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February 11, 2009
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Foxgloves

Deep in the forest was a rocky cave. In it lived a curious creature with emerald green eyes and a bushy tail. For this creature, every day was a new adventure, and today would be no exception. As dawn broke, and the forest animals began to stir, a coat of flaming red sprang out from the cave. It was the forest fox!

“What a wonderful morning in all its glory,
Today I begin a brand new story!”

The Fox wondered what new and exciting sights he would see today. He walked slowly through the forest, passing leaves of every green shade, with rocks beneath his feet, and floating butterflies above him. He arrived at a green hedge, and wondered what could possibly be behind it...
He slowly moved his slim body around the corner, some of the leaves prickling his sides. To his amazement, he saw rows of the most beautiful flowers he had ever seen! They were so tall! Even taller that The Fox himself.

“A pink delight that pleases my eyes,
A beautiful flower, a lovely surprise!”

The flowers were a wonderful shade of pink and shaped like a mitten. They had delicate folds on one side, with a funnel containing specks of many different colours. The Fox thought the flowers were so beautiful, that he wanted to touch them. As he reached up towards one of the flowers, he noticed that it easily fitted over his paw. It felt snug and warm, which gave him an idea! The Fox had thought that the nights were getting very cold, perhaps these perfectly shaped flowers could keep his paws warm as he slept.

He decided to pick the four best flowers that would fit his paws well. He only took what he needed as he wanted to preserve the beauty of the plant for all the other animals to enjoy. Calling them his “Foxgloves” he carefully placed one paw inside each flower. He loved his new discovery, and decided to show them to all the animals of the forest. The animals looked up to him and loved the way the new Foxgloves fitted his feet.

The Fox headed back to his home, leaving footprints in his path. Little did he know that he was being watched from above. The old woodland adder was coiled around a sturdy branch, studying his every move. His scaly skin was stained with dark, black zigzags, which brought fear to the innocent creatures he passed. The adder was known by many for his bitterness and envy. Not having any legs made getting around the forest very difficult, and seeing The Fox prancing about so happily, made the adder very jealous.

“Coat of sssun, and legs that rrrun,
but look at me, I have no fffun.”

The adder decided to take revenge against The Fox. He knew The Fox loved his gloves, and thought of a way to destroy them. Very slowly, he began to slither down the branch, and follow The Fox’s tracks...
All day long The Fox proudly wore his Foxgloves, and as night fell, The Fox wearily entered his cave, ready for a good night’s sleep. He carefully removed the gloves and placed them by his side. They were his pride and joy, and he didn’t want to risk losing them. As The Fox slept peacefully, the adder caught up to his tracks. He slithered slowly into The Fox’s cave, and didn’t make a sound as The Fox snored in his sleep. With one swift bite, the adder’s venomous fangs bit into each of the four Foxgloves, covering them with poison. The adder’s tongue flickered wildly with the excitement of what he’d done. He quickly slithered out and away from of sight. The Fox, deep in his dreams, had no idea of what had just happened.

Later that night, The Fox awoke to an icy chill that swept through the cave. His paws were cold, so he reached for his new Foxgloves. He noticed that they felt damp, so took them off and licked his paws. He thought that water had dripped from the roof of the cave into the gloves. He did not know it was poison. Wearily, The Fox put the gloves back on his paws, and went back to sleep.

The next morning The Fox woke up later than usual. A sharp, gushing pain swept across his paws, and he howled in agony as he pulled The Foxgloves from them. Looking at his paws, they were red, with what looked like warts spread across them.

With difficulty, The Fox placed his paws in the river for some relief. The pain stopped for a while, but soon returned. He could hardly walk, each tread of his paw was painful, but he was determined to warn all other animals of these deadly Foxgloves.

The woodland owl observed The Fox limping from above.

“Why so down and glum today?
You’re The Fox that likes to play!”

“Foxgloves! They didn’t live up to their name!” he cried in despair. The Fox explained the story to the owl, from beginning to end.

“Deep in the forest, there lives a flower,
The beauty of which, beholds a power.
Completely blinded by my pride,
I couldn’t see, the evil inside!”

He pleaded...

“If I had wings, I would not care,
I’d fly to every soul out there”
“But, wise owl, my feet feel burned,
Please tell all of the lesson I’ve learned”

Immediately the owl took to the skies, word would spread much quicker by wing than by painful paw. The Fox wondered whether he would survive the day, but his spirit was strong, and he decided to continue on his mission. He noticed that one wart on his paw began to fade. Eventually, he approached a den. Inside, were a vixen and her cubs. He felt better warning them as he did not want the same awful experience to happen to another of his kind. Walking away, more warts seemed to disappear. Slowly, but surely, with each passing animal that he warned, the warts began to disappear. It was as if nature was healing his wounds with each kind warning. The Fox was feeling better in mind and in body, and with each new stride, pain turned to pleasure, and limp turned to leap. He jumped with glee and was thankful for his new energy and life. Once more, the animals looked up to him in admiration.

To this day, every Foxglove plant in every forest across the world contains the adders poison.
This is The Fox’s story.

Copyright of www.owlpoo.com (Laura Parry)
Foxgloves

These last few days I've been writting the text for the Foxgloves story. I've always enjoyed the thrill of writing, and putting pen back to paper was a really enjoyable experience for me.

I wrote Foxgloves all in one go, and it was 4 pages long. Looking through it a few times, and getting feedback, I realised that a LOT of things didn't make sense. Word's and ideas were perhaps too complicated for children. Sentences were too sophisticated, therefore I had to minimise and shorten each paragraph. Extravagent words had to be replaced with more simpler, children - friendly ones. This process, however, did give me an idea for the site. I thought I could have different versions of the story. The same principals, but suitable for a certain age range. Users of the site could select their age range (whether it being 3-6, 7-11, 12-16 etc) and then they could read the story in the version that's apt for them. If that certain version of the story is too complicated or difficult to read, or the opposite, then they can upgrade or downgrade to the other version.

This version is aimed at 8-11 year olds. There is also a version with more complicated vocabulary for 12-15 year olds.

Advice, comments and critique would be fully appreciated. I know further editing may be required, and this won't be the final version put on the site.

Two Questions:-
When the fox, adder and owl speak, they speak in rhymes of two lines. Do you think two lines is enough, or should I turn their dialogue into four line poetry?
Do you think the story's writing aims towards 8-11 year olds, or younger or older?

Around 10-13 Illustrations to follow for the site which are near completion. :)
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