A young bat has to master the art of landing... Bat Style!
Nosedive No More (working title)
Another day was ending over Buttenhauser's meadow. As the sun set, the forest creatures of both the night and day gathered at the old story tree to watch the full moon rise. Full-moon nights were always exciting because that's when Grandpa Owl would a new story from his book of twilight tales.
Silvery rays of light fell onto the thick branches of the old tree as Grandpa Owl emerged from his nest. Carrying the big book of stories in his giant gray-feathered wings, he perched on his favorite branch. Everyone grew quiet, wondering what tonight's story could be.
The sound of wildly flapping wings filled the air. "Look out", cried Nelly. "Nosedive is coming!" The little squirrel scampered to the ground in a flash of red-brown fur. Nosedive's arrival always caused alarm. Because although the young bat could fly, landing was still a problem.
Nosedive came speeding in and tried to catch a branch. Turning too late, he crashed into Red, who had just found a good spot above Grandpa Owl. The woodpecker let out a loud squawk as he fell into the open storybook and took its place in Grandpa Owl's wings. Before landing on the ground, the heavy book injured one of Hopper's long ears. He yelped as he held it close covering the wound, "Ow!" The other animals scattered in surprise.
After returning Red to his perch, Grandpa Owl flew down to get his book and dusted it off. He made sure no pages were torn before flying back to his branch as everyone returned to the tree; angry and complaining. Nosedive tried to apologize, but no one listened.
"Why don't you ever watch where you're going," yelled Red.
"Someone's going to get hurt one day," said Red's mother.
"Someone already did", Hopper complained while holding his ear.
"I didn't mean to..." began Nosedive, but Papa Woodpecker interrupted him.
"You should stay away until you can land. You're just too dangerous."
"But..." began Nosedive again.
"Ow, my ear! I think there's a hole in it," said hopper.
"Don't be such a baby, it's not that bad," said Nelly.
"I'm sorry Hopper," Nosedive said again.
Without a word, Hopper turned away and went into his burrow. Nosedive sat down at the bottom of the tree and hid his face in the folds of his wings while everyone continued protesting. He wished he could make himself invisible. Grandpa Owl then called over the squawking, chirping, barking and howling for everyone's attention.
"I know everyone is angry," began Grandpa Owl. "But our friend Basil is new to flying and hasn't yet learned the art of landing." Hearing Grandpa Owl call him by his proper name, Nosedive lifted his head and looked up into the branches of the tree. "Now, there are quite a few of us here who've also had problems while learning to fly," Grandpa owl continued looking up at Red. "Rather than complaining, we should help our friend solve his problem. Practice makes perfect, after all."
Everyone apologized to Nosedive, who apologized again for the chaos. His friends Nelly and Ollie Owl then came up with an idea - they could help Nosedive practice landing! Nosedive thought it was a great idea too and wanted to start right away. Nelly looked up at Nosedive's older brother Belfry, hanging from a branch in the middle of the tree, "You can help too Belfry."
"Me? No way, I've got better things to do!" Belfry replied.
"But you're a bat and we need somebody who can show Nosedive, uh, Basil what to do," said Ollie.
Belfry turned away, wrapping his leathery wings around his body, "Well, not me!"
Disappointed, Nelly, Ollie and Nosedive searched the branches for anyone else who could help. Red went into his nest and pretended to sleep so no one would ask him.
else like to lend a wing", asked Grandpa Owl.
Nosedive smiled, "Aces! Thanks Ellis!"
"Bravo," Grandpa Owl said clapping his wings. "You can start practicing tomorrow. Right now, it's storytime!"
The Big News
After the story, Belfry and Nosedive flew to meet their parents over the meadow. Returning home for the morning, Nosedive almost crashed into the TV before his father caught him.
"Whoa there buddy, we need to work on your approach!" he joked.
"Guess what Dad," Nosedive said.
"what," his father asked.
"Tomorrow Ellis, Ollie and Nelly are going to help me practice landing," Nosedive reported.
"That's great," his father exclaimed. "But I thought we were going to practice together."
"If it's ok, I'd rather practice with my friends," Nosedive said.
"That's fine," said Papa Bat. "They'll be an enormous help, I'm sure."
