Summer Bird Stories

Family-Friendly Short Stories, Cartoons, and Illustrations


Kate was trying to find her car after a frustrating round of holiday shopping, when she saw a man sitting on a bench. He was dressed in a worn, old-fashioned suit and looked a little lost. She debated for a minute or two, but finally decided to stop. After all it was almost Christmas.

She stood at a bit of a distance, to be safe, and asked, “do you need any help?”

The man turned, and seemed surprised to see her.   “Oh, hello,” he said. His accent was strange. “I seem to be lost.”

“Where are you going?” Kate asked.

“I don’t know,” the man said. “ I know I have somewhere I need to be, and people that are waiting for me, but I don’t remember anything about them or where I live.”

The man grew paler as he spoke, until Kate could see right through him. Kate was tempted to run away, but the man seemed helpless and lost. Perhaps if she helped him he could move on or whatever ghosts do.

“Do you remember your name?” Kate asked.   Perhaps she could look him up and help him figure out what sort of unfinished business he had.

“Bob Cratchit,” the man said.

It sounded so familiar to Kate. She knew somehow that she should be very familiar with this name, but she couldn’t remember why. The information just wasn’t there.

She pulled out her phone and tried to look up Bob Cratchit. “Error,” it said. It hadn’t ever done that before.

“Can you remember where you work? Do you remember the names of any family members?”   Kate asked.

“I’m not sure. It’s always so cold at work, and I’m always so tired. I think I have a son who is ill.” The man began to look more solid. “I think I should be at work now. I am never home during the day,” Bob said. He rubbed his hands together.

“Except Christmas, of course,” Kate said, looking around at the shoppers bustling to their cars. Most didn’t even glance around as they rushed by, hands curled around their purchases.

“No, I remember working Christmas too,” Bob said.   “I remember that my boss hates Christmas.”

“Like Scrooge, ‘Bah Humbug’ and all that,” Kate said, looking back at the man. “That must be pretty annoying.”

“Scrooge…” Bob said. He pressed his fingertips into his temples. “The name sounds familiar…”

“Of course it does,” Kate said. “Like the story.”   Kate pulled tried to look it up in her phone. It wouldn’t load. Neither would any entries on Ebenezer Scrooge.   Kate looked at Bob. “This may sound crazy, but do you have a son named Tim?” She asked.

“Tim!” Bob said. He stood up, eyes wide. “How could I have forgotten? I need to get back to tiny Tim. He needs me.”

“Bob Cratchit, you need to get back to your story.   You work for Ebenezer Scrooge and you live in ‘A Christmas Carol’,” Kate said.

“Of course!” Bob said. “That’s where I live.” He began to sparkle and fade, growing more transparent as the sparkles grew denser. Soon all that was left was a little glitter in the breeze like a pinch of pixie dust.

Kate looked around the parking lot again. “Oh, I remember where I parked,” she said.   “How could I have forgotten?”   And she once again joined the rushing parade of harried shoppers.



“The turkey still isn’t done,” Dad said.

“Oh dear,” Mom said. “Maybe we can play a game. We’ll go around the table and each say something we’re grateful for.”

“No repeats,” Dad said. “It will make it a challenge.” The children groaned.

“I’m thankful for my family,” Ben said.

“I’m thankful for food,” Alice said.

“bunnies,” Beth said.

“Turkey,” Robbie said.

“That’s a repeat! I said food,” Alice said.

Robbie frowned. “That’s not fair,” he said.

“Is too,” Alice said.

“Can you think of something else, Robbie?” Mom asked.

“I’m thankful for everything,” Robbie said.   “The game is over.” Ben cheered. Beth hit her plate with her fork and it sounded like clapping. Mom sighed.

“Let’s just say you can’t repeat the same words,” Dad said.

“Fine,” Robbie said. “I’m grateful for worms.”

“I’m thankful the turkey’s not done so that we can play this fun game,” Mom said. Dad snorted. “No, really,” Mom said. It wasn’t entirely convincing.

“I’m grateful for the gospel,” Dad said.

“I’m thankful for the house,” Ben said.

“I’m thankful for the car,” Alice said.

“ponies,” Beth said.

“horses,” Robbie said. Ben laughed.

“That’s the same thing,” Alice said.

“Different word,” Robbie said. Alice huffed.

“Moving on,” Mom said. “I’m thankful to be a citizen of this fine country.”            “hmmmmm. I’m grateful I have a job,” Dad said.

“Me too,” Mom said.

“I’m thankful for soccer,” Ben said.

“I’m thankful for books,” Alice said.

“toast,” Beth said.

“spiders,” Robbie said.

“You’re not really thankful for spiders,” Alice said.   “Dad, I think we should say why we’re thankful for something. Robbie isn’t really thankful for spiders. He’s cheating.”

