Today we are featuring Inklings Book Contest 2018 finalist, Ruthie Gawley! Ruthie finished 4th grade this past school year. The story she submitted is called “The Tortoise and the Hare.” In it, she retells the familiar story of the tortoise and the hare in a new way. Enjoy!
Dear The Daily Star,
Hi! I’m Mr. Matthew Hare, but you can call me Matthew, and I live in Huckleberry City, England. Anyways, ever since the book The Tortoise and the Hare came out, everyone–even fellow hares–thinks I’m jumpy and over-energetic and really shallow-minded! I’m not! I want to share the real story with you.
I was almost hopping for joy. I had just graduated from Mr. Huckleberry’s College for young animals AND I had got 100% on the exam. I hopped over to my friends, Snake, Rabbit, and Tortoise. Snake and Rabbit looked a bit sad, and I suspected they had gotten about 50%, not too great, but enough to pass. But Tortoise was stomping and glaring at anyone going past, and I could see he had gotten only 25% on the exam, which is a fail. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw our principal, Mr. Owl, hurry over. He was wearing a formal purple suit and a large top hat.
Beaming, he said, “Ah, Matthew, you did amazingly! Now, Tortoise (his smile faded), as your performance was so low, I doubt you would do well in a more academic job, but don’t fear, I have just the job for you. I have talked to Welda the warthog, and she says Welda’s Toilet Plunging would be happy to accept you!” He walked away to talk to a small, tired looking fox, leaving Tortoise beside himself with rage and misery.
Seeing my friends so sad gave me an idea.
“Well… guys, do you want to come over to my burrow for some apple pie?” I asked, hoping it would take their minds off the exams. Rabbit and Snake were cheered up at the mere mention of apple pie, but Tortoise seemed cheered up in a bad way. His face twisted into a sinister smile as he nodded and stomped away, and I had a terrible feeling he had not let go of his feelings like Rabbit and Snake.
I went home and started to make the pie. At 6 p.m., Snake, Rabbit, and Tortoise arrived at my burrow. I was just about to put the pie in the oven when I realized I had forgotten the cinnamon to go on top of the pie, and after looking in the store cupboard, Snake established that there was no cinnamon in the house.
“Oh, Matthew, I just happen to have some have cinnamon with me,” croaked Tortoise.
“Sprinkle it on, then,” said I, without thinking.
As Tortoise dusted the powder over the pie, I thought I saw a glimpse of the writing on the packet. I was almost sure it said ‘Sleeping powder, fool your friends into falling asleep.’
WHAT! I thought. I glanced back, but Tortoise had whipped the packet away. I shrugged and put the pie in the oven.
One hour later, Rabbit, and Snake, and I sat around the table enjoying the apple pie, which was very delicious. Tortoise was sitting in an armchair by the fire, and he claimed he could not eat the pie as he was on a ‘low-sugar diet.’ One by one, Rabbit, Snake, and then Tortoise left. I got into bed and closed my eyes, feeling uncharacteristically exhausted. I suddenly felt worried, and could not think why I had eaten the pie if Tortoise just might have poisoned it.
Oh, Matthew, why would Tortoise want to make you fall asleep? I told myself, and, as this was a calming thought, I settled on it and went to bed.
The next day I yawned as my alarm clock went off. I struggled to get my eyes to open. I stretched, and crawled out of the burrow, only to almost faint in surprise.
Reporters were gathered around, all wearing suits or smart dresses. Every reporter in England must have been there, including all the big brands like The Weekly Hare, Early Morning Rabbit, and The Daily Star, who usually just went to important events.
“Um…what’s going on?” I asked a Daily Star reporter who was wearing an orange suit, a red tie, and a yellow hat, not to mention pink sparkly shoes. Overall, he almost burnt my eyes.
“Ahh, yes, a Tortoise challenged a Hare called Matthew to a race.”
“W-W-WAIT, WHAT!” I stuttered. I didn’t have time to think, I just ran as fast as I could to the Huckleberry race track. There stood Tortoise, looking very smug.
I felt useless and scared, and still very sleepy, as I stood there in my pajamas.
A very official-looking Badger looked down on us and called, “Ready, Set, GO!”
I looked around and realized I had no choice but to run. The wind whipped past my body as I ran along. Just as I was beginning to enjoy myself, a strange tiredness came over me, and through it, I could only make out one thought: Tortoise had put sleeping powder in the pie, so he could win the race and make me look stupid. This is how he would get his revenge after his embarrassment with Mr. Owl!
“Come on Matthew, not too far now, you can make it,” I thought to myself desperately as I felt myself dropping to my knees and then onto my stomach. I fought the urge to sleep as my eyes closed, but I knew it was hopeless as my brain went foggy and I could no longer see the sky.
The next thing I knew, I was waking up to see Tortoise sneering down at me, a medal around his neck, thousands of reporters swarming around him.
I guess there’s nothing much more to say, except next time you see Tortoise, tell him it’s not funny. At least you know the truth.
Mr. Matthew Hare
Wondering how to support the youth writer in your life? We can help! Check out our cheat-sheet below called What Makes a Good Story. This cheat-sheet will help you have creative, writerly conversations with your Young Inkling, even if you’re not a writer yourself.