A Children's Story
Dear Ms Mouttet's Kindergarten class,
This is a true story I heard from a group of very peculiar penguins when I was visiting the South of Argentina several weeks ago. Penguins, as you may know, are very strange but very clever creatures, and know a lot about the world. They probably know more about the happenings of Trinidad even than YOU do!
As such, they witnessed a very strange happening between two friends, one a raccoon, and the other a rabbit, who had travelled far from home for an adventure.
This is their story.
Once upon a time there lived a Raccoon and a Rabbit in a small corner of a quiet forest.
All the animals in the forest thought that they were the perfect pair. Raccoon was especially handsome since the dark circles around his eyes were darker than any other raccoon in the forest, and he made sure to trim his tail into just the right amount of bushiness.
Rabbit had the shiniest teeth in the whole forest, and she was very careful to keep them pearly white. She ate only the freshest vegetables, and brushed them 10 times a day so that they shone like diamonds.
One day while drinking a cup of tea, Raccoon turned to Rabbit and said, "This forest is very nice Rabbit, but I am soooo bored! I think it's time for an adventure!"
Rabbit sipped her tea slowly, making sure not to get any stains on her shiny teeth.
"I was thinking the exact same thing!" she said, "And I know just the place to go!"
So off they went. They sold their cosy little treehouse and their fancy china tea set, and set off for an adventure!
They travelled very far, and came to a large city on the other side of the world!
"Well this is certainly beautiful!" said Rabbit, smiling a big smile that showed her bright front teeth. "I think this will be a great adventure!"
"Hmm," said Raccoon, squinting his eyes into the distance so that they seemed to disappear in the black circles around his face, "Looks like we're in for a big storm! We should find some shelter."
The two friends searched and searched but there was no room anywhere for them to hide from the storm. The wind blew stronger and stronger, and they felt it begin to pick them up off their feet.
"Hold on tight!" yelled Raccoon as he grabbed Rabbits hands. But no matter how hard they grasped, the wind was too strong and picked them up, and threw them far away up into the air.
"Rabbit!" shouted Raccoon.
"Raccoon!" shouted Rabbit.
But it was too late. They were seperated by the storm and blown to opposite sides of the land.
When he woke up, Raccoon found his face covered in sand. He was on a beach surrounded by the strangest looking creatures he had ever seen, but with no Rabbit!
The animals were penguins, but since Raccoon was from the northern part of the world, he had never seen such birds before. Luckily for him, these were a special group of penguins, called Magellinic penguins, who left their homes every morning to travel the whole world, and come back every night to tell the others what they had seen. Because of this, they were very wise, and knew most everything that happened from the North pole to the South.
But Raccoon did not know this. He was just too worried about his friend Rabbit.
"Have you seen a Rabbit around here?" he asked them slowly, "She has a fluffly cotton tail, and big shiny teeff" He said as he pointed to his butt and then to his teeth.
The penguins just stared at him and Raccoon was sure they didn't speak his language. But then a very peculiar thing began to happen. One especially fat penguin came waddling up to Raccoon and began to sing in a strange voice.
"Over mountian high and babbling brook,
That is where you'll have to look,
Through jungles dark, and sands like fire,
to find the friend that you desire."
Soon, all the penguins were singing this song merrily and began pushing Raccoon away from the beach and onto the great big grasslands, waving goodbye as they continued singing their funny little song.
"Well, that was very strange!" thought Raccoon. "What very strange creatures they were indeed!"
Knowing that doing nothing would certainly not help him find his friend, he began walking in the direction the penguins had pointed to him.
Soon he came upon a large farm. In the farm, behind a gate were a bunch of horses, and just outside the gate was another strange looking animal he had never seen before. It looked like a strange mix between a sheep and a horse, like it couldnt decide what it wanted to be more. It was, of course, a llama, another animal that only lived in the South. The horses were laughing at the llama with loud neighing guffaws.
"Hmph!" said the llama as he stormed away from the fence, "I'll show them!"
"What will you show them?" asked Raccoon politely, curious about this strange animal he had never seen before, and wanting to know a bit more.
