After some great advice from two fine editors on Fiverr, Barnabas has been revised and now he can talk!
When I went on Fiverr.com to find a developmental editor I found two and couldn’t pick between them – so I hired both. I figured that one or the other would have the right answers for how to make this little story really shine.
It turned out, they both had really good but different advice. So I’ve done my best to incorporate both. There were lots of little things in both sets of edits, but here are the major things that changed.
First, Allison pointed out that the turning point in the story, where Barnabas changes his attitude towards the kitten needed more to explain his change of heart. This was easy to see once she pointed it out, but tough to make happen.
Second, Melissa strongly suggested that the animals just go ahead and say what they are thinking and feeling. This will make it easier for little kids to empathize with them.
This piece of advice was the harder one for me to accept. I was really proud of what I thought was a “natural” way for a dog and a cat to behave, and that making them talk would make them less real. But after more consideration, I think the real point here is that kids naturally want to put themselves in the shoes of the characters. It doesn’t matter if they are dogs.
I look forward to hearing your feedback on this version.
Also, the name of the kitten is still up in the air, so feel free to offer suggestions!
So here it is, Barnabas V2:
Barnabas was often angry. (picture of a big German shepherd).
He got angry when his dinner was late. He got angry at the squirrels that sat in the tree out of his reach. He got angry when his people left him at home alone.
But then something happened that made him angrier than ever before.
His people came home and said, “Barnabas, we’ve brought you a friend,” and put a box down on the floor beside him.
Out of the box hopped a tiny, fluffy, white kitten.
“This is Buttercup,” said his people.
Everything about the kitten made him angry. She smelled funny. She had a bushy tail that stuck straight up in the air for no reason. She had big eyes. She was cute.
“Hello,” the kitten mewed and tried to nuzzle his leg.
“Get away from me!” Barnabas growled.
Buttercup did everything possible to make Barnabas angry. She drank from his water bowl, ate his dog food, and curled up to take a nap in his bed. When Barnabas was sleeping she pounced on his head.
He wished she would just leave him alone, but she wouldn’t.
Buttercup got in the way when he was chasing his soccer ball. She ran after his stick when he was playing fetch. She even took over chasing squirrels.
One afternoon, Barnabas was in the backyard moping. His people had left that morning for a day at the lake, leaving him at home.
“Watch over Buttercup while we’re gone, Barnabas,” they told him as they were leaving.
He was investigating some squirrel tracks near the big tree when Buttercup came up and rubbed herself against his legs, stepping on the tracks and messing up the scent.
“What are you doing, Barnabas?” said Buttercup.
“You ruin everything! Get away from me!” barked Barnabas.
Buttercup was so scared she ran straight up the tree. She clung to a branch and looked down at him in terror.
At last, a chance to do his own thing without that annoying kitten getting in the way.
Barnabas found the squirrel trail again and followed it to the point where it disappeared over the fence. Next he ran around the yard pushing his soccer ball with his nose.
Tired from running, Barnabas went and lapped water from his bowl. Out of habit, he looked around to see if Buttercup was sneaking up to pounce on him.
But Buttercup was still in the tree. She sat frozen, too afraid to let even one claw loose that she would fall.
Barnabas figured Buttercup would come down on her own at some point. He flopped down in a sunny spot for a nice nap.
He woke up shivering with cold. Dark clouds had covered the sun. It would be nice to have a warm kitten curled up next to him. Where was Buttercup?
Buttercup was still in the tree. Barnabas started to worry. What if she couldn’t climb down?
“What’s wrong?” Barnabas asked.
“It’s too high! I’m scared!” she said
It started to rain. A crack of lightning lit up the yard. Buttercup shook and meowed.
Barnabas had to do something. He ran by the fence and barked for help.
No one came.
He looked around the yard for ideas. He dragged a bench over from the picnic table. But it was too short
He found a box and pulled it up onto the bench. Still not high enough.
He found a pail and nosed it into place on top of the box. Almost there, but not quite.
He looked around and saw his soccer ball. He could reach her now!
Barnabas very gently grabbed the scruff of Buttercup’ neck.
A crack of thunder boomed and lightning flashed. The ball slipped out from under Barnabas and the whole pile came tumbling down.
Barnabas curled around Buttercup and the two of them rolled across the muddy ground.
He carried Buttercup into the house through his dog door and the two of them collapsed in a tired heap on his bed.
And that’s how their people found them when they came home later that night.
From that day on, Barnabas was best friends with Buttercup. The two played together every day, chasing squirrels and pushing the soccer ball. They slept together in one bundle every night.
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