Monday, October 26, 2020

The Story Of A Teacher, Students, a Classroom, with Adventure & Mystery Books For Readers 8 - 12

Most people, who know my story, know I grew up absolutely hating to read. This in spite of the fact that my father was a prolific author. Some of his books were for kids, but I didn’t read them.

It was much later in life when I realized why I hadn’t enjoyed reading as a child. That’s when I began writing the kinds of adventures and mysteries I would have enjoyed back then. Action, adventure, dialog, and humor that was short on details and descriptions.

Being honest, it’s been a slow process finding my way into the market for my books. But what I have found is, once teachers, parents, librarians, and kids discover my books, they’re hooked to put it mildly. Let me illustrate.

At the beginning of this year, our son moved out of Chicago and into one of the suburbs. This meant his 9 year-old daughter would have to be the new kid in a new school. Earlier in the summer, she had come across some of my books, on her dad’s bookshelf, and began reading them all on her own. 

When she got to school, she told her teacher that her grandfather wrote books for kids. When her teacher expressed interest, I sent seven of my books for the classroom bookshelf.

My granddaughter FaceTimed us this past week to report on what had happened. 

“All the books disappeared right away,” she said, “and everyone loves them. They’ve even said they want to read every one.”

Of course, this made my day, my week, and more. But it got me thinking how amazing it would be if more teachers across the country would give these books a try in their classrooms. Here’s another example of a teacher’s experiences with my middle grade adventures and mysteries. She writes an open letter to fellow teachers.

Dear Teacher,

   My name is Sandra Stiles. I am a middle school Language Arts teacher in Bradenton, Florida. I have always had a passion for reading. That passion doesn’t always transfer to your own children. My daughter was a struggling reader. It took another teacher to introduce her to an author whose books she devoured.  

    I am here to tell you about that author who has my students reading and fighting over his books.  Max Elliot Anderson has been one of my favorite authors for several years. Not only do I love his books, but my students love them as well.  I have three classes of students who have a remedial reading class, then they come to me for Language Arts.  

     When I did my first book pass with my students I made sure to have one of Max’s books in each pile to introduce them to his books. Both boys and girls love his books. Almost all of his books are not only filled with adventure, but also mystery. 

     One of my lowest readers has made it a goal to read all of Max’s books I have on my shelves. He has read eight books so far. The really cool part is that he started talking to some of the girls in the class. Now he has them reading them, too.

     Max has two major series, “The Sam Cooper” series and “The Accidental Adventures” series.  Both of these have characters that all kids - boys and girls alike - will love. There are also several standalone titles.

     I can’t say enough about his books.  I highly recommend them to classrooms everywhere.

Sandra Stiles


ELA teacher/Dept. Chair

My books are readily available on Amazon

I hope you’ll give them a try soon, and see the excitement that happens in your own classroom.

Thank you,

Max Elliot Anderson  

Speaking to students at an author school visit.

Max Elliot Anderson
Middle Grade Adventure & Mystery Author

Wednesday, September 23, 2020

A Positive Book For Your 8 - 13 Reader Especially At Halloween

Here’s an exciting mystery - adventure for your young reader at Halloween, “Ghosts in the Old Attic” is written from a Christian perspective when the rest of the world focuses on the dark side of witches, ghosts, and evil.


Ghosts in the Old Attic

Author: Max Elliot Anderson

Audience: 8 – 12; especially boys

Words: 31,000

Sam Cooper is about to get the surprise of his life. His parents plan to leave Harper’s Inlet, Florida,  and move to Louisiana, where they will open a bed and breakfast.

When the family arrives, Sam’s cousins have some pretty wild-eyed stories to tell about a “haunted” mansion nearby. He and his cousins begin exploring the creepy place. Where were those noises coming from and the strange lights at night? There is also a rumor that the reason this place is “haunted” is because there is buried pirate treasure hidden someplace. 

As the cousins are investigating, Sam’s parents have been looking for an available property they can afford.

Sam was in for another surprise when he found out about the rundown mansion his parents finally chose to buy. Who is trying to discourage them from moving in and why?

Will the family be able to open the bed and breakfast before it’s too late, or will they lose all their money?

This book is written for readers 8 - 13, especially boys. 


5.0 out of 5 stars

Excellent read explaining "ghosts" in a realistic setting!

