Dawn Pisturino's Blog

My Writing Journey

Gilles de Rais: The Real Bluebeard?

(Painting by Éloi Firmin Féron – 1835)

Gilles de Rais: The Real Bluebeard?

Charles Perrault, known as “The Father of Fairy Tales,” wrote many well-known stories in the 17th century that are still popular today. Cinderella still endures as a romantic tribute to young girls everywhere who dream of finding their own true love. Perrault did not invent the story, however, because he based all of his stories on known folktales and legends. The story is based on Strabo’s account of the Greek slave girl, Rhodopis, whose sandal was stolen by an eagle and dropped in the presence of the Egyptian pharaoh. The pharaoh was so enthralled by this experience, he ordered his servants to hunt down its owner. Rhodopis, located in the city of Naucratis, ultimately married the pharaoh. The reader is left believing that it was a happy marriage based on circumstances that “magically” brought the couple together. Today, we would call this a story about two soul mates who happily found each other.

Perrault’s darkest story was La Barbe Bleue (Bluebeard) which still horrifies young readers today. And, of course, readers want to know who the real-life Bluebeard could have been. Most scholars believe that the real model for Bluebeard was the legendary French nobleman, Gilles de Rais, who lived in the 15th century.

Born into the House of Montmorency-Laval around 1405 at Champtocé-sur-Loire in Anjou, France, Gilles de Rais became orphaned when both of his parents died in 1415. He and his brother then came under the control of their maternal grandfather, Jean de Craon, who was a great schemer and sought to marry Gilles off to a wealthy heiress while still a child. His schemes did not work out until Gilles kidnapped and married his heiress cousin, Catherine de Thouars of Brittany, on November 30, 1420. The couple welcomed a daughter, Marie, around 1433.

Gilles enjoyed an illustrious career in the military and served his country well during the Hundred Years’ War. He fought alongside the Maid of Orléans, Joan of Arc, serving as her personal protector during battle. As a reward, he was appointed Marshal of France in 1429. Gilles was reportedly fascinated by this fierce young girl who could hear the voice of God. After she was condemned and burned at the stake in 1431, his military career began to wind down, and he officially retired around 1435.

Retirement brought out the dark and reckless side of Gilles’ nature. He squandered his money on building the Chapel of the Holy Innocents and producing a lavish theatrical production called Le Mystère du Siège d’Orléans. Nearly bankrupt, he began selling off his own properties in Poitou and Maine. His family appealed to Pope Eugene IV and King Charles VII to intervene. The king issued a royal edict forbidding him from selling anymore property and purchasers from buying it. Desperate for money, Gilles began to borrow large sums and to dabble in the occult.

At his chateau in Tiffauges, he practiced alchemy under the tutelage of Francesco Prelati. Prelati encouraged him to make a pact with the Devil by summoning a demon called Barron. When the demon did not appear, Prelati convinced Gilles that he must sacrifice children in order to gain the Devil’s favor.

It has been speculated that Gilles de Rais may have murdered 100 to 200 children. He later confessed that his first crimes against children began during the spring of 1432 and the spring of 1433. First, he would dress them up in fancy clothes, then rape, torture, and murder them. His two bodyguards, Étienne Corrillant and Henriet, confirmed the allegations against Gilles and described how the bodies were then burned or buried. Villagers testified that their sons and daughters had disappeared after visiting Gilles’ castle, and some had seen the men disposing of bodies.

Gilles’ last child murder occurred in August 1440. He was arrested in September after kidnapping a priest, which sparked both ecclesiastical and secular investigations. Under threat of torture, he made a full confession and was executed by hanging and burning on October 26, 1440 at Nantes, Brittany. His two bodyguards were executed with him.

People marveled at Gilles’ calmness and sincerity while delivering his last words at his execution, and he soon became a model of Christian penitence, despite his horrific crimes. Today, some people have tried to prove that Gilles de Rais was not guilty of the murders, but most historians affirm his guilt, based on French court records.

The ruins of Tiffauges Chateau are reputed to be haunted by the specter of Gilles de Rais. Some visitors claim to have heard the screams of tortured children at night. French writer, Gustave Flaubert, described the chateau as a dismal place “where no birds sing.”

