[The Director’s (Un)Cut Version]
I publish a series of personalized children’s books at manimaltales.com. Its a universe of punny, funny animal characters that interact with a child.
One of the books is The Orangey-Tan, whose eponymous main character bears an uncanny resemblance to a certain current politician. The earlier drafts of the story were considerably longer, more vituperative and a lot less kid-friendly than the final version. I thought it would be fun (and therapeutic) to clean up one of them and publish it here. The illustrations you see are from the book. Enjoy!
Also, it’s clearly satire so please don’t take it (too) seriously.
One fine day, the Manimals gathered about.
It was warm and they were happy to be out.
His Roli-Poliness, the Dally Llama, was giving a speech,
“All creatures are born equal,” did he preach.
“Not just Manimals, but regular animals too,
And love them all equally, you must do.”
Most Manimals did nod their heads and agree.
Love for all creatures seemed a good strategy.
After all, Manimals got along famously.
It was only right to treat others similarly.
Orangey-Tan though couldn’t believe his ears.
“Dally, I thought you wise beyond your years!
But hearing this, I think you’ve lost a nut or two.
To say animals are our equal is a crazy thing to do.
They’re criminals who don’t belong,” he snorted.
“And anyone who disagrees should be deported!”
King DandyLion heard this and roared in outrage.
“Fool! It’s you, not them, that belongs in a cage.
You’re too vain and stupid to know what’s right.
You make me sick; now get out of my sight!”
Many cheered and laughed at this put-down.
Orangey-Tan burned with shame as he left town.
Orangey-Tan was vain, that was true.
But he was plenty rich and cunning too.
In Manimal Town he owned the tallest trees.
He built and sold them to other rich monkeys.
He also was the Big Boss on his own TV show.
(Which may have explained his outsized ego).
“How dare ‘Lion talk to me like that!
He’s nothing but a puffed-up fancy cat.
He thinks I’m some ornery lil’ monkey,
But I’m like really smart, like a Chimpanzee.
I’ll show Dandy’, I’ll show them all!
He is King now, but I’ll see to his downfall.
I’ll run against him next election season
I’m a winner, so I’ll win, stands to reason.”
Orangey looked at himself in the windowpane:
“Who’s the smartest monkey with the bestest brain?
Who’s the richest of all the rich tycoons?
Who’s the one that makes all the ladies swoons?
Who’s got big, big muscles and big strong hands?
It’s you, the greatest monkey in all the lands!”
Orangey huffed and puffed for a week or two,
And then forgot all about it (on account of his low IQ),
And that would have been the end of this (short) tale.
But alas, some saw in Orangey a way to make Dandy fail:
King Dandy made many rules, passed many laws.
For some FatCats these were Unforgiveable Flaws.
So, one night, in a dark corner of the deepest wood,
Gathered a group of rich FatCats, up to no good.
“DandyLion must go!” they said in chorus.
“Orangey-Tan is the monkey for us!”
Ol’ Orangey was more than happy to comply.
“Gimme the money to win. I’m your guy!”
Orangey and the FatCats plotted and planned.
And so many moons passed in Manimal Land.
Until it came time for the next King election.
And Manimals had to vote their selection.
Orangey went around the jungle speechifying.
For some Manimals, his rallies were electrifying.
He was a businessman, not a creep politician!
“Draining the swamp” was his mission!
“Regular animals are either criminals or lazy.
Anyone who thinks otherwise is just plain crazy!
When I am King, I’ll build us a beautiful Wall.
Elect me and I’ll keep us safe from them all.”
He lied at every turn, but did it with such flair
Many believed he was the answer to their prayer.
“Elect me because only I can truly feel your pain.
Elect me and I’ll Make Manimals Mighty Again!”
For his part, DandyLion thought Orangey insane,
“I’m better looking than that monkey brain.
Naturally, all Manimals are sure to elect me,
Nothing that orange slob says will affect me!”
DandyLion was sure he was going to win.
Pride had always been his greatest sin.
There were plenty who agreed with Orangey-Tan,
Who thought that there should be an animal ban.
That regular animals were taking over the land,
And it was time for Manimals to make a stand.
For many, many years had DandyLion been King.
“Too many years!” in some Manimals’ thinking.
These Manimals thought Dandy was out of touch.
That all he cared about was looking good as such.
Ordinary Manimals were barely making ends meet.
The rich were getting richer; the poor were on the street.
Times were tough: good Manimal jobs were hard to find.
Times were tough: some Manimals were being left behind.
Although the forest had always been shared by all,
Some felt it better to keep animals out, behind a wall.
On election day, Manimals were deeply divided.
It took every vote for the election to be decided.
Just enough agreed with Orangey’s thinking,
And suddenly the Manimals had a new King.
So began the rule of Orangey-Tan the First.
