Benjamin Thompson is an unusual name for a cat. But then Ben is an unusual cat. Whether by fate or by folly, he finds a home in an unusual place – a Junkyard. And there he finds his place in a community of delightfully unusual friends: a steadfast watchdog, a refined rat, a silly skunk, a wise old possum, and a host of helpful mice. Junkyard Tales delights in the joys, challenges, and adventures of friendship, community, and doing good in the world.
ABOUT THE STORIES
This is a collection of 13 autumn stories, for the 13 weeks of autumn.
Ben Thompson is determined to show his junkyard friends that he is strong and brave and unafraid. He decides to prove himself by venturing into the forest in the dark of night, despite the bobcat that lives there. And when he does in fact encounter “Spots”, the polite but very hungry bobcat, Ben realizes the true meaning of courage.
One morning the junkyard begins to shake, and all the animals are alarmed — is it an earthquake? A hurricane? A dragon? Sally the chipmunk is the only one who actually sees the source of the shaking and noise: a big, long, metal truck-like creature that rides along the iron tracks outside the junkyard fence. What could it be? And will everyone have a chance to see the creature for themselves?
The China Cabinet
Ben Thompson needs a new place to lay his head at night. The autumn rains have made his couch too soggy for sleep. But he doesn’t realize this until after the sun has set and most of the Junkyard is asleep! It takes some of his night-loving Junkyard friends, with a series of crazy ideas, to find just the right place for him to settle down for the rest of the fall.
The Guardian of the Junkyard
Ben knows all about knights: they are brave, they protect the weak, they have swords and shields, and they ride horses. But what he doesn’t know is that two of his junkyard friends are also knights! Junkyard knights! Once a year they “battle” it out to decide who shall be the next “Guardian of the Junkyard.”
Busy Rabbit’s Trick
The Junkyard has an autumn festival that involves disguises, intricate plans and surprises — and Lil Mamma, the busy rabbit, is the master. Ben Thompson, clever cat, learns to watch his step and question everything he sees — could it be a trick? Could it be a busy rabbit in disguise?
A Visit from Cowboy
One autumn night, a voice calls from below Ben Thompson’s china cabinet bed. Is it the Rowlands, that feisty raccoon family? Is it Lil’ Mamma, the busy rabbit? No, it’s his friend from the open world, Cowboy, a black cat who is looking to lay low for the night. Ben welcomes him, and the next day introduces his charming friend to the Junkyard crew. But when Cowboy talks of making this his new home, Ben starts to wonder — is there room for two cats in the Junkyard?
Curiosity and the Cat
A series of odd coincidences leads Ben Thompson, curious cat, to the suspicion that his best friend Sergeant, the steadfast watchdog, will be returning back to his puppyhood farm and leaving the Junkyard. Ben then concocts a far-fetched plan to keep his friend here — not realizing that he has made the entire scenario up!
Zippy and the Worry Charm
Porcupines aren’t afraid of anything. Or so says Zippy, the dreamy porcupine, to his friends. But once he’s alone with Ben Thompson, clever cat, Zippy confides that he is in fact afraid of something — going to bed. You see, he has lost his Worry Charm — a charm that chases away the worries so he can sleep. He doesn’t know what to do at first, and then he realizes the answer lies deep in the forest.
The Junkyard Pond in Autumn is a busy place, as many migrating birds make it a popular rest stop on their way south. Of all the various birds that stop for a drink and a chat, none are as loud and brash as the geese. The junkyard animals are used to this and understand that geese are geese and their teasing is not to be taken personally — but Ben is surprised to find that one of the geese seems to have forgotten that important fact.
The Forgetful Turkey
Sergeant and Ben Thompson hear a strange sound one morning. There’s a lost turkey in the Junkyard! They allow the turkey to come in so long as he honors the Junkyard rules — most importantly, stay out of sight of the Warden. This would be easy for the turkey if it wasn’t for his terrible memory. His forgetfulness puts the Junkyard animals in a very difficult position, but their cleverness saves the day.
Ben Thompson, clever cat, has always been curious about his friend Sergeant. Sergeant is so serious and so dedicated to his work, and he works all the time. Ben wonders what it would be like to be the steadfast watchdog of the Junkyard. One day, when Sergeant comes to the Junkyard with a bandaged foot, Ben gets to experience first hand what it is like to be the watchdog — with all its responsibility and reward!
One morning, a pair of curious mice find a perfectly wrapped present sitting in an old boot. They are not sure what to do, and first seek the advice of the kindly rat, and then the fun-loving skunk, and then the old possum. Only Sergeant, the steadfast watchdog, knows whose it is — but that doesn’t solve the full mystery. Where did it come from?
One morning Ben Thompson, clever cat, wakes to the sound of small scuffling feet. What could it be? Turns out it’s three small mice, hunting for hidden glass stars. Glass stars? Ben later discovers that hiding colorful glass stars for the mice to find is one of the many holiday traditions in the Junkyard. There’s also storytelling and gift-giving among others! It all sounds great to Ben; he wants to hide stars and tell stories and make gifts! But how can he possibly do it all? Sergeant, the steadfast watchdog, helps Ben realize what is truly important about holiday traditions.