Saturday, August 5, 2023


By Ruth Plumly Thompson

Originally published in the Philadelphia Public Ledger, June 4, 1916.

“Mother,” said little Jack Rabbit wiggling his nose very fast, “where did Brother Kingfisher get his beautiful coat?”

“That’s an old, old story,” observed Mother Rabbit, glancing over to where Johnny Kingfisher was lunching. It surely was a comical way to lunch. There he sat, his chair a rock and the whole river his table, and he kept looking and looking down at the river; then suddenly, IN would go his long beak and next minute a fish would be tossed into the air and swallowed head foremost. Ugh! No salt or pepper even! I hope he never invites me to lunch—that is all I hope! Well, well, here we are getting away from Jack Rabbit’s question, and Mother Rabbit will have finished the story if we don’t watch out. What is she saying?

“—let him out of the ark.” Goody two shoes—we HAVE missed a lot already, but luckily I know the story, too, and it goes in this way: Long, long ago, when Noah let the animals and birds out of the ark, the kingfisher was a dull gray. But as soon as he was set free he flew straight toward the setting sun, and his back took on the hue of the sky and his under side the colors of the setting sun—chestnut red—and from that day on all kingfishers’ feathers have had all the wonderful hues of the sky and of the sunset.

“Humph!” said little Jack Rabbit when his mother had finished the story. “Where did YOU go, mother?”

“How old do you think I am?” snorted Mrs. Rabbit indignantly.

“Children should be seen and not heard!” she added hastily—but I know where the little Jack Rabbit went when it was set free from the ark. It burrowed into the dusty brown earth as fast as it could go, and since then all jack rabbits have been a brownish yellow. Really!


Originally published in the Philadelphia Public Ledger, May 12, 1918

 Another Experiment of Solomon Tremendous Wise

Sir Solomon Tremendous Wise
Sat drowsing ’neath the trees,
Lulled to indifference by the spring’s
Mild, sleep-compelling breeze!
“Ah, ho!” he yawned; “Ha, ho, ha, hum!”
Spring days would be more sprightly
If not so full of sandman’s dust,
For sleep by day’s unsightly!”
He shook himself determinedly,
Resolved to keep awake.
“If I could just invent a way
Spring’s drowsy spell to break,”
He murmured. Then all suddenly
An idea came a-flashing
Across the ramparts of his brain,
Next minute he was dashing
Off to his tower; there he made
A queer balloonish silken bag
A-fastened to a huge kite frame.
With lengthy knotted tail to wag.
He sailed his kite balloon up high,
Then low, then up and down,
In all the meadows, woods and lanes
And lastly, in the town.
And wonderful to say, my ducks,
The more he sailed it there,
The less and less folks yawned and gaped—
They stepped with lively air.
The horses plowing in the fields
Began to prance and canter;
The good Supposies dozing on
The benches waked instanter.
For Solomon Tremendous Wise
Had captured in his bag, dears,
The grains of sleepiness that make
One want to yawn and sag, dears.
Enchanted with his great success,
Old Solomon went hying
Off to the castle to inform
His Majesty, a-flying
The big silk bag behind him. And
The King was so delighted
He gave Sir Solomon a hug
(He was already knighted).
But, oh, alas! While they in talk
Engaged, a little bird, dears,
Pecked at the bag. It burst with an
Explosion that was heard, dears,
For miles and miles. That’s not the worst.
The grains of sleep went flying,
And in a trice Supposies fell
And slept where they were lying
In courtyard and in lane and field
And house, and like the roaring
Of twenty dozen engines you
Could hear that Kingdom snoring.
And so much concentrated sleep
Was in that old balloon, dears,
They never wakened till that day
Two weeks—at half-past noon, dears.
Sir Solomon he shook his head,
And climbing on his horse
Allowed that after this he’d just
Let nature take her course.

Copyright © 2023 Eric Shanower and David Maxine. All rights reserved.