As rulers go, he was perhaps the worst!
To undo all Dandy had done was his Holy Cause.
So, he proceeded to cancel out all the Jungle Laws.
“Manimals don’t need rules, we want to be free!
These laws and stuff are completely unnecessary!
It’s just the survival of the fittest” said Orangey-Tan.
“Don’t worry, it’s all part of my bestest Master Plan!”
His government was in constant disruption.
And his every act stank of grand corruption.
His FatCat friends engaged in plundering.
While his entire staff excelled at blundering.
His son-in-law, the PreeCock, was named King-To-Be.
Still he insisted, “We’re the bestest democracy!”
He loved playing the part of a King on television.
He turned the cameras on for his every decision.
In his Orange House he watched Fox’s TV every night,
And woke up every morning angry and ready to fight.
He sent furious texts through his faithful Tweety Bird.
From tree to tree, she passed on his hate, word for word.
Those who dared to disagree or question his actions,
Were at once dismissed as “Fake News” factions!
Worst of all: he implemented his animal ban,
“No more bad hombres!” said Great King Tan.
Where once all animals roamed the forest freely,
Now none could enter Manimal Land easily.
Orangey based his decision on the color of their skin:
“Blacks, browns, keep out; yellows and golds come in!”
Even babies were taken from their mothers at the border,
“Manimal Land is for Manimals only!” did he order.
Orangey didn’t just stop with animals sadly,
Even some Manimals were treated badly.
He made endless fun of Stutterfly’s stutter,
And kicked the poor Underdog to the gutter.
“Freaks and weirdos have no place here!
They’re all criminals!” he said with a sneer.
Slowly Orangey replaced love with hate,
All while claiming to make Manimal Land great.
Under him, Manimals lost their loving features.
Under him, Manimals became uncivilized creatures.
Smellyphant pooed wherever he wanted to.
Groucheetah just bit everyone he knew.
Tattlesnake kept spreading vicious rumors.
Giraffalaffas lost their sense-of-humors.
Ex-King Dandy paced around in despair.
He was so upset, he was losing his hair.
“This trumped-up monkey’s bananas!” he said,
“The power’s gone straight to his head!
I lost the election because of my vanity.
It’s up to me then, to stop this insanity!”
“But to succeed I’ll need a great plan.
For that I need the help of a Hooman.
Only they have the smarts to plot a coup.
Fortunately, I know exactly who to go to!”
Barack was happily playing in his garden.
There was a crash and the ‘Lion barged in.
“Hello ‘Lion!” said Barack. “Long time no see!
How are you, and will you stay for tea?”
Dandy said gravely: “Barack, how do you do?”
I’ve no time for tea, I’m planning a coup!
Dandy told Barack what had been happening,
About the evil actions of the Orange King.
“Sounds horrid!” said Barack at the end.
“Clearly Orangey’s gone round the bend!
But are you sure about your final conclusion?
Is sending Orangey to the Zoo the right solution?
It’s true you must fight his every crazy whim,
But locking him up makes you just like him.
Animal or Manimal, no one belongs in a cage,”
Said Barack, “Not even a Mad King filled with rage.
Instead we’ll peacefully resist his rule.
I just learnt about this in school,
Let’s be like Mandela, Gandhi and MLK,
And non-violently resist him, every day.
But for it to work, we need to be united,
The Manimals can’t be so divided.
We’ll have to convince them of this plan,
Especially those who voted for Orangey-Tan.”
It was a moonless night, and all was in shadow.
The Manimals had gathered at Dandy’s say-so,
The whole Manimal clan (except Orangey-Tan).
Barack now had to convince them of his plan.
“Friends…” Barack squeaked into the night.
There was silence, as he trembled in fright.
Normally he had no problem with public speaking.
But this was the speech of his life, and he was freaking!
He shut his eyes and took a gulp of air.
“Friends!” he said, this time with flair.
“Friends! Manimals! Junglefolk! Lend me your ears!
I come to speak of our King and share my fears.
Orangey is our King and was fairly elected, it’s true.
But has he done anything he promised to do?
He said he would come and drain the swamp.
Instead, he and his family live in great pomp!
But King Orangey says he is an honorable monkey,
So we must believe him, even if it is hypocrisy.
He said he would make Manimal Land mighty.
Instead, all he does is preen in front of the TV!
He said he would get Manimals better paying jobs.
Instead, they loot the land and live like nabobs!
So ask yourselves: is Orangey an honorable monkey,
And must we believe what he says, if he lies constantly?
He said he’d put Manimals first and fight for you all,
Instead he throws those he doesn’t like over a wall!
He said he’d make Manimal Land mighty again,
All he’s done though, is spread hatred and pain.”
At this, the hoots and cheers started to multiply.
“O-orangey’s t-too m-much!” said the Stutterfly.