And, Bluebeard? Gilles de Rais’ crimes were so shocking to French society that it is almost certain that Charles Perrault was familiar with the story.

~

(Please note that I will not be posting anything on Monday as my husband and I have plans for Halloween.)

Happy Halloween!

Dawn Pisturino

October 28, 2022

Copyright 2022 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

10 Comments »

Reprise: A Butterfly Birthday

(Monarch butterfly)

[Note: I turned this into a children’s story, but this actually happened to me one summer when I was small. It’s an experience I never forgot.]

~

Amy leaned over and smelled the sweet, honey-like fragrance of the tiny white flowers on a leafy green bush. It was spring — her most favorite time of year — and the big backyard was alive with blooming flowers, buzzing bees, and orange-and-black butterflies playing among the wild dandelions growing in the grass.

The butterflies were called monarchs, and Amy looked forward to their arrival every spring.

As she peered deeper into the bush, Amy spied a small green object hanging from a slender brown twig. She reached into the bush and broke off the little twig. She held the object gently in her hand, admiring the delicate green color. Near the top was a hard ridge tinted with yellow that seemed to sparkle like gold in the warm spring sunlight.

Amy had found a butterfly chrysalis. Some people call them cocoons. They are also called pupas.

Amy had learned a lot about butterflies from her teacher at school. She knew that female butterflies lay their eggs on the underside of plant leaves. After a few days small caterpillars, called larvae, eat their way out of the eggs. They finish eating the eggshells — their very first meal! After that, they attach themselves to a leaf and eat and eat and eat until they become too big for their skin. They shed their old skin, a process called molting, and then gobble it up to get important nutrients. Mmm — delicious!

Caterpillars continue to eat and grow and shed their skin until they have done this four times. Now, they are about 2 inches long. But they still have a long way to go before they turn into beautiful butterflies.

The caterpillars take long walks in search of the perfect place to rest. When they find it, they weave a sticky, silky attachment called a silk button. This allows the caterpillars to hang upside down and begin a process called metamorphosis.

For the last time, the caterpillars shed their skin and emerge as a small, oval object called a pupa, chrysalis, or cocoon. This is the third stage in the butterfly life cycle.

Amy realized what a precious treasure she held in her hand. She gathered a handful of grass and leaves and covered the bottom of a large glass jar. She carefully laid the little green cocoon to rest in the soft little nest. Then she punched air holes in the lid with a nail and screwed it on top of the jar.

She placed the jar on a table next to her bed, where the warm spring sunshine would shine through the bedroom window and warm the little green cocoon.

Every day, she looked at the little cocoon in the jar, and waited. Amy knew that the caterpillar’s body inside the chrysalis would dissolve into a liquid and the cells of the adult butterfly begin to grow. The little cocoon became more and more transparent as the immature cells developed into a full-fledged butterfly. Pretty soon, she could see the orange-and-black wings of an adult monarch inside the chrysalis.

One morning, Amy woke up and glanced at the big glass jar next to her bed. But something was different. The little cocoon was broken and empty. Sitting next to it was a brand new orange-and-black butterfly with white markings on its wings. It was the most beautiful monarch butterfly she had ever seen.

The butterfly sat on a dry leaf, slowly moving its wings up and down. Amy watched in fascination, amazed by the miracle of nature she had witnessed in the big glass jar.

But the glass jar was no place to keep such a delicate and fragile creature. She took the jar outside, unscrewed the lid, and watched the beautiful butterfly flutter away.

Dawn Pisturino

June 8, 2022

Copyright 2008-2022 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

17 Comments »

Children’s Story: “Caitlin II”

(Photo by Vitolda Klein, Unsplash)

The next part of the assignment for my children’s literature writing class was to write a children’s story based on the child I had observed. (See previous post.)

Children’s Story: “Caitlin II”

by Dawn Pisturino

I wasn’t surprised when Jenny told me that her parents are getting a divorce. It seems like every kid I know comes from a broken home. Jenny’s parents fight a lot, and I’ve seen her break down and cry in the girls’ restroom because of it. Don’t parents understand how unhappy they make their kids?

She hopes they’ll make it up and stay together, and I hope they do, too. Jenny is a nice girl with a bright future, and I hate to see her so unhappy.

Why do families have to split up? Why can’t they just love each other and stay together?

