Mockingbird in Mark Twain’s Hat + Giveaway
Description Mockingbird in Mark Twain’s HatMockingbird in Mark Twain’s Hat, is an adventure story full of animals that talk. Wynne is a precocious mockingbird born in the rural south in the late 1800s. His whole family are singers, but at four days old, he wants to be a novelist just like his hero, Mark Twain. When crows attack his nest, he’s swept away on an epic adventure along the Mississippi River.
Mockingbird in Mark Twain’s Hat
(Goes with Chapter 1 illustration by Elaina Scott)
Somewhere Along the Mississippi River, 1898...
I examined my left wing closely, plucked out one of my straightest quills, smoothed the bark flat before me and wrote:
I stepped back and admired my word with satisfaction. My penmanship was scarcely more than scrawl, but practice would remedy that. Besides, at only four days old, I dared not let my peck exceed my beak.
My dream was still a secret then, a lofty aspiration tethered to my heart by a photograph of a famous writer by the name of Mark Twain.
Now, I admit I hadn’t heard of Mark Twain the day before yesterday, but then a blustery wind intervened. One playful gust ripped several pages of a newspaper from the popcorn vendor’s hands at the Willem County Fair and scattered them, until one torn scrap fluttered down and snagged in the twigs of our nest.
Mark Twain smiled at me from the dusty page. The only words that remained intact from the article were, “Famed Southern novelist and humorist, Mark Twain, delivered a memorable speech--” That smile was an invitation with my name on it. I just felt it in my wingtips.
I kept the photograph hidden beneath my pocket of the nest so I could pull it out when my family was asleep. In it Mark Twain leaned against a screen door in a wrinkled seersucker suit, smiling mischievously, his face half covered by an impressive grey mustache so furry I thought it was a squirrel’s tail draped across his upper lip. His hat was bent against the sun.
“Whatcha doin’ Wynne?” asked Sissy, peering over my shoulder.
“Nothin’.” I turned my back. “Go away.”
“If it’s nothin’ then it ain’t nothin’ to be secretive about.” She tried to see around me but I lifted my wing as a shield.
She tickled my feet and grabbed the photograph.
I snatched it back and tucked it under my wing. “None of your business.”
“What’s none of her business?” asked my younger brother Possum. He jumped over me and poked his beak in my acorn of blackberry ink, turning his head into a dripping sundae.
I clutched my ink before he could spill any more of it. Sissy took that moment to snatch the slippery bark I was using as parchment and unroll it.
“If you must know, I’m writing a book.”
My siblings fell on their backs and laughed, kicking their twiggy legs up in the air, holding their bellies still full of breakfast.
“You hear that, Possum? Wynne says he’s writin’ a book! You hear that, Earle? A book!”
I felt my cheeks flush, and I turned my back.
My elder brother, Earle, poked his beak in my ear. “Baby brother, you ain’t even learned to fly. What makes you think you can write a book?”
I peered out over the edge of our nest high in the crepe myrtle tree, pink boa blossoms all around me bobbing in the breeze. “Haven’t. I haven’t learned to fly, Earle, to be grammatically correct.”
Earle rolled his black eyes.
This merely spurred me on. “I’m going to be a writer just like Mark Twain,” I insisted. “It’s my destiny.”
“Destiny?” My elder sister rolled on her back, giggling with vigor. “Look who thinks he’s so smart using grown-up words.”
“What’s a destiny, Wynne?” whispered Possum.
I put my wing around him. “Destiny means there’s something you are meant to do, Possum, and you feel it way down in your bones. When you do it, it makes you happier than anything in the world, and most importantly, it makes the world more wonderful.”
“Happier than crickets for supper?”
“Even happier than that.”
“Wynne, you’re a mockingbird. We only got one destiny, if you wanna call it that, and that’s to learn the songs of our woods and sing ‘em.” Earle lowered his voice, “Don’t insult Papa and the family.”
“But Earle,” I said. “I can’t help it if I want to write a book. We don’t get to pick our destiny. It picks us.”
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