Sammy And The Skunk

This is a “Greek model story,” as we covered in The Art of Telling Bedtime Stories, Part 4. In it, the child being read to is the hero, conquering danger with innovative thinking. This is precisely the kind of self-image we want our children and grandchildren to carry.

Use people and animals from your child’s own life for this story, and personalize it in other ways if you can. Make it their story.

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One morning, a boy named Jimmy was sitting at his family’s kitchen table, finishing his lessons. The phone rang and his mom answered; she talked for a while with her sister, his Aunt June. When she was done, and as Jimmy was putting away his books, she said, “Would you like to go over to Aunt June’s house for lunch? Uncle George is making the tacos you love.”

Jimmy thought that was a great idea, and his mom went upstairs to tell his dad who was working on something. An hour or two later they drove over to his aunt and uncle’s house. They sat in the back yard, ate Uncle George’s excellent tacos, and Jimmy played with his older cousin Benjamin’s dog, Sammy.

After a while everyone went into the house and started talking again. They left Sammy outside in the back yard. But ten minutes later they heard Sammy barking wildly. Benjamin went outside and was telling Sammy to calm down. But Sammy kept barking, and not long after, Benjamin opened the back door and said, “Guys, I think we have a problem.”

Everyone got up and went out the door, then walked toward Sammy, who was in the corner of the yard, barking hard at something hidden in the bushes.

A moment later, Aunt June said, “Oh no… that’s a skunk. Benjamin! Come away!” He turned around and looked at her. “That’s a skunk!” she screamed.

Benjamin backed away, but he kept screaming at his dog, “Sammy! Come away! Sammy!”

Just then, Jimmy’s dad felt someone tugging on his sleeve, but he ignored it because he was worried about Benjamin getting sprayed by the skunk.

Jimmy tugged harder, saying, “Dad, I know how to fix this.” But his dad was still so focused on Benjamin and Sammy that he didn’t pay attention. Jimmy pulled even harder. “Dad, I know how to fix this!”

Finally his dad turned and said, “What? How?”

Jimmy answered right away. “Sammy loves meat, right?”

Yes, of course.”

Then take some of Uncle George’s taco meat (there was some in a bowl right there) and toss a piece at Sammy. He’ll turn and eat it. Then, throw another just a little bit closer to us; he’ll go eat that one too. Then another one a little closer and then another. Pretty soon he’ll be close enough for Benjamin to grab him.”

Jimmy’s dad was surprised, and said something like, “good idea,” as he grabbed the bowl and started throwing little balls of meat, first right at Sammy, and then closer and closer, until Benjamin grabbed him. Then, he threw a ball of meat right at the skunk, who ran away.

After it was all over, Uncle George walked up to Jimmy’s dad and said, “That was a great idea. Thank you.”

But Jimmy’s dad said, “It was a great idea, but it wasn’t my idea.”

No? Then whose idea was it?”

He turned and pointed, “It was Jimmy’s idea!”

Really?” uncle George asked.

Really,” Jimmy’s dad said.

Uncle George stepped over to Jimmy and thanked him, saying, “Jimmy, you saved Sammy from getting badly hurt. Thank you… you saved the day. That was good thinking!”


Paul Rosenberg