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By Enez Ensenia
“Wow! You have a pretty, fluffy tail, Penelope,” said the squirrelly bunch of
“I know, I know,” Penelope boasted back turning to admire her own tail.
Penelope was the prettiest squirrel in her class. Her tail was the envy of all in
Squirrelville. She now lives with her grandmother, Granny Bushtail. They live in the
largest red oak tree you can imagine.
Penelope was born in a tall maple tree, along with her two sisters. She would
playfully swat her sisters around with her grand tail, which was a brown-red color with a
hint of gold. This golden hue would set her apart from her sisters. Oh, yes they would
play nice when mama and papa squirrel were looking, but once their little heads were
turned or they went out to round up supper nuts, the battle started between the sister
A past springtime day the whole Bushtail family decided to go out into the forest
to hunt for the greatest tastiest, and by far the largest of acorns. When all the sudden a
string of lightning storms struck the Bushtail family, all that was left were little Penelope
and her fine tail. After she wiped her tears and saw clearly what had happened — her tail
was no more. Nothing left of it, just a few burned bits of fur. She cried and cried while
she buried her whole family under some rocks. She vowed she would do everything she
could to take care of herself and to grow her furry tail back far better than it was before.
After all, poor lonesome Penelope thought, what made her unique was that pretty,
fluffy tail. Never mind that she had a lot to learn about what truly mattered in life: Like
what you are on the inside is what really counts.
Oh, that little squirrel wouldn’t listen to anyone, not even her wise old
grandmother Granny Bushtail, who she went to live with after the storm.
“You’re old. You don’t know how young squirrels are,” Penelope snapped at
Granny did know about these very things. She stood by while Penelope pranced
around combing and grooming that tail. She just wished her grand child - squirrel would
take to others, the way young ones should — to play and enjoy being young and free!
Penelope focused on her tail. That’s it. No playing with her fellow classmates at
squirrel school. She missed out on running fast up and down the large trees, and she even
missed the flying squirrel tournaments to see who could fly the highest and farthest. She
would sit by herself with her brush in her small paw and sing her pretty song to herself. It
went something like this:
“I’m so pretty, so very pretty, just so pretty I could sing! I’m so very pretty, la la
la.” She was in a world all her own.
“My whole life is with this tail of mine, I don’t care what Granny says.”
Candy Sue, Mary Lou, and Kitty Mae overheard her say one day at school. “She
thinks that tail has powers of some sort, bet it’s just like ours,” they whispered and
snickered as Penelope walked by.
“What are you all staring at?” She asked the squirrelly girls.
“Oh, nothing” they responded in harmony.
Penelope smoothed out her tail, “oh, you’re just jealous!” She trotted off to her
next squirrelly class.
In the meantime, Candy Sue, Mary Lou, and Kitty Mae were scheming up a plan
to rid Penelope Bushtail of all her attitude. What a plan it was, indeed.
“I’m not so sure Penelope will agree to spend the night in my tree-house,” said
“Well, why not? asked the two other squirrels tapping their small paws on the
“Because she thinks we are jealous of her. Don’t you remember what she said to
us outside? Besides, I think it might be a little cruel what we are planning to do with her
tail. What’s the big deal anyway let her think it’s got magical powers or whatever it is
The other two squirrels shook their furry squirrel heads, they didn’t agree.
“No. We have to show her who’s the boss. And it’s not her!” Candy Sue had her
small paw on her hip, “right Mary Sue?” Candy Sue sassed.
“Oh, sure,” Mary Sue responded, terrified to stand up to the bully Candy Sue.
“Listen up, here are the plan girls: Tomorrow in squirrel mathematics class Kitty
Mae will make friends with Penelope…”
“How do I do that, she thinks I hate her?” Kitty Mae interrupted.
“Duh, compliment her on that grand tail of hers!” Candy Sue yelled back.
“Brilliant!” added Mary Sue.
“After that, invite her over for nuts…”
Kitty Mae again asked, “Well, what kind of nuts? Because Mother only has the
kind that dad gets from the elders down by the pecan plant and they are half eaten most of
Candy Sue rolled her bitty eyes at the squirrel, “boy do you worry!”
“I do not!” she sassed back.
“Girls! We are supposed to be the three squirrel-a-teers, remember?” Mary Sue
They all nodded their squirrelly heads, and agreed they were the best of friends.
The next day Kitty Mae and Penelope were in math class. She decided it’s now
or never, so she hopped over to where Penelope sat and started to talk to her.
“Hi Penelope, you look fantastic today, what are you wearing, some kind of
perfume on your tail? It looks so shiny and smells so pretty today.”
Penelope glared at the little squirrel suspiciously, “what are you up to?”
“Why are you talking to me today?” Penelope stood twirling her little paws.
Kitty Mae nervously started to hop around, “uh, just wanted to invite you over for
special nuts Mother bought yesterday over at that fancy nut place.” She lied.
“Really?” Penelope’s small furry head cocked to one side. “Granny always said
she’d buy me some of those fancy nuts, but never has. She’ll have to get me some from
now on.” Penelope sat and rubbed her paws together real fast and thought about the
invitation. “I guess I can go for a little while. I’ll even bring my pretty brush set over
and you can help me comb my tail. You know it has to be gorgeous for the squirrel
dance on Saturday.”
“Can you spend the night too? I’m having a slumber party and Mother will pop
corn and have a bunch of different kinds of party nuts for us. Please come and stay the
night in my tree. It’s really nice!” Kitty Mae hopped excitedly around and gathered up
some sweet berries that the teacher had left for the class to enjoy.
