Thursday, August 4, 2011

The Jellicle Ball and Naming of the Catz

To celebrate the month of August and the zodiac sign of Leo, Michelle’s Zoo Presents:

The Jellicle Ball and Naming of the Catz 

The Naming of Cats
By T. S. Eliot

The Naming of Cats is a difficult matter,
It isn't just one of your holiday games;
You may think at first I'm as mad as a hatter
When I tell you, a cat must have THREE DIFFERENT NAMES.
First of all, there's the name that the family use daily,
Such as Peter, Augustus, Alonzo or James,
Such as Victor or Jonathan, George or Bill Bailey--
All of them sensible everyday names.
There are fancier names if you think they sound sweeter,
Some for the gentlemen, some for the dames:
Such as Plato, Admetus, Electra, Demeter--
But all of them sensible everyday names.
But I tell you, a cat needs a name that's particular,
A name that's peculiar, and more dignified,
Else how can he keep up his tail perpendicular,
Or spread out his whiskers, or cherish his pride?
Of names of this kind, I can give you a quorum,
Such as Munkustrap, Quaxo, or Coricopat,
Such as Bombalurina, or else Jellylorum-
Names that never belong to more than one cat.
But above and beyond there's still one name left over,
And that is the name that you never will guess;
The name that no human research can discover--
But THE CAT HIMSELF KNOWS, and will never confess.
When you notice a cat in profound meditation,
The reason, I tell you, is always the same:
His mind is engaged in a rapt contemplation
Of the thought, of the thought, of the thought of his name:
His ineffable effable
Deep and inscrutable singular Name.
One night each year, the cats get together for the Jellicle Ball. The night of the ball is fast approaching, and this year the cats at Michelle’s Zoo are planning to attend. All cats must have a Singular Name (the name only known to cats) to enter. The cats need you to help them come up with a Singular Name.

So join in on the fun and help name the Catz. Just leave a comment below giving any or all of these 12 Catz their Singular Name. Let's have some fun with this!



Prince Gallant 

Prince Targus

King Thunder

Tybalt the Tiger

Sweet Opal

King Lustre

King Lionheart

Leonardo the Leopard

King Borealis

Pria the Panther

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

The Northern Princess Marries Her Prince

The Northern Princess Marries Her Prince
By Karen Penry

Far to the north, there lives a beautiful and noble king. King Borealis is purveyor of the northern kingdom. He rules the land along with the other great kings, King Thunder to the east, King Lustre in the south, and King Lionheart in the west. Together, these kings maintain peace and justice for all of their loyal subjects. But this is not the story of a king; this is the story of King Borealis’s fair daughter and how she fell in love.

Once upon a time, there was a fair princess named Princess Diamond. She was the cherished daughter and only heir of the noble King Borealis and Queen Freyja. As is common practice in the land, Diamond’s hand in marriage was promised to Onyx, son of King Lustre when the colts were very young.

Every summer, the two young royals came together to learn, play, and grow. They were automatically the best of friends. As royal heirs, they didn’t have much opportunity to play with other young people, so they loved having time with each other. The adults also liked to socialize with each other. As often as they could, the kings held court together and during the winter holidays, they would throw lavish holiday feasts—first in one kingdom, and then in the other.

The years passed, and soon the young colts were no longer children. They were not quite old enough to marry, but they were getting close. It was time that they start their official royal training.

Princess Diamond spent her days studying calculus, astronomy, history, literature, and philosophy. Everyone knows that a future queen needs to be very knowledgeable and educated. In addition, she had princess lessons like holding afternoon tea, receiving royal subjects, embroidery, and ballroom dancing, as well as many others.

Likewise, Onyx spent his days studying anatomy and physiology, geology and geography, and other academic subjects. He also had lessons in fencing and jousting, receiving royal subjects, negotiation, and ballroom dancing, as well as many others.

While Princess Diamond grew regal and beautiful, however, Onyx became reckless and wild. He began to take unnecessary risks in training and began sneaking out of the castle at night. Rumors of his behavior traveled far north to King Borealis and he was not happy!