“Are you really thankful for spiders, Robbie?” Dad said.

“Yes,” Robbie said.

“Well, then,” Dad said, “I think that’s fine.”   Robbie grinned.

Alice huffed. “It’s not fair,” she said.

“I’m thankful the turkey’s almost done,” Mom said. She pinched the bridge of her nose. Her glasses shifted around strangely.

“I’m grateful for my happy children,” Dad said. “Especially when they’re getting along.”

“I’m thankful for French toast,” Ben said.

“He said the same word as Beth!” Robbie said.

“It meant something different!” Alice said.

“It was still the same word,” Robbie said.

“It’s fine,” Ben said. “I’m grateful for pancakes, too.”

“I’m thankful for my very, very annoying younger brother,” Alice said.

“Alice,” Mom said.

“But I am,” Alice said. “Very grateful.”

“thumbs,” Beth said.

“Good one, Beth,” Dad said. “Thumbs are really useful.”

“Can you check the turkey again dear?” Mom said.

“dead batteries,” Robbie said.

“No one is thankful for dead batteries,” Alice said.

“You are if it means something stops working at just the right time,” Robbie said.

“That’s never happened to you!” Alice said.

“I’m grateful for the possibility,” Robbie said.

“Turkey’s done!” Dad said.

“I’m so thankful,” Mom said.

“Aren’t we all,” Dad said.


The Bake-off Winner

The judging for the final round of the nation-wide bake-off was televised. People watched from around the nation as famous and not-so-famous bakers competed to earn a spot working in the royal kitchens. The announcers told heart-warming stories of struggle and toil about most of the contestants.

However, one of the contestants wore a long coat with a hood up in the hot, hot kitchens where everyone else had their sleeves rolled up to try to cool down. He had sunglasses and gloves and a bandana over half his face. The announcers knew his name and the high compliments the judges had given his work so far in the competition. No one knew anything else about him.

His final entry was a complex pastry that required precision in both the timing and a number of subtle temperature changes.   His work was masterful, almost as though he had some sort of magical control over the oven temperature. He easily triumphed over his distinguished peers.

The head of the judging committee eagerly called him to the podium to accept the trophy and the certificates and the other paraphernalia of victory. The audience roared in approval for Dr. A. Jones.   The head judge shook his hand and peered closely at what was visible of his face.

“Dr. Jones! What a green, scaly face you have!” The head judge said.

“It’s a skin condition. It’s not contagious, but it’s meant that I’ve had a difficult time in life,” Dr. Jones said. “Many people have been unkind.”

“Awww,” said the audience.

“That’s terrible,” the announcer said. “Isn’t it wonderful he was able to rise above all that and win the competition?” The audience roared.

“Dr. Jones, you have such an unnaturally deep voice,” The head judge said.

“I’ve often been told I should record audio books,” Dr. Jones said. “But alas my passion lies with baking instead.” The announcer and audience laughed.

“Are you a medical doctor?” The head judge asked.

“No, I have a doctorate in philosophy,” Dr. Jones said.

“Ah, of course,” the head judge said. “And what does the A. stand for?” The head judge asked.

“Alex,” Dr. Jones said.

“Just give the man his award already!” The announcer said. “He’s more than earned it.”   The audience roared again and stomped their feet and the head judge handed over the trophy and certificates and such.

“Thank you,” Dr. Jones said, waving at the audience. “This is a dream come true!”

“Awwww,” the audience said, and then they clapped and whistled and roared in approval once more. The other judges and contestants came over to congratulate the winner. The baking competition had been a remarkable success.

Dr. A. Jones began working at the palace a month later. He was quiet and good at his job, and the nation soon moved on to watching a gardening competition. The winner would be on the landscaping team at the royal holiday home. When a contestant was found smuggling in illegal fertilizers, the nation was horrified. The lovely young lady had been a favorite up until then, and many had sworn they could see flowers grow when she sang to them. Dr. Jones and the baking competition were completely forgotten.

A year later, the nation had reason to remember Dr. Jones. Somehow, in the year that he’d worked at the palace, he’d managed to steal the heart of Princess Gertrude. The two had run away together. Gertrude had left a defiant note, and somehow the two had managed to slip past security and fly away together into the night.

On a whole, the nation approved of the match. Dr. Jones clearly treasured her, and as the youngest princess, Gertrude wasn’t involved in the political arena. The King considered sending one of the knights to rescue the princess from her folly, but a scandal on the set of the competition for a substitute royal barber ended up needing his focus.

By the time the investigation was complete and the barberous spy prosecuted for bribery and theft, the king decided to let his daughter stay with the dragon who had stolen her away. After all, the competition for an assistant to the secondary royal launderer was underway.   He needed to keep an eye on that.

