Tyson the Timid Turtle


I the Lord search the heart … to give every man according to … the fruit of his doings (Jer. 17:10).

Tyson had just moved to Big Forest. He didn’t know anyone, and he did not make friends easily. When anyone spoke to him, he withdrew into his shell. He was sitting on the bank of the stream that ran through Big Forest, wishing for someone to play with, when Sorrell Squirrel came racing by. “Hi,” chattered Sorrell, skidding to a halt. “I’m Sorrell Squirrel. Who are you?”

“Hello,” said Tyson from inside his shell. “I’m Tyson Turtle.”

“I’m going to the birthday party,” chattered Sorrell. “Want to come with me?”

“I wasn’t invited,” said Tyson, shyly peeping out from under his shell.

“Everyone in Big Forest is invited,” said Sorrell. “It’s the forest queen’s birthday.”

“I don’t have a present for her,” said Tyson.

“You don’t need one,” said Sorrell. “Each year when the queen has her party, instead of receiving gifts, she gives them.”

“I’d love to go,” said Tyson.

Tyson and Sorrell set out for the queen’s court in the center of Big Forest. Sorrell chattered happily as he jumped from one tree to the next. Tyson plodded along on the ground below, listening to Sorrell.

“Besides giving everyone a present, the forest queen grants a wish to someone who is really deserving,” said Sorrell.

“What do you have to do to deserve it?” asked Tyson.

“Something very courageous,” said Sorrell.

“Oh,” said Tyson. I could never get my wish, he thought. I’m certainly not brave. I wish I could be brave and not timid.

Soon they reached the clearing in the forest where the queen held court. Tyson had never seen anything so beautiful. The court was in a clearing surrounded by tall, green ferns. The queen, dressed in a long, flowing white robe, was sitting on her toadstool throne. Her hair was the color of sun-ripened wheat. On her head was a shining crown, and she held a scepter in her hand.

Sorrell and Tyson walked along the moss-carpeted path leading to the throne. “Your Majesty,” said Sorrell, “I am Sorrell Squirrel, and this is Tyson Turtle.”

“Welcome to my birthday party, Sorrell and Tyson,” said the queen. “I am so happy that you could come. Enjoy yourselves. There are treats for everyone.”

Tyson’s face burned with embarrassment. He bowed, but he just could not bring himself to speak to her. He walked over to the place where all the other animals were gathered. There was a large bowl of nuts for Sorrell Squirrel, a big green leaf for Prudy Porcupine, a bowl of honey for Boris Bear, a wedge of cheese for Morty Mouse, a bowl of ripe acorns for Chauncey Chipmunk, and berries and other goodies for all the other animals.

The animals ate the food, then chose up sides to play games. No one asked Tyson to join in, and he was too timid to ask. He sat off to one side, watching the others have fun. He peered out and sniffed the air. An unpleasant odor was tickling his nose. Smoke! thought Tyson. Where there’s smoke there’s fire. “Fire!” he shouted, forgetting for once that he was timid.

“Everyone down to the stream,” said the queen. “Quickly now—there’s no time to waste.”

“The water is deep and swift,” said Myrna Mole. “How shall we little creatures get across?” The larger animals had already started across the stream. Some were already on the other side. The smaller animals were afraid to jump into the rapidly flowing water.

“Climb onto my back,” said Tyson. “I’ll take you across.”

Myrna Mole and Morty Mouse climbed up onto Tyson’s back, and he swam across the stream. When they were safe on the other side, Tyson went back to help more of the smaller animals across. He made many trips back and forth across the stream until everyone was safe on the other side. The fire came down to the stream but could not cross it. Thanks to Tyson, all the animals were safe on the other side.

“Hurray for Tyson!” shouted the animals.

The forest queen came over to Tyson and kissed his very red cheek. “Tyson, from now on you will not be called Timid Tyson. You will be known as Sir Tyson because of your courage.” She touched his shoulder with her scepter and said, “I dub thee Sir Tyson, Brave Knight of Big Forest.”

Tyson gave the queen a big, happy grin. “I didn’t know that I was being brave,” he said. “Thank you, Your Majesty, for making my wish come true.”

“I didn’t do anything, Tyson,” said the queen. “You did it all yourself. When you saw someone else in trouble, you tried to help, and you forgot about being timid.”

“Hurray for Sir Tyson!” yelled all the animals.

[illustrations] Illustrated by Shauna Mooney