“I c-can’t believe I voted for that g-guy!”
“B-but Dandy, why should we give you another try?”
“This isn’t about me, or Orangey, not anymore.
It’s about who we are — and what we stand for!
We must choose what Manimal Land is to be,
This land of the brave and home of the free.
Are we to be our best selves, a shining city on a hill?
Or do we put ourselves first, and wish the rest ill?
Well I have a dream!” said Barack, standing taller.
“That all Manimals, of whatever stripe or color,
Will know what I hold to be absolutely true:
That all creatures are equal, just like me and you.”
“I have a dream!” said Barack, now quite animated.
“That no creature should ever be discriminated
Based on of the color of their skin or fur or hide,
But are judged instead on their character inside!
Friends, I have a dream, that we will be free!
Free from this orange-haired monkey tyranny!
Today is the day that we must make our stand!
And let freedom ring across all of Manimal Land!”
Barack stopped and there was great applause.
Knightingale said, “Barack, we’ll join your cause!
You’ve convinced us Orangey has to go now.
But he’s still the King, so the question is how?”
Said Barack: “The plan is to constantly resist!
We must pretend like Orangey doesn’t exist.
We’ll undo his every decision, ignore his every action.
And we’ll keep doing it till we get a reaction!”
Orangey was watching the news of the day,
To see what he’d been up to since yesterday.
He waited and waited to see his handsome face,
He watched for hours, but there wasn’t a trace!
He grabbed a copy of the Manimal Times in rage.
Surely his picture would be on the front page!
But there was nothing about him or his animal ban.
How could they ignore him or his master plan?
How dare the Fake News Media ignore their King?
What could they have possibly been thinking!
Orangey was now feeling grumpy and bitter.
He grabbed his TweetyBird and composed a Twitter.
“Not all creatures are made equal as brothers.
Some Manimals are just better than others.
Coloreds and animals are LAZY and lie about.
Let’s BUILD THE WALL to keep them out!”
There! That should get him some attention!
But minutes later there was only one mention.
Orangey looked at Tweety in utter disbelief!
“How dare they ignore me — I’m their chief!”
Maybe a rally would help his bad mood disappear?
The sound of his own voice always gave him cheer.
But when he arrived, there was no one around,
Instead of cheers, there was barely a sound.
On the way back, Orangey was shocked.
The road to his Orange House was blocked.
Outside, Manimals were carrying rude signs,
And he could hear them chanting cruel lines.
“Out with the Lyin’ King,
Bring Back the Lion King”
“Love Not Hate –
That’s What Makes Us Great!”
Barack saw King Orangey as he drove by.
Orangey looked like he was going to cry.
“Our plan is working!” he said with glee.
“Keep on resisting — Orangey is sure to flee!”
King Orangey hadn’t slept a wink in weeks.
Those crazy Manimals and their shrieks!
Every night they gathered to demand he go.
And protested by howling outside his window.
His life during the day was just as bad.
Nothing went right, so he was always mad.
Every meeting he went to, no one appeared.
Every time he played golf, his balls disappeared.
Every speech he gave, everyone looked bored.
Every law he amended, was mysteriously restored.
But what really made him cry out in dismay,
Was when his beloved TweetyBird flew away.
Now he had no way of talking to his fan base.
It was like he himself had vanished without a trace!
He needed to be heard, he needed to be adored.
He needed to feel like he couldn’t be ignored.
After all, he was the handsomest and the bestest.
After all, he was King Orangey-Tan the Greatest!
His life had been so much better before!
He was convinced of that, more and more.
In his old life he had been the Big Cheese.
He used to hang out with beautiful monkeys.
He didn’t have to make long, boring speeches.
He could tan in peace on his private beaches.
No one made fun of his hands or his hair.
They couldn’t be bothered; they just didn’t care!
Suddenly King Orangey felt like he was done.
He wished he hadn’t run (or at least hadn’t won).
Quickly, and before he could change his mind,
He jumped out of the window and left it all behind.
A few moons later, all Manimals had a celebration,
DandyLion was once again King of Manimal Nation.
“Many thanks Barack and my Manimal clan,
To all of you who resisted the vile Orangey-Tan.
We should never take our freedoms for granted.
Tyranny is like a weed that spreads when planted.
It is our duty to stand up and say, ‘This is not OK’,
And we must all resist, each in our own way.”
In a faraway forest, on a dark moonless night
A strange creature was giving everyone a fright.
Its hair was yellow and bright,
Its orange skin glowed in the light.
It dribbled, it babbled, again and again:
“Who’s the smartest monkey with the bestest brain?
Who’s the richest of all the rich tycoons?
Who’s the one that makes all the ladies swoons?
Who’s got big, big muscles and big strong hands?”
It’s me, the best-looking monkey in all the lands!”
© Sue Donhym, 2020