Editor's note: A young boy with a mass of floppy red hair tries to postpone the inevitable trip to the barber shop. This is the story of a boy who never wanted to have his hair cut.
Everybody called him Moppy, because on top he looked like a floppy red mop.
Moppy didn't care what anybody said about his hair or what they called him. All he wanted was to stay at home and play.
He sometimes played at being a soaring eagle, and he sometimes played at being a roaring lion. A good lion he made too, without even trying!
But the time came when something had to be done about Moppy's top. And it happened one day when he was swinging from branch to branch in his very own chinaberry tree.
His mother came out into the garden and said, "Pardon me, but just who do you think you are up there - Tarzan?"
"Oh no, Mother, I'm not Tarzan!" said Moppy. "I'm a man from Mars, and I'm visiting all the stars and other planets!"
"Well then, Mister Man - from - Mars, could you plan to make a landing on this earth sometime today? We want you to hop to the barbershop and get that floppy mop clipped off before your birthday party tomorrow."
The minute Moppy heard the words "birthday party" he dropped down out of the tree to the ground, feet first, then stretched out his hand.
"Here's some money, sonny," his mother said. "I've just called Mister Barberoli, and he says he'll be ready for you at four o'clock sharp. It's a little after half - past three now, so let's see you hippity hop to the barber shop all by yourself."
Moppy put the money in his pocket, and off he zoomed across the vacant lot, like a rocket to the moon.
But just as soon as he turned the corner he slowed down to a trot.
He decided to run and hide in the grocery store next door, where he could think things over.
And this is where he hid - behind a barrel of brooms and brushes and fancy red mops!
By and by a lady without her glasses came up and told the salesman she wanted a mop to help her keep her kitchen floor clean.
"What's more, I want the strongest, fluffiest, floppiest mop you have in the store, sir," she said as she began shaking the mops, one at a time.
"Here, this one will do very well," said the lady. "I'll take it along with me right now."
"Ouch! Let go!" shouted Moppy. "I'm not a mop! I'm a boy!"
The lady certainly did let go, and in a hurry too, as Moppy scurried out the door and headed straight for Mister Barberoli's barbershop.
"I thought maybe you forgot," said the roly - poly Mister Barberoli. "But you're right on the dot. It's exactly four!" Then in one long leap Moppy was up on the barber - chair seat ready to get his hair cut nice and neat.
"Please Mister Barberoli, don't let me look like a mop any more," pleaded Moppy. "I don't want to clean anybody's kitchen floor!"
In a jiffy Mister Barberoli was clipping and snipping away, and combing and cropping without once stopping, as if he hadn't a minute to lose.
Finally he did stop. He held up a mirror and said, "Well, sonny, who's that, would you say?"
"It's me! It's me without that floppy old mop on top! Hooray!" said the boy in the chair.
The he hopped down and gave Mister Barberoli the money. And out the door he flew, light as a feather.
All the world looked spic - and - span, as the boy who was once called Moppy hopped up the street for home.
First published in the United States under the title MOP TOP by Don Freeman. Copyright A Don Freeman 1955. Copyright renewed A Lydia Freeman 1983. Published by arrangement with Viking Children's Books, a division of Penguin Putnam Inc.
Other books by Don Freeman include:
"Hattie the Backstage Bat"
"Norman the Doorman"
"The Paper Party"
"A Pocket for Corduroy"
"A Rainbow of My Own"
Pub date: 5/31/98