My Aunt Lucy and Uncle Tommy got a divorce. I never see Uncle Tommy anymore. He moved to the East Coast and got a new job. Aunt Lucy cried a lot, and my cousin Jeremy got into trouble for stealing money from the neighbor next door. After his father left, he was angry for a long time. I haven’t seen him since last Christmas, but Mom told me that he ran away from home one night and got beat up by a local gang. I’m afraid that someday something really bad will happen to him, and I’ll never see him again.

I love my father, and if he ever left, I think I would die. Just the thought makes me want to cry.

It scared me when my little brother got real sick. His face was red, and his skin was hot, and he slept a lot. Mom rushed him to the emergency room, and he had to stay in the hospital until he got better. I didn’t see Mom for a few days because she stayed in the hospital with him.

Dad and I took care of each other, though. We made dinner together every night, and one night, we went out for pizza. I told him all about my classes in school, the new girl who moved in down the street, and the cute boy I met at the library. I was embarrassed to talk about the cute boy, but Dad just laughed and didn’t tease me at all. I really loved him for that.

~

Sunday, May 8, 2022, is Mother’s Day. HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY!

Dawn Pisturino

July 8, 2008; May 6, 2022

Copyright 2008-2022 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

18 Comments »

Child Observation Notes: “Caitlin I”

(Photo by Vitolda Klein, Unsplash)

The assignment for my children’s literature writing class was to find a child that I did not personally know, observe the child, and to take notes. Trying not to look like some kind of pervert, I sat in the children’s section at Barnes & Noble, chose a little girl who was about 12 years old, and took notes on her appearance, body language, behavior, interactions with others, and anything else that seemed important.

Child Observation Notes

by Dawn Pisturino

There was nothing extraordinary about the young girl sitting on the carpeted floor with her knees bent, an open storybook in her lap. She looked like a typical American teenage girl with her slinky blond hair swept back into a high ponytail, a short-sleeved green tee clinging tightly to small, firm breasts, and white sneakers protruding from the legs of crisp blue jeans.

A small boy with sandy hair who looked about three years old sat on the floor to her right, eagerly listening to the story she was reading. A girl about five years old with light brown curls stood impatiently to her left, energetically bouncing up and down with one finger in her mouth as the girl turned the pages of the book.

The girl, who could have been named Caitlin, smiled brightly as she read to her younger brother and sister. An aura of simple goodness radiated like the points of a shiny white star from her smooth, unblemished face. Her small, impish nose wrinkled up with laughter, and her hazel eyes sparkled with mischief as she pointed her finger at a silly picture. She held up the book so both siblings could get a clearer view.

When the younger boy and girl grew tired of the book, they scampered off. Their mother turned from her conversation with the sales clerk and said something sharp, but Caitlin answered lightly, ” Don’t worry, I’ll take care of them. Nothing will happen.” She followed them around the colorful racks of children’s books, unhurried and untroubled, showing no signs of resentment or frustration at being held responsible for her younger brother and sister.

She was slim and light on her feet, her posture fully erect. She could have been a young dancer or gymnast. With graceful movements, she picked up her younger brother and whirled him around in the air, making him squeal with delight, while his curly-headed sister danced around and begged for a turn.

It was a touching glimpse of family bonding and a rare reminder that happy families do, indeed, exist.

~

The next part of the assignment was to write a short story based on this profile, which I will present in the next post.

Thanks for reading! Writing for children can be fun and rewarding.

Dawn Pisturino

July 8, 2008; May 5, 2022

Copyright 2008-2022 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

28 Comments »

Jennifer’s Jar – A Short Story

(Photo from The Cary Company, http://www.thecarycompany.com)

Jennifer’s Jar

by Dawn Pisturino

On the morning of her tenth birthday, Jennifer received the strangest gift she had ever seen – a large glass jar.

It looks like a mayonnaise jar, Jennifer thought. But why did someone – or something – send it to her?

When she unscrewed the lid and peered inside, she saw nothing at all. Sniffing it produced no odor. The inside of the jar was perfectly dry. She shook it, rolled it, and turned it upside-down. Nothing happened.

All in all, it was an ordinary glass jar with no label on the front or printing on the lid. So, she decided to use it.