The Three Pups and the Boar

Once upon a time there were three wolf pups who had wandered from their den in search of adventure. “Mother says to always watch out for hiding places in case of danger,” the oldest said. “What do you think danger looks like?”

“I think danger is a deep river,” the middle pup said.

“I think danger looks like a swarm of bees,” The youngest pup said.

“I think danger is an angry skunk,” the oldest said.   The others laughed.

They continued to explore, watching out for bees and rivers and skunks. The youngest pup found a small cave. “Look!” He told his brothers. “We’d be safe here from danger. It’s dry and we could hide here.”

The middle pup snorted. “I’d climb a tall tree like this one here. Nothing could reach me if I climbed high enough.”

“If I was in danger, I’d run home to Mother,” the oldest pup said. “She’d keep me safe.”

“You’re a scaredy cat,” the middle wolf said.   “Only babies hide behind their moms.”

“I’m older than you,” the oldest pup said, and threw a pinecone at his brother.

“You’re only older by two minutes,” the middle pup said, and threw one back. It hit the youngest pup. Soon they had started a pinecone throwing war and had forgotten why they were fighting in the first place.

A pinecone thrown by the youngest went wide and clattered through the bushes. The older two started to laugh, until they heard an angry roar from the bushes.   “That’s not good,” the oldest pup said.

“To the cave!” The youngest said.

“To the tree!” The middle pup said.

“I’m finding mother,” the oldest pup said.   They scattered.

Moments later, an angry boar came tearing through the bushes. It paused and sniffed the air and then turned towards the cave and charged in. The youngest pup came darting out of the cave with the boar right behind him. The pup scampered up the tree and joined his brother.

“You’re safe now,” the middle pup said. “Boars can’t climb trees.”

“Haha, too slow old boar,” the youngest pup yelled.

The boar charged and rammed the tree with his head.   The tree shook. “Woah!” said the middle pup. “I’m slipping!”

The boar rammed the tree again. “If he does that again,” whispered the youngest pup, “I think I’m going to fall.”

“Me, too,” whispered the middle pup. He did and they did.

Fortunately, at that moment, mother wolf ran into the clearing, growling menacingly. The oldest pup followed close behind her. The younger two pups scampered around their mother to hide with him.

Mother wolf growled a deeper scarier growl. The boar ran. The pups cheered. They stopped when mother wolf turned to look at them. “Boys,” she said. “I thought you knew better than to wander off. What were you thinking?”

“We’re sorry,” they said together.

“I think you’ll all be staying close to the den for a while,” mother wolf said.

“Mom is amazing,” the youngest wolf said. “I bet she could fight off a swarm of bees.”

“Or rescue us from a deep river,” the middle wolf said.

“Or an angry skunk,” the oldest pup said.

“Or an angry boar,” mother wolf said. “Now hush and let’s go home.” And they did.


Charlie’s Room: The Loft Bed

“Cousin Reginald says that he found a loft bed for Charlie’s room,” Isaac told Marianne after breakfast.

“One of those beds on stilts?” Charlie asked.   He stopped poking at his oatmeal.

“Yes,” Isaac said.

“Is Cousin Reginald the one who smells like raw onions and stinky cheese?” Marianne asked, wrinkling up her nose. “And uses really long words so that no one can understand a thing he says?”

“Yes,” Isaac said. “He’s going through a rebellious phase, and he says that tattoos and piercings are too mainstream.”

“He’s in his seventies,” Marianne said.

“And before retirement he was a very well-behaved accountant,” Isaac said. “He’s just entering the adolescence of his retirement years, that’s all. It will pass.”

“Well, I think Charlie and I are going to the bug museum today,” Marianne said.

“Really?” Charlie asked. He pushed away his bowl. “I love the bug museum!”

“What better way to spend a Saturday?” Marianne asked. “Now eat three more bites.” She grinned at Isaac. “Too bad we won’t be here when Cousin Reginald comes.”

“You’re missing out. He tells the best jokes,” Isaac said.

“If you can even understand what he’s saying,” Marianne said. “Come on, Charlie, let’s go get ready. It’s Daddy’s turn to do the dishes.”

Isaac did the dishes and moved Charlie’s bed out to the garage. Cousin Reginald arrived soon after. “What tangible object appears to bear the hues ivory, ebony, and crimson over the entirety of its epidermis?” He asked, when Isaac answered the door.

“Hmmm. So many things could fit that particular situation,” Isaac said.

“Indeed. However, on this occasion, it happens to be a Sheniscidae suffering from Erythema,” Cousin Reginald said.

“Oooh. Let me get my phone so that I can be enlightened,” Isaac said.

“I’d settle for a manifestation of mirth, but then I am currently experimenting with gelotology,” Cousin Reginald said.

