When this sweet little lady bug asked Grandma to tell her a story with a scary person in it, a wolfey-type character leaped into Grandma’s mind. On the spur of the moment, Big Bad Bart morphed into a shady character who often got into trouble.
However, Lady Bug’s parents always could rescue her or BBB could teach her important character lessons.
Early in the morning Lady BHug crawled into bed with Grandma and implored, “Tell me a Big Bad Bart story, Grandma.”
“How do you ask? replied Grandma.
“Please, please,” came the response.
After Grandpa and Grandma returned to Maryland in late March, Lady Bug sometimes asked her parents to tell her BBB stories at bedtime or nap time. They then had to create spur of the moment stories for her.
Since the Wolfe Pack will gather next weekend for a family wedding, Grandma asked her very talented pastor’s daughter to create a cartoon of Big Bad Bart. The only instruction was that the character look like a dapper, crafty wolf and have clothes something like Beatrix Potter’s Peter Rabbit. Karen, a gifted young cartoonist, took only fifteen minutes to create the character.
Grandma then wrote the first story and centered it around a small pub in Accident called The Local. Now when Lady Bug visits Grandma and Grandpa, she’ll recognize the photo of the fine establishment when we drive by.
In this first story, BBB sneaks away from his work crew, goes to The Local for an early dinner, and subsequently gets caught in a series of lies. At the end of the story, Grandma wrote a few questions to promote interaction between whoever reads the story and the little listener.
BIG BAD BART LEARNS A LESSON ABOUT TRUTH
One chilly, windy day in April, when the sun and the clouds couldn’t make up their minds about which one would get more air time, a sneaky character named Big Bad Bart wandered into The Local, a small pub in Accident, Maryland. After he ordered a hamburger and a Sprite, he shifted his eyes all around the room, worried about who might spot him eating his early dinner at 4 o’clock. He’d left work before quitting time and knew he should have still been fixing the potholes in the roads. Back just a few miles up Route 219, the other county workers would patch the roads until 5. But you see, Big Bad Bart didn’t like to obey and do what he was told. With one sharp tooth sticking out of the left side of his mouth, Bart thought up a bad plan. He usually plotted his tricks and bad schemes with that pointed tooth parked outside of his mouth.
Earlier in the afternoon, when the other workers bent over to concentrate on fixing the hole in one section of road, Bart had headed away from them. He kept casting a hasty glance over his shoulder as he moved away from the others.
“Hey, Bart, just where do you think you’re going?” asked his boss. When Bart pretended not to hear, his boss called again. “I said, where are you headed? We’re working over here.”
Bart’s ears twitched at that second call and he turned to say, “I saw a big pot hole down this road a ways. I’ll start cleaning the hole out there, and we can all finish it tomorrow. I’ll give us a head start on tomorrow’s job.” Now doesn’t that sound like an ambitious worker, someone thinking about the next day’s chores already? But that story was not true. It just provided an excuse for Bart to slip on down to his big white truck.
Once the rest of the crew got busy, Big Bad Bart slipped further down the road. When he got to his truck, he quietly unlatched the door and got into the front seat of his truck. He reached his hand over the smooth seat and pulled out a bag he’d hidden there. His big eyes searched the road while his bushy tail went back and forth very slowly. Seeing no one near, Big Bad Bart slipped out of his work clothes and into his fancy green checked shorts and tomato red vest.
Very quietly, he started the truck and drove to The Local because he knew it opened at 4. Oh, he was so happy to leave work behind and trick his boss and the others who worked to keep the roads safe and in good repair. Bart put both hands inside his vest and gave a sort of half smile just thinking of his clever plan to get out of work. He stuck his nose out proudly and giggled to himself. He didn’t think about the truth. Instead he just wanted to do what he wanted – and get out of work early!
Thelma, a new lady working at The Local, brought Bart his Sprite. Thelma knew lots of folks who lived in town, and she always was looking to make more friends. So she tried to talk with him.” How do you like the remodeling job in here?” she said in a sing-song voice. “We think it turned out real nice; we hope folks around here will stop in and enjoy a burger and fries while they get to know their neighbors better. You live nearby?” she asked. Although she tried very hard to make Bart feel comfortable and at home in The Local, he did not want her or anyone else to know him. He was, after all, supposed to be at work. Big Bad Bart rudely turned his big shoulder toward Thelma and didn’t even thank her for bringing him his Sprite.
From the kitchen, Ernie yelled out, “Thelma, your order’s up. Come and get it while it’s hot!”
Thelma looked toward the small window and hurried away to get the steaming hot burger. Rushing right back, she looked at Bart and said, “What you want with that? Mustard? Ketchup? Relish? We’ve got ‘em all, um…, um… what did you say your name was, sir?”
“I didn’t say. Just get me the ketchup,” snapped Bart. Suddenly, he just wanted to eat and get out of The Local without drawing attention to himself. Taking a big bite out of his burger, he nearly choked when his cousin, Silly Sid walked through the door and sang out, “Well, if it isn’t my cousin, Big Bad Bart? I haven’t seen you all winter. What are you doing here at 4:30 in the afternoon? Late lunch?”
Without saying a word, Bart let himself slip down in the booth, wishing he could disappear by vanishing into the air. “Don’t think I know you,” Bart answered in a high squeaky voice he made up. If Big Bad Bart was to avoid being caught, no one could know his name at The Local. “You must be thinking of someone else. You’re confused or else just acting silly.”