“I’ll fill it with water and add blue food coloring,” Jennifer said. “Some plastic fish would look nice. I’ll make an aquarium!”

But when she tried to pour water into the jar, the water wouldn’t go in! It spilled all over the countertop. She used a whole roll of paper towels cleaning it up. And the jar was still empty.

“I’ll fill it with marbles,” Jennifer decided.

She found her brother’s big bag of marbles and tried to pour them into the jar. But the marbles wouldn’t go in! They scattered all over the kitchen floor. It took twenty minutes to find all those marbles and refill the marble bag. And the jar was still empty.

“Oh, well,” Jennifer sighed. “Bobby would probably be mad anyway.”

Sand! How about sand?

For Christmas, Jennifer had received a craft kit filled with different types of colored sand. This seemed like the perfect opportunity to use it.

Using one of her mother’s kitchen funnels, she tried to pour pink sand into the jar. But the sand wouldn’t go in! It spilled, like pink sugar, all over the countertop. She cleaned it up with a wet dishcloth. And the jar was still empty.

Frustrated, Jennifer threw the dishcloth into the sink. “What am I going to do with an empty glass jar that won’t fill? I may as well throw it away.”

She tossed it into the trashcan, but lo and behold, here it came, bouncing out of the trashcan and into her hands again!

Terrified, Jennifer threw the jar onto the floor, smashing it into a million pieces.

A loud belching noise filled the air, and a small cloud of stinky black smoke rose up from the pieces of glass. “Ugh! Smells like a big fart!” Jennifer cried, pinching her nose. “Smells like Sissy’s poopy diapers! No wonder the jar wouldn’t fill!” As the cloud rose, it grew larger and larger until it was nearly as big as Jennifer herself.

“I’m out of here!” Jennifer yelled as she ran for the front door. But the big, stinky, black cloud followed her. She raced into the front yard, where a gust of wind caught the big, black cloud and spirited it away.

Relieved, Jennifer returned to the kitchen just in time to hear her mother say, “Jennifer, you’re in big trouble this time!”

Dawn Pisturino

2012; May 4, 2022

Copyright 2012-2022 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

33 Comments »

Children’s Rebus: Who Ate the Cactus?

(Photo by Pixabay)

What is a rebus? According to Meriam-Webster Dictionary:

Definition of rebus

“a representation of words or syllables by pictures of objects or by symbols whose names resemble the intended words or syllables in sound; also a riddle made up of such pictures or symbols.”

Highlights for Children is a children’s magazine which includes a rebus in nearly every issue.

WHO ATE THE CACTUS?

by Dawn Pisturino

       👦🏾 and 👧 are visiting a 🌵 garden in Arizona.  The 🌵🌵 bloom 🌹🌹, 💐, and 🌺 in the spring.

       The 💐 are pretty.  But something is wrong.  The 🌵🌵 are full of holes.  👦🏾 sees big 🦷🦷 marks along the sides.

       “Who ate the 🌵 ?” 👦🏾 asks.

       “A big red 🐦,” 👧 says.

       “Nah, 🐦🐦 don’t have 🦷🦷.”

       “A slinky green 🦎,” 👧 says.

       “Nope, 🦎🦎 are too small.”

       “How about a 🦈?” 👧 says, laughing.

       Suddenly, two long gray ears pop up from the center of the 🌵 patch.  A huge🐰 leaps out and runs away.

       “Wait!  There goes your answer!” 👧 chuckles.

       👦🏾 agrees.

Dawn Pisturino

October 17, 2012; April 5, 2022

Copyright 2012-2022 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

14 Comments »

Brother Bear’s Baby-Sitting Adventure

(Photo by Nathan Dumlao, Unsplash)

Brother Bear’s Baby-Sitting Adventure

by Dawn Pisturino

Brother Bear groaned. “I don’t wanna baby-sit! Sister Bear always gets me into trouble!”

“Now, now,” said Mama Bear. “I have to take Baby Bear to the doctor. I’m counting on you to take care of Sister Bear.”

“Can we make chocolate chip cookies when you get home?” Brother Bear asked.

Mother Bear laughed. “We’ll see,” she said.

After Mother Bear left with Baby Bear, Brother Bear turned on the TV so Sister Bear could watch her favorite cartoons.

