Childrens storybooks
Childrens storybooks

Stories and Fables.
by Jan Luthman

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Childrens storybooks

WINTER
MATILDA Finds a New Home

Jan Luthman
 
Jonathan and Robbit were wandering up the meadow together: at least, they were wandering as together as a rabbit and a snail can. Jonathan slid gently in between tufts of grass, while Robbit bounced happily from side to side above him. The sun was shining, but they could feel a sharpness in the air that hadn't been there the week before. 

"Winter's coming," Robbit called over his shoulder, "Autumn's almost over."

"In America," Jonathan puffed after Roland's bouncing tail, "Autumn's called Fall."

Robbit came bounding back.

"Why?" He asked, sailing over Jonathan's head.

Jonathan paused, his spectacles had fogged up and he couldn't see where he was going.

"Because," he explained, polishing his glasses slowly and carefully, "That's when the leaves fall off the trees."

Roland stopped bouncing.

"That's clever," He said, nibbling at a long green stem of grass, "Are all Americans clever?"

Jonathan finished polishing his spectacles and put them back on again. Behind the thick glasses, his eyes looked enormous.

"I expect they're just like us." He replied, and began sliding up the hill again,

"Just like us?" Robbit was impressed, "Does that mean they can talk with animals the way Farmer Jack and Mrs Katie do?"

Mrs Katie was Farmer Jack's wife. Her real name was just Katie, but everyone in the meadow called her Mrs Katie because that seemed a more respectful thing to do.

"I suppose some of them can," Jonathan was getting out of breath; he wished Robbit would stop asking questions. Instead, Robbit stopped hopping.

"Look," He said, pointing up in the air.

"Where?"

" Up there," Robbit pointed with his paw to a great big holly tree that grew next to the farmhouse.

Jonathan looked.

"Wow," He breathed.

Clustered in amongst all the dark green leaves of the holly tree were hundreds and hundreds of the brightest red berries he had ever seen. So bright, they seemed to glow in the sunlight.

"I've never seen so many on the tree before," Said Robbit.

"Going to be a cold, hard winter," Said Jonathan.

"Why?" Asked Robbit.

"I read it," Explained Jonathan, "in a book. It said that, if there's going to be a long cold winter, Nature makes sure the trees have lots of berries and nuts and acorns and things so animals won't starve."

Robbit was impressed.

"That's clever," He said. He thought for a bit then added, "is Nature American as well, then?"

"Course not," Said Jonathan, "Nature's for everyone: all of us."

In the distance, they heard the sound of the Old Farmhouse kitchen door opening: a few moments later, Farmer Jack came striding down the meadow, a great big axe in one hand.

"Hi, Farmer Jack," The two of them called.

Farmer Jack glanced across to where they stood.

"Why, hallo Robbit," He called back then, seeing the small round figure at Robbit's feet, added, "And Jonathan, too."

Farmer Jack waved his axe in the air.

"I'm off to cut some logs for the fire," He said, "it's going to be a cold winter this year."

"See?" Jonathan hissed at Robbit, nudging his paw, "I told you."

Robbit and Jonathan watched as Farmer Jack strode off towards the woods.

"You'll have to dig yourself a nice deep burrow, Robbit," Farmer Jack called out over his shoulder, "and you'll need to find yourself a large warm pile of leaves, Jonathan. Why don't you try under the old oak tree?"

The old oak stood at the edge of the meadow, on the way down towards the little stream at the bottom. Nobody knew exactly how old the tree was, not even Jonathan, and he knew more than anyone. It had been there for ever and ever, perhaps even longer than the Old Farmhouse itself. It was all twisted and craggy with age, and one of its branches was missing, blown down in a great storm years ago. On one side, as high as Farmer Jack's shoulder, the bark had been rubbed completely off by horses and cows scratching their backs against it during long, hot summers. For hundreds of years, the old oak tree had been home to many of the creatures that lived in the meadow - it was like an old and trusted friend.

"It's lost all it's leaves," Said Robbit, "They've fallen off."

"Yes," Agreed Jonathan, "But they haven't gone far. They're all underneath: on the ground."

And so they were. On the ground underneath the old oak, in amongst its roots, lay piles and piles of golden brown leaves. Jonathan nosed carefully under a large heap of them: they smelt all musty, warm and damp.

"M'mm," He breathed happily, "That's nice."

Jonathan turned round and pushed his way out into the sunlight again.

"I like it in there, Robbit," He said, "it's all soft and warm and just a little bit damp."

But there was no answer.

Jonathan gazed around, looking for his friend: but there was no-one there.

"Robbit?" Jonathan called out, puzzled.

All of a sudden, Robbit's head popped up out of the ground beside him.

Jonathen jumped.

"I do wish you wouldn't do that," He said crossly, "You know it upsets me when you bounce up out of nowhere like that."

Robbit brushed bits of earth off his fur.

"It's nice here," He said, flicking more earth out of his ears with his paw, "The ground's all soft and easy to dig."

"And the leaves are all soft and warm and damp," Said Jonathan dreamily.

Robbit yawned.

"Funny how when it gets cold it makes you sleepy."

"Nature does that," Jonathan began another explanation, "When it's a cold winter, you sleep all through it. It's called hibernating."

"Oh," Said Robbit, too tired to be impressed again: all he really wanted to do was curl up in his cosy new burrow.

Jonathan turned and began to slide back under his pile of leaves.

"I'm tired," He announced, "G'night, Robbit."

"G'night, Jonathan," Robbit rubbed his eyes sleepily, "See you in the Spring."

Don`t forget to click on the thumbnails for full size pictures!!!

Chapter 2

 
The MeadowThe Old Farmhouse
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