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Texas ISD School Guide
Texas ISD School Guide

Short Stories for Teachers

Writing 101: Getting an Idea for a Children’s Story
By:John T Jones, Ph.D.

I guess you’ve noticed that children’s books are often about everyday happenings. The Cat in the Hat is an exception that everyone loves. So are fairy tales involving fire-spitting dragons. But those types of stories are less common than the stories you find at garage sales.

Some writers say, “If I only had an idea.” Then they go off without writing a story when they could easily generate an idea for a story if they just tried.

I was reading the newspaper classifieds a couple of hours ago. I was looking at the ads my competition were running to see if I couldn’t get one-up on them by writing a better ad. I read about everything so I read the lost pet ads which had nothing to do with what I was doing.

As I looked at the ads for lost pets I could feel the pain the owner’s were going through. I thought if there was only a Pet Detective to help them find their lost critters.

It immediately dawned on this old gray head that there was great story idea; A series of books for children staring the Pet Detective. I immediately sat down and wrote the following to show you how easy it is to write such a story.

Can you write a Pet Detective story right after you’ve read this story?

Give it a go!

Remember as you write that everything has to be made obvious to children.

Lost Pet Detective: The Firehouse Dalmatian

The Pet Detective read in the local paper that the firehouse Dalmatian in Clinton City had scampered away when the gas tank of Fred Smith’s car exploded before the firemen could get the fire out.

The newspaper article said that Fred saw smoke from under his engine hood so he pulled off the farm road one mile east of town. He got out of the car and dialed 911 on his cell phone. While he was calling, the car burst into flames. He quickly told the 911 operator where the car was and then ran to the Barker farmhouse for help.

The farmer’s wife, Sarah Barker, answered the door. When she saw the fire, she quickly helped Fred fill a couple of farm milking buckets with water. They saw that the fire truck was already coming from town, speeding down the road with the siren screaming. It kicked up a big cloud of dust that could be seen for at least a country mile.

Fred got to the car about the same time as the fire engine did. He realized that the water he was carrying had almost all spilled out as he ran to put out the fire. He threw what was left on the hood of the car.

George Spellman, the Fire Chief, grabbed Fred by the arm and said, “Get out of here, Fred. The gas tank might explode.”

Ginger, the firehouse Dalmatian dog watched with interest from the top of the cab of the fire truck. That is where she always sat during a fire. She wanted to see what was going on.

The firemen pulled out the water hoses from the truck and sprayed water on the fire from a good distance. They were afraid that the gas tank would explode. At first, it looked like the fire was going out. That’s when a great explosion roared forth knocking the firemen to the ground as well as Fred and the farmer’s wife.

They were not hurt but they all watched Ginger, the firehouse Dalmatian, jump of the cab of the fire truck and run as fast as she could across the farmer’s hay field.

According to the newspaper article, George Spellman, the fire chief, said, “Well, we’ll see Ginger back at the firehouse.”

Bill Flock, one of the volunteer firemen who had driven his pickup to the fire, said, “Well, we may not see her for a while. She’s going the wrong way.”

The article said that when the fireman got Fred’s car cooled down enough to be safe they went back to the fire house. Fred’s car was totally destroyed but the firemen knew that he would get a new car paid for by his insurance company. They were not worried about Fred but they were worried about Ginger. She was lost!

The newspaper article also said that later that evening while the firemen sat around the table in the Fire House kitchen eating sandwiches, the Chief said, “She’ll be back! She is just scared.” But she didn’t come back that day or the next or the next.

The Pet Detective laid the newspaper down on the kitchen table and said to his wife, “Nancy, I’m driving over to Clinton this morning. Would you like to tag along?”

Nancy was towel drying a breakfast bowl that she had just washed. She said, “I would love to go but today is the church luncheon. Guess who is in charge? I know why you are going to Clinton. It’s Ginger, isn’t it? I would love to go but I guess you will have to find Ginger without my help. She probably ran back to the puppy farm.”

The Pet Detective laughed. He said, “Well, I’ll see you later!”

But he thought about what his wife said. He knew that Ginger was only about one year old. Instead of driving off to Clinton, he grabbed the telephone book. He looked under kennels until he found one that bred Dalmatians. There was such a kennel in Bradley City. He called over there and a lady answered the telephone. He said, “I’m looking for a lost Dalmatian. Have you got a stray over there?”

The lady said, “Yes, we have a Dalmatian about one year old that came here the other day. We couldn’t tell from her markings who she is. I think she is one of our dogs or why else would she come here? We have been looking at our puppy photos but there are a lot to look at. We sell a lot of dogs.”

The Pet Detective said, “So it is a bitch of the right age.” Do you remember selling a dog to the Clinton fire house?” A bitch is a female dog. It is not a swearword when used properly.

The lady said, “We did sell a dog to a lady in Clinton early last year.”

The Pet Detective said, “What was her name? Do you remember?”

The lady said, “Just a minute. I can look it up.”

A minute later the lady came back on the telephone. She said, “We sold her to a lady by the name of Mary Spellman.”

The Pet Detective said, “That is the Clinton Fire Chief’s wife. Is the dog in good health?”

The lady said, “When she got in here she was exhausted and filthy dirty. We cleaned her up and fed her and she is just fine. I think she drank a gallon of water after she got here.”

The Pet Detective said, “I’m coming over. I know who she belongs to. Will that be okay?”

The lady said that would be fine and hung up the telephone.

The Pet Detective took Ginger back to the firehouse and half the town showed up to see her. The Fire Chief thanked the Pet Detective and some of the guys got up a collection to pay for the gasoline that the Pet Detective had used to get Ginger and bring her home. The Pet Detective said that he did not want the money but Bill Flock, the volunteer firemen who had driven his pickup to the fire, said, “Take your wife out to dinner. That will make us happy and your wife happy too.”

So that’s what the Pet Detective did. They went to dinner two days later. Nancy said, “I guess that was some bit of detective work to get Ginger back.”

He took a bite of cat fish and said to her, “Yes, it was. I had to use all of my detective skills.”

Nancy spun a girl on her forehead with her finger. She said, “I can’t imagine where you got the clue that solved the problem. You must have used all of your imagination.”

The Pet Detective said, “I guess you saw today’s paper. Did you go down to the newspaper office and get an early copy?”

She laughed and said, “I guess I did and I guess I know how you solved the case. You went right to the puppy farm. Now where did you get such an idea?”

They both laughed.

John T. Jones, Ph.D.

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