Funny, I’ve been dreaming about making an audio version of this picture book I wrote a few years back, inspired by Skipper, our Burmilla cat (sometimes called “Scooter.”) At 18, he joined his sweetheart, Lovey, on the Rainbow Bridge just a little over 2 years ago. I miss him every day.
Now that WordPress has this podcast feature where you can convert your blog post into a podcast, well, this is the time to do it. I tried the podcast feature out yesterday and now I’m giving this story a try (see illustrated pdf download).Stay tuned for the link to Spotify.
Mrs. Johnson went to the pet store and saw a white kitty wearing a red kerchief. She said, “I want that one.”
The owner said, “Okay, but you must promise to never let him go outside with his little red scooter.”
“Scooter?” she said.
“Yes, he scoots around on it. You’ll see.”
Mrs. Johnson did see and so she named him Scooter, named after his favorite toy. Scooter loved to help Mrs. Johnson in the kitchen where he added his own ingredients to the pot.
Every morning Mrs. Johnson and Scooter baked sweet treats and watched the children board the yellow school bus.
One blustery day, Mrs. Johnson went outside to get the morning paper. “Good morning, Mrs. Johnson,” the kids, waiting for the school bus, said.
She smiled and waved back. “If only my Scooter were a real boy.”
When Mrs. Johnson went inside, a gust of wind blew her door open. “Oh dear,” she said, “I must not have closed the door tight.”
As she reached to close the door, she heard the rumble of the red scooter fly past her.
“Oh, no,” she said. “Come back, Scooter.”
But the scooter picked up such speed that when she’d almost caught him, he scooted along even farther.
“The school kids will bring him back.”
When the school bus arrived and all of the kids got onboard, the bus drove away. Mrs. Johnson noticed one boy staring at her from the school bus window. She looked and looked and blinked her eyes. Surely, she must be dreaming.
She looked around but she didn’t see a kitty or a scooter anywhere. And that little boy on the bus was wearing the same little red kerchief that her Scooter wore.
Once she got over her amazement, she smiled because she realized he looked just like she had imagined he would look if he were a real a boy. He had blonde hair, blue eyes, a big, round smiling face, and a smattering of freckles across his nose.
Scooter watched the look of horror on his mother’s face become a smiling face as the school bus drove away. He knew she would be okay. Today was his day to have a big adventure with the other kids.
But he was sad about missing making lunch with his mother and his very own scooter that didn’t come with him as he jumped up the steps onto the bus. He hoped that when the bus brought him back home his scooter would be waiting for him.
He also hoped that his mother would be smiling and waiting for him like all the other mothers did every day.
A big kid, much bigger than Scooter, sat down next to him on the seat. But he bounced more than he sat and bumped into Scooter hard. Scooter smiled at him, hoping he wanted to be friends, but the boy jammed himself against Scooter again.
Scooter started to say, “Hey, watch it,” but his voice sounded more like a high-pitched meow. The boy rammed against him again and it was starting to not feel good so Scooter took his hand, shaped like a claw, and began scratching the kid.
The other kids noticed and started chanting, “Baby, baby, he claws like a baby.”
Scooter felt his ears draw back as he wondered what he had done wrong. The other kids seemed like they were making fun of him. He shrugged his shoulders and stared out the window again, but this time he didn’t recognize any of the houses in his neighborhood. His excitement over a new adventure was turning into fear.
But just as he started to worry about what he had done, the bus pulled up in front of a pretty little school, just like he had seen from watching TV.
The kids filed out of the bus and headed for the classroom. Some kids hung up their coats in the back of the room while others sat down at small tables.
“Desk,” he corrected himself. He knew from watching TV that it was called a desk. And, sure enough, just like on TV, there was the teacher sitting at a desk in front of the class.
Scooter sat down at one desk after another but a kid would kick him out each time saying, “Hey, that is my desk” or “Are you a new kid in the class?” Finally the teacher looked at Scooter and asked him, “Do you have your enrollment papers?”
Scooter began to get frightened. When the teacher asked him again and started to walk toward him, he ran out of the classroom and he heard the kids laughing. This going to school thing was tougher than he thought it would be.
He roamed around the building and peeked his head into one classroom after another but somebody always asked him if he was new in school. He just wanted to hang out and see what was going on. He didn’t actually want to enroll in anything. The word enroll just made him hungry, thinking of the sweet cinnamon rolls his mother would sometimes make just before lunch.
Just then, like magic, his nose got a whiff of something good-smelling–something that smelled like it was coming from a kitchen–something that smelled like pizza.
“The cafeteria,” he said. He ran over to the building marked “cafeteria” and noticed other moms in there preparing food–just like his mom did at home.
A smiling mom with gray hair greeted him with open arms. She said, “There you are–our volunteer. We thought you weren’t coming today.”
She tied an apron around his waist, placed a white chef’s hat on his head and clapped her hands.
“I’m ready to taste the food,” he said. The mom with the gray hair laughed.
“Here, take these napkins and put them in the holders on every table. Then put this stack of clean forks and knives into the containers. When you’re finished with that, fill the bins with straws. By then it should be time for the rest of the children to come in for lunch and I’ll need your help with the milk cartons.”
When he saw the big trays filled with pizzas sitting on the counter, his mouth began to water and his tummy began to grumble. The pizza began to talk to him. “Eat me,” it said.
When the white-haired mom went to the freezer in the other room, Scooter grabbed a slice of cheese pizza. “Surely, she won’t miss this slice,” he said and began eating. And that was so good, he grabbed another, only this time he added some sausage and a dash of basil he saw sitting on the counter. He knew his spices from watching his mom in the kitchen.
“What this pizza needs is some anchovies,” he said and grabbed some sitting next to the bowl of spaghetti sauce and tossed them on each slice.
“More cheese would be even better,” he thought and grabbed a handful of grated cheese from the other side of the bowl of spaghetti sauce and sprinkled it throughout.
When Scooter looked up, he saw the gray-haired mom walk back to the table, but instead of her smiling face, she had a stern look on her face. But instead of the pretend mad look like his mom wore when she scolded him not to lick the butter cream frosting knife, this mom’s face looked really mad.
Scooter jumped down and ran out of the cafeteria and down the street. He ran and ran and ran as fast as he could, not even thinking about where he was going.
“Scooter, come back,” he heard her say.
He looked over his shoulder to see if she still looked mad, but he only saw a bunch of mean-looking kids running after him and dogs barking at him.
“Oh, no, not dogs,” he said.
He ran and he ran as fast and as far as he could. And just as the kids and the dogs started to catch up with him and grab the kerchief around his neck, he saw his little red scooter hiding in the gutter right in front of his house.
He jumped on the scooter and he turned the scooter toward the front door. The scooter took off, and just as he was about to crash into the front door, a big gust of wind opened it, and he slid right in like he was sliding into home plate.
He didn’t see Mrs. Johnson anywhere and remembered it was shopping day. By the time she got home with a big bag of groceries, he was fast asleep in Mr. Johnson’s chair. Mrs. Johnson scratched behind his ear and said, “Oh, Scooter, you won’t believe what I thought happened today. And here you were here all along fast asleep.”
By the time Mr. Johnson came home, Scooter could smell the scent of Mrs. Johnson’s cinnamon-spice cookies wafting in the kitchen, along with the flavors of pot roast, carrots, onions and potatoes.
Mr. Johnson grabbed his evening paper, squeezed in next to Scooter in the chair and said, “What a lucky kitty, sleeping and dreaming about wishes all day in my chair.”
And then Mr. Johnson picked Scooter up and squeezed him tight. And Scooter thought, “Never again would he wish he was somebody he was not.”