Life in the Jungle – Chapter Six – Doris the Consistently Caring Duck

A friend requested a story to fit her book of illustrations. The illustrations will follow in due course. It is a story with seven chapters (seven illustrations, that is) and the story starts here. In the meantime, I have sketched my impression of Doris (see below).

Doris the Consistently Caring Duck

Doris the Consistently Caring Duck


Doris the Duck was all about caring. There were many who cared about others, but Doris did it consistently, carefully and conscientiously. You could always rely on Doris to be there when you needed her. Doris would care above and beyond the call of duty.

She certainly did when it came to caring for Maurice the Fun-Loving Monkey.

Maurice had fallen out of a tree after his swing had broken. His friends had done all they could to make sure he was taken swiftly to be taken care of by Doris. They knew she would know just how to nurse her new patient.

It turned out that Maurice was a patient who would test anyone’s patience.

At first, Maurice wasn’t aware that he was a patient. His head was still fuzzy from the fall and he had drifted off to sleep while Lucy and Lynette the Lamenting Lyre Birds had sung their beautiful song.

While he was sleeping, Doris carefully washed the mud off Maurice (for he had fallen into a muddy puddle underneath the tree). Then she plucked the leaves from his fur (for he had fallen past several branches on his way down). She removed the splinters from his hands (for he had made the swing himself) and she laid him gently on a bed of fresh leaves and soft grass.

This took Doris quite some time. Having wings, not hands or paws, made things a little trickier. But Doris was up for a challenge!

When Maurice woke up, things got a little more challenging.

‘Nurse!’ cried Maurice.

‘Yes, Maurice?’ replied Doris.

‘I’m thirsty!’

Doris hurried to the pond and brought some lovely cool water back for Maurice to drink.


‘Yes, Maurice?’

‘I’m hungry!

‘I’ll fetch you something to eat,’ said Doris.

‘No, don’t leave me! I’ll be lonely! Oh, so lonely! So, so lonely!’

What was Doris to do? She couldn’t find food and keep Maurice company.

She soon came up with a solution. Doris was good at problem-solving. In her spare time she’d been taking crisis-calming classes taught by Frank the Rapid-Fire Response Frog.

She called Bernard and Barry the Data-Collecting Bears. They were willing to help and knew just the right places to find food. They had very good taste in food and Doris had every confidence that they’d come back with just the right thing.

While they searched for food that was both nutritious and made from the finest ingredients, Doris sat with her lovely soft wing around Maurice’s shoulders. Maurice was very happy. At least for a little while. Then,


‘No need to shout, Maurice. I’m right here.’

‘But I’m bored! B-O-R-E-D! Bored, I tell you! This being a patient is no fun whatsoever!’

Doris managed not to take this personally. She smiled patiently, then suggested that perhaps Lucy and Lynette might sing a song to Maurice to cheer him up. Maurice thought that was a lovely idea. Lucy and Lynette were only too happy to help. They sang some happy songs as they flew around above Maurice. Maurice felt very happy indeed. Then,


‘What is it now, Maurice?’

‘I feel like nobody really cares about me being a patient, lying here all sick and sad and hungry’ (for he had quickly forgotten about the birds’ songs and the bears’ gourmet sandwiches).

Doris was relieved to see, at that very moment, Gordon the Complicated Giraffe coming to deliver a ‘Get Well’ card to Maurice. She knew for a fact that Gordon’s cards were always beautifully written and that it would make Maurice feel very special. Gordon’s card was beautiful and Maurice felt very special. For a little while. Then,


‘WHAT!’ Doris quacked.

Maurice was startled! Doris was always so patient with her patients. He started to cry.

Doris felt awful! She hated it when this happened. She had tried so hard to be patient and caring but she had got tired. Her wing hurt from holding Maurice. Her feathers were all muddy from all the waddling back and forth to care for him. She was hungry, too. Bernard and Barry had thoughtfully brought her an extra sandwich, but Maurice had liked the look of hers and she’d offered it to him instead.

All that pressure and she’d quacked! Doris felt awful! She waddled very quickly to the pond, swam out into the deepest part, ducked her head under the water and her tail in the air and she let out a great big ‘QUACK!!!!’ under the water.

