The Mystery Baker

Written and Illustrated by Bron Smith

Once there lived a ladybug whose name was Polly. Her home was a small pebble cottage that stood near the edge of Huckleberry Hollow.

Polly often dreamed of having tea and visiting with the other ladybugs, but she kept to herself. She never ventured far from her cottage for fear of being teased by the villagers. Polly’s shell, you see, was not a shiny bright orange color like the other ladybugs. Polly was born with a purple shell.

On long winter nights, she busied herself with baking tasty treats…aphid cupcakes and sweet tick tarts. Polly longed to share her treats with others in the village, but her purple shell made her too shy to invite anyone in.

One night Polly had an idea. She baked a big batch of flea biscuits and placed them in her best basket. Then she slipped into the village, long after everyone had gone to bed, and left her basket of treats near the well. Polly looked around the dark village square and smiled. Then she hurried back to her cottage.

Lucy Ladybug was the first to discover Polly’s basket of treats the following morning.

“Who made these marvelous biscuits?” she exclaimed, turning to her friend.

“Who, indeed?” Leatrice asked.

Every night Polly would slip into the village and place her basket of treats in the same spot at the village square. Each morning the villagers would gather at the well and try to decide who the mysterious baker could be while merrily munching on Polly’s cakes. Before long the “Huckleberry Hollow Baker” became known throughout the forest.

One chilly winter night Miss Lola Ladybug, who owned the boarding house above the village square, arose to stoke the warm embers in her stove. Passing her front window, she saw a shadowy figure, small and round, moving across the square. Miss Lola gasped as the glare of the street lamp caught the ladybug’s shell. It was purple! She watched as Polly gently placed the basket of treats near the well.

The next morning the villagers buzzed with excitement.

“I saw her with my own eyes!” Miss Lola exclaimed to all her neighbors.

“We must find this purple creature!” Leatrice said.

“We need to thank her for sharing her treats,” Lucy added.

“I can take you to her!” said Mrs. Thimbleberry, who was Polly’s next-door neighbor. She had seen Polly once or twice as she worked in her flower garden.

So off they went down the path leading to Polly’s house. “Oh dear me, whatever shall I do?” Polly said, gazing at the large crowd from her bedroom window.

Mrs. Thimbleberry scurried up to Polly’s front porch and knocked on the door. Polly’s feelers twitched nervously. Then, trembling with fear, she walked toward the door and opened it a crack.

The moment the crowd saw the door had opened, they broke into cheers that echoed through the forest! Polly’s fears melted away, and tears of joy filled her eyes as the villagers gathered around her.

“What a beautiful purple shell!” Miss Lola cried.

“I wish my shell were so lovely,” Lucy said, patting Polly’s shiny back.

Polly’s dream of having friends came true that day. The very next morning, and every morning after, Polly met her new friends at the town square for tea and a visit. Of course, she always brought her basket of treats.

“Your beetle biscuits are the best!” Leatrice said.

But the villagers loved Polly for more than just her treats. They loved Polly for her kind heart.