“I’m hungry,” Sister Bear said. “Can I please have a peanut butter and jelly sandwich?”

Brother Bear made a face. “Okay – since you said please.”

“You’re the best big brother in the world!” Sister Bear said.

Brother Bear went to the kitchen. He made a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and put it on a green plate. He poured a big glass of milk. He carried the green plate and the glass of milk into the living-room for Sister Bear. Sister Bear was gone!

“Sister Bear!” Brother Bear called. But nobody answered.

Brother Bear put the green plate and glass of milk on a table. He ran down the hallway to look for Sister Bear.

First, he looked in Sister Bear’s room. There were lots of dolls on Sister Bear’s pink bed – but no Sister Bear.

Then, he looked in Baby Bear’s room. There were lots of stuffed animals in Baby Bear’s white crib – but no Sister Bear.

Brother Bear knocked on the bathroom door. “Sister Bear, are you in there?”

He heard water running.

Sister Bear squealed with delight. “Wheeeee! I love bubbles! Lots and lots of bubbles!”

Brother Bear groaned. What was he going to do? Mama Bear would be home soon. Brother Bear tried to open the bathroom door. But it was locked.

“Sister Bear, open the door!” Brother Bear yelled.

“I’m taking a bubble bath all by myself,” Sister Bear said. “Wheeeee!”

Brother Bear heard Sister Bear splashing in the water. He heard the water running in the bathtub.

I have to get in there and turn off the water, Brother Bear thought. But how?

The window. Could he climb through the bathroom window? He decided to try.

Brother Bear ran outside and found the bathroom window. It was open. But Brother Bear was not tall enough to climb through the window.

He found an old wooden chair. He placed it under the bathroom window. He stood on top of the chair. Now, he was tall enough to climb through the window.

Sister Bear laughed when she saw Brother Bear climb through the window. She blew bubbles at him with her bubble wand.

The water in the bathtub was beginning to run on the floor. Bubbles floated everywhere!

Brother Bear turned off the water in the bathtub. He was mad.

“Look at the mess you made!” Brother Bear shouted. “Mama Bear’s gonna be mad!”

Sister Bear began to cry.

Brother Bear opened the bathroom door. He heard a noise in the kitchen. Mama Bear was home.

What should he do?

Brother Bear grabbed some towels from the linen closet and threw them on the bathroom floor. He cleaned up all the water with the towels. Then he pulled the plug in the bathtub.

Sister Bear laughed as the water went gurgle-gurgle down the drain. She climbed out of the bathtub. Brother Bear dried her with a towel. He helped her to get dressed.

Brother Bear took Sister Bear to the living-room and put her in a chair.

“Here’s your peanut butter and jelly sandwich,” Brother Bear said.

Mama Bear came into the living-room. “How did it go?” she asked.

Sister Bear became excited. “Brother Bear let me take a bubble bath all by myself. And he made the best peanut butter and jelly sandwich in the world. I love Brother Bear!”

Mama Bear looked happy. “You did a good job, Brother Bear. Let’s go make chocolate chip cookies.”

Dawn Pisturino

May 2008; March 31, 2022

Copyright 2008-2022 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

20 Comments »

Remarkable Mr. Tibbs

(Photo from Pixabay)

Caitlin finished hosing down the empty dog kennel before turning off the water and removing her grimy work gloves. Her black sneakers felt damp, mud streaked her brand-new jeans, and long strands of corn silk hair had come loose from her ponytail. She was tired and hungry and ready to go home. “I’m finished, Grandma,” she called.

Dr. Rosemary Grant poked her curly gray head out the back door of the animal hospital and smiled. “You’re a good helper, Caitlin. I’ll take you home now.”

As they approached Caitlin’s house, a streak of yellow raced into the street. Her grandma slammed on the brakes, but they both felt the sickening thud.

“Mr. Tibbs!” Caitlin cried, jumping out of the car. She knelt on the asphalt where a yellow mass of fur smeared with blood lay sprawled. The eyes were closed. The chest barely moved.

Caitlin’s grandma knelt to examine the still form. “Get that old blanket from the back of the car,” she instructed without looking up.

Caitlin grabbed the blanket and handed it to her grandmother. “Will he be okay?”

“I don’t know,” she said gravely. “He’s seriously injured. We might have to put him down.”

