Once upon a very long time ago, well before the age of the dinosaur, a group of little people lived. These little people were no bigger than our thumbs. They lived in homes that they made out of beautiful mushrooms.
There were blue, green, red, pink, yellow and black mushrooms. Some of the mushrooms had polka-dots and one, very special mushroom, had stripes.
The striped mushroom was bigger than all the other mushrooms. It was located in the centre of the village. It was the home of the king, the queen and their only daughter, Princess Lisa.
Everybody in Mushroom Town was quite busy keeping their little village looking beautiful. The little people took pride in their village and they worked peacefully and in harmony with each other.
The little people grew tiny gardens outside their mushroom houses. They grew carrots, green beans and peas. These were their favourite foods.
Once a day, the king selected someone from the village to go from garden to garden and choose the best vegetables. These were taken to the royal family.
On this particular day, it was little Tommy’s turn.
“Now Tommy,” his mother had warned him that morning at the breakfast table. “This is a very important job for you, especially today, because it is Princess Lisa’s birthday. The food that you pick must be of superb quality. Don’t settle for anything but the best.”
“Listen son,” his father said. “It might be best if you stay away from Blackie’s house. He can be a troublesome lot, sometimes.”
“Yes Father,” said Tommy.
Tommy’s parents waved goodbye to their son, but not before Tommy carefully inspected their own private garden. He chose a big plump carrot and put it into his basket.
He found several excellent quality vegetables in the village. Carefully, he put them into his basket. By lunch hour, Tommy’s little basket was almost full to the brim. He had done a very good job.
Feeling a little hungry and quite proud of himself, Tommy sat down under an apple tree. He pulled out the little brownbag that his mother had given him and began to eat his lunch.
Blackie poked his head out from behind the apple tree. He was the black sheep of the village, who liked to cause trouble.
“Oh!” Blackie said. “It’s you, Tommy.”
“Yes,” said Tommy, quickly gathering up his belongings.
“Aren’t you the lucky one,” said Blackie. “You are the chosen one on Princess Lisa’s birthday. I see you’ve done yourjob well, but aren’t you going to check my garden?”
“No,” said Tommy.
“And why not!” exclaimed Blackie. “You don’t think I’d give you something that was not fit for the royal family, now, do you?”
“That’s exactly what I think,” said Tommy.
Blackie searched through his jacket pocket and fished out a carrot that looked like it was a hundred years old.
“I knew you wouldn’t be around,” Blackie said. “That’s why I came here, to find you. Take this carrot to the princess. It’s the best one that I have in my garden.”
Tommy, reluctantly, took the carrot from Blackie.
“Thanks Blackie,” Tommy said and walked to the striped mushroom house.
Just before Tommy entered the golden gates, he took Blackie’s carrot out of the basket. He hastily stuffed it into his coat pocket.
“What have you got for my dinner?” Princess Lisa asked.
Tommy handed the basket to her.
First Princess Lisa inspected the food and then, the king did.
“Very good, son,” the king commented, when he saw the high quality of food Tommy’s basket contained. “Son, are you holding out on me?”
The king pointed to the carrot that dangled from his pocket.
“Oh,” said Tommy. “Blackie gave me that carrot to give to you. I don’t feel that the carrot is good enough for you, Your Highness.”
“Well son,” the king said. “I appreciate your loyalty. You’ve done an excellent job.”
Tommy went home. His mother and father greeted him at the front door.
“We just got a call from the king,” his mother said. “You did such a fine job of choosing the food for the royal family that the king wants to make you the ‘Permanent Food Chooser’.”
“He does!” Tommy cried.
“Yes son,” his parents said happily. “He does.”
“And,” his father announced. “Because of your good judgment and loyalty, you are invited to join Princess Lisa at her birthday feast!”
“Of course,” laughed Tommy’s mother. “We will have to chaperone you.”