The Bear’s Tale – Lantern Forest stories for children
The Bear’s Tale
You’re not lost, are you?
You can’t be looking for us… unless… Terry! Terry! Get down here. Did you order a child? No? Oh, well then. That can mean only one thing.
Not many children wander into a bear’s cave on their own. Not many of your sort are brave enough.
So you must be here for the stories. Although I must say, you are a little bit lucky Terry had a meal earlier. Us bears are good at two things, eating and telling stories.
It might be best if we made this a quick story. Terry may have eaten today but Florence hasn’t.
Now where were we? Oh yes, a story.
It just so happened that the bears of Lantern Forest didn’t always live here. Not so many years ago we had a very nice home up in the mountains. The air was clean, the snow was clean – everything was clean except the stream which ran past our cave.
And that would have been clean too if it wasn’t for all the fish who swam there.
That’s right. Fish. In our stream. Can you imagine? They didn’t ask if they could swim there, they just barged in from some other where.
At first we didn’t mind too much. Us bears are very polite, you must have heard about how polite bears are. You haven’t? Oh. Well, I suppose they don’t teach much of anything at schools these days.
Whatever you MAY have heard, we are polite. So when the fish first came swimming upstream past our cave we waved to them and tried to shake paws just to show how polite and friendly us bears can be.
Fish, however, are not as friendly as bears and this bunch were less friendly than most.
Terry, or was it Florence? I forget now but both are as nice as bears can be. Well I remember how one of them was shocked, quite shocked as the fish jumped, yes, JUMPED, out of the friendly paw and swam fast-as-you-like, upstream.
That’s just rude, don’t you think? Of course now we know that’s why folk say “rude as fish” but we hadn’t heard that before.
What? You’ve never heard that said? Oh well.
Where was I?
Fish. Yes. Thank you.
Well the next time we saw the fish swim past, this time they were swimming DOWNSTREAM. That’s right. The first bunch of fish must have told all their friends that there was a lovely stream to play in.
Friendly as we were, it was still our stream and a bear likes to be asked. You wouldn’t just lie down in our cave with us now would you? No. I’m glad I can see you shaking your head. All the children who visit us think that way. You aren’t rude. Not like those fish.
Still, we tried once more to be polite and to invite the largest, juiciest fish into our mountain cave to have a chat beside the fire. They didn’t like this. Not a single one.
Told you, rude as fish.
So the next time we saw those fish we decided that enough was enough.
Very calmly, very politely, we waded into the stream (OUR STREAM) and tried to shoo the fish away. Go back to your own stream, we said. We are trying to keep this place clean.
Do you know what the fish did? Do you know what they said?
Not a please, not a thank you, not a would-you-like-something-to-eat.
So that was that. Us bears couldn’t sit by and watch all these fish clutter up our stream, could we?
After all, where would we swim? Where would we bathe?
We agreed the best thing to do was to tidy our stream up for ourselves. Let those rude, noisy fish walk home. The stream was for us.
Well, by this time they were coming through in their hundreds and we had a right old job taking out all the fish to keep things clean. It was a big enough job to make any bear hungry.
No, I don’t think they minded. Not really. If those fish had manners then they would have let us eat a few of them anyway. We aren’t greedy. They would have been more than welcome to help themselves to our food if they had been more friendly.
Now, you would think that after a while these fish would take the hint and get lost.
It took a long long time and I’m afraid to say that all of us put on a little bit of weight. It must have been muscle weight. You know, from all that exercise.
Eventually the fish did stop coming but it was too late. They had ruined the place. We couldn’t find any more food. Not even the smallest fish was left.
Bears like us can’t live on grass, you know. We had to come down to Lantern Forest.
But that’s when all the fuss began with the local village.
You people can be so loud.
What? Oh dear. Florence is hungry. You seem like a nice sort. I think perhaps you’d better be going now.
Call again any time.
Well, not any time. After lunch, maybe.
But not too close to dinner time.
After all, us bears do like children.
Lantern Forest is an idea we have been playing around with for a while. I wanted to create stories for children which were based around a set of loosely connected monologues, able to be read in any order. Characters talk to the reader and share their story as well as a view of where they are – Lantern Forest.
One day this might become an interactive book or the basis for something even more daring. For now, it is a lot of fun and yours to enjoy.
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