Still, the two young royals spent the following summer together again. They still loved spending time together and Onyx was slightly less impetuous when he was with Diamond. Borealis watched Diamond and Onyx closely.

Although his habits were curbed, Onyx was still reckless. When having a day out in the countryside, he would often ride ahead of Diamond, circle back, and sneak up on the riding party and scare them all. Onyx would also spend his evenings in the village and stay out far past midnight. His behavior was not that of a king in training. Borealis was displeased.

At the end of the summer, after Onyx had returned to the south, Borealis asked Diamond to walk with him in the rose garden. He told Diamond that he was calling the wedding off. Diamond tried to talk to her father, but he told her, “He is not worthy of you, Diamond. He is careless, has no regard for others, and does not behave in an appropriate manner for a prince!” Diamond protested, but King Borealis would not budge. He just continued to shake his head and adamantly exclaim, “No!”

Finally Diamond mad a plea in desperation. “Daddy,” Diamond cried, “You see the boy that he is, but I see the king he will become. Please! Trust me. Trust my judgment and my heart.” Then, Diamond turned and left Borealis in the garden by himself.

Borealis continued to walk among the roses. Diamond’s words kept echoing in his ears. Something she said reminded him of another time a long time ago. When Borealis was a young lion, before he was king, he knew a dark young boy who was much like Onyx. This boy also had a tendency to be reckless. This boy made rash decisions and put others unnecessarily at risk. Over time, this young boy found himself in a tight spot now and then. However, the boy eventually grew out of his reckless stage, and his experiences made him wise. This young boy grew to be King Borealis’s best friend the radiant and passionate King Lustre.

Borealis knew that he had to trust his daughter and the parenting skill of his best friend King Lustre. He also knew that he did not have to make marrying his daughter easy for Onyx. Borealis had a plan. He summoned Onyx back to the kingdom. The two men sat down for a serious talk. Borealis told Onyx how he felt about all he had observed. He told Onyx of his displeasure. Then he said, “Onyx, if you want to marry my daughter, you must prove your worth to me. She is my only child and I love her more than life itself. Before you may marry my daughter, you must complete a sacred quest.”

Onyx loved Diamond. He was sure he loved Diamond as much as her father loved her. He agreed to the quest.

Because of the sacredness of the quest (and that this is actually Diamond’s story), we cannot tell of Onyx’s quest other than to say that he had to travel to each of the four kingdoms to learn a lesson of honor, courage, loyalty, and love. His quest took him away for more than a year and Diamond spent the following summer alone instead of with Onyx.

Finally, as the next summer approached, word reached the northern kingdom that Onyx would arrive within a few days. Princess Diamond spent her days searching the skyline until one day his silhouette appeared on the horizon. Diamond ran to him as he approached the castle doors. Onyx bent to hug Diamond and swung her through the air. Then he gently set her down and said, “I have business with your father.”

King Borealis and Onyx spent all of that evening and all of the next day behind closed doors. When they finally emerged, they were both smiling. King Borealis pronounced, “In the morning, I shall dub this young man Sir Onyx, Knight of the Northern Kingdom and in the evening he shall marry my daughter!”

For the next twenty-four hours, the kingdom was abuzz with preparations for the wedding. King Lustre and Queen Monet had already been at court for several days, so everything was in order.

The day of the wedding was beautiful. The sun shimmered and sparkled as it never had before. The world was perfect and ready to receive the future king and queen. Princess Diamond and Sir Onyx married in a beautiful, sunset garden ceremony. They kissed as the sun just began to dip below the horizon and of course they lived happily ever after.

(We may never know what Sir Onyx said to King Borealis in that thirty-six hour interview, but we do know that Sir Onyx grew to be a great king in his own right, that he proved himself to King Borealis, and that Diamond knew her true love all along.)

