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Picture Book
The Ring of Toadstools
A Story by Margo Fallis and illustrated by Murray Robertson

Rosemary lived in a green valley filled with leafy trees, bushes covered with red berries, and wildflowers of every kind. The valley was home to many different animals and birds, but it was also where the ‘wee folk’, or fairies lived.

During the day Rosemary would play with the animals. She’d find a soft patch of lavender heather and sit down. Within minutes the mice would come to play with her. Soon the lambs, geese and bluebirds would arrive. Rosemary told them stories and fed them crumbs of shortbread and scones.

Early one morning a red-breasted robin pecked on Rosemary’s bedroom window. She woke up, sprung out of bed and opened the window. The robin chirped and flapped its wings. Rosemary slipped on her pale green dress and ran outside to play with the robin. It flew ahead, chirping for Rosemary to follow. She ran down the dirt path towards the woods. The robin landed on a high branch of a willow tree. It’s branches hung to the ground.

Rosemary reached the tree and saw what the robin had wanted her to see. There were toadstools growing in a ring. Each one had a creamy-colored stem and a big brown umbrella-shaped cap with red spots on it. She’d never seen anything like this before. "No wonder you wanted me to see this," she smiled up at the robin. "It’s beautiful." She sat down in the center of the toadstool ring.

Tall oaks, ancient and gnarled, grew around the willow tree. At the bottom of one, growing among its fingered roots was a cluster of pretty daisies. Rosemary spotted them. "Daisies," she cried. She jumped up and ran over to them, picking a handful. She took them back to the center of the ring. The robin flew down and landed on one of the toadstools and started to chirp. "Hello again, robin. I’m going to make a daisy chain necklace for my head." It bobbed its small head up and down. Rosemary strung the daisies together into a circle and slipped it onto her head. It fit perfectly. "Do you think I look pretty?" she asked the bird. It chirped.

An owl, brown with white speckles, landed on the branch of an oak. It went "HOO! HOO!" Rosemary looked up. "Come join us, owl," she called to it. It flew down and landed on one of the large toadstools. "I’ve made a daisy necklace. Do you think I look pretty?" she asked it. "HOO! HOO!" it said.

Several white geese walked out of the woods and started to honk. "Hello, geese. Come and join us." The geese waddled over to the toadstools and stood inside the circle with Rosemary. "See my daisy necklace? Do you think I look pretty?" she asked. "HONK! HONK! HONK! HONK!" they went.

Rosemary spent a long time sitting in the grass, talking to the birds. She started to get sleepy and lay down in the center of the ring. She quickly dozed off. Loud squeaky noises woke her up. She rubbed her eyes in disbelief. "Wee folk!" she shouted with glee. A dozen tiny fairies surrounded her. They were dancing around her, holding hands, singing and laughing. "A bagpiper!" she squealed at the fairy sitting on a toadstool playing the bagpipes. Rosemary laughed and sat up. "Look at your kilts." Some of the fairy men were wearing wee kilts and the women were wearing wee dresses that flew out to the side as they danced about. She climbed out of the fairy ring and lay down on her tummy among the tall grasses. The owl and the robin had flown up to the branches to be out of the way. The geese looked on, honking along to the music. Rosemary had a lovely time watching the fairies sing and dance.

As night drew near, the fairies had to leave. One of them approached Rosemary. "A daisy, for me?" she asked, taking it from the fairy. "Thank you," she said softly. She pulled the necklace off her head and added the new one to it.

Each day, in early afternoon, Rosemary went back to the toadstool ring. The robin, the owl, and the geese always showed up too. In fact, the birds told their animal friends and soon a fawn, a mouse, a starling, a lamb, and a bluebird joined them. The fairies would come and sing, dance, and play the bagpipes for them. Each time they’d give her a new daisy. Her necklace never wilted. The ring of toadstools was indeed a magical place.

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