"It has always been my dream to be a great cowboy's horse!" said the llama, "But as I am not a horse, they refuse to let me try. Still, I know this land far better than any of those horses. I would never let my rider get lost, or thirsty, or hungry! I would be the best cowboy companion in the whole land!"
"Well then," said Raccoon, who had just had a fabulous idea, "Why don't you let me ride you. I will be your cowboy! I am looking for my friend and a group of penguins told me to look for her Over the Mountains... do you know where the mountains are?"
"Of course I do!" shouted the llama excitedly, "Hop on! I'll be the very best horse-that-wasn't-really-a-horse that you've ever seen!"
And with that Raccoon jumped on top of the llama, yelled "Yeehaw!" and they galloped westwards into the sunset.
After many days of riding through the grasslands, Raccoon and his trusty llama came across the terrifyingly large mountains.
"Oh my!" cried Raccoon, "These mountains are so very big! How am I ever going to be able to search them all?"
"I don't know," replied the llama, "I only know the plains, not the mountains. But I think I remember there was a path over there that you could start on."
The llama pointed out the path with his nose and Raccoon jumped off to begin his climb.
"Thank you ever so much, Mr. Llama. You really are the greatest horse-that-wasn't-a-horse I've ever met."
"It was my pleasure!" replied the llama grinning the biggest grin, so that even his back teeth were showing. "Now I can go back and boast to the other horses that I am as good as they are!"
And with that, he turned around and galloped away, with Raccoon waving goodbye.
"Well. Best be starting the climb!"
It took Raccoon a long time to climb the first mountain, and when he finally got to the top he was very tired, so he sat on what he thought was a soft bush to rest.
"Phew! That was a long climb." he sighed.
"It certainly was," said a high pitched voice behind him, "Too bad you dont have wings, then it would be a breeze."
Raccoon was so scared he almost jumped right off the mountain. He turned around to find himself face to face with the largest bird he had ever seen! He had accidentally sat on its nest, and began to apologise.
"I am so sorry!" he begged. "I didn't mean to bother you."
"No worries," replied the bird as he began cleaning his giant black wings, "I was just going out to look for some dinner, but it looks like dinner has come to me instead. Although... you are a very strange looking creature. I dont think I've eaten something like you before. I wonder what you taste like."
Raccoon was very afraid, but he was also very clever. As quickly as possible, he bit the bird on its leg with his sharp teeth.
"OWW!" yelped the bird. "Now you've made me mad. Time to eat you and be done with it!"
"I wouldn't do that if I were you," said Raccoon calmly, "You may not know this, but I am one of the most poisionous animals in the North. Very soon you'll be dead from the bite I just gave you. BUT... if you help me I can cure the poison, and you'll be fine. Your choice."
Even though this was a lie that Raccon had told, the bird did not know, since he had no idea what sort of creature the Raccoon was to begin with. He began to squawk and scream in panic. Finally he calmed down and said, "Ok, ok. I'll help you. Just cure this poison fast!"
"Well," said the Raccoon, "I am looking for my friend Rabbit. I met a group of penguins who told me to search 'Over mountain high and babbling brook'. I am on the highest mountain and I cannot see her. Do you have any idea where she is?"
"Absolutely not." said the bird in a huff, but then he soon remembered the poison and continued, "Although, I do know where there is a great brook that loves to babble. I am a Condor, you see, and I can see better than most animals in the whole world. You may not be able to see it, but ther is a great river far across the horizon. Perhaps if I fly you there you can find your friend, and in return you can heal my leg."
Raccoon thought about this for a while. He decided it was a good idea, if only to get as far away from this giant bird as possible. He didn't want to turn into dinner just yet!
"Ok," he said, "It's a deal."
So the Condor unfurled his giant wings flapped once, twice, three times and then took off into the air with Raccoon gently held in his great big claws.
The Condor dropped Raccoon off at the edge of a massive waterfall. Raccoon licked his leg and said, "There! The poison is cured. A deal is a deal!"
"Thank you so much." said the Condor. "From now on I am going to be very careful about what I eat." And off he flew, back to his nest.
"Oh no! That reminds me of Rabbit." sighed Raccoon, "She is always so careful about what she eats. I hope she is ok."
"Rabbit?" growled a large voice that seemed to come from the waterfall itself, "I only just saw a Rabbit not two days ago!"
