[Editor’s note: As avid readers of Ollister Pembrick’s writing (commendable!), we at the Rabbit Room are proud to present this letter from Barnabas Quiggle regarding the discovery of a cronker. It was brought to our attention by a student named Annie Butler, a skilled writer in her own right, as part of Andrew Peterson’s Creaturepedia writing contest. In fact, we are pleased to report that, with this letter, Annie won the 3rd to 5th grade section of this writing contest! Well done, Annie. And to our readers: enjoy, and may you remain safe from all nibbles.]
Dear Ollister Bahbert Pembrick,
I hope you remember me, Barnabas Quiggle, from when you were in Skree. I helped you document several species of dangerous animals (which contributed to the loss of several of your toes, some of my hair, and my left earlobe) that lived in mostly dangerous environments. I was a ranger then and knew how to handle those things. But even though I have aged and am now retired, I noticed you left one animal out of your Creaturpedia: a cronker. I came across one yesterday, and I will describe it to you to see if you will be tempted to return and properly document it.
My two granddaughters, serious Kalia and small Lililah, came to visit several days ago. Lililah stated that I looked like the sky missed me, and Kalia said, like a stern and unsmiling nurse, that a walk would do me good. I realized I hadn’t been outside in days, so, after breakfast the next day, I announced I was going for a stroll in the woods. The walk was making me feel so good that I kept venturing further into the forest, thinking I could simply turn around and go backward. Squeezing through a large clump of bushes and trees, I was having such a good time that I nearly fell off a ledge before it was too late. I windmilled my arms and fell backwards, and laid there for a while, groaning. Eventually, I crawled to the edge to find a way down. Unfortunately, it was a sheer drop of twenty feet. And I had just been having so much fun!
Suddenly, the trees rustled in the wind and shifted, shining light on a patch of brown-rusty-red fur that I realized sleekly ran down the length of a large, weasel-like body—it was a cronker! There was no mistaking its crocodile-shaped head and rounded, leathery tail! Most people thought cronkers didn’t exist! I only knew it wasn’t an apparition because my late Aunt Nanny told me about it when I was younger. Cronkers usually sleep at noon to avoid the heat (if they were awake in the shade, they would probably feel guilty for not doing anything), so the cronker in the shadow of the ledge was asleep.
Illustration: “Spike-Eared Vargax” by Aedan Peterson
Did I say shadow? Only then did I realize the sun was more to the west. The shock of finding the cronker was wearing off, and I eyed the retractable claws and mouthful of teeth it revealed when snoring. I began to tremble and sweat, because how could I leave this rare animal that could turn me into turkey dinner leftovers in three seconds? I decided to run back to town and get professionals to catch it, but the cronker woke, stretched, and locked its maliciously adorable black eyes onto mine. I wanted to run but was frozen and knew I couldn’t fight. The cronker looked at me, most likely wondering whether to eat or befriend me (or both) as was its nature. It was a tense moment that felt like hours, but I guess I was unfit for consumption or friendship. The cronker stood and began trotting away, and I suddenly felt like I just couldn’t not go after that creature. My friends at the tavern would call me a coward if I told them the story, so I recklessly stumbled down the hill on the side of the ledge and hobbled after the creature.
My misadventures of the day are too long to relate fully, but I mostly learned these things by following the creature: It had a litter of five pups, was carnivorous (I don’t even want to retell that part), can climb trees due to its claws, can play dead, lives in a town of burrows (I don’t want to tell how I figured that out either) that are in and under all manners of things, communicates by yipping, and has a weakness for beetles, which it will crawl after in any given situation. These are only a few attributes of a cronker, and I hope you will come back to study it further (not because I’m too lazy to do so, of course).
Unfortunately, no one has believed my tale so far except Lililah, and I thought I saw Kalia have a twinkle in her eye. I now write this letter and will probably send a more detailed one if you don’t arrive first, or after my friends at the tavern stop nagging after me about wanting to hear my story. I hope to see you soon.
With kind regards,
P.S. I congratulate you on your recent marriage to Miss Stupe. My best wishes to the both of you.
[Editor’s note: This was the winning entry for the 3rd-5th grade section of the Creaturepedia writing contest. Congratulations, Annie Butler! The runner-up was Ben Hardy’s The Spiky Bimble. Well done, Ben!
To view the names of all the winners of the writing contest, click here.
Next week, we’ll treat you to the winner of the 6th-8th grade section: Calen Lotspeich’s Notes Regarding my Encounter with the Elusive Snorthog.]