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

The Adventures of Graham and Grady and Their Rock-n-Roll Band:

The Adventures of Graham and Grady and Their Rock-n-Roll Band:
The Making of a Band

With his psychedelic coloring and natural Mohawk, Graham was born to be a rockstar. From his early days as a young calf, Graham practiced drumming on tree trunks and bark and strumming on tree leaves. He even discovered he could make the tall Savannah grasses whistle like a flute or a horn.  Everywhere he went, Graham practiced his musicianship. He strummed and thumped and bee-bopped. Eventually, Graham took up playing the bass guitar, and he knew his dreams of being a rockstar were close at hand.

But there was one musical thing Graham could not do. Graham could not sing. He tried everything. He tried singing with the radio. He tried singing with the birds. He even tried gargling with salt water. No matter what, when he tried to sing, his voice just wobbled and warbled like a dented trumpet!

When nothing worked, he thought he might just lip sync. Then he remembered Milli Vanilli—everybody knows what happened to their career. What was he going to do? He knew all the way to his horns that he was supposed to be in a band. He felt defeated.

That night, Graham went to bed feeling sad. He really, really wanted to be a rockstar. He fell asleep with visions of rainbow colored concerts swimming in his head.

Graham slept all night. He woke the next morning to the most beautiful sound. He bounced out of bed and followed the sound down the hall. It was coming from the bathroom. He stopped at the closed door and listened intently. His brother, Grady, was singing in the shower and it was glorious.   

Graham paced in front of the bathroom door, impatiently waiting for Grady to emerge. When Grady opened the door, Graham grabbed him by the shoulders, shaking him. “You can sing!” he exclaimed jubilantly. “You can really sing!”

Grady, a very shy giraffe, could see the wheels turning in his brother’s head. “N-n-no I can’t.” he declared. “But you can, Grady.” Graham coaxed “You know that I want to form a band. Help me out.”

But Grady adamantly refused. He was too shy to perform in front of his family and friends. He was too shy to ask a girl out on a date. In fact, he was too shy to raise his hand in class. There was no way he would ever be able to sing—on  stage—under bright lights—with tons of people watching. He felt woozy just thinking about it.

Graham, however, would not be dissuaded easily. For the next week, Graham begged and pleaded with Grady. He tried to bribe and wheedle and threaten Grady. Nothing worked. Then Graham had an idea—if he couldn’t take Grady’s singing out of the shower, then he would bring Grady’s shower on stage.

For the next two days, Graham locked himself in the garage. The whole family could hear Graham knocking and pounding and scraping and sawing. They tried to peek, but Graham wouldn’t let anybody in, and he only left for a very, very short break now and then.

Finally, Graham emerged from the garage. He was dusty and dirty and beaming from ear to ear. “Ta-da” he exclaimed and ushered his family in to see the portable shower.

Grady was still unsure. No, he was quite sure—he could not sing! But he didn’t want to break his brother’s heart. So he quietly agreed to try singing in the portable shower.

Grady’s first attempt at singing in his new shower was pitiful. He could barely muster a whisper. Nevertheless, Grady kept trying. He knew that if he practiced, he would eventually sing as well in the new shower as he had in the old shower.

Practiced and practiced. That’s what the two giraffes did. First they practiced alone, but eventually, they were good enough to practice together. Then they practiced some more.

At last, Graham felt like they were ready. The Fourth of July was just around the corner and Graham had signed them up to play at “Michelle’s Zoo Presents: Music in the Moonlight.”

They were so nervous! They spent the day pacing in the park. They paced so much that they were surrounded by a big dust cloud. They kept telling each other that they had practiced. They could do this. They had nothing to be worried about!

The sun began to set. The Groovin’ Giraffes were the first act. They took one more quick turn around the park, wiped their faces, took a big drink of water, and climbed up on stage. The stage lights dimmed and the spotlights came on.

Suddenly, a huge platform descended from above. Leo the Lion, the giraffes’ best friend was poised on the platform behind a set of drums and with his sticks in hand. “I’ve been practicing” he said with a wink.

The band began their first number. It was a lively, upbeat tune. Leo didn’t miss a beat. In fact, they all sounded AWESOME! Leo knew they had nailed it. Graham knew they had nailed it. Grady knew they had nailed it.

