'Little Eight John'

Story Time

August 19, 1998|By Jan Wahl

Editor's note: Little Eight John, as mean as mean there was, persists in disobeying his mother until his mischief backfires on him.

Once there was a fine-looking boy named Little Eight John. He looked fine. But he didn't act fine. He was mean as mean there was.

"Don't kick at the toad frogs," his mother told him, "or you'll bring bad luck on us." But as soon as he got out of sight, Little Eight John kicked at a fat bunch of toad frogs.

The next morning the spotted cow didn't give any milk and the baby had colic. Oh my! Little Eight John just ducked his head and laughed.

"Don't sit in the chair backwards," his mother told him. "It'll bring us a mess of troubles." And of course right soon Little Eight John had to sit backwards in the wood chair.

The corn bread burned in the stove. The butter didn't churn. Oh my! Little Eight John just laughed and laughed 'cause he knew why it was.

"Don't climb trees in your best clothes." His mother shook her finger. "It will grieve us." So the minute he ran out in the yard, he had to sneak up the hickory. Oh my!

And the potatoes in the back patch wouldn't grow and his father's mule wouldn't go. Little Eight John just got a fit of giggles.

"Don't count your teeth," his mother told him one morning. "Or bad sickness may come over us." Well sir, right then he had to go count his teeth. He counted his uppers and he counted his lowers.

Oh my! His mother had hiccups and poor tiny Baby got the croup. All on account of Little Eight John and his mean ways.

"Listen, don't sleep with your head at the foot of the bed or your family will get big money blues," his mother told him.

Oh my law! That same night he slept with his head at the foot of the bed.

The family went broke, with no money left. Little Eight John just jumped silly.

"Don't have the Sunday moans, for fear of Old Raw Head Bloody Bones," his mother told Little Eight John one afternoon.

Well, come Sunday he had Sunday moans and Sunday groans, and he moaned and he groaned and moaned and groaned.

And Old Raw Head Bloody Bones walked right in and changed Little Eight John to a spot of jam on the kitchen table.

His mother began to wash off the jam spot. But before she did, Little Eight John woke up. "Don't do it. It's me!" he shouted.

"I'm going to mind you!" And he always did.

LITTLE EIGHT JOHN by Jan Wahl, illustrations by Wil Clay. Text copyright Jan Wahl, 1992. Illustrations copyright Wil Clay, 1992. Published by arrangement with Dutton Children's Books division of Penguin Putnam Inc.

Pub Date: 8/19/98

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