Hooty owl was puzzled. No one had come to the jungle school. “Maybe the little ones are late,” thought the teacher. “I’ll wait for a little while longer.”

Hooty owl did not know that her students had decided to miss school. They had started out for school but then changed their minds.

“I am NOT going to school. I hate it,” said Squeaky squirrel.

“I’m feeling lazy and so I’m NOT going to school,” said Hoppy rabbit .

The Holiday [Illustrations by Sudheer Nath]
The Holiday [Illustrations by Sudheer Nath]

“I am NOT going to school because I cannot bear to sit still even for a minute,” said Jumpy monkey.

“My friends are not going to school so I, too, am NOT going,” squeaked Squealy mouse.

`S-a-m-e here,” said Croaky frog. “If the others are not going, I am also NOT hopping to school.”

“And I want to chase a worm I spotted some time ago so I am NOT flying to school,” sang Chirpy sparrow.

“I woke up late so I have decided NOT to crawl to school,” said Slowy snail.

“But I am going to school,” said Wily turtle, and he started off at a slow and relaxed pace. He liked school. It was fun learning about things he didn’t know.

Slowly Wily turtle made his way to school and saw Hooty owl the teacher waiting patiently for her pupils.

“Good morning, Ma’am!” said Wily turtle.

“A very good morning to you too,” replied Hooty. “Where are the others?”

“They must be on their way, Ma’am,” said the little turtle.

But no one came. So Hooty owl shared many secrets with Wily turtle, like why the sky was blue, and also why each of the animals looked different and had special habits of eating and catching food. The teacher had decided that she would test her bunking students the next day.

At that very moment the truant students were were sitting under a huge shady tree merrily digging into their tiffin boxes.

Hoppy rabbit bit into a juicy carrot and cabbage rolls.

Squeaky squirrel crunched hard walnuts.

Jumpy monkey gorged bananas.

Squealy mouse munched grains.

Croaky frog gobbled up all the flies nearby.

Slowy snail ate soft leaves.

And Chirpy sparrow ate the early worm he had finally caught in the morning.

They were so busy laughing at their jokes that they did not realise it was
time to go home! Then they saw Wily turtle and that meant school was over. They, too, decided to return to their homes. None of them saw the worried look on Wily’s face.

The little turtle was a bit worried. Hooty Ma’am had looked grim at the end of the
class! Maybe he should bunk school the next day!

“So what did you do today, oh Wise One?” mocked Hoppy rabbit.

“Your thinking power HAS grown today,” giggled Jumpy monkey. “Make way
for the B-I-I-G one!”

“Ask us any question and we will show you that there is no need to go to
school. We know everything!” boasted Squeaky squirrel. “Nobody learns from boring speeches.”

“Okay!” said Wily turtle. “What comes first. Thunder or lightning?”

“Thunder!” shouted Hoppy rabbit and Squeaky squirrel.

“No, they come together!” said Jumpy monkey.

“Don’t know!” confessed Squealy mouse. “I hide inside and
close my ears!”

“Never noticed!” chirped Chirpy sparrow.

“Lightening!” croaked Croaky frog.

“Croaky’s right. But, can you tell me why lightning is seen before thunder is heard?” asked Wily turtle.

“How would I know? That was just a wild guess!” said Croaky sheepishly.

“It is because light travels faster than sound,” replied Wily turtle.

“Okay, one more question. Does lion eat grass?” he asked.

“Don’t be silly!” retorted Squeaky squirrel.

“The lion is a carnivore. He eats us, oh dimwitted one!” said Hoppy rabbit

“What a stupid question!” said Jumpy monkey.

Wily turtle looked at the others.

“We’re thinking!” said Chirpy sparrow and Slowly snail.

“Lions do eat grass!” Wily replied. “Suppose a lion eats a deer that had fed on grass. So the lion, too, has grass inside his stomach!”

Now the questions came really fast.

“Why is Croaky’s tongue different from ours?”

Croaky was astonished! What was unique about his tongue?

“His tongue grabs insects,” said Squealy mouse.

“All tongues are the same. Wet and slimy!” said Jumpy monkey.

“Croaky doesn’t lick anything, he only gulps!” said Squeaky squirrel.

" Croaky?” asked Wily turtle.

“I didn’t know I was a freak!” mumbled Croaky frog sadly.

“Croaky’s tongue is attached from the front,” explained Wily. “When he
sees his prey the forked sticky tongue comes out. The prey sticks to it.”

“Then musles pull my eyeballs inward to press the prey and helps me to
swallow!” croaked Croaky happily. “Whew! At least I know how I eat my

“Did Hooty ma’am teach you all this?” asked Squealy mouse in a low subdued

“Yes and much, much more,” replied Wily turtle. “But I am worried. Hooty
ma’am had a nasty gleam in her eyes when she bade me goodbye! "

They all went home with the same thought.

“I WILL go to school and learn about these secrets from Hooty Ma’am, thought Hoppy rabbit. “I do want to know about many things.”

“What if Wily asks a question about my habits and I am unable to answer right,” spoke Squealy mouse under her breath. “I WILL go to school tomorrow.”

“And I want to know more about my tongue,” shouted Croaky frog when he saw that he was alone. “So I WILL hop to school tomorrow. Imagine not knowing one’s body!”

And Chirpy remembered what Mama had told her. “Sparrows who do not know about the ways of the world get gobbled up,” she had said. “I WILL fly to school,” quavered Chirpy sparrow.

“If the slow turtle can become wise, why can’t I. After all, I am as slow as him, so I can become as wise as him as well,” reasoned Slowly snail.

But no one could sleep well that night. They were all worried about the GLEAM that Wily had seen in Hooty Ma’am’s eyes!

(ends\882 words)


1015 words | 10 minutes
Readability: Grade 3 (8-9 year old children)
Based on Flesch–Kincaid readability scores

Filed under: stories
Tags: #monkeys, #sparrows, #turtles, #rabbits, #squirrels, #mouse

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