zebra’s striped coat!” Ellie said with confidence.

“But wait Ellie!  First, how are you going to retrieve your cool detective desk from the Penguin Exhibit?  I’m positive we are going to need it again,” Lion fretted.

With a sigh of relief Ellie exhaled, “Not to worry.  I am sure the zookeeper will put it in the lost and found box near the ticket counter.  Right now it’s really hot, and I could go for an ice cream cone.  How about you Lion?  Do you want some ice-cream too?  Once we are finished with our ice cream break we will go and retrieve my desk before heading over to Edna Elephant’s domain.”

“Sounds refreshing Ellie,” Lion said while licking his lips.  But his thoughts were really on what clue they would find next and how Ellie’s cool detective table would help them….

Where shall the next clue take us?  You will find out soon enough.
Till next week Ellie Bean!
Mom & Mimi

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