“No!”

“He’s suffering, Caitlin. Do you want him to suffer?”

“No,” Caitlin sobbed, “but you’re a doctor. You’re supposed to try and save him!”

Very gently, as if wrapping a delicate Christmas ornament in tissue paper, Dr. Grant wrapped the injured cat in the woolen blanket and laid him in Caitlin’s arms. “We’ll take him to the clinic, and I’ll see what I can do. But don’t get your hopes up.”

* * *

Mr. Tibbs lay listlessly in a padded basket, his green eyes glazed over. “Grandma gave him some pain medicine,” Caitlin explained to her parents. She gingerly lifted the wounded yellow cat out of the basket and cradled him in her arms. His left front leg was missing. In its place was a small stump with tiny black stitches. His right front leg was limp, twisted, and useless.

“He’s crippled,” her mother said, wringing her hands. “What are we going to do with him?”

“He’ll never live a normal life again,” her father said. His steel gray eyes appeared grim. “Maybe this wasn’t a good idea. If he can’t adjust to his disabilities, we’ll have to put him down.”

* * *

Mr. Tibbs sniffed eagerly at the catnip toy in Caitlin’s hand, his green eyes glowing with expectation when she tossed it several inches in front of him on the tile floor. He eyed the toy warily, his tail flicking back and forth. Then, with one big push of his hind legs, he thrust himself forward onto his chin and chest, knocking into the toy and pushing it away. He rested a moment, breathing heavily, and tried again. Now the toy was encircled by his limp front leg. He opened his jaws and picked it up.

Caitlin scratched his furry yellow head. “Good boy, Mr. Tibbs. You did it.” She took the catnip toy from his mouth and offered him a treat, but he turned his head away and closed his eyes.

* * *

“He’s not improving,” Caitlin complained to her grandmother on the phone. “He just lays there. He won’t even try to get up unless I coax him.”

“Give him time, honey. He’s been through a terrible experience, and now his independence is gone. He has to learn how to survive all over again.”

“But if he doesn’t get better soon, Dad will have him put down.”

“It might be better in the long run,” her grandmother said.

Discouraged, Caitlin hung up the phone. Despite all of her best efforts, Mr. Tibbs was barely able to scoot a few feet across the floor. He refused to eat, and he was still unable to use the litter box. “Thank goodness we have tile floors,” her mother kept harping. “I don’t know what we would do if we had carpeting.”

Maybe Dad is right. Maybe it’s better to put him down.

She searched for him in the kitchen and laundry room. Where is he, she thought. But as she walked through the living-room door, she witnessed a remarkable sight: Mr. Tibbs was sitting up on his back haunches like a dog, his useless foreleg hanging limp and twisted in front of him, biting at the air with his powerful jaws and trying to catch a pesky fly that buzzed around his head. The fly flew away, but Mr. Tibbs remained sitting upright on his haunches. Then, with one great effort, he propelled himself onto the sofa with his strong back legs.

Caitlin flew across the room, scooped up the startled cat, and covered his furry head with kisses. “You are the most remarkable cat in the world!”

Later, when Caitlin climbed the stairs to bed, she was surprised to hear a thumping sound behind her on the stairs. She stopped and turned around. Mr. Tibbs was using his muscular back legs to clumsily propel himself up the stairs. “Come on, boy, you can do it,” she said. Slowly, he pushed himself step-by-step up the stairs until he lay exhausted at her feet.

“Dad, come here,” she called excitedly.

The first time he used the litter box, Caitlin beamed with pride. She offered him some bits of tuna fish which he eagerly ate from her hand.

One Saturday afternoon, Caitlin’s father answered the front door. A young man with sandy hair and freckles stood on the front porch with a small notebook in his hand and a camera slung over his shoulder. “Does Mr. Tibbs live here?” he said. “My name is Josh White, reporter with The Somerville Daily Bugle.”

Caitlin’s father chuckled. “Come in, Mr. White.”

Mr. Tibbs sat on his haunches in the middle of the living-room snapping his jaws at a piece of green yarn that Caitlin was dangling over his head.

“Hold that pose,” Mr. White said, flashing his camera.