"It's okay to be a little scared. But if you wake up every morning and tell God you need Him to help you in your day...He will." What a great theme that runs through Ghosts In The Old Attic (A Sam Cooper Adventure Book 6) by Max Elliot Anderson. This is such a great book for all ages, although I would think middle school kids would related to the adventures of Sam and his cousins.

I particularly liked that the "ghosts" kept the adventure moving, while Dad helped explain that there is a dark side to life which people battle with and accept, but if you dig deep enough you'll always find that God has the real answer you are looking for.

I did jump into this series, but it is a stand alone story, fast paced with easy to like characters with a realistic setting. An excellent read!

GHOSTS IN THE OLD ATTIC is the sixth book in Mr. Anderson's tween boys series, but it stands alone. I read all the books in it except two. Mr. Anderson was the author that helped my youngest son to enjoy reading and even though he writes mainly for reluctant boy readers, girls enjoy his books and my reluctant reader youngest daughter is engaged by his books.

GHOSTS IN THE OLD ATTIC  I figured there was a mystery in there somewhere and there was. I liked the ending, and didn't find the book particularly scary (though a tween might). There are a lot of ghost stories included (which definitely appeal to tween boys) and of course a possible buried treasure ... sure things that will appeal to the reluctant male tween reader on your list.

Another of Max Elliot Anderson's spooky stories, again starring Sam Cooper. I'm thinking kids in their teens will love this. Shoot, I'm in my backwards teens, and I loved it!

Poor Sam! His folks have decided to uproot him from all his friends in Harper's Inlet and drag him all the way to Louisiana. They want to open a bed and breakfast.

As if that wasn't bad enough, they'll probably choose one of those old (aka, historic) mansions with a dozen pirate stories attached to it, along with stories of ghosts and treasure. Sam likes ghost stories in movies and books, but definitely NOT in real life!

His cousins live where they're moving, and Scooter and Shelley introduce him to ... yep, you guessed it ... a haunted house. Which of course they have to explore. After one hair-raising experience, you'd think they'd stay away, but no. Scooter is just all the more fascinated, and Sam doesn't want to be labeled as a scaredy-cat.

Sam Cooper’s parents are moving the family to Louisiana. They want to open and bed and breakfast. Until they can find the perfect house, they are staying with his cousins Scooter and Shelley. Louisiana is known for its ghosts and pirates. Sam’s cousin loves telling Sam many stories. He even takes him to what he deems a haunted house. When Sam hears strange noises and sees strange sights he can’t explain he’s ready to leave. Scooter wants to go back. As luck would have it, Sam’s parents find a house they can afford with the charm they want. Yep, you guessed it. It is the old historic mansion that Sam’s cousin believes is haunted. If it isn’t haunted, then why would someone be trying to keep them out of the house? Loved all the twists and turns in this book. The twist at the end was wonderful. I have read several of the Sam Cooper series and have several on my school shelves. I highly recommend not only these books, but all of this author’s books. It is always a pleasure to read and review them.

5.0 out of 5 stars

Might be my fave so far!

This could be the most exciting one yet. Sam has to say goodbye to his friends in Harper’s Inlet, Florida to move to Louisiana. He gets to meet his Aunt, Uncle and cousins for the first time. His cousin Scooter is fascinated by ghost stories and Baton Rouge, Louisiana has plenty. But there are also tale of pirates—the most famous being Jean Lafitte.

When Sam’s parents decide to buy an old mansion nearby and renovate it into a Bed and Breakfast, the building inspectors tell them they are better off bull dozing the place and starting over.

I think this could be the best Sam Cooper Adventure so far. If you know a middle school boy or girl with questions about ghosts—this is the book to read.

Not just for kids

Reviewed in the United States on November 16, 2017

Not just for kids

I really enjoyed reading the book. The writing was age appropriate, filled with humor, and had a good message. I highly recommend this book for middle school age boys. Kids who like pirate stories and ghost stories will especially enjoy the book. Also, some interesting historical elements. 

Friday, September 11, 2020

“When The Lights Go Out” so we never forget.

The events after 9/11 helped to close down my professional video business, led to writing adventures & mysteries for readers 8 - 12, and ultimately writing “When The Lights Go Out” so we never forget.

See the book trailer 

Tuesday, August 04, 2020

He's Just A Rat

Max Elliot Anderson

In a quaint, stone cottage, on a narrow dirt road, lived a little old lady all alone. Most people in the area had no idea that a house even sat in this overgrown pecan grove. And few had ever seen Mrs. Albert C. Abernathy who lived inside. Those who did know her – the mailman for example – called her Ida. 