Poor Silly Sid couldn’t make sense of what he saw and heard. This person sure looked like his cousin, Big Bad Bart, but the voice and the fancy clothes did not match at all. Maybe, just maybe, Sid had made a mistake. He lifted his cap and scratched his head as he tried to figure things out. “Ya sure?” Sid asked again.
“Absolutely sure. Just leave me alone and let me eat,” came the reply in the same high-pitched voice. Big Bad Bart sucked in his big nose and held his breath as he waited to see if Sid would stop talking to him. Sid decided that he must have made a mistake and went over to order. The clothes seemed too fancy and the voice was all wrong. “I guess I made a mistake,” he mumbled to himself.
Finishing his burger and Sprite in one last gulp, Big Bad Bart realized that he’d better get out of this place in case some of his crew stopped here to eat dinner. The clock’s hands pointed to 5:15. Somehow getting out of work early and playing a trick on the others in his crew wasn’t nearly as much fun as Bart had thought when the idea first came to him. He tried to slip out of the booth and get out of The Local unnoticed. Just when he thought he’d gotten in the clear…
Out of nowhere Thelma appeared. “Not so fast, whoever you are. This is your bill and you won’t get out of here without paying it. I’ll take $8.05, if you please.”
As Bart fished in his pockets looking for his money, he soon realized that the only money he had was in the jeans he’d left in his truck. He felt sick to his stomach but had to think fast. “Oh, my money’s in my pant’s pocket. I’ll just run out and get it and pay my bill. Be right back.”
“Not so fast,” chirped Thelma. “You must think you can pull one over on me. If you think you’re going out to your truck, give me your name and something to hold until you come back. I thin k you can let me have that fancy tomato red vest of yours.”
Since Thelma had spoken quickly and loudly to Bart, the servers, cooks and other people in The Local all turned their eyes toward Big Bad Bart. As soon as Silly Sid saw Bart’s swishing tail, he shouted, “You are my cousin, Big Bad Bart. You can change your voice and clothes, but I know that swishy tail of yours. When you’re up to bad things, that tail moves back and forth really fast. Then the white part of your eyes gets really big. And you look just like that right now! Why didn’t you tell me the truth?’
Bart tried ignoring the question at first, pretending he didn’t hear when everyone in The Local heard. Bart’s heart beat faster and his hair started to poke out in little spikes. People kept looking at Bart and wondering why he acted so rudely. But worse than Bart’s rudeness, he then started talking ugly to Sid. “I don’t like you anyway and you didn’t really even know who I was.”
Thelma interrupted them by saying, “What’s your name?”
At first Bart said nothing. Then, almost in a whisper, he said, “Silly Sid.”
“Now wait a minute,” yowled Sid, “You are Big Bad Bart. Silly Sid’s my name!”
Suddenly several people from the kitchen came out to the dining room.
“I’m the owner of The Local,” said Mr. Marshall, “and I suggest you hand your fancy vest over to Thelma, run to you truck and bring back the money you owe for your meal.”
Big Bad Bart pouted and set his pointy tooth out the side of his mouth, but he did take off his vest and hand it to Thelma just before he shoved open the front door of The Local.
“He’s sure got a bad attitude,” said Thelma. I politely asked him his name and he wouldn’t give it. Then Sid thought he recognized Bart, and Bart talked ugly to his own cousin. I think I see why he’s called Big Bad Bart.”
Right then Bart slammed the door open. “Here’s your money,” he said in a disrespectful way. “I’ll just take my vest and get out of here,” he snapped. “I don’t like any of you, and your food’s cold.”
As Thelma handed Bart his vest, she calmly replied, “Your Sprite came out icy cold, like it should be, and the steam was rising from your burger, sir”
Mr. Marshall gathered up the money Bart had left and sadly noted he hadn’t even left a tip for Thelma. Right then, he and the other customers heard slamming truck doors out in the parking lot. Looking out the front door, they saw Mr. T, Bart’s boss, shaking his head from side to side. Bart backed out of the lot and threw the truck into first gear before stomping on the gas pedal and driving off, leaving a cloud of smoke and squealing tires behind him.
Everyone in The Local stood still as Mr. T came through the door. It was easy to see that he wasn’t very happy. “Humph!” he coughed. “I knew Bart had slipped away early from work. Out there in your parking lot, he wouldn’t answer my questions about when he left work, so I told him he wouldn’t get all his pay this week. I could have fired him. Big Bad Bart needs to make some changes in his attitude, be more polite and learn to tell the truth.”
“Well, maybe we can all learn some lessons and behave better,” said Thelma, “but right now Mr. T looks like he wants a burger.”
Questions for you to answer:
What does talking ugly mean?
Give an example of being ugly or talking ugly from the story.
Did Big Bad Bart tell the truth to his boss and crew members?
Why did do you think he had his good clothes in the truck?
Why did Big Bad Bart keep looking around The Local?
Why wouldn’t he tell Thelma his name?
How did Bart treat Thelma? Would you want to be treated like that?
How did Bart treat Silly Sid?
Bart didn’t tell Sid the truth. How did Sid find out that his cousin was really there?
Can you think of a time when you didn’t tell the truth? What happened?
What happened to Bart when Mr. T saw him at The Local?