At the end of the song, Grady burst from his shower with a grin and gave a big bow. He confidently abandoned the shower for the rest of the concert. Not to worry, though. The Groovin’ Giraffes always start their first song with Grady IN the shower.

By Karen Penry
 May not be duplicated without express consent from the author

Find Graham the Giraffe on Etsy here
Find Grady the Giraffe on Etsy here
Find Leo the Lion on Etsy here

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Ellie the Elephant Goes to Dance Class

A sweet new story for Ellie the Pink Elephant. 
Today is the last day to enter a chance to win the sweet girl. 
For a chance to win go to Just A Little Creativity by the end of the day today 06/23/2011
I hope you enjoy her story!

Ellie the Elephant Goes to Dance Class
(for Bricen)

Ellie the pink elephant was a very happy young lady. She loved her very pink bedroom. She loved her mommy and daddy. She even loved her brother, Eli. When Ellie thought about her life, she felt lucky and, well…happy. She really didn’t think her life could be any happier. Then Ellie’s mommy told her that she would be joining dance class! Ellie was happier than she had ever been, which she didn’t think was possible.

The next day was Saturday. Ellie and Mommy were going to the mall. Ellie needed a leotard, tights, dancing shoes, and hair bows. At the dance store, Ellie saw lots of fun colors to choose from. There were black leotards and white leotards and yellow, purple, and blue leotards, even red. Ellie thought and thought. She wasn’t sure about any of the colors. Then she saw exactly the leotard she wanted. It was pink! And of course she chose pink tights and shoes to match.

Now Ellie had to wait a whole week until dance class. Dance class did not start until the following Saturday. But Ellie was okay. She didn’t let waiting make her sad. To help the time go by, Ellie came home from school every day and put on her dance clothes. She practiced dancing in front of the mirror. She practiced posing in front of the mirror.  Then, she practiced bowing in front of the mirror.

“No, no, no” she thought, shaking her head. She started over. She practiced dancing in front of the mirror. She practiced posing in front of the mirror. She practiced…curtseying in front of the mirror. Finally, she practiced throwing kisses and waving to the audience in front of the mirror.

Every day was the same. Ellie came home from school, put on her dance clothes, and practiced. Soon it was Saturday morning.  Ellie happily put on her dance clothes, grabbed her favorite pink water bottle and a pink hand towel, and climbed in the car. As Mommy drove, Ellie watched out the window with a big smile on her face. Ellie was so happy!

After Mommy parked the car at the dance studio, Mommy and Ellie walked inside—hand in hand. Well…Mommy walked. Ellie skipped.

All of the other little girls were already lined up at the bar. There was a place for Ellie near the end of the bar. Ellie took her place, and the teacher began with a warm up. For the next twenty minutes, everything went well. The girls practiced their positions. Then they practiced their pax de deux and their arabesque.

At the end of class, the teacher, Miss Sasha, let the girls have free dance. Ellie waited her turn, then she tried a giant leap with three turns at the end. Ellie was not ready for such a big move. After she leapt and turned twice, she fell right in front of everybody.

The other girls laughed. Ellie’s pink cheeks turned much pinker. She thought about crying, but something way down inside her whispered, “Shrug it off! You’re okay. Just stand up and smile!” So she did just that. She stood up, gave her head a little shake, stretched out her arm and regally waltzed off stage. Everybody clapped. Ellie’s happy spirit had saved the day and made her a star amongst her friends.

And the very next week, when the new little girl fell in front of everybody, Ellie leaned down and whispered, “Shrug it off! You’re okay. Just stand up and smile.”       

By Karen Penry
 May not be duplicated without express consent from the author

Friday, June 10, 2011

Leonardo the Fierce Leopard

Leonardo the Fierce Leopard

The only thing Leonardo wanted in the whole world was to roar.

Every day, after breakfast and his morning bath, Leonardo would wander through the jungle looking for smaller animals to scare with (what he hoped would be) a fierce roar.

This morning was no different. Leonardo left home hoping this would be the day he finally found his roar.
As Leonardo slinked through the trees, he came upon a tree sloth. He stealthily backed himself into a crouch—ready to leap and scare the sloth with a tremendous tree shaking roar.

