In a large marshy swamp in South Africa lived a colony of frogs – happy frogs. The marsh was surrounded by tall weeds, dirt and muck, which attracted lots of flies. Every moment was mealtime for the frogs. It was a happy life, all fun and play.

Leapfrog was their favourite game. The younger frogs were dared to jump over a line of frogs from one end to the other end. Each time a young one managed to clear the jump, she or he would be added to the line — until the jumper fell on the last one, when the game ended.

It was a good life, especially since there were no storks or snakes nearby to trouble them or simply swallow them.

But the younger frogs were not satisfied. They wanted a different life. In their social studies lessons in the frog school, they had read about ideas such as democracy. It would be so nice if they, too, could vote for the leader of their choice – a people’s leader who would listen to their problems and desires.

Henri, the boldest of the younger frogs, scolded the older frogs for not electing a leader from among them. At first the older frogs were totally against the idea.

“Why do we need a leader?” they asked. But the younger ones croaked so loudly that the older frogs relented. “Okay, let’s choose a leader. But how do we choose one when all frogs are equal here?” So they thought and thought.

At last a smart little frog called Toady piped up: “Let’s ask God to send us a king.” All the frogs were overjoyed. “Yeah, let’s ask God,” they croaked.

So the frogs went to God in leaps and bounds. “God!” they cried, “we demand to be ruled by a great leader. Send us a leader who can put our lives in order.”

The Frog King [Illustration by Sudheer Nath]
The Frog King [Illustration by Sudheer Nath]

God was amused by their demand and to humour them threw a huge dead log in the swamp. The log came crashing into the swamp making a tremendous splash. The noise was so great it frightened the frogs silly. Scared that it was a monster, they hid among the weeds.

But Henri, who was slightly braver, got over his fright and gingerly stepped into the water. No, the monster didn’t move. He waded in up to his neck. Still it didn’t move. Slowly, with only his nose out of water, he swam towards the log. He sniffed all around it and when it didn’t bite, pushed at it with his arms.

By now the other frogs had all come out of hiding and were swimming towards the log. Meanwhile, Henri had clambered onto the log. He hopped all over and satisfied himself it was not a dangerous monster.

Then, the naughty frog that he was, he started dancing on it. Soon, the other frogs, too, hopped onto the log and danced merrily. Hopping on and off and jumping over and across became their favourite game for a few days.

Soon they tired of this game and went about their business of catching flies without giving the log any notice.

But Henri and his friends still wanted a leader. So they sent up a second appeal to God asking for a real leader this time. This made God very angry. These frogs are very stupid creatures and not happy with their freedom. I must teach them a lesson, he said to himself.

He called in Kiki the stork. Originally from Europe, she had fled to Africa because there weren’t any clean fish in the waters where she had lived all her life. The last time an oil tanker drowned, spiling all the oil, the fish died. And Kiki became a skeleton without any food.

So when God asked her to go to South Africa, she was more than ready. Anything to get away from hunger, thought Kiki. She was overjoyed at the sight of thousands of frogs in the swamp. There were so many that she circled over them for one hour before she could find space to land.

Within the first day she had gobbled up Henri, Toady, Duke, Patsy and Peter for these were the most naughty frogs. Since they were very eager to see what a real leader looked like, they were the first to end up in Kiki’s stomach.

At the end of the week, Kiki’s stomach contained at least a hundred frogs and she became so fat she could hardly fly! The frogs hopped here and there trying to escape her. They wept and sobbed at their foolishness. They croaked, “better no rule than this cruel rule”.

But it was too late. Kiki was there to stay.

792 words | 7 minutes
Readability: Grade 4 (9-10 year old children)
Based on Flesch–Kincaid readability scores

Filed under: folktales
Tags: #africa, #stomach, #monster, #frogs

You may also be interested in these:
How Can We Correct Crooked Teeth?
Squirrelling it Away
Wheatears living in Greenland are larger than those found further south. Be...
Greed Never Pays
Can Frog Fly?