Gus climbed into his bed, grumbling and groaning all the way.
"Mama, do I really have to go to bed? I'm not tired at all!" he said, as he stretched his arms above his head and yawned.
"Yes," Mama said. "You have to go to bed to get bigger and stronger and smarter for tomorrow."
"But I'm not ready to go to bed yet," Gus cried. "I want to make forts and go to the park and play with my dinosaur toys!"
Mama sat on the edge of Gus' bed and put her hand on his knee. "Do you want to know a secret?" she asked. Gus nodded, excited to hear the secret, and Mama whispered in his ear, "All of my favorite stories happened after bedtime."
"What?" Gus asked, puzzled. "How?"
"It's easy," Mama said. "Just think about all the things you want to do and all the places you want to go while you fall asleep, and you'll have the most wonderful dreams!"
"I will?" the little boy asked. "Are you sure?"
"I'm sure," Mama said. "Now close your eyes and get to work!" She kissed him on the forehead, shut out his light, and closed his door behind her.
Gus looked up to the ceiling fan and began to imagine he was a Mountain Grizzly Bear, one of the biggest animals in the entire Canadian forest – something he had learned in kindergarten.
Hares, stoats, birds, and frogs came toward him from every angle, crying, "Help us! Help us! There is a hungry wolf loose in the jungle and only you can protect us!"
This is it, Gus thought. My chance to be a hero!
"No worries, my friends!" he exclaimed proudly. "If anyone can tame the wolf, surely it is me. For I am the biggest animal in the Canadian forest!"
He then began his work. He drafted his plans to distract the wolf right out of the forest and then began bringing them to life. Just two hours later, he was ready. Gus climbed into a tree, hidden by brush, and waited.
Soon, the wolf approached. He was
but Gus was not afraid. He was bigger than the wolf and smarter than the wolf and his friends needed him to be brave.
And that's when the magic happened. Everything he planned worked!
The sign that said, "Hares, that way," led the wolf down the right path.
The bacon he hid in an acorn led the wolf just a little further.
The picture he drew of a squirrel in the distance tricked the wolf right to the edge of the forest.
And then the jump scare he planned at the forest's edge sent the wolf running, trembling with fear!
When the wolf was too far out of the forest to see, all the animals of the Canadian forest came running to Gus, saying, "You did it! You did it! You're our hero!"
"Gus? It's time to wake up!" Gus opened his eyes to find it was light outside and his Mama was sitting on his bed.
"It worked! It worked!" he cried! "I saved the whole Canadian forest!"
Next story: Tiny Elliot's Big Day