A set of 12 independent but related stories that follow the activities of a badger and a fox who have decided to share a den. Each story explores their friendship through the adventures they have with their animal friends. To all these adventures Badger and Fox and friends bring positive energy and simple kindness. Reading level: Grades 1 to 3. Interest level: Grades pre-K to 3.
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Chapter Summaries and Excerpts
The Big Puzzle
It is too cold to play outside and Fox is bored. Badger suggests they make their big animal puzzle. Fox agrees, but just as they are about to finish it, they discover a piece is missing. Badger insists they have to find it, but while they search, they find plenty of ways to have fun. In fact, Fox has so much fun, she can’t wait to do another search tomorrow.
“‘Fox,’ said Badger, ‘give me my book or I’m going to tickle you!’
‘No!’ Fox shrieked as Badger pounced on her and began to tickle her.
But Badger wouldn’t stop, so Fox dropped the book and began to tickle Badger.
‘No you don’t!’ shouted Badger and hit Fox with a pillow.
‘Aha!’ Fox shouted back, ‘a pillow fight! Remember, you started it!’ and she grabbed a pillow of her own and started hitting Badger.”
The Spectacular Snowbank
Despite the cold, a big snowfall sends Badger and Fox running for their snowsuits. Soon they discover, not far from their den, a spectacular snow bank. With the help of Raccoon, Otter, and Squirrel, they turn the snow bank into a snow house. But what next? Squirrel suggests they turn the snow house into a food bank for birds struggling to find enough to eat. The entire forest community pitches in.
“Finally when the snow house was finished, they crawled in. ‘Wow,’ whispered Squirrel, ‘This is incredible!’ Everyone got very quiet. The outside light passing through the snow walls made the air inside seem blue. Everything felt magical and very, very special, and for a while no one said a word.
Then, as they began to feel the cold creeping up around them, Fox shivered and stuttered, ‘I think my tail is starting to freeze.'”
The Scary Shortcut
The weather is warming, and Badger and Fox decide it’s time for an adventure. After climbing the big hill beyond the river, they discover a cave and a rat named Packer who has built his house inside it. In exchange for a chocolate-scented piece of tinfoil, Packer shows them a shortcut they can take to get home. It takes courage to follow him down a dark tunnel under the hill, but the shortcut works and they now have a brand new friend!
“Down, down, down they stumbled and staggered and slipped, following the tunnel now to the left, now to the right, now slightly up, now steeply down. ‘Packer,’ Badger asked softly, ‘are you sure this is the way?’
‘Packer,’ Fox whispered, ‘this is a very long shortcut.’
But Packer’s voice remained completely calm: ‘Just a little further. – Don’t worry.’ At last, far up ahead, they saw a small circle of daylight.”
The Mysterious Visitor
One evening while Badger is reading a mystery book, a mystery comes to their very own den. With no warning a most unusual visitor tunnels up through the floor. In fact, the visitor is the strangest looking animal Badger and Fox have ever seen. Not only does she does she stare at the ceiling and talk to a clothes rack; she also eats at lightning speed. When she leaves as suddenly as she came, the two friends are left to puzzle out who this strange creature was.
“But no sooner had Badger opened the refrigerator door than the pedals of the pink flower at the tip of Star’s nose began again to wiggle and wriggle and quiver and writhe, if anything, even faster than before. Then – zip, zip, zip, zip, zip – more quickly than either Badger or Fox could follow – a whole plate of sardines simply disappeared.”
The Birthday Surprise
Badger and Fox want to give Rabbit a very special birthday present, and when Fox mentions she has found an early patch of strawberries, they decide to give him both a strawberry shortcake and a surprise party. While Fox has a hard time keeping the party a secret, an even bigger problem arises when, at the last minute, Rabbit decides to go off on his own on the day of the surprise event. Now Fox has to find him and trick him into coming to the surprise planned for him.
“Soon it was the morning of Rabbit’s surprise party. Sometime after breakfast, Badger opened the door to see what the weather was like. It was a beautiful spring day, but just as she thought to herself ‘what a great day for a party,’ she saw a folded piece of paper on the ground. ‘Now what can that be?’ she asked, bending to pick it up. ‘Oh, no,’ she cried as she read it. ‘Fox, Fox,’ she called in alarm. ‘Look what I just found outside our door.'”
The Unusual Present
One day Badger and Fox come home to find that Badger’s great aunt has sent both of them a pair of matching party dresses – the frilliest dresses they have ever seen. Since Badger always wears jeans and Fox sweats, they’re not exactly sure what to do with the new dresses and decide to ask their friends. When Rabbit suggests they ask Skunk – since, since she already has such a dress – what they learn is surprising.
“Badger laid the dresses on her bed side by side. ‘They look a little like cotton candy,’ she suggested.
‘Too bad we can’t eat them!’ Fox remarked.
‘But what can we do with them?’ Badger asked, turning to Fox. ‘When would we ever wear them?’