"You'll be landing in no time at all," his mother encouraged. "That's exciting news!".
Nosedive beamed at his parents' approval, but Belfry quickly dampened his brother's spirits.
"Nosedive will never learn to land," he said peering over his moon-glasses.
"That's not your brother's name Belfry," said their father sternly.
Belfry knew that his brother didn't like that nickname. He started calling Basil Nosedive after his very first crash and though he complained, the name stuck.
"You could always help you know," papa bat continued. "It would be the big-brother thing to do."
"No way! My friends would laugh," Belfry replied. "And besides, he's too scared. He's more a chicken than a bat," Belfry laughed.
Nosedive looked over to Belfry, whose grin angered him even more. "Who needs you anyway! You couldn't teach a fish to swim!" Nosedive stormed off to bed. "I'll show you," he muttered. Belfry looked over to find his parents glaring at him. "What?"
Let's Get Started!
In the cooler temperatures of the late afternoon, Ellis, Ollie, Nelly and Hopper arrived at Nosedive's home. Ellis made bugle sounds, while the others called for Nosedive to wake up. Emerging from his cave with a yawn, Nosedive greeted his friends. "What's going on?" he asked.
"It's time for landing practice," said Ellis.
"So early," asked Nosedive.
"You need to get enough practice if you want to land by story time!" explained Ollie.
"Yeah, c'mon sleepyhead," said Nelly. "Let's get going!"
From inside the cave, they could hear Belfry complaining about the noise. "Quiet down out there, some of us still want to sleep!"
The friends ignored Belfry and continued talking. Nosedive went back inside to change out of his PJs then returned from the cave with a long sigh. "Ready."
"You don't sound very ready," said Nelly.
"No worries, I'm a landing expert remember," said Ellis. "With my help, you'll be able to land in no time!"
Hopper handed Nosedive a poorly wrapped gift with a crumpled red bow, "Here, you should wear this." Surprised, Nosedive took the package and noticed the band-aid on Hopper's injured ear.
"Sorry again about your ear," he said.
"Don't worry about it," said Hopper. "It's not bad. Go on, open your gift!"
Nosedive tore into the wrapping, "Whoa!" He strapped the red and white striped helmet onto his head and pulled the sky-blue goggles over his eyes. Nosedive felt like a superhero.
"Aces! Thanks Hopper," Nosedive said.
"No problem," said Hopper and started off for home.
"You're not coming with us," asked Nosedive.
"No, I don't want to run into old Barnabas," explained Hopper.
"Oh he never comes out this early," said Ollie.
"I want to get back early enough to find a good spot anyway," Hopper replied.
Hopper said goodbye to his friends and hurried back to the old story tree. Ollie, Ellis, Nelly and Nosedive set off to the meadow to find a place for Nosedive to practice landing. They were sure that by story time, Nosedive could land like a pro.
If at First You Don't Succeed...
At the edge of the meadow Ollie, Nellie, Ellis and Nosedive found the perfect tree to practice in. It was just the right height and between the branches, there was enough space for Nosedive to avoid crashing.
Taking charge, Ellis began explaining his landing technique, but Ollie quickly interrupted him. "Nosedive flies at night like me, so I should show him how to land," he insisted. Ollie took off and flew a circle above the tree before swooping down to land on one of the lower branches. "See, just like that!"
"I can do it better," said Ellis. Determined to prove he was the expert, Ellis flew up then came back down flapping his wings to gently lower himself onto the branch next to Ollie. "Now that's how you land!"
"Bats don't land on branches!" said Nelly. "They catch them like I do when I jump to a new tree!" Climbing the tree, Nelly jumped from one branch to another, showing Nosedive how she grabs onto them.
Nosedive tried each method, but none of them seemed to work. "This is going to take longer than I thought," said Ellis. Nelly could see that Nosedive was getting tired.
"Let's take a break and try again tomorrow," she suggested. The friends agreed and Nosedive went home to get some rest before storytime.
Though practice didn't go as he hoped, Nosedive was determined to surprise everyone at story time with a perfect landing. Having fallen back asleep, Nosedive was suddenly woken by the sound of his family preparing to leave for their nightly routines.
"We'll see you over the meadow later!" his mother called after him.
"Ok!" Nosedive said and hurried off to the old story tree.