Each day on his route, he climbed over thick vines just to get to her mailbox. And almost every day, he brought her nothing but bills, bills, bills. He knew the little woman seldom received a letter, a greeting card, or anything special in the mail.

For Ida, every day started and ended the same. She’d awaken at six, put on a tea kettle, take out a loaf of dry bread, and sit down to breakfast…alone. Most days were uneventful, and ended when she turned out the lights, locked the doors, and went to bed. Locking the doors seemed silly because who knew she was in there in the first place?

Then one day something happened that would change Ida’s long lonely life forever. It began with a letter the mailman delivered that morning, after climbing over the vines just like he always had. After he’d gone, Ida shuffled out to the box, expecting to find another handful of bills she couldn’t pay. Oh, the bills were there, but something else was, too. She walked back to the cottage, closed the door, and sat at her kitchen table. 

Ida took a deep breath as she looked around the room. The ceiling above showed several stains from rain that seeped easily through shingles that should have been replaced years ago…if Ida only had the money to do that, but she didn’t. Her cupboards were nearly empty. Her eyes drifted over to the glass in one of her kitchen windows with a big crack. As she looked at the floor, large pieces of tile had crumbled long ago.

She stared again at the stack of envelopes from the day’s mail and noticed one, about in the middle of the pile, that looked different. Her crooked, wrinkled fingers shook as they reached out and slipped it from between all the others. Ida took out her wire rimmed glasses, the lenses covered with her own fingerprint smudges, and settled them onto her nose. 

“First Bank and Trust,” she said right out loud. “This can’t be good news.” A sharp letter opener rested against an even larger pile of unopened mail. Ida took the opener, slipped it under the flap, and slid it from one end of the envelope to the other. When she pulled the letter from inside, and opened, it, she nearly fainted after reading:

“We regret to inform you that, after your failure to contact us, the bank has no choice but to foreclose on your house. This will take place in two weeks…”

Ida dropped the letter to the floor, took a deep breath, put her hands to her face, slowly shook her head, and sighed, “Whatever shall I do?” She struggled to her feet, walked to the back door, and looked out. The yard behind her house had become even more overgrown than the front with brush, bushes, and vines. Ida hadn’t been in that part of the yard for so many years, she hardly remembered what was out there.

As she turned toward the kitchen again, her dimming eyes saw something move between the wall and a refrigerator that no longer worked.

“It’s a rat!” she screamed. Quickly she began searching for her raggedy straw broom. When she found it on the porch, she grabbed it and returned to where the rat had become hopelessly wedged between the refrigerator and the wall. 

“Try to come into my house, will you?” Ida demanded. With the broom in one hand, and a small bucket in the other, she moved with caution toward the helpless rodent. She placed the bucket behind the rat, and slipped her broom just beyond its head. With one, trembling move, Ida swooshed that rat into her bucket and hurried, as fast as a little old woman can hurry, out the door and into the back yard. 

She reached for a rusted shovel, leaning against an old, oak tree. Its long, wooden handle felt rough in her hand from years of wind, rain, and weather. Ida peered into the bucket. The rat didn’t seem to be moving. Is he alive or dead? She wondered. With one foot, she tipped the bucket on its side, then pushed it away. The rat tumbled out onto the dirt and weeds. Now Ida held the shovel in both hands, trembled as she raised it above her head and prepared to make sure that rat never bothered her again.

Just as Ida was about to slam the shovel down, with as much force as an old woman could, the helpless rat did something. He opened one eye. Ida noticed that, and eased her grip on the shovel for a moment. Then he opened his other eye and trued his head up slightly. Now that rat was looking directly into Ida’s eyes.

If the rat could speak, Ida was sure the look on his little rat face meant, “Please don’t. I’m just a rat.” But, of course, rats can’t talk. Still, that look made her stop. She lowered the shovel, and sat down on a fallen tree to think. When she did that, the rat closed his eyes and put his head down again.

What shall I do? Ida wondered. It wouldn’t be right to kill it. I mean, what did the rat ever do to me? Then she got an idea. She went back into the house, poured a small sip of her tea into a dusty glass, picked up a crust of bread, and hurried back outside. “He’s probably already gone,” she said. But when she reached the log, that little rat was still there, still struggling to breathe.

