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Picture Book
Surprise in the Helmet
An Easter Story by Margo Fallis and illustrated by Murray Robertson


A croft stood in the middle of a grassy meadow. Thistle blossomed along the sides of the dirt path that lead to the stream. A few black and white spotted cows and woolly white sheep were scattered about, nibbling on tender shoots of grass. It was springtime. A small garden filled with tulips and daffodils grew outside the front door of the cottage. Leaves were growing on the birch and elm trees.

Cassidy, a chicken was enjoying the warm sun as it beat down on her rusty colored feathers. She was digging for some fat juicy worms and pecking at small seeds that had fallen from the tall grasses. She was enjoying spring so much that she didn’t notice how far away from the croft she had wandered and soon she realized she was lost. All day long she ran about, looking for a way back home. She couldn’t find the birches, the elms, or the stream, and never saw a cow or sheep.

Night began to fall. The skies darkened and the first stars came out. Cassidy needed to find somewhere to sleep. She came upon an old helmet. It looked like it was from the days of battle in old Scotland. It was a little bent in places but good enough to roost in. It lay at the bottom of a tall hill and seemed safe enough. She gathered bits and pieces of dead grasses and put them into the helmet so she’d be comfortable.

That night Cassidy laid her eggs. When the sun rose in the morning, bringing with it a glorious new day, there lay half a dozen or so white eggs. Cassidy jumped up and began to cluck. She was happy. She’d never laid that many eggs before. She knew she had to keep them warm for a few days, so she only got off her nest for a short time in the morning and in the evening.

The days passed quickly. The sun rose over the heather-covered hills and Cassidy went off to find some worms and bugs, leaving her eggs safely inside the nest in the helmet.

When she got back the eggs were hatching. She ran around clucking madly with excitement as each chick broke its way through the shell.

As all this was going on, Cassidy noticed a few people gathering at the top of the hill, above the nest. It looked like they were pushing a huge egg. The children had baskets in their hands and were dressed in pretty frocks. They were picking eggs out of their baskets and rolling them down the hill. Cassidy ran over to one. It was broken in pieces and the shell looked purple. Another egg rolled by and it was yellow. Still another, and another, all different colors, rolled past. She could hear the children giggling.

Cassidy ran back to her nest. They were all hatched now and chirping. Each chick was a fluffy ball of yellow, just like buttercups.

She noticed the men at the top of the hill getting ready to push the huge egg. Cassidy realized that it would roll right on top of the helmet and smash her chicks. She started clucking and flying about, trying to get their attention. But they didn’t hear and pushed the egg down the hill. Cassidy ran back to her chicks and wrapped her wings around them, trying to protect them. She could hear the egg rolling closer and closer.

Just as the shadow of the egg fell across Cassidy’s feathery back, someone grabbed the helmet of chicks and Cassidy, and pulled them out of the way. The egg rolled by, smashing the grass under its heavy weight. It rolled and rolled until it smashed into an oak tree in the woods.

Cassidy looked up. It was Mrs. MacDumpling from the croft. "Well, well, what have we here. Cassidy, we were worried about you. I’m glad I found you and your wee chicks. Let’s get you all back to the croft. It’s not safe out here on Easter Sunday," she said, carrying them in her arms.

Soon they were all in the safety of the meadow. Cassidy looked around. There were the elms and birches and the stream. Her chicks were cheeping and trying to hop out of the helmet. Cassidy let them play for a while and rested near the helmet. She’d never forget that Easter day.


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