Way down deep in his chest, Leonardo mustered a growl. He shimmied on his haunches, leapt through the air and opened his mouth to let out his loudest roar.

Instead of a fierce roar, however, Leonardo simply said, “rawr!” The sloth didn’t budge.

Determined, Leonardo snuck back to his perch, crouched, shimmied, and leapt again. This time, when he opened his mouth, out came a slightly louder, slightly fiercer, “rawr!” The sloth only yawned, stretched, and readjusted himself on the branch.

In frustration, Leonardo stomped his foot. He didn’t want to give up, but he felt discouraged. Staring in consternation at the sloth, Leonardo decided that perhaps the sloth was not the best candidate for practicing his roar. Shaking his head and once again, finding his fierce courage, Leonardo moved on to find a better victim.

Soon, Leonardo came upon a bright green tree snake. As with the sloth, Leonardo crouched down, peeking between the jungle leaves. He watched the snake. He practiced his shimmy. He exercised his jaw for the perfect roar. Then, he waited. The snake turned and slithered a few inches closer to Leonardo. Leonardo felt that this was the moment to pounce. He charged from his hiding spot, leapt through the air and landed right in front of the snake. He swiveled his head and opened his mouth for the mightiest roar ever! And out came a teeny, tiny, “meow!”

Leonardo covered his mouth with his paws. If he could blush, his cheeks would be bright red. In fact, his little nose seemed to have a tinge of pink at the corners.  The snake glanced sideways at little Leonardo and slithered off through the branches.

Leonardo hung his head. He was never going to have a fierce roar. He might as well give up. He turned around and headed back the way he had come. Suddenly, he came face to face with a jungle tree mouse. Leonardo froze. Java, the tree mouse, froze.

 Java begged, “Please, fierce leopard, don’t eat me!”

Leonardo, caught a little off guard, stuttered, “A-are you afraid of me?”     

Java said, “Of course. You are a fierce jungle leopard.”

Leonardo hung his head again. He whispered, “Not really. I can’t even roar” and proceeded to tell the mouse about his morning.

The mouse said, “Really? Try out your roar on me.”

Leonardo lifted his head. He started his rumbly growl way down in his chest, opened his mouth, and let out a mighty, “me-rawr!”

Leonardo was so discouraged, he started to cry. Java moved closer to Leonardo and touched his paw. “All you need,” Java said, “is a little confidence. Why not practice your stalking, leaping, and roaring on me?”

“Really?” Leonardo said brightly. “Of course,” Java replied.

So, they spent the rest of the morning playing and practicing. Leonardo chased Java up into the trees. Leonardo crouched in the jungle leaves and leapt at Java. Leonardo snuck up on Java from behind. Each and every time, Leonardo tried a mighty roar. But, the best Leonardo could do was a medium-sized “rawr!”

Leonardo should have felt discouraged, but he didn’t. Java jumped and squeeked every time Leonardo pounced. Java scrambled away from Leonardo and trembled at all the right times. Java made Leonardo feel fierce.

Eventually, Leonardo and Java felt very tired and collapsed in the bushes. Leonardo curled up and Java snuggled down in the nest Leonardo’s body made. Soon, Leonardo began to purr. It was the most delightful and comforting sound Java had ever heard—or felt. Java snuggled up closer to Leonardo and quietly asked, “Why do you want to roar anyway? The sound you’re making now is much nicer.” Leonardo curled himself around the little mouse a little tighter, adjusted his head so it was right next to Java’s, smiled, and drifted off to sleep—purring all the while.

By Karen Penry: May not be duplicated without express consent from the author

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

I just created my first Treasury on Etsy. Made up of adorable items for children with a theme of ears or paws. I think it is kind of cute. I am hoping everyone enjoys it. Please take a minute to stop by and leave a comment or click on some of the links. All the shops featured are members of EtsyKids Team, which I am a new member of and totally excited to be a part of.