It was difficult for her, but Ida knelt beside the rat, poured tea around his mouth, and waited. An instant later, the rat put out his tongue as if he were asking for more. So she gave it to him. Next she broke up the bread crust and scattered small pieces near the rat’s mouth. After that, she went into her house and shut the door. During the day, Ida thought about the rat, but she didn’t go back out to check on him. If he’s dead in the morning, then that’s that, she thought.

Ida wondered about him as she turned out the light, pulled the covers up to her neck and went to sleep that night. But those thoughts were crowded out by the letter she had received from the bank. What shall I do? she thought as she drifted off to sleep.

The sun seemed extra bright when Ida awakened in the morning. Before putting on a kettle for her tea, she wanted to know if her rat was dead or alive. I say dead, she thought as she pushed open the back door, walked down stone steps, and crept over to the fallen tree. But when she looked closer, the bread pieces were gone. Not only that, the rat was gone, too.

“Well! I’ll probably find him in the house again,” she said with a huff.

For the next few days, Ida sat in her house, wondering what to do when the bank came to take over the property. She’d nearly forgotten about her rat until one morning when she walked to the back door and looked out.

“What’s that?” she asked right out loud. She opened the door and stepped outside. There, on the step, sat a shiny gold coin. Ida leaned down, picked it up, and held it in her hand. First she looked around the back yard, then down to the coin. “Where did you come from?” she asked with a giggle. Back inside, she placed the coin inside a carved, glass box. The next morning, the same thing happened. Now Ida had two gold coins. But on the third day, she found a key on the step where the coins had been. She held it between her thumb and finger and wondered how it got there and what it might open. The key was placed in the glass box along with her two coins.

A week went by, but there were no more gifts on her back step. Then early one morning, while she was still in bed, Ida thought she heard scratching sounds at her back door. It made her tremble all over. Still, she slipped out of her covers to see what it was. When she looked out the door, all Ida saw was a single pebble on the top step. Looking closer, she noticed another on the second step, then another and another.

Ida stepped into her slippers, put on her robe, and hurried outside. What she found were several pebbles that seemed to be arranged in a line for her to follow. So she did. Ida had to crawl under thick brush and over other fallen trees until she came to a stone fence. I didn’t even remember we had a fence, she thought. The line of pebbles turned to the right and led Ida to a corner where two walls met. There, the line ended. She reached out and pushed an opening into the bushes. What she saw next nearly knocked her backward. 

“It’s a door,” she said.

Sure enough, an old wooden door, built into the wall, sat hidden behind other thick tangled vines that grew along the stone wall. The old woman noticed that the door sat slightly open. Just then, a small head popped out. 

Seeing that almost cause Ida to trip over a dead branch on the ground. “My rat!” she said. 

The rat smiled back and then pushed the door open wide. When Ida bent over and looked inside, she saw that her rat was standing next to a large, wooden lockbox. “The key,” she said. The rat nodded. She reached out and tried to move the box, but it was far too heavy. Then the rat went around to one side, and came up with another gold coin. Ida noticed that he had scratched a hole into the soft, rotted wood of the old box and made an opening.

Over the next two days, Ida made several trips between her cottage and the stone fence. The first was to get the key. When she returned to the lockbox, she was delighted to see that her key fit the lock perfectly. She turned the key, heard a loud click, and then with both hands, lifted the top. Inside she found a pile of gleaming, gold and silver coins. Each time she came to the fence, she took as many coins as she could carry back in her apron to her cottage. Finally there were no more of them in the wooden box.

The next day, Ida heard a knock at her front door. Who could that be? She wondered. No one ever comes to my door anymore. But when she turned the knob, and opened her door, she saw the sheriff and a man wearing a dark suit. Both men had scratches on their hands and faces from the thorns and vines. 

“It’s time to leave your cottage,” the sheriff told her. The banker kept a stern look on his face.

Ida held up her hand. “Just a moment,” she said, turned, and left the men standing outside. In an instant she returned with a handful of coins, held them out and said, “Will these help?”

The banker took one of the coins, held it close, and studied the markings. “How many of these do you have?”

Ida shook her head. “I stopped counting after one hundred.” Then she smiled, covered her mouth, and giggled. 

The men left with instructions that she should come into town and settle her debts. Ida did that after meeting with a lawyer. While she was in his office, she also had him draw up some special papers.

