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 summer stories, for the 13 weeks of summer.
The Squirrel Circus is Here!
After great anticipation, the Squirrel Circus finally comes to the Junkyard. Everyone is excited except Sergeant, the steadfast watchdog, who is entrusted with keeping the Junkyard safe and sound. He is extra vigilant, making sure everything is in its place and all are accounted for. But he is caught unprepared when seven frisky acrobats come bounding over the Junkyard fence.
Fredland the Moose
It is summer, and the Junkyard is hot, too hot to stay home. So on the steamiest summer mornings, the Junkyard animals take a ‘holiday’ visit to the nearby lake with its hills of blueberry bushes. One such morning, the unfortunate happens: Ben Thompson gets lost in the woods. It takes the kindness of a friendly and rather large forest animal to help the town cat find his way back to his friends.
The mice must move! This urgent news is discovered in the early morning hours one summer day. The excavator is coming, and their dirt pile homes will be no more! Sargent, the junkyard watchdog, and Ben Thompson, the adventurous cat, know this sudden shift will be rather hard on the mice. How can they move the mice crew both quickly and gently? Georgia Bean, the kindly rat, concocts the perfect strategy to find new lodgings while allowing the mice to say goodbye to their longtime home.
Where is Spiro the skunk? He has been late or absent to the junkyard meetings and food collections lately. Ben Thompson, the Junkyard cat, is wondering what is up. Ben suspects that Spiro has been visiting a secret new friend outside the Junkyard fence; but what delight awaits him when Ben, and the rest of the Junkyard animals, discover the truth!
The Pie Festival
Ben Thompson, clever cat, wakes to a buzz of activity in the Junkyard: today is the day of the Pie Festival! On this eventful day, each of the junkyard animals makes their own particular pie, and at the end of the day, the pies are judged. And, the identity of the judge is a secret! But what kind of pie should Ben Thompson make? The diets and tastes of all the junkyard animals are so different! In the end, Ben makes an original pie that will win the attention of at least one junkyard animal.
The Lost and Lonely Owl
What is that strange sound? Ben Thompson, clever cat, suspects it is an owl and hides. This hooting, however, is very small and very sad. Ben inspects to find that the source is a lost and lonely owlet. How can a cat help a baby owl find his way home? With the help of his Junkyard friends!
The Cool House
It is hot in the Junkyard, and the animals are worried about Mr. Flinch, the old possum. They know that the intense heat is not good for him, so they devise a plan to create a cool house under the Junkyard Warden’s air-conditioned office. But how will they construct this space without the Warden knowing? And how will they sneak in Mr. Flinch? And what happens when all the other animals hear about this deliciously cool house?
Brothers and Sisters
A heat wave has swept through the Junkyard and the neighboring areas. Mr. Flinch, the old possum, wants help bringing his older brother, Mr. Blinch, from town to the Junkyard, where he can enjoy the "cool house" under the Warden's office. When Ben Thompson, clever cat, and his friends go to retrieve Mr. Blinch, they are shocked to find, not an old gentleman possum, but a striped cat that looks an awful lot like Ben!
How She Does It
How does Mitzie Niegel, the mysterious mouse from the far side of the Junkyard, know the secret and surprising things she knows? This is a question that Ben Thompson, clever cat, means to answer. But when he is finally able to ask Mitzie face to face, he is inspired by her answer.
The Junkyard animals don’t know what to do. It is the All Clear Common, when no one works and the animals do things that are fun and relaxing. But no one has any good ideas. Not until Fredland the Moose arrives with an exciting invitation: come to “Beaver Days,” where the forest animals meet at the lake to play games, run races, and eat all sorts of yummy food! The Junkyard Animals have an adventure they could never have imagined on their own.
It is Ben Thompson’s birthday, and the clever cat has a surprising wish: he’d like to get closer to the Junkyard Warden. But there’s a problem: Ben is not allowed to show himself to the warden or to any of the workers. It’s a hard-and-fast rule. But when the sound of a jingling bell sends both him and the warden on a magical treasure hunt through the junkyard, Ben discovers a connection with the warden that he never would have dreamed possible.
The Open World
Ben Thompson, clever cat, is asked to lead a group of young mice into town for their weekly lessons with their mouse teacher. With this invitation, he realizes he will have a chance to have a little adventure in the open world! When he encounters an old friend from his days on the streets — once a rough-and-tumble alley cat who has surprisingly become a plump-and-happy house cat — Ben gains a new perspective: life in the open world, life in a house and life in the Junkyard are all seen through new eyes.
The Rowlands, an industrious family of raccoons, find a golden necklace buried in the most recent pile of trash. As Rebecca Rowland teases out the chain, she discovers at its end — what’s this — a diamond! Her son’s aching belly then distracts her from the find and so begins the diamond’s journey from raccoon to skunk to mice to turtle and onward. Will it find its true owner again?