The Ticklebugs of Mango Hill


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     Heidi was on a lower limb, reading an exciting book, completely unaware that a family of Hawaiian Ticklebugs was headed her way.



        She was not prepared to see Ticklebugs in the Mango tree. She usually met them in the mornings, when she and her sister crawled into their parent’s bed. Their mom, the artist, snuggled the girls and sang the song that all mothers sing to their children when they wake up, which goes like this:


                      I love you

                      I love you

                      I love you

                      I do;

                      But don’t get excited -

                      I love monkeys too!


And as she sang, the artist’s fingers turned into Ticklebugs and marched up their arms!


     It was an incredible summer afternoon on Mango Hill.

      Thekla was perched high in the mango tree, blowing cat bubbles and watching them turn into beautiful Catflies.


      “You’re very colorful,” Heidi said, watching Mom Bug adjust her cap. “Would you like to spend the afternoon with me?” She politely closed her book, whereupon all the dragons and monsters sitting in the Mango Tree disappeared. “I’ll get my sister, who’s on the limb on the other side, and we’ll have a party.”


     “Another day,” Mom Bug said, “it’s time for us to go home now.”


     “Where is home?” Heidi said, petting Baby Bug.

     “Under the roots of the Mango tree,” Dad Bug said. “Beneath Halau Mouse’s burrow.”

      “Are there many Ticklebugs?”

     “Millions!” Dad Bug waved around his snuggly arms. “Not just here, but all over the world. Everywhere there are children laughing, there’s a family of Ticklebugs under the nearest tree.”





Mom Bug nodded. “We’re as old as civilization. We came to life when the first child crawled into their mother’s bed in the morning.”


   The most important word in the song was “Monkeys.” When they heard that word, the Ticklebugs burrowed under their arms and gave them each a tiny tickle. This made the girls laugh and laugh, whereupon their mother and her Snuggle Bug arms squished and squeezed them all together.


     Heidi secretly believed that the Ticklebugs were actually her mother’s fingers, which was why she was so surprised to feel some familiar tickles as she sat in the Mango tree. 


     Heidi looked down and saw three smiling Bugs with big eyes and soft caps.

     “Who are you?” she asked.

     “We’re a family of Hawaiian Ticklebugs,” the largest one said. He looked very squishy and had a lot of fuzz under his pointy pink cap. “I’m Dad Bug. Now that I’ve tickled you, I’m quite full.”

      The Bug with the round purple cap over more fuzz spoke. “I’m Mom Bug,” she said, “and this is Baby Bug.” She pointed to the smallest Bug, who had no fuzz at all.

     “Hey,” said Baby Bug in a kind-of squeaky way.


      “You look very soft,” Heidi said. “I would shake your hand, but you don’t have one.”

      “Hands are made to grasp.” Dad Bug smiled. “Us Ticklebugs are built to Tickle, Snug, and Bug.”


     Heidi frowned. “But how do you know when to tickle us?”

     “When we hear The Tickle Bug National Anthem,” Dad Bug said, “we come marching.” He cleared his throat, and they all stood at attention. “It goes like so:”

           I love you

           I love you

           I love you

           I do;

           But don’t get excited!

           I love Monkeys too!

       And Should you? Could you? Would you believe? On the word “Monkeys” they reached over and tickled Heidi, who laughed so hard she nearly fell out of the tree.


       Dad Bug patted his stomach, which bulged with the extra helpings of Tickles he’d just had. Mama Bug struggled to tuck her generous fuzz back into her cap. Baby Bug jumped up and down on the tree limb. “Can I? Can I try a Tickle? Please? Please?”



      “No, son,” Dad Bug said. “Just watch and learn.”

      “Awwwww,” Baby Bug said. “Not fair.”

      “You know the rules,” Mom Bug said. “When you have fuzz, you can tickle.” She tugged and pulled at her cap. “Oh, my! Oh, my! Too many Tickles! I really must diet!”

       “And we really must leave,” Dad Bug said. 


      Heidi kissed Baby Bug on his soft, squishy nose. “Goodbye, and I hope to see you again soon.”

     “Tomorrow morning,” Dad Bug said. “Or, if you’re ever feeling down, stick your head down by the Fourth Mango Root, and holler. We’ll come and give you a Tickle or two.”



  “As soon as I get my fuzz,” Baby Bug said, “I’ll be available 24/7 for laughs.”


       Heidi watched the Ticklebugs march down the limb. In the distance, she heard her mother calling. The sun was low in the sky, and soon it would be time for their dinner, bath, story, and bed.

       In the morning, Heidi and Thekla would wake up, walk down the hallway to Mom’s bed, climb in, and snuggle. . . and then. . . .



      Heidi smiled.


-- The End --

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License.


To go to Mango Hill Pt. 1, click here.

To go to Mango Hill Pt. 2, click here.

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To read about the real Mango Hill, click here.