The photo appeared the next day on the front page of The Somerville Daily Bugle above the story about a remarkable cat that was rescued from a terrible accident by a skilled veterinarian and saved from a life of helplessness by a dedicated twelve-year-old girl. Caitlin kept the newspaper clipping in her special drawer and read it every night before going to sleep.

Purring loudly, Mr. Tibbs stretched out his long body on the bed and yawned, one tired and contented cat.

* * *

Incredibly, Remarkable Mr. Tibbs is based on a true story. British naturalist Philip Brown owned a cat named Uncle Whiskers that survived a terrible car accident. Just like Mr. Tibbs, his left front leg was amputated and his right front leg was paralyzed. This amazing cat adapted so well to his disabilities, he was able to catch moths, rats, and even rabbits. Mr. Brown was so astounded, he wrote a book entitled Uncle Whiskers which is still avidly read by cat lovers today.

Want to read more stories about disabled pets? Visit http://www.petswithdisabilities.org.

Works Cited

Brown, Philip. Uncle Whiskers. Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1974.

“Pets With Disabilities”. http://www.petswithdisabilities.org. Accessed 9/16/2008.

Dawn Pisturino

October 2008; March 30, 2022

Copyright 2008-2022 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

8 Comments »

Eleven-Word Story

(Photo from Raiders of the Lost Ark,1981)

An eleven-word story that I wrote for an Underneath the Juniper Tree Writing Challenge, August 10, 2011:

“Hideously white and deformed, the face at the window slowly decomposed.”

Dawn Pisturino

March 24, 2022

Copyright 2011-2022 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

18 Comments »

Brother Sun, Sister Moon

A Story of Sibling Rivalry and Bullying Based on a Cuban Folktale

by Dawn Pisturino

A long time ago, Sun and Moon lived in a deep, dark cave on an island in the Caribbean Sea. 

Sun could not bear to live in such claustrophobic quarters. Day and night he paced the floor, grumbling and complaining, until one morning he said to Moon: “Sister, this cave is too small, and our light is too bright. It’s blinding both of us! You’re smaller and weaker than I am. You must leave and find a new home.”

“Me!” Moon retorted, stamping her tiny silver feet. “This cave belongs to both of us. Since you’re so unhappy, you move out!”

Sun said no more. He paced back and forth, wringing his hands until they were raw. Glimpsing his reflection in the mirror he shrieked, “Look what you’ve done to me! My face is breaking out with sunspots!”

“What do I care,” Moon responded. “I’m not leaving, and that’s final.”

Enraged, Sun loomed over Moon, his face growing redder and hotter until bright orange flames shot from his fingers and toes and the ends of his hair.

“Stop it, Sun!” Moon cried, shielding her face with her arms. “You’re scorching me with your hot flares!”

Moon waxed and waned with terror, moaning in pain, until Sun grabbed her silver locks and threw her out of the cave. “And never come back again!” he roared.

Leaning against a banana tree, Moon wept until her full, shiny face shrank to a thin silver crescent.

Air, grieved by Moon’s distress, wrapped the pale, weak maiden in her arms and carried her into the sky above. “You’ll be safe here,” she reassured Moon. “The stars won’t mind sharing a little space with you.”

But Moon, ashamed of her scorched face, hid behind a passing cloud.

The stars welcomed Moon and tried to make friends with her. Gradually, Moon’s scorched face healed, and she peered out from behind the cloud. She revealed more and more of her radiant face until it lit up the sky with soft, silvery light.

Sun burned with jealousy when he heard about his sister’s spacious new home. “I’ll show her!” he fumed; and leaped into the air. 

Blanching with fear, Moon shielded her face from Sun’s blazing wrath and raced across the sky until she disappeared from view.

Sun proudly took her place, filling the sky with so much brilliant fire the stars covered their eyes and ran away.

One evening, feeling bereft, Sun left the sky to search the cave where he and Moon had once lived together. As he approached the entrance, Moon suddenly appeared. Overcome by remorse, Sun pleaded with her to return with him to the sky. “There’s plenty of room for both of us,” he said.

But Moon could not forget her brother’s bad behavior. “I hate you!” she shouted. “You’re nothing but a big bully! I could never live with you again!” And so saying, she leaped into the air, leaving Sun standing all alone at the mouth of the cave.

Dawn Pisturino

2012; March 22, 2022

Copyright 2012-2022 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.      





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