Here is a little book for you and your children to read or listen to that is good for our mental health. I wrote and illustrated it in 2007.
What does it take to learn a good lesson, anyway?
written by: Chato B. Stewart
dedicated to LP, Sweet Pea, Precious & Belly
Once upon a pond… in a sea not far from here… just under the water off the coral reef, lived a small guppy named Guppy Goop.
The coral reef could be a dangerous place. That’s why each and every guppy played at the center of the reef.
It was an old sandy sea bass bed that was made into Sea Bass Park.
Guppy Goop and his friends loved to play fishball in the park.
Fishball was kind of like kick ball. They used a pearl from an oyster for the ball.
Guppy Goop and his guppy pals were only worried about one thing, the Big Bad Fish that lived over the fence behind the park.
There were stories about the Big Bad Fish… the type of stories told that would keep guppies up at night.
It was said that he was a Big Bad Fish, had large glowing eyes, and black scaly skin… with razor-sharp teeth on top… and two large fangs on the bottom. That he would swallow you up in one gulp… and that he was meaner than a tiger shark with a toothache! And that fish that go to that cave were never seen again…
He was the coral reef’s Big… Bad… Fish!
Now, Guppy Goop was from a small fish family. He only had about five hundred fish brothers and sisters. Oh…and an uncle that was a hermit crab.
One of his older fish sisters won an extremely rare black pearl ball at the Fishbowl fishball tournament. This black pearl was the envy of every fishball player!
And all Guppy Goop wanted… the one thing he really, REALLY wanted more than anything else… was JUST ONCE… to play Fishball with his sister’s black pearl ball trophy!
One day, Guppy Goop’s whole family (that is, everyone except Guppy Goop…) went on the annual upstream swim. He wandered aimlessly around the house…and wandered into his sister’s room… and there it was… the black pearl trophy.
Even though Guppy Goop knew it was the same as stealing his sister’s trophy, he thought: “She won’t know I took it. I’ll just use it for today, and I’ll put it back before she’s home from the swimming trip. Besides, it doesn’t really seem so wrong if… I don’t get caught.”
When Guppy Goop got to Sea Bass Park all the other guppies gathered round and asked, “Are you really going to let all of us play with that black pearl trophy ball, Guppy Goop?” He just smiled from gill to gill and yelled “Lets… Play… Fishball!”
The game was going swimmingly… it was Guppy Goop’s best game ever!
His team had a fish on each shell. And now, Guppy Goop was at home shell, with a chance to win the game.
The black pearl was pitched. He could see his fisheye reflection.
He swung his fish tail with all his might and hit the black pearl. It went up… and up… and up. It was going, going, gone!!
Right into The Big Bad Fish’s back yard. Every Guppy who was watching gasped big fish bubbles…
“Oh no… it’s gone forever now,” said Blue the Sheephead Guppy. “You’re in big trouble now,” said Sam the Seahorse. Flounder Guppy cried out, “Oh my flat flounder bottom! Now your sister is going to stuff you in a tuna can!”
“What am I going to do?” said Guppy Goop.
Guppy Goop knew if he went over the fence to get the black pearl back, he’d be a goner for sure. Remember the stories: The Big Bad Fish, large glowing eyes, black scaly skin, razor-sharp teeth, and two large fangs. You know, the Big… Bad… Fish!
“Maybe if I just go ask him for it… he will give it to me.” Guppy Goop said.
“Wait!” yelled Flounder, “you can’t go there now. He’s a stranger, and it is getting dark. It’s not safe!” Flounder was right. It was late. Nothing could be done about it now. So Guppy Goop started to swim home.
Guppy Goop swam to his hole, into his bedroom and underneath his kelp bed sheets. His sister was staying at Uncle Hermit’s tonight. He was still feeling bad. He knew he should’ve told his mother, but he didn’t want to get in trouble. “Besides”, he thought, “my sister is not home and nobody knows but me and the guys. Maybe I can still get away with it. I just have to get the black pearl back before sister gets home. Then, no one will ever know.”
Guppy Goop was tired and his eyes were so heavy. As he drifted off to sleep, he was still mumbling as he yawned: “no… one… will… ever…. know…”
Guppy Goop got up early before any of his family was awake. He was off to Sea Bass Park.
