Your Homework this week is to read these three stories from around the world. Then, choose your favourite one and read it to a parent, sibling or friend. When you have finished, write down some questions about the story that you have chosen on the back to bring in to class. Happy reading!
How the Elephant Got His Trunk
Legend has it that the elephant never used to have a trunk. Instead he had a blackish, bulgy nose, as big as a boot, that he could wriggle about from side to side. He couldn’t pick up anything with his useless nose. But one day, there was a new elephant. An elephant’s child was born. He was different in the way that he was full of insatiable curiosity. He wondered why the ostrich’s tail feathers were just so, and the giraffe, why he had spotty skin. Next he asked the hippopotamus why her eyes were red. And so the elephant’s child continued to worry all the animals with countless questions. He asked questions about everything that he saw, or heard, or felt, or smelt, or touched. The most frustrating unknown for this elephant child was the mysterious question: what does the crocodile have for dinner? He finally stumbled across a Kolokolo bird who said with a mournful cry, “Go to the banks of the great grey-green greasy Limpopo River, all set about with fever trees, and find out.” And so the elephant’s child set off, taking with him a hundred pounds of bananas (the little short red kind), and a hundred pounds of sugar-cane (the long purple kind), and seven melons (the green-crackly kind). As he went, eating melons, he threw the rind about with his useless nose. Finally he made it to the banks of the great grey-green, greasy Limpopo River, all set about the fever trees, precisely as Kolokolo bird had said. Bear in mind that till that very week, and day, and hour, and minute, the elephant’s child had never seen a crocodile. And finally he asked an unknown creature (the crocodile himself) the question which he hoped to finally relieve himself of, “What does the crocodile have for dinner?” The crocodile winked one eye as the elephant’s child came closer. He put his head down close to the crocodile’s musky, tusky mouth and the crocodile caught him by his little nose and said between his teeth “I think today I will begin with an elephant’s child”. The elephant sat back on his haunches and pulled, and pulled, and pulled against the crocodile’s tug. His nose began to stretch and stretch. The crocodile threshed his tail like an oar, and he pulled, and pulled, and pulled, and at each pull the elephant’s child’s nose grew longer, and longer, and it hurt! Eventually the crocodile let go of the elephant’s nose with a plop that you could hear all up and down the Limpopo River. The elephant’s child waited three days for his trunk to shrink, but it never grew any shorter, and, besides, it made him squint. At the end of the third day a fly stung him on his shoulder, and before he knew it he lifted up his trunk and hit that fly dead. Vantage one. He plucked large bundles of grass and stuffed them into his mouth. Vantage two. He then schlooped up a schloop of mud from the banks and slapped it on his head, where it made a cool schloopy-sloshy mud-cap all trickly behind his ears. Vantage three. And so with the many vantages provided by this extended trunk- elephants never missed their old blackish, bulgy noses, as big as a boot, that they could wriggle about from side to side.
The Tortoise and The Hare
Once upon a time, in a field not too far from you, there was an energetic and happy hare and a sleepy tortoise.
The happy hare was called Noel and the sleepy tortoise was called Archibald. Archibald the tortoise liked to sit and munch his dinner slowly, whilst Noel the hare would gobble up his dinner and run round and round Archibald until he was dizzy.
One day, they had an argument…
“I am the fastest animal in the whole wide world,” said Noel. “I’m faster than a cheeky cheetah, a kicking kangaroo and a racing rabbit,” he boasted.
“Oh do be quiet,” sighed Archibald. “You are so full of yourself! If you’re not careful you’ll come to a sticky end…”
“Where’s sticky end then,” asked Noel. “Is it far from here?”
Archibald rolled his eyes and carried on munching on some tasty lettuce leaves.
“Oh you two do stop arguing,” said a blackbird as he flew past.
“No, this is serious,” said Noel the hare. “I will prove to you all that I’m the fastest animal in the whole wide world“
“OK,” said Archibald the tortoise. “I’ll race you then!”
Noel the hare laughed his head off.
“Just you wait and see,” said Archibald. “I’ll get Wallace the wise old owl to organise a race for us…”
Wallace the wise old owl arranged the race for the next day. All the animals in the field put on their best clothes, groomed their fur, picked up a flag to wave and got ready to cheer the tortoise and the hare on.
“On your marks… Get set… Go!” Called Wallace… And the race was off!
