So, tonight at dinner, as Philip and I ate our maki, he asked if he could get our library copy of Puss in Boots so that we could read it together. I told him that maki was very messy and that the book would have to wait until we were done with dinner. But, I told him, we can come up with our own story instead. So, he said, “Mom, tell me a Puss in Boots story.” Here it is.
Puss in Boots-Mom’s version
Once upon a time, there was a cat called Puss in Boots. He was called that because he was a cat who wore boots. But, they weren’t just any boots. They were magic boots. When he put them on, he would be able to walk on his back legs, stand up straight like a human and talk to people. When he would talk, people understood him. This was unusual because most people do not understand cats when they talk.
A lot of people knew about Puss in Boots. They knew that his boots were magical. If you were a human, all you would have to do is put your toes near the boots and they would stretch to fit you. No matter who wore them, the size would fit perfectly. And then, as soon as a person put them on, that person could make wishes. Those wishes would come true. Almost everyone knew about the wishing power of the boots and many people decided that they would try to steal the boots so that they could stop working so hard and wish for money, houses, carriages, fancy food and so much more.
Puss in Boots knew full well that many people wanted the boots. But, it did not worry him. He knew some things that they didn’t. First, the boots always came back. If Puss in Boots fell asleep by the warm fireplace and someone snuck in and removed the boots, the boots would always be back by the time Puss in Boots woke up. Second, the wishes, once granted, would turn from a dream come true into a curse. The person who sought the quick path to riches or glory by using those magical boots always came to a sticky end. After all, the boots did not belong to them.
One day, Puss in Boots decided to visit a nearby stream to go for a swim. He had spent most of the morning in the king’s barn chasing mice, climbing behind stacks of hay, running across rafters covered in spider webs and pouncing on dust-covered floors. He was filthy and he needed a bath. Now, it is true that most cats do not enjoy the water. When they want to get clean, they simply use their scratchy tongues and get to work. Lick by lick, they transform their dusty selves into shiny, sleek creatures worthy of admiration. But, let’s remember that Puss in Boots is no ordinary cat.
He walked over toward the stream, tail flicking in the air, and stopped at a tree to take off his boots. After relieving himself of them, he placed them neatly at the base of the trunk, then plunged into the water and splashed around. People passing by were surprised by the sight of a cat in the water. They were even more surprised to see him rolling around like an otter and diving and leaping like a mermaid in the sea.
An old man, worn with years of hard work and a sad life, walked down the road that passed by the stream. Instead of seeing the cat in the water, he saw the boots by the tree. He was an honest man and did not like to steal. But, after a good long look around, he decided that the boots were as without an owner as he was without a home. He looked down at his bare feet. They were dusty, dirty, cracked and aching. He walked over to the boots, sat on the ground beneath the tree and put them on. All at once, the man felt as if he had slipped his feet into the softest velvet that was as warm and comforting as a roaring fire on a cold winter’s night. He leaned his head back onto the trunk behind him and fell asleep with a smile on his face.
When he woke, he was surprised to see that the boots were gone. In their place was a pair of different boots altogether. This pair was shiny and black. The other pair was brown like a deer in the height of summer. This pair was also exceedingly comfortable and he was amazed. That wasn’t the only sight that shocked him, though. His tattered pants and his threadbare shirt were gone. In their place were fine clothes of extraordinary quality. He was also wearing a vest and a coat. He stood up to take a closer look.
Jingle, jingle. He looked around. A bell was ringing somewhere. Or maybe it was chimes blowing in the wind. He walked to the stream. Sometimes, the water makes a musical sound when it spills over stones on its way to the sea. He leaned over the bank and listened. And listened. He stood very still. No, it was not the stream.
He turned around. Sometimes, the reins shaking on a team of horses make a clinking sound. He walked to the road to look for carriages. Jingle, jingle. He stopped and looked to the left. He looked to the right. No carriages were there. The road was empty.
At this point, the man remembered something from all of his years of experience. Sometimes in life, he told himself, you just need to put your hands in your pockets and think. And so he did. But, guess what he discovered? His hands were not the only things in his pockets. Both pockets in his pants were filled with gold coins. He looked at his jacket. It, too, had pockets. They were also filled with gold coins. Even his vest and his shirt had pockets. None of the pockets were empty.
It was a sunny day with a beautiful blue sky. The man, with tears in his eyes, knelt down on the ground and clasped his hands together. He looked up and said, “Whoever did this for me, thank you. I am forever in your debt.”
At that moment, a cat jumped out of the nearby bushes. He was an unusual cat. He walked on his back legs and he wore boots. The man recognized them at once as the boots he had put on before he fell asleep.
The cat smiled and began to speak. “My name is Puss in Boots and I am grateful to you. Everyone in the past who put on my boots wished for things. Sometimes, they wished for fame. Sometimes, they wished for castles or treasures. But, you put them on for comfort and wanted for nothing. That tells me a lot about you. It tells me that you are an exceptional man.”
The cat smiled. The man smiled. The man tried to speak, but couldn’t. He wasn’t sure whether he was awake or in a dream. A cat was talking to him. He was wearing fine clothes and his pockets were full of gold. The sun was shining and he said to himself, “I did not know when I woke this morning that today would be such an incredible day.”
After I finished my version, Philip asked me to get a pen and paper out because he was going to write his own version. Here is his version.
Puss in Boots – Philip’s version
Chapter 1- The Disappearing Cat
Once upon a time, there was a cat named Puss in Boots and he had magic boots. And he had a hat and the hat was magic. So when he put on the hat and boots, he disappeared. Then, people didn’t know he was around and, when he was in the water, they didn’t hear splashing.
Chapter 2 – The Boots and Hat
The boots and hat made a very good protection for the cat. But, sometimes, he asked people to turn into a mouse. They turned into a mouse and then he ate the person-mouse up. Then he was fat.
Chapter 3 – The Rice and Tofu and Mouse for Supper for Puss in Boots
He was not a good cat. He always ate people that turned into mice. For supper, he had rice and tofu and fried mouse.
So, there you have it. Two brand new versions of the classic tale…as they have never been told before! Enjoy.