Raccoon did not know where the voice was coming from, but got very excited about the chance that Rabbit was close by.
"Who said that? Where are you? And where is Rabbit?" he asked all at once.
"I am the spirit of Iguazu, also known as Great Water. I rule the whole forest from the desert to plains. And I have seen your friend Rabbit very recently pass through my jungles. She was happily eating all the fresh fruits from my trees." roared the waterfall Iguazu.
Aha! thought Raccoon, This must be the Babbling brook that the penguins talked about. I must be getting close.
The waterfall continued to babble on, chatting about the weather, and how much he liked the rain, and which were his favorite coloured butterflies, and so on and so forth. Raccoon wanted to be polite but was just too excited to listen!
"Excuse me, Great Water Iguazu, I hate to interrupt you, but can you help me find my friend. Which direction did she go in? The penguins told me I needed to Climb mountain high, cross babbling brook, jungle deep and sands like fire. I have climbed the highest mountains, crossed this babbling brook... and this is certainly a deep jungle," said Raccoon pointing at the tall trees, "but where is the desert? I cannot see anything but green for miles!"
"Hmmmmmmm," the waterfall murmered, "Yes, indeed. You would certainly get lost in my forests. A problem indeed."
Just then dozens of butterflies began fluttering around him, landing on his bushy tail and tickling his black eyelashes.
"These are my friends," growled the waterfall, "They will lead you through the jungles and to the desert. Goodbye and goodluck!"
"You too, Iguazu!" waved Raccoon, "I hope you get all the rain you wish for!"
"Hmmmm," sighed the waterfall dreamily, "I hope so too."
And with that Raccoon headed through the thick jungles, following a trail of blue and white butterflies.
Raccoon followed the butterflies for a long time through the jungles of Iguazu, until he reached the very edge of the desert. There was sand for miles and miles. The butterflies swirled around his head and then flew away, back to the deep jungles.
"Thanks a lot," he waved. He touched the edge of the desert with his toes.
"Ouch!" he yelped, "It's so hot! The penguins were right. It is like fire! How am I going to cross this to find Rabbit. I will burn my feet so badly!"
He sat at the edge and thought and thought.
He looked around and saw lying on the edge of the forest a long plank of dried wood.
"Aha!" he said out loud. "I've got an idea!"
He took some vines from the trees and tied them around the wood like straps and stuck his feet in, making sure it was firm and tight. Then he grabbed a large banana leaf and held it up like a sail. He shuffled over to the edge of the desert and looked down at the large sand dunes. He made a loud whooping sound and pushed off the top, surfing down the sand like a wave!
"Woooo! This is fun!" he shouted as he felt the warm desert breeze blow through his fur as he sped down the sand, pulled by the wind with his large leaf sail.
Very soon, he spied in the distance a little green drop in the middle of the yellow sand. It was an oasis, a pool of water in the middle of the desert.
"I should stop for a drink." he thought. So he curved his sail, and turned his makeshift boat towards the oasis.
There he found a little pool of water surrounded by tall palm trees giving shade. And guess what else? Rabbit! There she was lying down on the waters edge taking a nap, looking as happy as can be.
"Rabbit!" Raccoon yelled happily, waving his arms in glee.
Rabbit opened her eyes and a smile flashed across her face, her two front teeth shiny as ever.
"Raccoon!" she laughed back.
"Oh my!" said Raccoon, "I've looked for you everywhere!"
And he excitedly told her the story of the penguins and the llama, and the condor and the butterflies. Rabbit giggled happily.
"Well, I've been looking for you too. But now we are finally back together, so now we can actually start our adventure!"
"Start?" asked Raccoon, "Trying to find you was an adventure in itself! I need a rest!"
"True!" laughed Rabbit, "And this is the perfect place to do it."
And so Raccoon and Rabbit relaxed at the edge of the oasis, swimming and playing and napping in the shade of the palm trees for a long time. After a while, Rabbit turned to Raccoon and said,
"This oasis is very nice, Raccoon, but I am in the mood for an adventure."
"I was thinking the exact same thing," Raccoon replied, "And I know just the place to go!"
And so, the two friends set off together for another exciting adventure.