Once there was a turtle who loved to play tricks on all the other animals. He liked to play tricks so much that everyone called him Tricky the turtle. Tricky lived in a hollowed out tree stump at the bottom of the biggest hill in the forest. Tricky loved his house and all of the forest around it, but there was a big problem. The sun had been very hot that summer and hardly any rain had fallen. All of the plants in the forest including those in Tricky’s garden had dried up and wilted away. Without the plants there was very little food to eat, and all the animals were hungry. Tricky searched for food every day, and he even tried to trick some animals out of their food. But no matter what he did, Tricky was as hungry as everyone else. One day when Tricky woke up, he looked in his mirror and saw how skinny he had become. “If I don’t get some food soon, I’ll end up a shell without a turtle in it!” said Tricky to himself. He slowly, slowly paced the floor trying to figure out what to do. Tricky thought about his problem, but he also started to think of things like sweet smelling cooked yams and strawberry cake with butter crème frosting. He got so caught up thinking about food that he didn’t look where he was going and hit right into the hutch where he kept his now empty dishes. The hutch shook, and one dish on the top of the stack fell off and hit Tricky right in the head. Normally, getting hit in the head would be a bad thing, but that dish made Tricky remember something. Tricky’s rich uncle Teemoo the turtle had given him that dish along with many others. Tricky knew his uncle always had food and was always willing to share it! Just to make sure, Tricky gave his uncle a call and asked if he could come for dinner. Uncle Teemoo was happy to hear from Tricky, and he invited him to come not only for dinner, but for many meals after that!
Tricky was so excited that he packed his shell, left his house and headed down the long, dusty, dry dirt road to go see his rich uncle. It was a slower walk than usual for Tricky, because without food in his belly, he was very weak and his skinny turtle legs had trouble carrying his heavy turtle shell. Tricky hadn’t gone very far when out of the forest came a large gray wolf. The wolf had a long body and his stomach was sucked in from a lack of food. The hair on his face was all dirty and matted, and his red eyes shined through that hair like two glowing hot coals. The wolf had a large wet black snout which he used to look down at Tricky and gave a sniff. When the aroma of turtle hit the wolf’s nose, his stomach growled and he licked his lips to catch his hungry drool. The wolf smiled a big smile, showing his many yellow teeth, and he said “Hello turtle, today is your lucky day!” “W-h-y is that ?” asked Tricky nervously. “ Because,” said the wolf, “today you have the honor of being my dinner!” “Thanks, but no thanks,” said Tricky as he tried to maneuver around the wolf. The wolf blocked Tricky’s path, and started to exercise his jaws in preparation for his turtle feast. Because he was so weak and tired, Tricky couldn’t think of a clever trick to play to get himself out of this bad situation. He racked his brain, but he could only come up with a simple idea he knew would never work. “Mr. Wolf,” said Tricky, “you don’t want to eat me!” “Why not?” asked the wolf sounding very surprised. “Well, said Tricky, “All I am is a skinny, weak turtle, and I wouldn’t be much of a filling meal for you at all. But I am heading to my rich uncle’s house to have many delicious meals. If you let me go, I will go have my meals, and when I get back I will be big and fat, and then you can eat me up!” Surprisingly enough, the wolf actually said, “Okay!”. You see, to the wolf, eating a big, fat turtle sounded like a much better idea then eating a skinny one; so he told Tricky to go, but to prepare to be eaten when he got back. Tricky was amazed the trick had worked! He smiled as big as he could and said, “Thank you, Mr. Wolf! I will be back in two days for you to eat me up!” Tricky of course had no plans to come back home by the road, and as he smiled at wolf, he thought of how foolish he was to believe him!
The rest of Tricky’s journey was uneventful, but very slow. By the time he got to his uncle Teemoo’s house, it was nearly dark out. When Tricky’s uncle met him at the door, he greeted him with open turtle arms. “Look at you!” cried his uncle. “You’re nothing but skin and shell! Come in and sit down” he shouted, “and we shall have a grand feast!” Uncle Teemoo wasn’t lying. They had a feast that was as grand as any turtle had ever eaten! Tricky and his uncle sat at a gold colored table filled with all the food turtles loved! There were cooked yams, wild carrots roasted in butter, onion soup dripping with cheese, cornbread, mushroom salad, fried fish and lots of cakes, pies, and jams for dessert! The food was so good and there was so much of it that Tricky and his uncle spent two whole days doing nothing but eating! Finally, after all that time, Tricky was full and he felt it was time to go. “Please stay longer!” begged his uncle. “I would,” said Tricky, “but I got things to do and animals to trick.” “At least take some food home with you!” said Uncle Teemoo. Tricky was never one to turn down food, so he filled his shell with bags of leftovers and headed off for home.