Slowly, slowly Archibald the tortoise set off and quickly, quickly Noel the hare raced off and soon he was out of sight. In fact, he was so far ahead that, when he looked back, Archibald the tortoise was nowhere to be seen.
“Gosh,” Noel thought. “I’ve more or less won all ready! I think I’ll just have a little nap under this tree, it’s such a hot day”. Noel the hare was soon fast asleep.
Meanwhile, Archibald the tortoise ambled along slowly enjoying the sun on his shell and taking the odd nibble of grass from time to time. On and on and on and on and on and on he plodded. He plodded past the oak tree, he plodded past the bridge, he plodded past the cow shed, he even plodded past Noel the hare who was still snoring under the tree. He plodded on until he came to the finishing line where Wallace the wise old owl and all the other animals in the field were gathered. All the animals clustered around Archibald cheering and shouting:
“Well done! Well done! You’re the winner!”
All the noise woke Noel the hare up with a start.
“Oh my! Oh my! What’s going on? What’s all that noise? Never mind. I’d better finish the race then I can go and have my dinner,” he thought.
Noel the hare raced off down the hill towards the finishing line. But when he got there, to his horror, he saw Archibald the tortoise with a gold winner’s medal around his neck.
“This can’t be right! He must have cheated,’ cried Noel the hare. “Everyone knows I’m faster than him!”
“Archibald the tortoise didn’t cheat,” said Wallace the wise old owl. “He has won fair and square. Slowly and surely, never giving up, Archibald passed the finishing line first. Sorry Noel old chap, but you’ve lost this race. Let that be a lesson to you – slow and steady wins the race!”
Noel the hare looked very unhappy and sulky. Archibald the tortoise felt sorry for him and tried to cheer him up…
“Cheer up Noel, it was only a race,” Archibald said. “I’m sure you’ll win the next one. And I’d rather we were still friends than win every race under the sun.”
And from that day on they became the best of friends and Noel the hare never boasted again.
Why Anansi Has Eight Thin Legs
Once upon a time, a long time ago, there lived a spider named Anansi. Anansi’s wife was a very good cook. But always, Anansi loved to taste the food that others in the village made for themselves and for their families.
One day, he stopped by Rabbit’s house. Rabbit was his good friend.
“There are greens in your pot,” cried Anansi excitedly. Anansi loved greens.
“They are not quite done,” said Rabbit. “But they will be soon. Stay and eat with me.”
“I would love to, Rabbit, but I have some things to do,” Anansi said hurriedly. If he waited at Rabbit’s house, Rabbit would certainly give him jobs to do. “I know,” said Anansi. “I’ll spin a web. I’ll tie one end around my leg and one end to your pot. When the greens are done, tug on the web, and I’ll come running!”
Rabbit thought that was a great idea. And so it was done.
“I smell beans,” Anansi sniffed excitedly as he ambled along. “Delicious beans, cooking in a pot.”
“Come eat our beans with us,” cried the monkeys. “They are almost done.”
“I would love to Father Monkey,” said Anansi. And again, Anansi suggested he spin a web, with one end tied around his leg, and one end tied to the big bean pot.
Father Monkey thought that was a great idea. All his children thought so, too. And so it was done.
“I smell sweet potatoes,” Anansi sniffed happily as he ambled along. “Sweet potatoes and honey, I do believe!”
“Anansi,” called his friend Hog. “My pot is full of sweet potatoes and honey! Come share my food with me.”
“I would love to,” said Anansi. And again, Anansi suggested he spin a web, with one end tied around his leg, and one end tied to the sweet potato pot.
His friend Hog thought that was a great idea. And so it was done.
By the time Anansi arrived at the river, he had one web tied to each of his eight legs.
“This was a wonderful idea,” Anansi told himself proudly. “I wonder whose pot will be ready first?”
Just then, Anansi felt a tug at his leg. “Ah,” said Anansi. “That is the web string tied to Rabbit’s greens.” He felt another. And another. Anansi was pulled three ways at once.
“Oh dear,” said Anansi as he felt the fourth web string pull.
Just then, he felt the fifth web string tug. And the sixth. And the seventh. And the eighth. Anansi was pulled this way and that way, as everyone pulled on the web strings at once. His legs were pulled thinner and thinner. Anansi rolled and tugged himself into the river. When all the webs had washed away, Anansi pulled himself painfully up on shore.
“Oh my, oh my,” sighed Anansi. “Perhaps that was not such a good idea after all.”
To this day, Anansi the Spider has eight very thin legs. And he never got any food that day at all.