Penelope began to primp, “Granny Bushtail won’t mind, after all she always says
to me to have fun with friends. You are all my friends, right?” She batted her eyes.
“Yes, we are,” Kitty Mae agreed. She felt bad about lying to the pretty squirrel.
Kitty Mae didn’t know what to do. Her paws were tied, and her little tummy was upset.
Penelope Bushtail ran home to tell Granny Bushtail the exciting news. “I knew
those squirrelly girls liked me, because I’m so pretty and special and there is no one as
nice as me in that squirrelly school anyway!” She boasted all the way home about her
Granny was sitting on her acorn rocker knitting a new pink sweater for Penelope.
“Hi dear, how was squirrel school?” Granny peered over her half-glasses.
Penelope danced around happily, “I have new friends and they just love my tail. I
think they want theirs just like mine!” She sat down and twirled her pretty golden tail.
Granny stopped rocking, “dear grandchild why don’t you invite your new friends
over for a slumber party?”
Penelope rolled her biddy eyes, “Granny that that’s what they want me to do.”
Granny was so excited — finally, new friends for her grandchild squirrel.
“You must be so excited to have them over here. I’ll make my famous peanut
brittle, and …”
“Wait Granny, I’m not letting them come here they are inviting me to their
slumber party. I know it’s not as nice as ours, but it’s a big tree, so I think I’ll go for a
Granny had a funny feeling about this invite, but wanted to think positive about
the new squirrelly friends Penelope had now. “You’ll have a fun time. I’ll bake some
brittle for you to take anyway.” Granny hopped up out of her rocker and headed to her
Penelope stuck her tongue out, “yuck, peanut brittle — the worst!” She decided
to get dressed for the slumber party her new friends were throwing for her. “I’ll look so
pretty in my gold and yellow dress.” She pranced around and primped her tail at least ten
times before heading out the door. “Bye Granny, I’ll be home tomorrow.”
Granny ran after her and handed her the nice basket of goodies she had baked for
the party. “Have fun dear,” Granny Bushtail stood on her hind legs and sniffed around.
“La la, I’m going to a party and it’s just for me, la la la,” Penelope was happy.
She knocked at the tree door and Kitty Mae’s mother answered. “Hi there you must be
Penelope batted her long squirrel eye lashes, “why yes, I am. “Look at my tail, do
you like it?” She turned around and flicked her glorious tail a few times.
The mother loved her tail and told her it was beautiful. This made Penelope very
happy. “The girls are waiting for you in Kitty Mae’s room. Have fun!
I’ll be up later to bring treats for you girls, okay?”
Penelope handed her the goodie basket, “Granny Bushtail made these.
“Oh, thank you so much. You are a sweet squirrel.”
She trotted up to the top room where they waited for her, “Hi girls!”
In harmony, “Hi Penelope, want a nut?”
“No, no, I’m going to wait for the other treats.”
“We are playing a game,” said Candy Sue.
“You want to play too, right?” asked Mary Sue.
“What kind of game is it?” asked Penelope.
“Well, after we all get ready for bed, we turn off all the lights and pretend we are
asleep. Then the best pretender gets a prize!” said Candy Sue.
“Okay, I’m playing first, of course,” said Penelope shoving the other squirrels
“We all have to get into our pajamas, and then the game can begin,” said Kitty
The girl-squirrels all changed into their pajamas and were ready to play the game.
“I’ll go first,” said Penelope, I’m the best at games,” she boasted.
The other squirrels let her play first. They had a plan, and it was working better
than they had hoped.
“Okay, goodnight Penelope,” and they laughed together.
“Goodnight.” She was pretended to sleep.
Candy Sue ran to get the shaving cream and a razor, and with the other two
squirrels began to shave Penelope’s lovely tail.
They were surprised when Penelope didn’t stir or object once while they did this
All three squirrels said, “okay, game is over, wake up!” They laughed and rolled
around the small room.
Penelope stared down at the bald tail and at the mountain of golden fur on the
floor. She cried out loud for help and then fainted.
“Oh, no! What’s wrong with her?!” Mary Sue squealed.
At this time Kitty Mae’s mother rushed in and couldn’t believe the sight: The poor
beautiful squirrel she met minutes ago was now a bald-tail-squirrel.
“What has happened to Penelope?” Mother tapped her hind paw.
“Mother, we didn’t mean to hurt her, honest,” said Kitty Mae.
“Well, I think you girls did —, I really think you did —, look at her.” The mother
went over to Penelope, “Child are you all right?”
Penelope shook her head. “What’s happened to my tail, my pretty long golden
“Dear child, it’s still a tail, it’s just a different kind of tail now. But it will grow
out, I promise, you’ll see.” The tender mother stroked Penelope’s little furry head.
Then, something no one expected happened.
Penelope went over to each squirrel friend and hugged her. They stood still and
“What was that for?” asked Candy Sue.
Penelope danced around happily, “because I’m still a pretty squirrel no matter
what my tail looks like. I’m a happy squirrel even without a fluffy tail!”
They sat around the small dinner table and munched on treats Granny and Mother
Penelope said, “I still have my gorgeous big, brown golden eyes, and they are
much prettier than my bald tail.” Penelope smiled and batted those big brown eyes at
everyone at the table
They all giggled and nodded their furry little heads and agreed.
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