Sure, there are plenty of self-esteem picture book manuscripts out there…But how many apply nature, humor, surprise and the voice of a friendly neighbor?
The Crane and the Woodpecker
By Sarah Puppe
To Ivy & Glen, who enlivened my childhood
Way up high, above the tippy, tippy top of a big, tall tree flew a Sandhill Crane. He felt the warm sun on his back. He smelled the crisp, fresh air, and he enjoyed the fluffy clouds. “Oh what a wondrous day!” he said.
Then he heard the most unusual noise.
Rappa-tap- tap. Rappa-tap- tap. Rappa…
Black tail feathers of a small bird stuck out of the tippy, tippy top of the tree. [The hind end of a woodpecker.] The crane said, “Well, hidey-how and good morning, neighbor! What, may I ask, are you doing?”
A Red-bellied Woodpecker poked his head out of the tree. “Just diggin’ for breakfast,” he said.
“Well, I’ll be,” said the crane. “Diggin’, well now, diggin’ sounds mighty fine! Mind if I join you?”
The woodpecker said, “Oh, wows-a- wow-wow, come on down!”
The crane joined his new friend. He had never dug for his breakfast. “This will be easy!” he said. “I have a pointy beak, too.”
He placed his feet the way the woodpecker placed his. [He slides down the tree and falls disappointedly onto a branch. Result: scrunched up beak.] He decided to stay on the branch and dig.
Oucha-ouch- ouch! Digging hurt! The crane gave up, flew to the ground, and walked away. The woodpecker followed him.
On the ground, the crane felt the same beams of sunshine, but they were scorching hot. He smelled the same crisp air, but it had become chilly, and the same fluffy clouds looked like bad weather. “Oh-me- oh-my, what a not-so- wondrous day!” he said.
“Good chum,” the woodpecker said, behind him, “why ya sound so glum?”
The crane said, “I want to rappa-tap- tap, not oucha-ouch- ouch!”
The woodpecker sat next to his friend and they watched the water. Suddenly, the crane stuck his head in the water. Splash!
The woodpecker said, “What, may I ask, was that?”
“Oh,” the crane said, “just fishin’ for breakfast.”
The crane dipped his head under the water again. Splash! The woodpecker wanted to splash too. He dipped his head under the water. He sputtered. “Yuck! Agh! Ugh!”
The crane looked at the woodpecker. The woodpecker looked at the crane. They both said, “Hey!”
“You can rappa-tap- tap!” the crane said.
“Oh, wows-a- wow-wow!” the woodpecker said, “you can splash!”
“What else can we each do?” they asked. The crane showed the woodpecker a dance that every crane knows. The woodpecker showed off his differently colored feathers that many woodpeckers have. Then they compared their different beaks, wings and legs.
Each morning after that, the crane listened to the woodpecker rappa-tap- tap. The woodpecker watched the crane splash. Then they flew through the forest to visit other animals, and the crane always said, “Oh what a wondrous day!” and the woodpecker said, “Oh, wows-a-wow-wow!”