The visit was pleasant, especially once Isaac had gotten used to the smell and didn’t have to breathe through his mouth. Isaac carried in the pieces from the mustard-yellow minivan, and Cousin Reginald put them together. He pointed a piece and Isaac held it in place while Reginald attached it. Then he pointed to the next piece. Within a half hour, it was done and he was gone.

Isaac was in the living room opening some windows, when he heard something bump against Charlie’s door. Had it blown closed? He’d better see what happened.

He tried to open the door, but at first it seemed stuck. Then, it flew open and he stumbled inside.

The new bed was in the middle of the room instead of standing against the wall where he’d left it. It shoved past him and rushed out of the room. He followed it down the hall. As it slowed down, it seemed to be limping.

Isaac managed to corner it in the living room behind the couch. Luckily, he hadn’t opened the front window yet, or it might have tried to jump out.   “Hey, big guy, it’s going to be okay.   Calm down. That’s right.” Isaac held his hands out in front of him to show he wasn’t holding any tools. “Is there something wrong with your foot?   Can I take a look and see if I can help?”

The bed trembled for a bit, then slowly held out a long wooden leg. On the bottom of its foot, there was a shiny silver tack. “Let me see if I can get that off without a knife or a screwdriver or something,” Isaac said.

He slowly reached out his hand. The bed flinched, but held still. Isaac managed to pry out the tack. The hole it left was small and shallow. It would be fine to leave it like that. “There you go,” Isaac said. “Now do you think you can go back to your spot and sleep, like the rest of the furniture?”

The bed rubbed up against him once and then returned to Isaac’s room. Isaac sung it some lullabies in case that helped. By the time Marianne and Charlie returned, it was as asleep as anything else in the house and didn’t move. “This bed is awesome,” Charlie said.

“And the house smells fine,” Marianne said. “How did the visit go?”

“It was great, you missed out,” Isaac said. He patted the bed. Did it just purr? He looked at it. No, probably not.


Out to Pasture

“The refrigerator is getting old,” Mom said.   “It’s not keeping things as cool as it should.”

“It’s been a good old fridge,” Dad said. “It’s kept things cool for us for years and years.

“What’s going to happen to it?” Kara asked.

“Well, we can’t keep it if it doesn’t work well,” Mom said. “We just don’t have the space.”

“You aren’t going to kill it?” Kara asked. “It’s not Fridgie’s fault that he’s getting old. It’s not fair.” Kara began to cry.

“Of course we won’t kill it,” Dad said. “We’ll put it out to pasture.” He tore a paper towel off the roll and handed it to Kara.   “Now dry your eyes and blow your nose.   In that order. There you go.”

“What does out to pasture mean?” Kara asked, still sniffling a little.

“Well, when something is put out to pasture, it doesn’t have to work anymore. It can wander around in a nice field and eat grass and think about the meaning of life in peace,” Dad said.

“Fridgie doesn’t eat grass!” Kara said.

“Are you sure?” Dad asked.

“I think so,” Kara said. “Does he?”

“When it’s out to pasture it does. It will chase chickens and cows around and make a humming sound when it gets close to catching them,” Dad said.

“Like the vacuum?” Kara asked.

“Just like that,” Dad said.

“But how will he move around?” Kara asked.

“When it’s not full of all our food, it will be light enough to float,” Dad said.

“But where is his mouth?” Kara asked.

“It’s that little grill down there at the bottom.   Haven’t you heard him purr when mom wipes out his shelves?” Dad said.

“Mom, is that true?” Kara asked.

Mom was heating some soup on the stove. “What was that, dear?”

“Does Fridgie purr when you wipe out his shelves?”

“Hmmm. I haven’t noticed,” mom said. “Can you set the table? Bowls and spoons.”

“Okay,” Kara said. “Dad, can you reach me the bowls?”

“Here you go,” Dad said.

“What else will Fridgie do in his pasture?” Kara asked.   She set the table, spoons to the left of the bowls.

“We’ll come visit and he’ll wag his cord when you pet his doors. He’ll sleep standing up.   He won’t climb trees though.”

“Of course not. He’s too big,” Kara said. “What will happen when he dies?” She petted the refrigerator door, looking sad.

“Oh, he’ll be recycled of course. Then they’ll use his parts to make new refrigerators for other families, and Fridgie will live on in all those new refrigerators. It’s the circle of life,” Dad said. He got a box of crackers out of the cupboard and brought it to the table. Mom brought the soup to the table and set it on a hot pad. They all sat in their chairs.

“Dad, are you telling the truth? Will we really take Fridgie to a pasture where he’ll run around and chase chickens and eat grass?” Kara asked.

“What do you think?” Dad asked.

“No, not really. Except the part about recycling him, maybe,” Kara said.

“I think you’re probably right,” Dad said.


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