Life has been running pretty smoothly in Oh Valley. Today, however, Gramps is not feeling well and knows the signs. of a dreadful cold coming on. If it wasn’t enough, having to deal with his dang-blasted, itchy chilblains on his jumping legs, now he has a cold too. Gramps is a senior Grasshopper and good friends of Belvedere and Buttercup. He has lived in Oh Valley longer than anyone can remember. Gramps never complains and though he’s not feeling well today, only his little granddaughter, Gracie is aware of it.

Gracie knows her Gramps better than anyone because she gets to visit him every day after school. She likes to hear his stories. He tells her stories from when he was not much older than she is now, stories of the fun things he and his mates use to do. Some of his stories made her eyes bug out!  

He told her of the time he and all his school chums flew to the top of the water tower and stayed up there for 3 days on a dare. Gramps told her about those same friends flying over to Crazywort and eating all the leaves off the huge ‘Crazywort’ plant in the centre of town. (The leaves were green at the time. – Refer back to ‘A Fancifull Celebration’,They all got tummy aches and wouldn’t do that again. Gracie has seen that plant. It’s Huge! There were more leaves on it than she could count. Only recently, Gramps says he learned that the plant that everyone thought was a Crazywort was actually a Deetledag bush. After all these years, he finally had the answer why he and his mates were so sick that day Nobody eats Deetledag leaves!.. Well not on purpose, anyway. These stories couldn’t possibly be true. Could they? Gracie’s not completely sure. Are you?


Miss Phyllis , School teacher at Drone-On Academy and a Phyillium Giganteum Leaf Insect of Malaysia. Photo credit –


While she visits, Gramps helps Gracie with her homework. He’s very good with numbers and with his extra help, Gracie can answer all the teachers questions when called upon in class. She feels confident and raises her hand to answer when Miss Phyllis (Phyllium Giganteum – Leaf Insect) asks for class participation. Miss Phyllis is so much bigger than any other Fancifull Gracie has ever met. Some of her classmates think this makes her scary, but Gracey likes her very much. She is kind. She has a very soft voice and never raises it, not even when Gryffin and his friends are acting up in the back of the class. Boys!

Gryffin is her brother and though she loves him, she wishes he would care as much about learning math as he cares about his “Catapulting for High Adventure and Sighting Exercises – CHASE.” CHASE is a game young grasshoppers play to increase their flying and landing accuracy. Gryffin is determined to be a CHASE Champion.


Miss Phyllis at home on Summer Vacation in Malaysia Photo Credit –


The Rules of CHASE:

(Honesty is a key component to the practice sessions. During actual event competitions , Adult Grasshoppers, are in the air, ‘spotting’ the reference points chosen by the young competitors. While practicing, there are no spotters. Playing fairly and honestly is important for the game to be fun and challenging.)

For 2 to 4 players – more possibly but it can become confusing.

First Catapultor propels their body as far into the air as possible. While at the highest point and flapping wings for a limited time of only 5 seconds, sight something that you think your challenger will not be able to see. Determine a question to ask about what you have sighted. Easy questions ensure the game takes on a fast pace. Here are some examples:

“What colour is the flower that Bella put in the window of the Insect Inn this morning?” (Answer – Orange. Your challenger must see the flower from aloft, not venture by ground) or;

What is written on the side of the Oh Valley Water Tower? (Answer – Pembroke.) or;

Where did Baxter leave his Pollen Extractor? ( Answer – On the Porch.)

If a challenger can answer your question accurately, they win the round. They have 3 attempts. If they answer on their first catapult, they score 3 points. If they require 2 attempts to get the correct answer, they score 2 points and 1 point is awarded if they locate the missing details on the 3rd and final catapult. After 3 attempts, if challengers do not guess correctly, ‘Sighter’ scores 1 point, and retains their turn to choose another sight. Once a challenger answers correctly, they take over as Sighter.


Gryffin sighting in C.H.A.S.E practices. Photo Credit – Evan McGlinn / National Geographic 


Accuracy in sighting and landing are equally important in the game of CHASE. There is a predetermined Landing Pad. You are not awarded the points you scored with your sighting if you do not land on the predetermined pad. You will, however become the new ‘Sighter’ because your sighting was correct.

There is no time limit to the game. It ends when all challengers are tuckered out, or when they hear the cicadas calling everyone home for mealtime.

Gryffin and his grasshopper friends Gabriella (Gabby), Gwendolynne (Gwen), and Grady are always practicing their exercises together. They concentrate so hard at getting better that they sometimes forget to come home at meal time.

Gracie tries to convince Gryffin that he should come and see Gramps with her but he’s always too busy with CHASE practices. Gramps says he understands. He was young once, too. Gracie knows this is true if the stories Gramps tells her are any indication! She’s still trying to figure out how he and his friends survived without food for 3 days and why a grasshopper would accept a dare to sit on top of the water tower.

Gracie has been knitting a special gift for her Gramps and today is the perfect day to give it to him. He has confided in her that his big old hind legs are always cold and his feet get itchy from a rash and he calls, “chilblains” She has just the thing… Jumping Leg Warmers! This way he can keep his legs warm so the rash will clear up and he’ll feel better.

Gramps loves his new leg warmers. They’re the perfect size and knit with wool using all his favourite colours. He’s feeling better already. Even his cold doesn’t seem to be bothering him as much. The aches and pains are subsiding and he can breathe better through all his spiracles. What a thoughtful granddaughter he has.



Gramps is feeling better with his pair Jumping-leg Warmers that Gracie knit.  Photo credit –

( What colours do you think are Gramps favourites? Can you draw a picture of Gramps with his new Jumping Leg Warmers?)

Now! Time to get those math equations figured out. Gracey pulls up a stool next to Gramps’ big old chair and together they tackle the hardest ones with Gramps explaining the bits that Gracie has difficulty with. Before too long, homework is complete and there is time for another story before Gracie has to head home for dinner.

As Gracie waves good-bye to her Gramps, she wonders if Gryffin will be home in time for dinner. She supposes he will because the sun is starting to set. Gryffin is getting good at CHASE but not so good that he can sight in the dark. 🙂

Until next time, here’s hoping your family is gathered around you at mealtime.

Sue, Axie, and the Fancifulls of Oh Valley