A few days later, several men came to Ida’s cottage. They spent the next week clearing out all the thorns, brush, vines, and fallen trees from her front and back yards. Other men arrived to fix the roof, replace the floors and windows, and make all the much needed repairs on Ida’s home. Finally, they built a small building in the back yard, near the door in the stone fence. It looked just like Ida’s cottage, only smaller. The men took the lock from the wooden lockbox and fitted it into the front door of the smaller cottage. 

When everyone had gone, Ida went outside to see the work that had been done. As she strolled across the back yard, she saw something. Her rat stood near the small cottage, but he wasn’t alone. His family waited with him until Ida came to them. She wasn’t sure they’d understand, but she told them anyway. 

“This cottage now belongs to you. I’ve made sure that, as long as your family lives, you will have your own cottage to live in.” A small tear ran down her wrinkled cheek. She took a key from her apron pocket, leaned down, placed it in the lock, and opened the door. 

The rat family looked up at her but didn’t seem to understand. Then Ida gave the key to her rat and pointed toward the door as she nodded. One-by-one, he and his family entered the small cottage.

“You saved my home and you saved my life,” Ida said.  “I can never thank you enough.”

Ida and the small family of rats lived happily as neighbors for several years. And long after Ida was gone, her rat and his family had a home of their own for the rest of their lives.

Books by Max Elliot Anderson can be found on Amazon at: 

Review: Pop-Up Volcano!

I went through this amazing book with a five and eight year-old and both were totally fasciated. The pop-up pages are nothing short of spectacular. This will make an excellent resource for anyone studying volcanoes in school, writing a report, or participating in a science project concerning volcanoes. Both of my young readers kept flipping back to the pop-up pages again and again. 

A real favorite turned out to be the Volcanoes Under the Sea page. The kids couldn’t believe something like that could happen underwater. 

From the publisher:

Watch out! Explosive content! Science, history, and culture are brought to life through vibrant illustrations and riveting pop-ups in Pop-Up Volcano! that take you right to the edge of the crater.

Have you ever wondered how volcanoes are formed? Did you know that there are different types of eruptions? Pop-Up Volcano! tells you everything you’ve always wanted to know about volcanoes with fact-packed text―and pop-ups! Discover the science behind volcanic eruptions; what happens when magma meets water; the kinds of creatures that make their homes next to these mountains of fire; and what the Hawaiian goddess Pele has to do with all of this.

This fascinating book features detailed illustrations and stunning paper engineering for amateur volcanologists and nature lovers. Readers will delve deep beneath the surface of our planet, witnessing some of the most devastating moments in recorded history, including a mysterious volcanic eruption that occurred during the Middle Ages and the eruption of Mount Vesuvius outside Pompeii almost two thousand years ago.

Illustrated in color throughout.

Monday, July 27, 2020

Where Do You Get Ideas For Your Middle Grade Adventures And Mysteries?

A reoccurring question I hear often concerns a variation of, “Where do you get the ideas for your mystery and adventure books for kids?” This is an area where I feel particularly blessed because my life has included more than its share of adventure.

Much of it came from how I grew up, in a family of seven children. We lived in an idyllic place called Wolf Lake, Michigan. Our house was located on the grounds of the original Youth Haven where we had no end of woods to explore, lakes to swim in, and several colorful characters who lived nearby. 

It was later, through my film production experiences, that more serious adventures occurred. Like going to Vietnam to shoot a film just after getting out of the army. Or the project in Belfast, Northern Ireland, while the bombings were still frequent.

This post is about another one of those projects. In 2005, the story originally appeared in Guideposts and was called, “An Unexpected Song.” At the time, I had no idea that my father had put together a book of photographs from our ordeal. On a recent trip, to visit my mother, I found it. Some of the pictures I remember my dad shooting but not all of them. I had even shot a few of them, but completely forgot about it after all these years. 

Here, in pictures, is a true adventure story.

“Living Legends” is the title of a film we were shooting. It documented what happens in a Native American family when the father becomes a Christian and leads his family. 

Our final family interview was shot on the San Carlos Apache Indian Reservation. We finished early, allowing us to begin our trip back home sooner than expected. One of the local people gave us directions including a shortcut, right through the reservation, which would cut fifteen to twenty miles off the trip. 

We set out on the course we thought would take us to the main highway, but things went very, very wrong.

Oh, the scenery was beautiful, so long as we were sitting in a moving car, on a good road. But things deteriorated quickly after our tires left the pavement and we continued on a gravel surface.