EtsyKids Team Treasury Paws and Ears

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Ugly Ducky at Michelle's Zoo
The Ugly Duckling
   Once upon a time down on an old farm, lived a duck family, and Mother Duck had been sitting on a clutch of new eggs. One nice morning, the eggs hatched and out popped six chirpy ducklings. But one egg was bigger than the rest, and it didn't hatch. Mother Duck couldn't recall laying that seventh egg. How did it get there? TOCK! TOCK! The little prisoner was pecking inside his shell.

   "Did I count the eggs wrongly?" Mother Duck wondered. But before she had time to think about it, the last egg finally hatched. A strange looking duckling with brown feathers that should have been yellow gazed at a worried mother. The ducklings grew quickly, but Mother Duck had a secret worry.

   "I can't understand how this ugly duckling can be one of mine!" she said to herself, shaking her head as she looked at her last born. Well, the brown duckling certainly wasn't pretty, and since he ate far more than his brothers, he was outgrowing them. As the days went by, the poor ugly duckling became more and more unhappy. His brothers didn't want to play with him, he was so
clumsy, and all the farmyard folks simply laughed at him. He felt sad and lonely, while Mother Duck did her best to console him.

   "Poor little ugly duckling!" she would say. "Why are you so different from the others?" And the ugly duckling felt worse than ever. He secretly wept at night. He felt nobody wanted him.

   "Nobody loves me, they all tease me! Why am I different from my brothers?"

   Then one day, at sunrise, he ran away from the farmyard. He stopped at a pond and began to question all the other birds. "Do you know of any ducklings with gray feathers like mine?" But everyone shook their heads in scorn.

   "We don't know anyone as ugly as you." The ugly duckling did not lose heart, however, and kept on making inquiries. He went to another pond, where a pair of large geese gave him the same answer to his question. What's more, they warned him: "Don't stay here! Go away! It's dangerous. There are men with guns around here!" The duckling was sorry he had ever left the farmyard.

   Then one day, his travels took him near an old countrywoman's cottage. Thinking he was a stray goose, she caught him.

   "I'll put this in a hutch. I hope it's a female and lays plenty of eggs!" said the old woman, whose eyesight was poor. But the ugly duckling laid not a single egg. The hen kept frightening him.

   "Just wait! If you don't lay eggs, the old woman will wring your neck and pop you into the pot!" And the cat chipped in: "Hee! Hee! I hope the woman cooks you, then I can gnaw at your bones!" The poor ugly duckling was so scared that he lost his appetite, though the old woman kept stuffing him with food and grumbling: "If you won't lay eggs, at least hurry up and  get plump!"

   "Oh, dear me!" moaned the now terrified duckling. "I'll die of fright first! And I did so hope someone would love me!"

   Then one night, finding the hutch door ajar, he escaped. Once again he was all alone. He fled as far away as he could, and at dawn, he found himself in a thick bed of reeds. "If nobody wants me, I'll hid here forever." There was plenty a food, and the duckling began to feel a little happier, though he was lonely. One day at sunrise, he saw a flight of beautiful birds wing overhead. White, with long slender necks, yellow beaks and large wings, they were migrating south.

   "If only I could look like them, just for a day!" said the duckling, admiringly. Winter came and the water in the reed bed froze. The poor duckling left home to seek food in the snow. He dropped exhausted to the ground, but a farmer found him and put him in his big jacket pocket.

   "I'll take him home to my children. They'll look after him. Poor thing, he's frozen!" The duckling was showered with kindly care at the farmer's house. In this way, the ugly duckling was able to survive the bitterly cold winter.

   However, by springtime, he had grown so big that the farmer decided: "I'll set him free by the pond!" That was when the duckling saw himself mirrored in the water.

   "Goodness! How I've changed! I hardly recognize myself!" The flight of swans winged north again and glided on to the pond. When the duckling saw them, he realized he was one of their kind, and soon made friends.

   "We're swans like you!" they said, warmly. "Where have you been hiding?"

   "It's a long story," replied the young swan, still astounded. Now, he swam majestically with his fellow swans. One day, he heard children on the river bank exclaim: "Look at that young swan! He's the finest of them all!"

   And he almost burst with happiness.
The End