‘You’re asking me?’ Fox shook her head. ‘I wear only sweats and T-shirts.'”
The Great Idea
Fox announces she has “a great idea”: she wants to have a talent show to feature her many talents. Badger likes the idea of a talent show but wants it open to everyone. The idea catches on, and many animals are eager to participate. Badger assembles a small crew to build a stage, and the day of the show the turnout is terrific. But just as the show is about to start, a major thunderstorm rolls through and washes it out. Fox immediately comes up with another “great idea.”
“Then, just as Badger stepped onto the stage wearing Rabbit’s uncle’s top hat, the sky again grew darker. ‘Welcome! Welcome to the Big Forest Talent Show,’ Badger beamed. Everyone sitting around the stage on the grass and in the trees cheered. Badger was just about to say something else when suddenly they all heard a long roll of thunder – and it did not seem that far away.”
The Daring Rescue
It is very, very hot, and Badger suggests she and Fox go down to the pool in the river where Otter is giving swimming lessons. On their way, they meet Squirrel and her nephew, Beechnut. No sooner do they get to the river than Beechnut runs off and climbs out on a branch above a roaring waterfall. The branch snaps but doesn’t break off. Beechnut is terrified as he and the branch sway precariously above the falls. Badger comes up with a daring plan to save him.
“Finally, everything was ready for the daring rescue. Badger took one corner of the blanket, Otter another, Fox a third, and Rabbit a fourth. Then they spread out the corners as far as they could. The Porcupine twins looked on, their eyes wide open. Beneath the terrified little squirrel there now stretched a big safety net. The only question was – would Beechnut use it?”
The Special Password
Woodchuck stumbles upon a large, dry cave and decides it would be the perfect place for a special club. Badger, Fox, and Rabbit agree, but the group has to struggle a bit with how to make the club “special” and how one gets to join. The arrangement they make is immediately tested, and the club becomes even stronger than before.
“‘Can we make it a clubhouse?’ Fox asked.
‘Not just a clubhouse,’ Woodchuck smiled, ‘a very special clubhouse. You know, the kind you get invited to join.’
‘Who would do the inviting,’ Badger asked, suddenly a little uneasy.
‘We would,’ Woodchuck said, smiling again. – ‘I thought we could call it “The Den Club” because so many of our friends live in dens.’
‘But,’ Fox pointed out, ‘we also have friends who don’t live in dens.'”
The Prize Pumpkin
It’s again time for Raccoon’s big Pumpkin Party, and this year there will be a prize for the scariest pumpkin. But not everyone is as excited as Badger and Fox. In fact, Mouse doesn’t even want to go because she thinks she’s too small to have an interesting costume. Badger and Fox help her make one, and Mouse turns out to be one of the party’s stars.
“‘By the way, Mouse,’ Badger asked, ‘what are you going to wear to the party?’
‘Oh, I’m not going,’ she said with a little shrug. ‘I mean what can a mouse go as? I’m so small I wouldn’t be much of a hero or a monster or anything else. Everyone would just laugh.’
‘No they wouldn’t,’ Badger shook her head. ‘It doesn’t make any difference how big you are. You just have to decide what you’d like to be. We could even help you make your costume.'”
The Strange Signs
Badger and Fox come across what look like very large paw prints and decide to investigate. Otter and Raccoon report hearing strange noises, and Woodchuck finds his door has been wrenched from its frame. Suddenly, out of the bushes steps a bear who claims the forest is now his because he’s the biggest and the strongest. Skillfully Badger, Fox, and their friends convince him there’s another, better way to make the forest his home.
“The bear seemed as startled by the smaller animals as they were by it. It stopped and took a little step backwards. ‘Hi,’ called Fox, the first one to find her voice, ‘You must be new here. Welcome to our forest.’
The bear wasn’t that big – as bears go – but it wasn’t that small either.
‘Welcome to your forest?’ the bear growled but still looked a bit confused. ‘What do you mean your forest?’ he growled again. ‘I’m the biggest and the strongest, so it’s my forest,’ and he growled a third time.”
The Beautiful Night
It is now a year since Badger and Fox began sharing a den. To celebrate, Badger gives Fox a big pan of triple-chocolate-fudge brownies. Fox sings Badger a song and suggests they share the brownies with their friends. Secretly they leave little foil-wrapped presents outside their friends’ doors. On their way home they come across a meadow where a spectacular meteor shower fills the night sky. What a beautiful way to celebrate a year of friendship!
“All at once, Badger grabbed Fox’s arm. ‘Look!’ she cried, ‘a shooting star…and, look, there’s another – and another!’
‘Where?’ Fox asked, then quickly answered her own question, ‘Oh, over there and there and there…’ And indeed the sky was now alive with streaks of light. Four, five, six at a time – they raced across the starry night like messengers in the darkness. For perhaps ten minutes shooting stars filled the sky from horizon to horizon – and then they were gone”