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Prairie-Dog Town

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"Prairie-Dog Town" is a short story by L. Frank Baum, one of The Twinkle Tales first published in 1906.

Summary

The people of Edgeley, North Dakota hold a picnic in the bed of a little river, under a bridge (the only shade available in the treeless landscape). Twinkle and Chubbins wander off on their own, and come upon a prairie-dog community among the low hills. They are surprised to hear the creatures talk to them; the prairie dogs realize that as children, the two visitors are not a danger. The mayor and high priest of the town, Bowko, invites Twinkle and Chubbins for a visit and tour. He has the prairie-dog magician, Mr. Presto Digi, shrink the children down to prairie-dog size.

Twinkle and Chubbins enjoy seeing the surprisingly sophisticated lifestyle of the underground community. Mrs. Puff-Pudgy welcomes them into her pleasantly-appointed home, with furniture, candles, and pictures on the walls. Later they attend a banquet at the mayor's burrow; they sample the vegetarian dishes of the prairie-dog's table. Their visit done, Presto Digi restores them to their normal size.

Background

The prairie-dogs of the story are heavily anthropomorphized — though they do not wear human clothing, in contrast with the animals in "Mr. Woodchuck," another of the Tales. The prairie-dogs behave like animals only in one instance: Mrs. Puff-Pudgy's sons Teenty and Weenty fight ferociously with each other, clawing and snarling.

For a comparable tale from the Dakota plains, see "The Discontented Gopher."

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