With my military training, I should have known better and turned back the way we had come. We didn’t do that and soon I was stopping the car in order to jump out to remove jagged rocks from our path so our car didn’t bottom out and cause damage.

We reached a place called Seven Mile Wash. It looked like I could just drive across the dry sand, and continue where the road started up again on the other side. Immediately our tires became mired in what I can only describe as a powdery dust that resembled talcum powder. It took hours to jack the car up, dig out the tires, place logs under them, and inch the car forward, only to repeat the process over and over again.

Eventually, as I drove over a rise, with the sun in my eyes, the car started down the next hill and we hit a patch of those jagged rocks, tearing a hole in the transmission pan. As the fluid gushed out, gears began to slip until the car couldn’t travel any further. Our car was disabled and we were hopelessly lost.

As my dad stood next to it, I wrote down the numbers on a marker so we could try and explain to someone where our car was, after we hiked out of that wilderness. Well, that didn’t go as planned either. After several hours of hiking, we found that we’d gone in a full circle, in the dark, and wound up right back at our car. At about 2 AM, we were at 5000 feet of elevation, it was freezing out, so we spent the night sleeping in the car.

At daylight, we decided to try hiking out again. It wasn’t long until we discovered what a hostile environment we were stranded in. We walked for most of that day, lost touch with each other a couple of times, and my father fell and split his head open. Both of us became pretty discouraged. We were hungry, thirsty, and very lost. That’s when I hiked to the top of a rugged hill, to try and find out where we should go. As I sat on the ground, beneath a small tree, a sparrow landed on a branch just above my head. He began singing his lungs out as if to remind me that if God’s eye is on the sparrow surely he knows where I am and what I need. In the distance I could see the reflection of a car on a straight road. It was miles away, but there was no mistake that help was in that direction. So on and on we trudged through gullies, across ice-covered streams, through brush and rocks.

It was almost cruel when we reached the area of the road because, from where we stood, it was a climb nearly straight up and our strength was gone. Somehow, with super-human strength, we made it to the top.

I took a roll of camera tape out of my jacket pocket and quickly made a sign that said, “Help!” The first car that saw it stopped and took us to the nearest town where we arranged to retrieve the car in the morning, and then slept for what felt like days.

Because I had written down the marker number, our tow truck driver knew exactly where our car was located. We piled in with him and drove off.

Our car was hooked up and taken into town where repairs were made. Finally we were on our way home after one of the greatest survival adventures of my life.

But before we left the area, we decided to drivew back to the place where we were rescued and take one last look.
Humm. Maybe I’ll have to write a book about that some day.