Doris Quacks!

Doris Quacks!

No one heard her, of course. She didn’t want anyone to see how tired and overwhelmed she was. She felt much calmer with her head under the water, but soon she had to come back up for air.

When she finally came up for air, what she saw was not good! Things had turned very bad, very quickly.

Bernard and Barry were exhausted from running around finding more and more food. Their furry brows were furrowed – and when Bernard and Barry’s brows were furrowed, you knew they were not doing well at all.

Gordon was crying behind the tree because he’d started thinking about how he hardly ever got cards when he wasn’t feeling great.

Lucy and Lynette were tired from flying and singing endlessly to keep Maurice amused.

And Maurice? He was lying flat on his back crying and occasionally calling out ‘Nurse! Nurse! I have no nurse!’

Doris stuck her head back under the water and waited.

She knew He would come. It was times like these, when everyone was at the end of themselves, that He always came. She waited and trusted that He’d come again.

It was times like these that they all needed the King of the Jungle.


Tune in for the next chapter when the King of the Jungle will hopefully arrive. Will he be scary or kind?

Please feel free to leave questions, suggested changes, critique about the feasibility of the story, or other editorial comments below. This is a work in progress.



Life in the Jungle – Chapter Three – Bernard and Barry the Data-Collecting Bears

A friend requested a story to fit her book of illustrations. The illustrations will follow in due course. It is a story with seven chapters (seven illustrations, that is) and the story starts here. In the meantime, I have sketched my impression of Bernard and Barry (see below).

Bernard and Barry the Detail-Loving Bears

Bernard and Barry the Detail-Loving Bears

Bernard and Barry loved details and they loved collecting data.

They loved to count. One, two, three, four, five. They loved to add and subtract. They especially loved multiplying because, well, it made more numbers and numbers were such a source of delight.

They didn’t just love numbers. They loved collecting data. Bernard and Barry could tell you how many trees there were in the Jungle and how many different types there were. They could tell you this information because they had the amazing ability to collect information and then actually remember it!

Bernard and Barry were often misunderstood.

First, people would look at them and just see fuzzy, fluffy bears. They’d assume that Bernard and Barry had fuzzy, fluffy heads when, in actual fact (and Bernard and Barry loved actual facts!), they had the smartest, sharpest brains in the whole of the jungle.

Second, once people came to appreciate the smartness and sharpness of Bernard and Barry’s brains, they would assume that Bernard and Barry were not at all warm and fuzzy to be around, when in actual fact (and Bernard and Barry could would soon display concrete proof of this fact) they were two of the kindest, warmest animals in the whole of the jungle.

Bernard and Barry were the best kind of friends to have. Sometimes they seemed a bit fussy but it was because they wanted everything to be perfect. They wanted everyone to be safe. They wanted everything to be just right.

Bernard and Barry were looking up into the tree and everything was most certainly not perfect or right. Maurice the fun-loving Monkey was, in actual fact, very unsafe!

Maurice the Monkey was too busy swinging and laughing to notice Bernard and Barry on the ground below him. He was swinging too fast to see their worried faces. He was laughing too loudly to hear their words of warning.

‘Maurice! Come down, right now!’

And Maurice did…come down…in one great big crash!

As Maurice lay on the ground, tangled in the rope from the swing, moaning a little, Bernard and Barry very quickly calculated that now was not the time to tell Maurice why his swing hadn’t worked.

If Maurice had, some time ago, asked his dear, detail-loving, data-collecting friends, they would have been able to retrieve from their very smart and sharp brains the information they had once read on ‘How to Make a Tree Swing That Will Last a Lifetime’.

Bernard and Barry could have taught Maurice all about the different types of wood from the different types of trees but instead of using ‘weather resistant, rot-resistant, non-splintering wood’, Maurice had chosen to use the ‘thin, easy-splitting pine shelving’ from his grandmother’s garden shed. Bernard and Barry could have warned Maurice about the pitfalls of using ‘natural-fibre manila rope’ as they remembered reading that it would ‘rot in time and break when least expected.’