The Big Bad Fish’s cave door was right on the edge of the coral reef in open water where no fish would travel.
As Guppy Goop swam near the cave, the cold chill of open water was on his back. At he came closer to the gate, he could see why no fish ever went near the cave. All around, stuck in the weeds, were trophies.
Fishing hooks, fishing lures, fishing line and fishing weights were scattered about, collected from fishermen who had come in boats. But they could never reel him in… because, surely, The Big Bad Fish could not be caught!
The cave door was made from the bones of three fish who tried to take his cave away from him. Now those fish are his door.
Guppy Goop slowly swam up to the cave door. The door creaked open and there in the dark glowed two large eyes. It was the Big… Bad… Fish….!
“What do you want?” said the Big Bad Fish, in a menacing voice.
“Umm… could I get back my sister’s black pearl ball that went over your back fence?”, asked Guppy Goop, shaking in fear.
“Why aren’t you afraid of me, little guppy? Don’t you know the stories about me?”, asked The Big Bad Fish.
“Oh, I am very afraid of you! But I believe there’s good in every fish. I thought if I was nice to you, then maybe you’d be nice to me,” Guppy Goop answered.
“I see… , , said the Big Bad Fish, “Guppy Goop, your kindness has moved me… ” he said. “Go… get your sister’s black pearl ball from my yard.”
Guppy Goop swam into the back yard. There were fishballs all around, but no black pearl. But as he got closer to the fence, back behind the seaweed, he found a pile of dead fish bones. And next to the pile… was his sister’s black pearl ball.
“I found it!” yelled Guppy Goop. “Now I won’t be in trouble. I just have to get home before every one wakes up!”
“Wakes up?” said the Big Bad Fish as he moved closer to Guppy Goop. “Your parents don’t know you’re here?”
“Nope, if my parents knew I stole my sister’s ball… and, then lost it, I would get in so much trouble… ,” Guppy Goop said.
“Well, thank you, Guppy Goop…,” said the Big Bad Fish.
“Thank me… why?” asked Guppy Goop, “Is it because I showed you kindness and now every fish will know you’re not meaner than a tiger shark with a toothache?” Guppy Goop said with a big guppy grin.
“Oh no, my juicy little guppy”, said the Big Bad Fish, with his large glowing eyes, black scaly skin, razor-sharp teeth and large fangs. “I wanted to thank you for… BREAKFAST!!”
And in one large gulp, the Big Bad Fish swallowed guppy Goop!
Why…? Because… big fish ALWAYS eat little fish!!
“Guppy Goop! Guppy Goop, wake up! Wake up Guppy Goop! Are you going to sleep all day?,” asked mother. Guppy Goop slowly opened his eyes… “Was I dreaming? Then, I’m alive, I’m alive!,” he yelled! “the Big Bad Fish didn’t eat me. I must have been dreaming!”
He sat up in bed and he knew right then, that no matter what kind of trouble it would get him into, he HAD to tell the truth. Because it was surely better to tell the truth and pay the price than to die in a lie!
“Mom, Dad… I need to talk to you.” Guppy Goop went on to tell them what he had done, and how he lost the ball. “We’re disappointed in you, Guppy Goop,” they said. “But we’re happy that you have now told the truth and that you understand that it was wrong to steal.”
Just then the cave door swung open. There at the door was Uncle Hermit the crab.
“I was on my way over when I ran into an old friend of mine who lives behind Guppy Park. Gus owns The Big Bad Fish Novelty Shop”, he said. “Gus said you guppies left something in his yard… but when he swam out to give it to you, you were all gone.”
“But, I don’t understand…”, Guppy Goop said, “What about all the fish hooks and the fish bones? What about The Big Bad Fish with glowing eyes, and black scaly skin, razor-sharp teeth and fangs?”
“What about the STORIES?”, asked Guppy Goop.
Uncle Hermit looked over at Guppy Goop and said, “Oh Guppy Goop… we can’t judge a fish by his scales. It’s what INSIDE that counts!”
…”you juicy little guppy” (evil laughter)