Umbrella War
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I know, I know - never write rhyming stories. Editors just don't buy them and so often the rhymes are forced. At least, that's the conventional wisdom. However, I've written several - Willa Chinchilla actually came very close to being published. I love to write stories in rhyme and I think that if they're done well, they're a lot of fun to read - for both kids and adults alike.
Here's Willa. I've done others, too. Among them: "Midnight Mouse Ballet" and "Harry the Cassowary" ("Harry met a canary who owned a ferry and sailed him up a tributary. He returned home in February riding on a dromedary.")
Mary Ciotkowski

Willa Chinchilla lived in a house
With a canary, a parrot, a cat and a mouse.
One morning she looked in her mirror to say,
"What can I do to be helpful today?
I'll go for a walk and find someone who
Is in need of some help. That's what I shall do."

Willa spotted a man on Gooseberry Road
Who was walking along with a staggering load.
She reached up and took a box from the stack.
The man stumbled and wavered and fell on his back.
"Confound it!" he yelled. "I had it just right.
Now you've upset the balance. Get out of my sight!"
She came to a pond where a child with a boat
Was putting it into the water to float.
The boat got away. The boy tried to grab it.
"I will get it," said Willa. She reached out to nab it.
She clutched at the sail and knocked it askew.
She seized on the mast and broke it in two.
"BOO HOO HOO!" screamed the child. "You've
broken my toy!"
"My dove!" cried his mother. "My poor little boy!"
Willa went off feeling low and depressed.
"I'm no help at all though I'm doing my best.
I feel so bad - I must have a treat.
I'll visit Nell's Hat Shop on Pelican Street."

"I must have a hat," Willa said to Miss Nell.
"One with beauty and style to make me look swell."
Nell went away and came back with a hat.
"There, Willa," she said, "now how about that!"
"I'll take it!" cried Willa. "I never have seen
Such a fabulous hat! I shall feel like a queen!"

And so she did, too, as she walked up the street.
She felt she was floating with wings on her feet.
On Stickleback Lane she encountered a man
Who was trying to harness his horse to a van.
She soothed the man's horse by singing a song.
"How nice," said the man, "that you happened along."
She went on her way and came to a brook
Where a little old lady was reading a book.
The old lady screamed, "There's a fish in my hair!"
Willa reached out and removed it with care.
Then she thought, "This hat is good luck. I'll wear it
With this hat I am gifted and skillful and clever!"

So she wore it to bathe and she wore it to bed
With a big stack of pillows to prop up her head.
She wore it to work at the parish bazaar.
"My dear," said the parson, "how helpful you are!"

Now, one day she was driving alone in the park
In a gig she had borrowed from Benjamin Barke
When all of a sudden from out of the trees
Shot a menacing swarm of furious bees!
The horse became nervous. He reared up in fright.
A man on a bicycle flashed into sight.
He was pedaling madly and waving a net.
"You demons!" he shouted. "I'll capture you yet!"
"I'll help you!" called Willa. "Just leave it to me.
Your problems are over. Just wait and you'll see!"

She signalled the horse. He obeyed in a flash.
They took off down the lane in a furious dash.
And she held the reins tight as they scattered the sparrows
And overturned hampers and baskets and barrows.

They entered Canal Street at five after ten.
Stella Bubb, who was hanging her laundry just then,
Uttered a shriek and ran back in her house
And peered out the window as meek as a mouse.
The bees headed straight for the big flowered spread
Which had recently covered the Bubbs' double bed.
They bizzed and they buzzed. They hovered in flight.
The man on the bicycle flashed into sight.
He was laughing insanely and waving his net.
"You devilish fiends!" I shall capture you yet!"
But his haste to retrieve them proved very unwise
And poor Stella Bubb watched with horrified eyes
As the clothes poles wavered and came crashing down
And her bloomers and blouses were dragged to the
Suddenly Willa appeared on the scene.
Stella Bubb's face turned an odd shade of green.
The horse pulled up sharp and Willa went flying.
She landed on top of the man who was trying
To capture the bees in the big flowered spread
But found himself captured by Willa instead!
"I can't move!" said the man. "Never mind," Willa cried.
"I opened my purse and your bees flew inside!"
All at once from the street came whistles and shouts
As twenty policemen came crowding about.

"Dearie me!" Willa said. "Am I under arrest?
I was being so helpful and doing my best - "
Then suddenly someone was shaking her hand,
Barley, Chief of Police, a big jolly man.
"Dearest lady, the Queen will be so very pleased!
This worm you have caught stole her Majesty's bees.
The Queen demands honey with her muffins and peaches.
You'll be honored with medals and dinners and speeches!"
"Nothing to it," said Willa. "I must tell you that
The thanks should all go to my fabulous hat!"
Her hand reached to touch it - but felt only air.
She felt all about and felt nothing but hair!
"Why, I did it myself!" she cried in surprise.
"That fabulous hat has opened my eyes!"

That night at a banquet for Willa Chinchilla,
A speech was delivered by Queen Anne-Priscilla.
Willa received the Medal of Honor.
And she thought to herself as they pinned it upon her,
"Who needs a hat to be helpful and smart?
Life's going to be great - this is only the start!"