Dario Rivarossa: Images for "The Bad Little Boy"
Some years ago, I came up with a story for my son, En-Uk, who was about three years old, maybe three-and-a-half, and rather difficult. Indeed, that difficult age between the Terrible Twos and the Formidable Fours: the Threatening Threes! The story was composed in the telling as I rapidly racked my brains for something to get En-Uk's attention and make him behave. The story caught his attention but failed to alter his behavior. He merely insisted that he was a good boy.
Well, recently, my friend Dario had opportunity to read this story -- and was inspired to illustrate it! Here it is below, with Dario's illustrations:
The Bad Little Boy
By Horace Jeffery Hodges
Illustrated by Dario Rivarossa
Once upon a time, there was a bad little boy. If his parents told him to go to the mountain, he went to the river. If they told him to go to the river, he went to the mountain.
He never did anything that his parents wanted.
But deep down inside, his skeleton wanted to be good.
So, one night, while the bad little boy was sleeping, the skeleton unzipped his belly and ran away . . . to be good.
Next morning, when the bad little boy woke up, he found that he couldn't move.
Able to shift his eyeballs slightly, he discovered that he was completely flat.
Downstairs, his parents waited, curious why their bad little boy was getting up so late.
Finally, up the stairs they went, only to find a flat boy in their son's bed.
Not recognizing their flat boy, and not knowing what to do, they sold him to the circus, which put him in its freak show as the star attraction.
"Come see the flat freak!" the barker cried as the circus traveled the world.
Meanwhile, the skeleton was having problems of his own.
Although he tried to be good, offering to help old ladies cross the street or to change flat tires for women who couldn't, or other good deeds, even strong men ran off screaming in terror.
"Perhaps," he thought, "I should return to the bad little boy and offer a deal."
So, back he went and knocked on the bad little boy's door.
The parents answered the door, but looked aghast!
"Please," implored the good little skeleton, "hear me out. I am your little boy's skeleton."
And he explained everything. When they had heard his entire story, the parents were utterly distraught.
"You mean that we sold our own boy to the circus?" they asked.
"I will get him back," promised the skeleton, hoping to perform at least one good deed.
The skeleton searched all over the world, never seeming to arrive any place in time to rescue the bad little boy, until one day, unexpectedly, he came upon the circus in a small town.
Noticing a long line waiting for the freak show, he peeked inside the tent -- and saw the bad little boy, now a flat little boy, lying flat on a raised platform where the line was filing by.
Thinking that the boy was successful as the circus's main attraction, the skeleton considered leaving without speaking to him first.
But feeling that he should at least check, the skeleton stole into the boy's room late that night.
Awakened by the intrusion, the bad little flat boy rolled his eyes and saw his skeleton.
The skeleton explained why he had come. "So, here's the deal," he offered. "If you promise to be good, then I will crawl back under your skin. Do you want that? If so, blink."
The bad little boy blinked, and the skeleton unzipped his stomach and crawled back inside.
Together, they trekked back to their parents, who were overjoyed to have their boy again.A longer version of this story was posted on this blog some years back, but this shorter version is the more original.
From that day on, the bad little boy was always good.
So, of course, they all lived happily ever after.