Find my books on Amazon at 

Wednesday, May 06, 2020

(3) Buddy's Big Surprise - A FREE Short Story for Kids Who Are Stuck at Home

Buddy's Big Surprise

In the early spring, while the evenings were still cool, a young squirrel stuck his head out of the nest, high up in a mighty oak. His name was Buddy. Up until today, Buddy had stayed nestled inside where it was warm and dark. Rain couldn’t touch him in there, and he was safe from the wind. Still Buddy knew it would soon be time to leave the nest.
“But I don’t wanna leave the nest,” he told his mother early one morning. “Why do I have to go?” 
“Because,” she answered him in her soft voice. “It’s the way of a squirrel to go into the world and find something to eat.”
“Won’t you bring me food?” he asked.
His mother only shook her head. “One day you’ll want your own nest. And you have a great purpose in the forest. You’ll see.”
Buddy didn’t like the sound of that. He didn’t like the sound at all. It wasn’t long before he climbed to the bottom of his tree, along with his mother, brother, and sister. Their mother showed them how to find food down on the ground. 
“This is very important,” she began. “You’ll be looking for nuts, acorns, fruit, and seeds.”
Buddy made a face. “Seeds? Yuck!”
“They aren’t bad, you’ll see. Now follow me.” She took them into a nearby farmer’s field where the young squirrels found more corn on the ground than they could possibly eat. Their mother showed them how to gather kernels of corn, acorns, and nuts, and bury them in the ground for later. Buddy learned how food could be waiting for him just under the next leaf.
Mother squirrel sat with her children near several tall ferns. “This is the most important lesson of all,” she began. “If you’re ever in danger, a squirrel simply turns, runs to the nearest tree, and climbs as fast as he can. You’ll be safe up there.”
Buddy shook his head. “Not me he said,” as his little chest puffed out. He clenched his two front paws and punched into the wind. “I can take care of myself.”
With a stern look, his mother said, “You must do as I say.”
The young squirrels went back to searching for food until, late in the afternoon, Buddy looked around. “Hey,” he said to the others, “Where’s Mom?” They only shook their heads. He looked up where an Eagle soared in the sky. Wish I could fly like that, he’d thought. Hope he didn’t catch my mom. Right then Buddy decided to try flying. He grabbed two dead leaves off the ground and climbed up the nearest tree. About four branches up, he stopped climbing and scurried out onto the limb.
“I’m gonna fly,” Buddy called out to the other squirrels. They looked up and laughed. 
“Squirrels can’t fly,” one of them said.
Buddy winked. “What about flying squirrels?”
“You’re not a flying squirrel,” another answered with a giggle.
“Oh yeah? Watch me.” With that, Buddy began flapping the leaf in each paw. When he’d gotten them going as fast as he could, he stepped off the branch. But no matter how hard he tried, there was no way Buddy was going to fly. He fell to the ground like a ripe walnut.
“Look!” a squirrel on the ground said with a laugh. “Another nut falls from a tree.”
Buddy got up off the ground, brushed his fur, and grumbled, “Those dumb leaves probably weren’t big enough.” Then he walked away while the other squirrels kept laughing.
When he reached the stream, Buddy looked down just as two big fish swam by. 
Wish I could swim under water, he thought. He moved right up to the edge of the bank so he could get a closer look. That’s when something terrible happened. The dirt under his feet broke away, dumping Buddy into the cold water. His head went under and he found out very quickly that squirrels weren’t meant to breathe under water. He came up coughing, sputtering, and gasping for breath. In the distance he saw a beaver making repairs to the beaver dam. “Not even gonna try that,” he said with a sigh.
After he’d sat in the sun to dry, Buddy watched as a bunny hoped past him. I could do that, he thought. Soon he stood up on his two hind feet and jumped as hard as he could, but he didn’t go as far, and he didn’t go as fast. 
Still, it didn’t stop Buddy. Like the bunny, he began to hop, hop, hop along the trail. That’s when another rabbit stopped and asked him, “What are you doing?”
“I’m hopping, just like a rabbit.” 
At first the bunny didn’t do anything. Then he began laughing. He laughed and he laughed so hard, it made him fall on the ground where he held his stomach and rolled around in the grass. When he finally caught his bunny breath, the rabbit said, “But you’re a squirrel...not a rabbit.”
Buddy spent the rest of the afternoon, and most of the next day, watching other animals in the forest. Each time he saw a new one, he did his best to do what it did. No matter how hard he tried, nothing seemed to work. Finally he slumped down under a bush and stared at the ground.
“What’s the matter, Buddy?” a familiar voice asked.
Without even looking up Buddy said, “Grandpa?”
“Sure is. I think you’re just about the saddest squirrel I’ve ever seen.”
Buddy slowly looked up. A small tear ran down his face. “I’ve tried to be like everybody else I’ve seen in the forest, but it’s no use. I’m only a useless squirrel” He looked down again, let out a deep breath, and sniffed.
“Useless squirrel?” his grandfather demanded in a loud voice. “Are you kidding?”
“Yeah, I can’t do anything special.”
His grandfather moved closer. “You see, we all have a place in this world. The beaver is best at building things. Birds can fly in the sky. And fish can breathe under water. But were made for a special purpose.”
Buddy looked up again as he remembered his mother telling him that he had a purpose. “What’s mine?” he asked.
“Why, you were made for planting.”
Buddy swelled up with pride. “I was?”
“Each of us has a job to do that only we are the best at doing.” Grandfather squirrel looked around the forest. He waved his paw from one side, clear across to the other.  “You see all of those mighty oak and nut trees?”
Buddy looked and nodded.
“How do you s’pose they got there?”
Buddy shook his head.
With a twinkle and a smile, his grandfather thumped his puffed out his chest and said, “I planted them.”
Buddy’s eyes widened and his mouth dropped open. “You did? But how?”
“They each start from a single, little nut or acorn. And you know how much we love to eat those.”
Buddy’s face brightened and a sparkle came into his eyes. He jumped up, grabbed an acorn between his teeth, and turned toward the forest.
“Where are you going?” his grandfather asked.
With the acorn in his mouth, and in a muffled voice he called back to his grandfather, “Can’t talk now, Grandpa. I got trees to plant.”

The End

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