Into the forest with a flash fiction story about forest bathing to continue Mouse and Crow

Into the forest

Since its beginning in 1970, every 22 April is celebrated as Earth Day, a day for appreciating the beauty of our Earth and mobilising ourselves to protect it. Earth Day is credited with starting the environmental movement and is the largest worldwide environment event.

This year focuses on single-use plastic with the aim to End Plastic Pollution. The goals of the Earth Day Network “include ending single-use plastics, promoting alternatives to fossil fuel-based materials, promoting 100 percent recycling of plastics, corporate and government accountability and changing human behavior concerning plastics.”

While governments introduce regulations about the use of plastics, it is up to each of us to monitor and reduce our own usage.

Unless quote from The Lorax by Dr. Seuss

Other Earth Day campaigns include combating climate change, greening schools and cities, and protecting forests, anything to help create a greener, more sustainable future.

Five of my favourite picture books that include these themes are:

The Lorax by Dr Seuss

The Lorax by Dr. Seuss demonstrates the effects of pollution and destruction of the environment and highlights the important role of each person in protecting the environment.

Window by Jeannie Baker deals with the effect of progress on wilderness areas as towns and cities are built. (All book by Jeannie Baker carry strong environmental messages.)

Leaf Litter by Rachel Tonkin helps children appreciate the smaller parts of our world and the way they are all interconnected.

The Curious Garden by Peter Brown is about a boy who greens a dead part of the city.

One Less Fish Kim Michelle Toft

One Less Fish by Kim Michelle Toft deals with dangers to marine life and suggests what can be done to improve the marine environment.

These are just a few of the many wonderful books available. Please let me know your favourite in the comments.

By the way, did you notice that each of these books is written and illustrated by an author-illustrator?

At the Carrot Ranch, Charli Mills celebrated Earth Day this year with a little forest bathing or Shinrin Yoku. Developed in Japan in the 1980s, Shinrin Yoku is about “fostering deeper relationships and positive experiences with forested areas”. Charli challenged writers to In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about forest bathing. You can use the Japanese term, Shinrin Yoku, or you can make up your own ideas about the phrase. Go where the prompt leads.

A few weeks ago, in response to another prompt, I wrote this story about Crow and Mouse.

a fable about crow and mouse in which mouse helps crow and crow helps mouse

I presented the story to my local critique group and received some useful suggestions. One was to have Mouse explore the forest on his own in an attempt to fend for himself, rather than rely on Crow for food. I thought this fitted in nicely with the aim of Shinrin Yoku, and it is to that suggestion I have responded. I’ve changed the setting, for this prompt, from woods to forest. I haven’t quite managed to tell all I wanted in 99 words, which is usual for me, but I hope you like it.

We pick up the story from “In the darkness, Mouse trembled.”

Forest Feast

Unfamiliar sights, sounds and smells assailed his senses. He dived into a pile of leaves.

“Would you mind!” squealed Skink.

“Sorry,” said Mouse, backing into Frog.

“Hey! This is my cockroach,” said Frog.

“Ewww!” said mouse. “Who eats cockroaches?”

Mouse’s belly rumbled.

Skink was eating a slug. Frog had a cockroach. Nothing for Mouse anywhere.

“Try mushroom,” suggested Frog.

Mouse hesitated, then began nibbling.

Flapping overhead sent Skink and Frog for cover. Mouse, oblivious, had been spotted.

Crow alighted and placed a gift of bread at Mouse’s feet.

“Thank you,” said Mouse. “I like bread, but I love mushroom!”

Thank you blog post

Thank you for reading. I appreciate your feedback. Please share your thoughts.