He was feeling very, very good. His skin was back to it’s rich green color, he had a lot of energy, and he even had a fat little belly inside his shell! Tricky was so happy and so satisfied, that as he walked home, he forgot all about the wolf that was waiting to eat him for dinner. If he had been thinking about the wolf, he would have gone home another way! But all tricky was thinking about was that fine feast, and he didn’t think about the wolf until he heard a stomach growling. When Tricky looked up, there in the middle of the road sat the wolf. “Hello lunch!” said the wolf. “You are just in time to fill my belly!” The wolf was ravenously hungry and didn’t hesitate, before he got up and went over to Tricky to eat him up. Tricky was mad at himself for not remembering about the wolf, but he knew a done bun can’t be undone. So, he had to deal with the situation the best he knew how, by playing a trick. Lucky for Tricky, his health had returned, and his brain was back to working a hundred times faster than he could move! In no time at all, Tricky came up with a great trick. He looked at that wolf with tears welling up in his eyes. “ Well, it’s time for me to be eaten,” said tricky sadly. The wolf smiled so big when he heard that, that his jaws almost locked. “You can eat me and have a great dinner,” said Tricky, now crying fake tears. “Before you do, could you do one favor for me?” “What is it?” asked the wolf in a suspicious tone. “Would you please take me to the top of the hill, so I could look down on the valley and my home one last time before you eat me up?” This didn’t seem like a big request to the wolf, who at that point would stand on his head and cluck like a chicken if it meant getting dinner. He said, “Okay” to Tricky but added, “Once you see the valley, then you’re going to be my meal!” Tricky assured the wolf that was the case, and he waited to be taken up the hill.
The wolf carefully picked Tricky up in his large mouth, making sure to get a good grip on his smooth, dark, green shell. The wolf then carried Tricky up the hill, all the while thinking about the meal he was about to eat. The hill was very steep, and the wolf had a hard time climbing it. It would have been easy for him at any other time, but now he was weak from hunger and carrying a fat turtle. Finally, after much struggling, wolf made it to the top and let out a great sigh of relief. He put Tricky down and said to him, “Take your look and hurry up, cause I’m awfully hungry.” Tricky thought to himself, “You may be awfully hungry, but you’re about to be awfully tricked!” Tricky looked down at the valley below and sighed the sigh of someone remembering days gone by. “Look how beautiful that valley is!” he said to the wolf. Wolf shook his head, but his thoughts were on which part of Tricky he was going to eat first. “I remember when I was a little turtle, and we used to have such fun around here!” “We used to go swimming in the pond, we played hide and seek in the flowers, we jumped across the rocks, and every once in a while we used to come up here and play rolly – poly turtle.” Snapped from his food thoughts, wolf looked down at Tricky and asked, “What’s rolly-poly turtle?” “You never heard of it before?” asked Tricky slyly. “No,” said wolf, “How do you play?” “Well,” said Tricky, first you go to the edge of the hill like this,” and Tricky crawled over to the edge of the hill. “Then, you pull yourself into your shell like this,” and Tricky pulled himself into his shell. Very interested in knowing, and not realizing what was happening, wolf asked, “What comes next?” From inside his shell, Tricky called out, “You tip yourself over and roll down the hill!” With that, Tricky tipped himself over and started to roll down the hill. For a few seconds, wolf actually sat there watching Tricky as he rolled away. Then all of a sudden, wolf figured out what was happening and he yelled, “My dinner is getting away!” Wolf leaped to his feet and began to chase Tricky down the hill. Tricky, however, had a good head start, and the further he rolled, the faster he went. Wolf used all his strength to try to catch Tricky. Unfortunately, because he carried Tricky up the hill and didn’t have food in his belly, wolf did not have much strength; soon he began to get out of breath. Tricky, on the other hand, was going down the hill so fast that he looked like a small green ball, rather than a chubby rolling turtle. Tricky moved his body side to side, as he rolled, angling himself towards his house. Finally, he hit his own door with a bang that stopped his rolling journey.
He shook of the dizzies really quick and then went inside. By the time wolf finally got to the bottom, Tricky was in his house safe and sound, behind his locked, moss, covered door! Wolf tried to get the door opened, but he didn’t put up much of a fight. After a while, he admitted to himself that he had been tricked (actually, he had been tricked twice when he thought about it), and he decided to go find food elsewhere. Tricky was still a little woozy from his full, bellied tumble, but he was happy, because he had done what he loved to do best, play tricks. Later that evening, he called his uncle. He told him all about his adventure and how he tricked that wolf and rolled all the way home!