Marilyn was invited to be part of an amazing charity event to help preserve Sayama Forest, also known as Totoro Forest, started by acclaimed director Hayao Miyazaki. The event will feature an auction which will be held at Pixar Studios! The list of artists is astounding! You can check out the Totoro Forest Project here.

For her contribution, Marilyn created this fabulous forest friend named Leif Skoggins. She asked me to help her with Leif's story, and I was more than honored to collaborate with her on this. Miyazaki is my favorite anime director, and this is a fantastic cause. So here it is, the story of Leif Skoggins. We hope you enjoy it!

Leif Skoggins was born a little different from the rest of the Skoggins of the Great Forest of the South. His features were a little bigger, more exaggerated. As he grew amongst the rest of the Skoggin toddlers, he just became bigger and bigger. Soon he was bigger than most of the adult members of the Skoggins, despite still being a youngster. The other Skoggin kids soon took to regularly belittling the giant Leif, who was now the size of the trees! One day he could not take it anymore, and packing his side satchel, he took off for the deeper, more remote, Northern Woods. A section of the forest where even the bravest of creatures would dare not roam. That suited Leif just fine, as he wanted to be alone forever more. However, the woods did not want to take part in this and the creepy old trees began to try to scare the Skoggin off. And Leif was indeed scared, but he also did not want to go back home where he would be ridiculed. So he began to cry, sobbing about all his woes. The old trees, unaccustomed to this reaction, began to feel bad, and offered Leif a leaf of their own. The Skoggin graciously accepted their offer and blew his nose. Afterwards Leif and the trees told each other stories and shared hot cocoa with marshmallows and toast with some maple butter.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the forest the older Skoggins were out trying to find their precious young Leif, but were forced to stop when suddenly the trees around them began falling violently. They were being chopped down by mysterious metallic monsters! The Skoggins, lifelong protectors of this forest, were helpless against these relentless monsters, and retreated underground to cry about their failures. The trees screamed in agony in a language only heard by the pure forest creatures and the wails carried all the way to the Northern Woods where Leif had been slumbering. Upon waking up, his new friends, the old trees, were crying for their fallen cousins to the south. Leif promised to help them, and in making a few giant leaps was back home in minutes. The metallic monsters stopped in their tracks at the sight of the giant Leif. The Skoggin gave out what appeared to be a single yelp of anger, but it shook out fleshy two legged creatures from the monsters! Leif ran off these scared new creatures, and the monsters became lifeless in their wake. The Southern trees gave Leif a special giant leaf to place in his hat in appreciation for what he had done. The Skoggins came out of their underground homes, and were so happy for Leif they threw a party right there and then! Even the children were impressed and dropped their name calling, except that some called him the true protector of their forest. This pleased Leif just fine, and he smiled.

Leif Skoggins is © 2008 Marilyn Patrizio