33 thoughts on “Into the forest

  1. Charli Mills

    I enjoyed how you illustrated your first part of the story. It becomes a picture-book infographic! Interesting feedback from your writer’s group. I had not thought about how children’s book authors go about their process. Mouse goes into the forest for a reclaiming of his own power and the discovery of a new taste.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Norah Post author

      Hi Charli, Thank you! Your final sentence sums the story up perfectly. I keep that for publication, if that’s okay. 🙂
      I didn’t respond to all feedback I was given, just this particular part. It was suggested that the mouse needed to try to fend for himself, and needed to make three attempts. Good things come in threes – the three bears, three pigs – or fives or sevens. I did have a caterpillar in the story but had to whittle it out with a few other things to pare back to 99. The extension changes the intent of my original piece but perhaps it will make a better story in the long run. I’ll share again sometime when I’ve revised and edited a bit more.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Pingback: Forest Bathing « Carrot Ranch Literary Community

  3. roughwighting

    Hi! Happy Earth WEEK, Earth YEAR to you. This is a timely, perfect post. I love the selections you made of children’s book that focus on the environment. In my writing class yesterday, I had a student who recited a paragraph from The Lorax off the top of his head, saying how much he remembers his glee when he first read that book (he’s now a middle-aged adult).
    I think your Fable is delightful – both versions. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Norah Post author

      So many of Dr Seuss’s books are easily committed to memory. There are certain phrases that I throw into conversations every now and again. I’m not sure if anyone else “gets” it, but that’s okay.
      I think it was fabulous that you were talking about the environment in your writing class (for adults) Pam. It sounds like a happy Earth Day for you. As you say, Happy Earth Year!
      Thank you for your kind words about my fable. I think I need to give the extended version a little more than 99 words though to do it justice. I’ll work on it. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Patricia Tilton

    Enjoyed your Earth Day book selections — The Curious Garden is a favorite of mine. I understand the goal of having an experience in nature, but I really enjoyed your first entry because you involve an old man who plays a role too. It was very clever.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Norah Post author

      Thank you for reading, Patricia. I may have even bought The Curious Garden from a recommendation from you. I think I’ve picked up a few from you. 🙂 I’m pleased you enjoyed my story. Thank you for your kind words.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Annecdotist

    What a fabulous celebration of Earth Day, Norah, and I love how you’ve illustrated your original story of Crow and Mouse, and now extended it into a new environment to explore. Glad Mouse found something to eat even more suited to its tastes.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Norah Post author

      Thank you, Anne. I would like to get the story “properly” illustrated. One day. These were free images from the internet. I was lucky to find the few I did. Thank you to generous illustrators.

      Liked by 2 people

  6. thecontentedcrafter

    Hello Norah! 🙂 I have to say I didn’t have a problem with the first version of your fable – fables usually deal directly with the issue – in this case, one good deed deserves another – so accepting the bread from Crow was perfect. Sometimes we can get a bit too hung up on making sure all the bases are covered from the adults point of view and ruining a perfectly good story. I could well imagine telling your second version to a group of eight and nine year old’s and they might be wondering how Crow felt about his gift being rejected …….. Ensuring another teachable moment 😀

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Norah Post author

      Thank you for your kind words about my story, Pauline. I quite liked the way it finished too and wanted the crow to repay the mouse’s kindness. I did have to cut the (new) ending a bit short. I needed more words so mouse could express gratitude as well as let crow know he was going to be all right. Those teachable moments, eh? We never stop finding them.

      Liked by 2 people

  7. dgkaye

    Love the tale Norah. And love that these children’s books teach about saving the environment. Nothing like starting the little ones early on saving the planet before wrong learned behaviors set in. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  8. D. Avery @shiftnshake

    Ha! Win/win. I like the addition to the original fable.
    In another time at this place you asked about picture books and I mentioned Bill Peet, who has a few with an environmental message, i.e. Wump World and Farewell to Shady Glade. Lynne Cherry probably best known for The Kapok Tree is good.
    Oh, and Norah Colvin, always a good read.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. karenwrites19

    Hi Norah, Thanks for posting this about Earth Day and associated resources for teachers. I wish you all the best with your children’s picture book … cheers, Karen 🙂

    Liked by 2 people


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