A squirrel perched on a log paused while chewing on some seeds. He watched as two tiny Never fairies zipped past him, side by side.
“Oh, Beck,” one of the fairies said to the other as they flew. “Thank you so much for coming with me.” She looked terribly worried. “We just don’t know what to do. A baby raccoon turned up in the gardens this morning, and he ate all the strawberries out of Thistle’s strawberry patch. And then he started digging up Rosetta’s mint! We chased him off, but he didn’t go far. Now he’s sitting on a tree stump by Havendish Stream. He won’t budge. And none of the other animal-talent fairies can understand a word he’s saying!”
Beck smiled. “Don’t worry, Latia,” she said. They were nearing Havendish Stream. “We’ll figure it out.”
Latia breathed a sigh of relief. “Well, if any fairy in Never Land can figure it out, it’s you, Beck!”
Every fairy in Never Land agreed: Beck was one of the finest animal-talent fairies in Pixie Hollow. She loved being around animals, from the tiniest insects to the largest mammals. Oh, sure, snakes could be a little grumpy. Skunks were hard to read. And hawks, of course, were just plain dangerous. But all in all, she loved feeling a part of the animal world. Sometimes Beck secretly wished that she were an animal!
Like all the animal-talent fairies, Beck had a gift for talking to animals. Birdcalls, mouse squeaks, squirrel and chipmunk chatter–they were just noises to the other fairies. But to animal-talent fairies, those different noises held meaning. To them, animal sounds were as clear and easy to understand as words and sentences.
Beck was especially good at talking to baby animals, perhaps because she was so playful and lighthearted. She loved playing hide-and-seek with the young squirrels and having somersault contests with the baby hedgehogs. Even when an animal was too young to speak, Beck could understand it. Queen Clarion said Beck had empathy and could sense animals’ emotions. When those emotions were strong enough, Beck felt them, too.
So when a baby raccoon parked himself on a stump and refused to move, everyone thought of Beck right away. The animal fairies sent Latia to fetch Beck because she was a forest-talent fairy and knew the quickest ways to get through Pixie Hollow.
An easy five-minute flight later, the two fairies came to Havendish Stream. A dozen animal-talent fairies were hovering around a tiny raccoon, who sat on a tree stump clutching a stalk of Rosetta’s mint.
“Beck’s here!” Latia called, and all the fairies turned.
“Oh, thank goodness!” cried Fawn, one of Beck’s best friends. She drew Beck closer to the tree stump. “Beck, you’ve just got to help. This poor little fella won’t budge. We don’t even know where he came from.” With a push from Fawn, Beck found herself right in front of the baby raccoon. He raised his head and whimpered.
“Hello there,” Beck said in Raccoon. “I’m Beck. What’s your name?”
The little raccoon let out another whimper. Then he buried his face in his paws and rubbed his nose in the stalk of mint he had picked from Rosetta’s garden.
“Oh, don’t cry!” Beck said. She flew up and stroked the top of the raccoon’s furry head. The raccoon rocked back and forth–and Beck’s lip started trembling. The baby raccoon was so sad and so scared that Beck was starting to feel sad, too. She straightened her back, cleared her throat, and forced herself to cheer up. If she didn’t watch out, soon she’d be crying as hard as the little raccoon, and then where would the fairies be?
“Hey, now,” said Beck, smiling. “Don’t cry, my friend. Why would you cry when you could be playing a game with me?”
Raising his head, the little raccoon looked at Beck for the first time. She smiled encouragingly and patted his nose. “That’s right,” she said. “I know the perfect game for us to play. It’s called Find the Fairy!”
Excerpted from Beck and the Great Berry Battle (Disney Fairies) by Laura Driscoll; illustrated by RH Disney. Copyright © 2006 by Laura Driscoll. Excerpted by permission of RH/Disney, a division of Random House LLC. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.