Nosedive reached the tree and spotted an empty branch on which to make his landing. Feeling confident in his brightly colored helmet and goggles, he dove for his target. "I can do it!" he said to himself.
As he approached the branch, Nelly, Ollie and Ellis watched. "Come on N.D., you can do it," they whispered. But Nosedive bounced off the branch and almost crashed into Grandpa Owl, causing the storybook to fly into the air. Luckily, Nosedive landed in a mound of soft moss at the bottom of the tree. He sat up, somewhat dazed to find Hopper in front of him. "Good that you're wearing the helmet," he said.
In the meantime, Grandpa Owl saved his book from hitting the ground again and had recovered from his scare. After making sure no one was injured, he looked at Nosedive with a sigh then began reading. After the story, Grandpa Owl flew down to have a word with Nosedive.
"It was a good try today, however, I think it would be a good idea if you skipped storytime until you're able to land."
"But I practiced!" said Nosedive.
"Yes, and that's good," replied Grandpa Owl. "But to learn anything, it takes a lot more practice than just a day," he explained. "I'm sure if you keep trying, you'll be able to land very soon. Right now though, it's just too dangerous."
"Ok." replied Nosedive.
Nosedive did his best to hide his disappointment but Ellis, Hopper, Nelly and Ollie could see how sad he was. They gathered around to cheer him up.
"No worries," said Ellis. "We'll keep practicing until you get it!"
"Right, same time tomorrow," added Nelly. "Be ready!"
His friend's encouragement lifted Nosedive's spirits. As night fell, Ellis, Nelly and Hopper went off to sleep. Nosedive didn't feel much like meeting his parents over the meadow so he flew home. Ollie kept him company on the way, making Nosedive laugh with stories of when he learned to fly. When he got home, Nosedive was in a much better mood and was looking forward to practicing again.
The next afternoon, the friends met at their practice tree. They were sure this time, Nosedive would get it. Right away, Ellis started telling Nosedive what to do. Again, Ollie cut in.
"Your way didn't work last time," said Ollie.
"Yours didn't either," answered Ellis.
"It would have if you weren't showing off", Ollie replied.
"You're both wrong, anyway," said Nelly. She suggested that Nosedive try to grab hold of a branch instead of trying to land on it.
"And then you just turn upside down like bats do," Nelly said.
"That just might work!" said Nosedive.
Taking flight, Nosedive spotted a branch he could grab onto and dove for it. "Got it," he shouted. But the branch bent like a bow as he tightly held on, then threw him back into the air. "Lookout," cried Ollie flying out of the way just in time. Ellis, angry that no one was listening to him, hadn't been paying attention and was right in Nosedives way. The two crashed with a loud thud and fell to the ground. Ellis was furious!
"You never watch where you're going," He yelled.
"I couldn't help it," said Nosedive. "The branch made me go too fast!"
"I told you to watch out Ellis," said Ollie. "You should have been paying attention."
Ellis glared at Ollie. He was about to say something mean but Nelly interrupted. "Let's try a branch that doesn't bend so easy," she suggested. But Ellis was too angry to listen.
"I quit!" he yelled. "You'll never learn to land anyway", he told Nosedive before flying away.
Ollie and Nelly were also angry. They felt Nosedive wasn't trying hard enough and left as well. Alone at the practice tree, Nosedive decided to leave Buttenhauser's meadow for good.
The next morning at dawn, Nosedive's family returned to their cave. Since they hadn't seen him all night, his parents worried when they didn't find Nosedive at home. Belfry didn't worry at all. He was sure that his annoying little brother was still out practice-landing; wearing that silly helmet.
It was getting late. The sun was already peeking over the horizon and Nosedive still wasn't home. Now Belfry started worrying too. The family went out to alert everyone in the meadow that Nosedive was missing.
Feeling guilty for having left him alone, Ellis, Nelly and Hopper promised to look for their friend until nightfall, when the bats could take over searching along with Ollie. All the other animals helped look for Nosedive too - even Red. Nosedive's mother worried that her son wouldn't find a safe place to sleep.
"Daytime is so dangerous for bats," she said.
"He's a smart boy," said papa bat. "I'm sure he'll be ok. And everyone is looking, we'll find him," he said.
