April 26, 2018

W is for Wogwa

        Kate and Sam lay all the way down on the grass on their stomachs and put their heads right up to the large, slimy, pinkish-red worm where he hid among the damp leaves.  It was then that they finally heard Wogwa’s faint, wheezy voice.
        “All right, young folks, no need to breath so hard on me.  You’re drying me out!” said the worm querulously.  Sam and Kate turned their faces slightly, and Wogwa continued, “That’s better.  So, you want to know what those ornery little chipmunks are up to, eh?  Well, I went in their secret burrow, all right.  I crept in from the side, like, as if I were just burrowing along and happened to meet up with their tunnel accidentally, if you see what I mean.”  The wrinkled pink head nodded in satisfaction.  “Oh yes, these two young rabbit scamps might not have told you, but I know about these things.  This isn’t the first reconnaissance mission I’ve been on in my time, not by a long shot it isn’t.  Why, I could tell you about the time I had to follow this shrew right down to -”
        Motu interrupted the worm, “We know, Wogwa, we know.  But right now we don’t want to hear about the shrew.  We want to hear about the chipmunks!”
        The worm peered up at the rabbit and wagged his head.  “All right, all right, whippersnapper.  No need to rush me.  Where was I?  Oh yes, so I joined the chipmunks’ tunnel from the side, and then began to follow along it, half-buried in the edge.  More paralleling it, like, if you see what I mean.  Oh it was a deep one, I’ll tell you, that burrow.  I’ve dug some deep burrows myself, too, six feet, eight feet, twelve...  It’s not for nothing they call me The Drill.”
        Motu said, “If you bore such deep holes, is that why they call you The Bore?”
        “Eh, what was that, bunny?” asked the worm, raising his head, but Tuzi poked her brother sharply with a hind foot, and Motu answered, “Nothing, Wogwa.  Go on.”
        “Well then,” the old worm continued, “I followed this burrow on and on all night.  Had some close calls with those chipmunks, too, I can tell you.  They were digging at it the whole time, running up and down with their pouches full of dirt and a fanatical gleam in their eyes, if you see what I mean.  Oh, you might think we night-crawlers wouldn’t know too much about eyes, but believe you me, I know a fanatical gleam when I come across one.  Oh yes, those chipmunks were up to something for sure.”
        The old worm stopped, nodding his wrinkled head again, until after a moment Sam prompted, “So what were they up to?”
        “Eh?  You want to know what they’re up to?  Wouldn’t we all, boy, wouldn’t we all.  But I never got to the end of it, so I can’t tell you.  Oh, I’ve seen chipmunk burrows twenty feet long and more, but this one was the longest I’ve ever seen, and deep it was, too.  Right under your house it went, right through all that packed down dirt.  Not an easy job digging under a foundation, I promise you that.  Impressive, really, that they could handle a job like this at all.  I wouldn’t have thought those amateurs would’ve had it in them.  But I hadn’t reached the end when this big beefy chipmunk stops and looks at me.  And What’s this worm doing here? he asks.  I think, Uh oh, what are you going to do now, you old chipmunk? and he calls out, Hasn’t this worm been hanging around all night?  Isn’t this the same one we saw farther up the tunnel earlier?  Well, I don’t wait around any longer after hearing that, I can tell you.  The tunnel took a bit of a curve just about there, and I kept right on drilling along in a straight line, like as if it was just coincidence that their tunnel happened to be running along my chosen course, if you see what I mean.  I pretended to pay no mind to that big chipmunk or anything he said, and he watched me head off and shrugged.  Yes, those critters are only too quick to believe they’re the only smart ones in the yard.  Some folks will tell you worms
have just a simple nervous system and not much of a brain, but I can tell you I’ve seen any number of critters with big complex brains acting a whole lot stupider than your average night-crawler.  Oh yes, big brains aren’t all they’re cracked up to be, if you see what I mean.”

        Wogwa from Kate and Sam and the Chipmunks of Doom, the second book in a read-aloud fantasy series for ages 4-9 and their
adults (excerpt from Chapter 1: Trouble with Chipmunks).  More information here, or “Look inside” at Amazon.

[Picture: Wogwa, illustration by AEGN, 2009.]

A-Z Challenge, all posts for the letter W.


Kristin said...

I just realized I have a couple of 3 year old grandkids that will soon be ready for this book to be read aloud to them.

Anne E.G. Nydam said...

The series is intentionally written to be fun for young kids - nothing too scary or violent, no need for complicated background knowledge - but at the same time to have a reasonably interesting story in reasonably interesting language (no "See Spot run" stuff).
If you do read it with them, I'd love to hear their (and your) feedback!