Jackson the Zookeeper Saves the Day!
Like many children, Jackson loves being read to, and he enjoys a good story more than most people I know. Last year, Kai and I started a tradition of reciting elaborate bedtime stories that we had made up, just for him. We concocted stories about Fireman Jackson and the predicaments he faced fighting fires, and we painted expansive green landscapes in his head, taking him back to the dinosaur age. Doctor Jackson was always fixing someone up and Construction Worker Jackson was always building the most massive structure any man has ever seen, “Even bigger than the Space Needle!” The possibilities are endless, and it has really helped him expand his imagination.
When Jackson started fabricating his own stories, I picked up a pen one day so we could document the adventure forming in his head. We talked about the ideas he had and together, we wrote and illustrated a short story. Since I have no artistic ability in terms of drawing or sketching, I asked my amazing cousin, Alison, to illustrate our story for us. When Alison is not being a super talented artist/cartoonist, she’s busy wearing one of her other fancy hats being an engineer (an MIT and Stanford graduate), inventor, entrepreneur (her company is Integral Designs), and reality TV star (past contestant on The Big Brain Theory). She’s a pretty cool cousin to have around. Maybe you’re lucky and you can draw, or if you have older kids, you could encourage them to illustrate their own story!
I just wanted to share this idea because I think it could be a really special gift for a child; something tangible that he or she can be proud of. I plan on printing this out and surprising him with his own bound copy. I’m really excited because it will look like a real published book, with his name on the front cover and everything. So, without further ado, I present to you, Jackson’s very first book!
Jackson the Zookeeper Saves the Day!
A Short Story
Written by: Jackson R. Carroll
Illustrated by: Alison Wong
Once upon a time, there was a zookeeper named Jackson. Jackson has always loved animals because he had two dogs when he was a little boy, named Bruno and Stella. Being a zookeeper was a perfect job for him.
Jackson’s favorite animal at the zoo was the big gorilla. The gorilla’s name was Xing Xing. “Xing Xing” means “gorilla” in Chinese (pronounced shing-shing). Xing Xing loved to eat apples, so Jackson brought him apples to eat every day.
One summer day, Jackson was bringing apples to Xing Xing when he discovered Xing Xing was not in his cage! Since Jackson was Head Zookeeper, he was in charge of finding him. How could this have happened?
Jackson looked for Xing Xing everywhere for hours without any luck. He decided to sit down next to a tree to take a break, and when he looked up, he realized that Xing Xing had climbed up the tree! There he was, stuck high on the top of this big tree, and he couldn’t get down!
Jackson knew just what to do. He found the nearest phone and called the fire station. The fire chief answered and when Jackson told him what the problem was, he said, “We’re on our way!”
Before long, Jackson heard sirens and saw three small fire trucks . “Uh oh,” Jackson thought, these fire trucks were too small to carry Xing Xing, the biggest gorilla at the zoo. What were they going to do?
Jackson told the fire chief that these fire trucks were not big enough, so the fire chief fixed the problem right away. He sent the three small fire trucks back and returned with three of the biggest fire trucks Jackson had ever seen!
The three BIG fire trucks sped to the zoo and stopped under the big tree. The firemen came out of the fire trucks and pulled their ladder out of the fire truck. When Jackson saw the ladder, he said, “Oh no! That ladder isn’t big enough! Xing Xing is our biggest gorilla and he is too heavy!”
Zookeeper Jackson was a quick thinker and he thought of a solution right away. He ran off and when he came back, he was holding a big blue trampoline!
Jackson ran over and put the trampoline under the tree. He yelled, “Xing Xing, JUMP!!” But Xing Xing was too scared. “What are we going to do now?” asked the firemen.
Jackson had another idea. He remembered that Xing Xing LOVED to eat apples! Jackson ran to his backpack and found a big red apple that was perfect for Xing Xing.
When he showed the apple to Xing Xing, Xing Xing became very excited and jumped down right away, landing safely right in the middle of the trampoline!
The firemen helped Jackson get Xing Xing onto a BIG fire truck and they drove him back to his jungle at the zoo. Xing Xing was very happy to be home. As the firemen drove away, they shouted, “Zookeeper Jackson saved the day!”
*A special thank you to my cousin, Alison Wong, for taking the time out of her crazy-busy life to illustrate our humble little book for us. We love you Alison!
For more on arts and crafts projects with your kids, check out our Valentine’s Day Heart Crayons.
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