Mike Himmel ran his finger along the sun-warmed door of an old junked car. The 1936 Bentley Blower was one of his favourites in his father’s junkyard.
Mike then came to a school bus lying on its side. Its roof was peeled open like an awning. This was where he had a metal workshop, along with his best mate Joe Sakana. Joe was testing the knee joint on a new grasshopper sculpture he had made. Standing nearby was Tonk, the boys’ robot rabbit.
“Man! That looks cool!” Mike said. The scar near his eye crinkled when he smiled.
“Thanks!” Joe said. He pushed his thick glasses back up the bridge of his nose.
“Is she ready for a heart?” asked Tonk, holding up a small heart-like electrical box. “She’ll make the fourth one you’ve brought to life. Along with me, Crick and Snappy.”
“No! Guys. We have to wait. My dad says I can’t play until I cut the grass at home. Plus...” Mike leaned in and smiled, “I’ll get paid the five quid I need to buy the new Captain Chickenpants graphic novel that came out yesterday.”
“Oh, that’s right! Darn. Wish I could buy that too. Well, if you’re cutting the grass, what am I supposed to do? Wait all day?” Joe asked.
“Trust me,” said Mike. “I’d much rather be here. But the grass can’t exactly cut itself.”
After a moment, Mike’s eyes lit up. “But maybe a mechanical animal can!” Mike stepped toward Snappy, the robot alligator. Snappy did not look up from reading his issue of Harvard Medical Journal.
“Do not look at me. I am a surgeon, not a groundskeeper,” said Snappy.
The boys looked over at Crick, the tall frog robot. He was polishing his monocle with the cloth of his vest.
“Mayor Crick still thinks it’s the year 1830,” said Mike. “He wouldn’t even understand what a lawnmower was.” Both boys turned to look at Tonk, the robot rabbit.
“Tonk!” Mike called. “Are you up for an adventure?”
“Uh-huh, uh-huh!” Tonk nodded and blinked his rubber gasket eyelids. “What’cha got cookin’?”
Within ten minutes, they had Tonk in Mike’s back garden. They taught the metal rabbit how to use the lawnmower.
“All right, Tonk,” said Mike. “You got this, yeah?”
The robot rabbit pushed the mower and began cutting the grass. Mike and Joe slapped high five and went back to the junkyard. Time to make that grasshopper into a robot!
They laid the metal grasshopper sculpture, chest-up, onto the tyre-stack table. Snappy worked his surgeon’s magic and carefully welded the electrical heart into the grasshopper’s chest.
Smoke… Vibrations... A rusty electrical smell, then... *FOOM!* It was done!
The grasshopper moved her legs on her own. She blinked her headlight eyes, flipped herself upright, twisted her head and then spoke. “Oh my dear! Aren’t you quite the pair of darling boys! Wow. What a nap.” The grasshopper sculpture wiggled her antennae. The boys marvelled at how their sculpture had come to life.
“Look at this place,” she said. “What’s happened to it? We'd better get right to work!”
The robot grasshopper’s wings buzzed. She flew off the tyre table and into the sky above Joe, Mike and Snappy. A dust cloud stirred. Then she landed back on the ground with a loud, metallic *CHANK!*
“Oh, hey. Ma’am... Uh...” Joe tried to get the grasshopper’s attention, but she walked right off on her six legs. She began organising a large pile of car mufflers into a neat stack. She was very strong.
“Sweet,” said Mike. “Maybe she’d be good for lawn mowing next time.”
Mike looked at his watch. “Wow! We need to get back home before my dad does,” he said. “Snappy! Keep an eye on things. We’ll be back soon.”
The boys ran back to Mike’s house. They arrived and saw the grass was cut nicely. But Tonk the robot rabbit was nowhere in sight.
“I hear the lawnmower though,” Joe said, shading his eyes and looking upward. “But it sounds like it’s coming from— Woah! Look out!” A loud buzzing machine swooped down and nearly hit the boys. Then it swooped back up and hovered in the sky above them. Tonk the robot rabbit was riding inside of it.
Tonk pressed a lever and landed the flying machine onto the grass.
“You like my garden-copter?” Tonk asked.
“Did you turn the lawnmower into a helicopter?” Mike asked, blinking wildly.
“I got bored after the grass was cut. So, I fixed her right up. Check it out!” Tonk pulled a lever and he quickly zoomed away in the copter.
“No! Tonk, watch out for the house!” Mike yelled. Tonk swerved and just missed the edge of the roof. Then *brrrzzzz!* The spinning blades cut the branches off a large tree. The branches crashed to the ground below.
“Agh! My dad’s tree! Tonk, stop!” Mike shouted. But Tonk buzzed off branch after branch from several of the trees around the house. Then he landed again.
The boys ran over and pulled Tonk from the machine. “We have to fix this mess and hide you before my dad gets home! Oh...this was a terrible idea.”
Just then, Mike’s dad came around the corner to the back garden. He stopped in his tracks when he saw the tree branches all over the place. Joe had just hidden Tonk with a few of them.
“Stay quiet,” Joe whispered to Tonk.
“Dad! It...it’s not as bad as it seems,” Mike said. “I swear, I—”
“It’s wonderful,” Dad said, smiling.
“But I— Huh? It is?” Mike said, wearing a confused look.
“Yes. I had meant to trim those high branches before they touched the roof,” Dad said, reaching into his trouser pocket. “Bundle those branches and place them on the kerb. We’ll call it ten quid for the whole job.”
Dad handed over the money and patted Mike’s back. Then he went inside the house.
“Well then,” Mike said. He slapped one of the fives into
Joe’s palm. “Let’s drop off Tonk and then go get the new Captain Chickenpants!”
Benefits of reading Junkyard - Hare-chopper!
This short story covers the friendship theme. Hare-chopper! is written and narrated in the third person. We recommend children with a reading age of 6 - 10 years old for this story.
Who are the main characters in Junkyard - Hare-chopper!?
The main character in the Junkyard series is ten-year-old Joe Sakana and his best friend Mike Himmel. This is a sci-fi story series set in Swindon where the boys create robots that become characters. In episode 3 they create a mechanical rabbit.