The Grand Mushroom lived in the very center of the forest. He was very wise and had lived a few years and knew many things. He was always good at giving advice, though he didn’t always give a straight answer.
He also had thousands of children who were learning to be wise, but their advice was always a little unsound—they were still learning after all. They would sleep in the darkness of the wood and if a creature happened to wake them by accident, they would find themselves receiving a strange version of wise sayings.
The Goodmund children knew they were close when Sophia heard the words “Save a penny and you earn a penny” squeaking from under her shoe.
Jude jumped when he heard it and accidently stepped on another little mushroom. “Never go to your neighbor’s house!” it squealed.
All the Goodmund children froze and looked around. Carefully, they began to walk again, watching each step closely so as to not disturb another baby mushroom.
It took some time to reach the Grand Mushroom, but soon they saw him sleeping just up ahead. “Grand Mushroom!” Eli called, but instantly regretted it as he saw a wave of movement from the children sleeping closest. They all began to speak at once.
“Soapy suds on your face. Rinse, rinse, rinse, and then repeat.”
“Keep an eye on your flock or you might lose your sheep.”
“Pots only boil when you’re not looking.”
“You’re the early bird if you eat the worm first.” The chatter continued until the Grand Mushroom opened his large sleepy eyes and uttered in a tired and drawling voice, “Even a fool when he keeps silent is considered wise” and every mushroom stopped talking.
“Grand Mushroom, we have a problem,” Eli said. He told the Grand Mushroom about the fairies wanting to expel the pixies from Fairydell.
After they had finished, they waited for the Grand Mushroom to speak. It took him quite a long time to finally answer. He seemed to be thinking hard. Finally he said, “Every man seems right, until another comes and examines him.”
The Goodmund children scratched their heads, not exactly sure what he meant.
“But what should we do?” asked Sophia.
“Haste makes waste. He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”
“We are listening,” said Jude. “But you’re not saying much.”
“If you’re old, you should get respect,” said one of the baby mushrooms.
“I’m older than he is,” said Eli. He was right, after all. The Grand Mushroom was only a few years old.
Aria the Pixie had been quiet this whole time. But eventually she figured out what the Grand Mushroom was trying to say. She darted down to Eli (who was the best at speaking pixie) and started to “Haha” and “Hehe” and “Lala” her explanation.
“It seems like you’re saying,” said Eli to the Grand Mushroom. “That there might be another side to the story? Like maybe there is something we do not know?”
“I have not found wisdom such as this among any of my children,” said the Grand Mushroom. The Goodmund children took that as a yes, and turned to walk carefully away from the Grand Mushroom and all of his children. Still, they weren’t able to escape without stepping on any mushrooms and hearing, “If you’re wrong and you do something wrong, you’re not likely to be right” and “Do what the Romans do if you’re with the Romans.”
The Goodmund children went immediately to the glade. They asked if they could speak to Regina and find out exactly what the trouble was. Regina refused to speak to them with Aria near by, so they had to send Aria away.
Aria gurgled her way back to the tops of the trees and called all of her brothers and sisters to tell them about what was happening. Gurgling water could be heard throughout Fairydell as the news of the impending banishment of all pixies reached to the top of every tree.
“Do you mind telling us why you wish to expel the pixies?” Eli asked Regina.
Regina was in a very sour mood and did not want to tell them. Sophia, who was usually very patient with the fairies, couldn’t forget that they had given her a bad gift. It seemed like a hopeless cause. The Goodmund children circled up and whispered to one another. “If they weren’t going to expel the pixies,” said Sophia. “I’d give them back the paintbrush and good riddance.”
“Wait a minute,” said Eli. “Did Aria say the fairies were playing a trick on you?”
“No, but she said the gift was bad.”
“That doesn’t sound like something the fairies would do.”
“You know, maybe you’re right,” said Sophia. She turned back to Regina. “Why did you give me your magic paintbrush?”
Regina turned very red and very angry. “I didn’t give it to you!” she spluttered. “Those naughty pixies stole it and gave it to you in my name. I would never have given you something so precious.”
“Oh dear!” Sophia felt terrible. She held out the paintbrush to Regina. “I don’t want it. Here, you can have it back. Please don’t banish the pixies.”
Regina took the paintbrush and looked mollified, but still she said firmly. “I cannot have their mischief in Fairydell any longer.”
The Goodmund children turned to one another and shrugged hopelessly. “What are we going to do?” said Eli. “This was a very mean trick for the pixies to play.”
“Yes,” agreed Sophia. “But it would be so sad if they left.”
“How do we convince Regina to give them another chance?” Jude asked. He always liked the pixies better than the fairies, but he would never say it out loud.
Suddenly, Sophia had a thought. She rain to her rock and found all the paintings she’d made with the magic paintbrush. She also found a few of the paintings she’d made herself without the help of the magic paintbrush. She scurried back to where her brothers were talking to Regina. “Look at these,” Sophia said. She held up two paintings. Each was a painting of the same fairy. “Which one do you like better?” Regina instantly pointed to the painting that had been made with the magic paintbrush.
“But,” said Sophia. “What if I told you I didn’t a paint this one? What if I told you I painted the other one? Even if it has mistakes, which one would you rather have as a gift from me? Something I made myself? Or something someone else made, even if it is better?”
Regina thought a moment. “I suppose,” she said reluctantly. “I’d rather have the one you made yourself.”
Sophia nodded as she rolled up the paintings. “When you think about Fairydell, would you rather have a Fairydell without pixies, even if it is more peaceful? Or would you rather have a Fairydell with pixies, even if they are full of mischief?”
Regina crossed her arms. “I’d rather have a peaceful Fairydell with no pixies.”
Eli looked at Sophia soberly. He patted her shoulder, telling her silently that she had done her best. But Sophia was not finished. “What if you knew that the other creatures would miss the pixies? What would you do if the lilysmuds and the porskews and all the other creatures thought the pixies should stay? Even if it’s not without mischief, would you want them to be unhappy?”
Regina thought more. “I don’t think anyone else would miss the pixies.”
“Let’s ask!” said Sophia. Before Regina could do anything, the Goodmund children went around to all the creatures and asked what sort of Fairydell they wanted: One with pixies or one without pixies. It was a unanimous decision. Every creature agreed that even though the pixies always got into trouble, they thought Fairydell would be rather boring without them. But everyone agreed they wished the pixies behaved better.
At this same time, Aria was giving her brothers and sisters a stern talking to. She had seen firsthand the sort of trouble their tricks had caused. She told them about how the Goodmund children had been irritated with one another for a time and how they had had to go to the Grand Mushroom for help. The pixies felt very bad and decided to send Aria to talk to Regina.
Aria apologized to Regina on behalf of all the pixies. Regina was still hurt by what they had done, but decided she would forgive them. As a peace offering, all the pixies brought crushed lavender to the fairies. Lavendar was the fairies favorite ingredient for their spa mud. Fairies were seen shaking hands with the pixies and laughter and singing could be heard from the tops of the trees.
The perfect paintings of pixies and fairies that Sophia had made with the magic paintbrush were hung up in the glade of the fairies and the fairies decided to host a dance party for all the Fairydell creatures—including the pixies. They made sure to have chocolate (but the fairies did not eat any because it made their skin blotchy).
It was growing dark and the Goodmund children felt their stomachs rumbling with hunger. They said goodbye to everyone and made their way home for dinner.