The bat family returned to their home to rest up for the search. But Belfry couldn't sleep. He felt bad about being mean to his brother and for not helping him learn to land.
The day was ending and there was still no sign of Nosedive. Eager to find him, Belfry raced out to search as soon as the sun set
Meanwhile, Nosedive had gotten lost in the forest. He had wanted to fly to the lake where, when he was younger, he and his family lived in a hollow tree. There the ground was much softer and Nosedive thought it would be the perfect place for a bat who couldn't land.
As night fell, he peeked out from an old nest in an oak tree he crashed into. Scared and hungry, Nosedive realized running away was a terrible idea and decided to go home.
On the way, not sure if he was going in the right direction, Nosedive's colorful helmet caught the eye of a long-eared owl. "Mmm, breakfast," he thought. "And with such pretty decoration!"
Nosedive was busy searching for something that could guide him home. He didn't notice the large shadow flying toward him from below until he looked back to see if he had missed anything. "Barnabas!" He cried for help and flew away as fast as he could. But Barnabas was not about to let his snack get away. He flew after Nosedive, looking forward to his meal.
The Great Escape!
Nosedive was using every trick he knew to stay out of Barnabas' sharp talons when he noticed something familiar. It was Buttenhauser's Meadow - and his practice tree! That gave him an idea and he dove for it.
Surprised, Barnabas tried to follow Nosedive but couldn't keep up. Seeing the tree below, Barnabas was sure that Nosedive would crash and slowed down to wait for the little bat to hit the ground.
On the way down, Nosedive stretched out his hands and grabbed onto the branch that made him crash into Ellis. The branch bent so far that Nosedive's feet almost touched the ground before it sent him shooting back toward the sky.
Aiming his helmet straight at Barnabas, Nosedive wrapped his wings around his body as tightly as he could. "Oh, what luck", said Barnabas as he saw Nosedive heading toward him.
The owl flew down expecting to snare his breakfast but got a beak-full of Nosedive's helmet instead. Barnabas spun backward and fell to the ground as Nosedive sailed away like a rocket. When he thought he was high enough, Nosedive raced toward home without looking back.
On the way, Nosedive met his big brother. "Belfry," Nosedive called. "Am I glad to see you!" Belfry had recognized Nosedive's helmet in the moonlight and was rushing to his aid when he saw Nosedive's escape.
"Nosedive," he called back. "That was AWESOME! You knocked old Barnabas right out of the sky!"
"We should get out of here before he wakes up," said Nosedive.
The brothers hurried home, where Belfry told their parents how Nosedive got away from Barnabas. Happy to have him back, Nosedive's parents hugged him so tight he almost couldn't breathe. "You were really brave son," his father said. "But you're grounded - maybe for life!"
Word quickly spread throughout the meadow that Nosedive was safe at home and about how he stood up to the scariest creature in the forest. The thought of losing Nosedive made Belfry realize how much he cares for his brother. He apologized for having been so mean and offered to teach him how to land.
"If you want Basil, I can help you with your landing," Belfry said. "After all, to land like a bat, you need a bat to show you how!".
Nosedive. "Thanks!" After a few seconds, he looked at
Belfry in surprise. "Hey, you just called me by my real
Nosedive No More
Late that afternoon Ollie, Ellis and Nelly visited Nosedive. They apologized for leaving him and asked if he still wanted to practice with them. "Of course," Nosedive answered. "At the next storytime, we'll surprise the whole meadow!" This time, with Belfry's help, Nosedive quickly learned the right way to land. When the next full-moon night finally arrived, Nosedive was eager to show everyone what he learned.
"C'mon Belfry, they're going to start without us," Nosedive called.
"Relax, we have plenty of time," Belfry said. "No need to rush!"
The brothers reached the old story tree at moonrise, where Nosedive performed a perfect bat-landing to everyone's applause. Grandpa Owl then opened his big book of twilight tales, gave Nosedive a wink and began a new story about a young bat who learns how to land. Nosedive's eyes widened in surprise and he beamed with pride.
"Basil, why are you still wearing that helmet?" Belfry whispered. "You know how to land now."
"It looks cool," answered Nosedive. "And it works great for getting rid of hungry forest owls!"