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Peter Opossum's Forest Park Adventures
By Tamara Heppe
AuthorHouseCopyright © 2010 Tamara Heppe, Illustrated by Dan Cooper
All right reserved.
Chapter OneHi, I'm Peter Opossum. I live in the Kennedy Forest in Forest Park.
Forest Park is in St. Louis, Missouri. Kennedy Forest is a wildlife habitat that is filled with plants and trees that are native to Missouri.
I'm the oldest kid in my family. I am ten years old.
My moms name is Pricilla, my dad is Patrick, and my two sisters are Polly and Pansy. They are seven and five years old.
All four seasons in the park are busy with activities. Summer is probably my favorite. My family loves to go to the Muny in the summer.
The Muny is a huge outdoor theater. The performances are great. Many of the actors and singers have performed on Broadway.
There is a big tree right next to the large stage. My family finds a comfortable place to watch from the tree. Mom always packs some tasty snacks to eat while we watch the show.
Each year, the Muny has one show that is especially for children! This summer, it was Peter Pan!
During the performance, I got so excited about seeing Peter Pan fly that I ran out to get a closer look. I went right out onto the wires that hold up the lights!
Mom and Dad say I'm too curious. Sometimes this gets me into trouble. I don't think anyone saw me, but it scared Mom and Dad. They told me it was dangerous. They made me promise I would think before I did something like that again.
I told them I would try, but after all my name is Peter. I am like Peter Pan, who was adventurous—and even Peter Rabbit, who got into trouble because he didn't listen to his mother.
We know all the fairy tales, because our parents read to my sisters and me every night. My teacher in opossum school says that we are good readers. I tell her that reading is a fun thing that my whole family enjoys doing together.
After the Muny show ends, we wait in the tree until all the people leave. Then we stroll home through the park.
We always pass the police officer on horseback who patrols in the park. Henry the horse is a good friend of mine and I always talk to him. The police officer doesn't know we are talking because he doesn't speak animal language.
My family is nocturnal. That means we are awake at night and sleep during the day. For people, the Muny gets over late in the evening, but for nocturnal animals it is breakfast time.
Another reason I like summer is that school is out and we have more time for fun in the park. In the next chapter I will tell you about going to the St. Louis Zoo.
Chapter TwoSince we live close to the St. Louis Zoo, we go there often. There are eighteen thousand animals at the zoo. For the last three years, the St. Louis Zoo has been voted the best zoo in the United States.
We go in the gates after all the people leave. We cant ride the train that goes all around the zoo because the engineer—the person who drives it—only works during the day. Someday I'm going to sneak onto the Zooline Railroad during the day and take a ride. I sometimes dream about doing that when I'm sleeping in my tree during the day.
We walk around the zoo and see our animal friends. One night, a baby kangaroo was out of his mothers pouch for the first time. We all wanted to see the baby. Kangaroo babies are called Joeys.
Opossums are related to kangaroos. We are called marsupials. Both kangaroo and opossum mothers carry their newborn babies in pouches on their stomachs. The baby opossums stay in the pouch for two months after they are born, but the baby kangaroo lives in its mothers pouch for six to eight months!
While we were looking at the baby kangaroo, my two sisters, Polly and Pansy, wandered away to look at some other animals. We searched and called their names. Mom and Dad were nervous and ran around looking for them.
I heard one of my camel friends calling out. He said he could see them and they were fine. They were playing on the bridge that goes over the camel area.
After Mom and Dad hugged them, Polly and Pansy got in trouble for wandering off.
My family decided that we had had enough excitement for one night and started home. On the way, we had our dinner in the Kennedy Forest where we live.
Mom and Dad didn't want to cook, so we stopped at Anthony Opossums restaurant. He gets all his food from the famous Italian Hill area.
Italian Hill is another historic place in St. Louis. My sisters and I loved the toasted ravioli. Mom always wants us to eat fruit and veggies, so she asked Anthony to bring us a plate of carrots, apples, zucchini squash, and tomatoes to go along with our pasta. Anthony brought us a veggie dip he made with yogurt and dill weed. It made the vegetables taste so yummy that we ate all of them.
When we got home, it was almost dawn and time for us to go to sleep. After we took a bath and brushed our teeth, Mom and Dad read to us.
Every night, we say our prayers and thank God for another beautiful day in the park with our family. We know that tomorrow something exciting will come to the park. We cant wait to see it!
Excerpted from Peter Opossum's Forest Park Adventures by Tamara Heppe Copyright © 2010 by Tamara Heppe, Illustrated by Dan Cooper. Excerpted by permission of AuthorHouse. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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