It did rot and it did break.

But to Bernard and Barry it was not at all unexpected.

Bernard and Barry drew on their stores of knowledge gathered in the ‘Counselling 101’ course they had once signed up for and they refrained from saying anything to Maurice at that particular moment.

Instead they knelt down beside him on the ground and they were silent. Bernard held Maurice’s left hand and Barry held his right hand.

Then they waited for Lucy and Lynette the Lamenting Lyre Birds to start their comforting song of sorrow and regret.

Tune in for the next chapter when Lucy and Lynette will sing the words we all long to hear when things haven’t quite turned out the way we planned. Please feel free to leave questions, suggested changes, critique about the feasibility of the story, or other editorial comments below. This is a work in progress.


Life in the Jungle – Chapter Two – Maurice the Fun-Loving Monkey

A friend requested a story to fit her book of illustrations. The illustrations will follow in due course. It is a story with seven chapters (seven illustrations, that is). In the meantime, I have sketched my impression of Maurice (see below).

This chapter was written while babysitting for some friends. I got to sit, curled up on the lounge, by the fire, while the kids slept. No children’s book was plagiarised in the making of this chapter…not that I know of, anyway.

Maurice the Fun-Loving Monkey

Maurice the Fun-Loving Monkey

Maurice was a fun-loving monkey.

While Gordon the Complicated Giraffe was thinking and thinking, Maurice was playing and playing.

Maurice liked playing a lot. He loved talking too, but he mostly liked talking about playing. He didn’t much like playing on his own, so he would talk about playing to others until they agreed to join in playing with him.

Maurice was fun to play with. Most of the time.

Sometimes Maurice liked to explore new games and see if they were as fun as the old games. They usually were. Sometimes they were even better! Maurice loved it when that happened! Sometimes he invented new games all by himself. Though he always invented games where others could join him. Maurice didn’t like playing by himself.

One day, as Gordon was standing by a particularly large tree, thinking about trees and how amazing it was that the leaves fell off and grew back just at the right time, his thinking was suddenly interrupted by a loud squeal and then lots of laughing.

It was Maurice the Monkey! He had just had the first swing on his brand new swing. He made the swing all by himself. He was pretty excited about it. So excited that he felt he just had to tell someone about it. That someone just happened to be Gordon, because Gordon just happened to be standing beside that particular tree.

Gordon had been too busy thinking about trees to notice Maurice’s noisy building of the swing in that tree and now it was too late to get away.

‘Gordon! I say, Gordon! You’ve got to take a look at this swing! Look! I can swing baa-aa-ck and fo-oo-rth! It’s am-aaaaa-zing! I know, you’re thinking, “That’s what swings do, Maurice”, but I’m telling you, this swing is better than any swing that has ever been swung on before. It’s so fast and it’s so high up in this tree. Gordon! Gordon! You’ve got to have a go!’

Gordon was not so much a fun-loving giraffe. He liked fun, most of the time. But the fun had to be safe fun. Maurice’s swing did not look very safe. It was made from some very thin rope and a very thin piece of wood to sit on. The rope really was very thin! Gordon was thinking ‘I’m not sure that Maurice has really thought this through…’

Besides, Gordon was too tall to have a go on the swing. He always had been too tall for swings. His legs were too long and his feet would scuff along the ground. He never did think swings were that fun.

Maurice thought his swing was very fun! He was telling everyone about it! Anyone who’d listen.

There were two bears on the ground below the swing, looking up into the tree. They were listening. They were also thinking very sound, very sensible, very scientific thoughts. While Maurice was swinging and talking and squealing and laughing, the two bears were doing a risk assessment of Maurice’s swing.

Gordon had thought that the swing didn’t seem very safe.

The two bears, Bernard and Barry, knew for a fact that this swing was not at all safe. Their risk assessment would soon prove to be correct.

Tune in for the next chapter when Bernard and Barry will give their scientific reasoning for why Maurice’s swing was not safe. Please feel free to leave questions, suggested changes, critique about the feasibility of the story, or other editorial comments below. This is a work in progress.