Mungo had gone to nearly
every house in the village, borrowing their stuffed animals. They now sat
in his living room, covering the couches, chairs, tables and every shelf,
mantle and open space there was. There were stuffed teddy bears,
dinosaurs, cats, dogs, gorillas, hippos, elephants and so much more. There
was even a twelve foot long stuffed snake, with forked tongue and all.
Mungo hoped he could remember which animals belonged with which neighbor
when it was time to return them. Ginger, the cat, walked into the living
room. She looked at the animals and walked back out of the room. Mungo
started laughing at her. "Go into the bedroom now, Ginger. The bairns are
coming any minute." Ginger did as told.
DING DONG! As the bairns
started arriving, Mungo ushered them into the living room. "Wow! Look at
all the stuffed animals," said Gavin.
"They are so cute," said
wee Fiona, picking up a stuffed polar bear and squeezing it to see how
soft it was. "Are we talking about stuffed animals today, Mr. McGee?"
"In a way," he answered,
letting the last of the bairns in. Morag ran over and picked up a stuffed
teddy bear that was pink and red. Andy found a green dinosaur with yellow
spikes down its back. Wee Hamish spotted a purple dragon. "Why donít you
each pick your favorite animal and then come and sit down by me." Gregor
selected a stuffed dog and Gavin a cat with whiskers and a fluffy tail.
"All right. Weíve all got our favorite toy, do we? Good," he said, looking
around at the bairns.
"There arenít any snacks
out, Mr. McGee," noticed Gregor.
"I know. There will be some
later. I didnít think it would be right to have you eat snacks and get
sticky fingers all over the stuffed animals. Weíll have snacks after the
story," he said. As he spoke to the bairns, Ginger snuck out of the
bedroom and climbed on the back of the couch. She hid herself among the
stuffed animals and listened quietly as Mungo spoke. "Does anyone know
where China is?" he asked.
"I do. Itís far away.
People there have dark hair and they speak a different language," said
"Thatís right, lad. Itís
very far away. There are a lot of things that growand live there that we
donít get here in Scotland. One of those things is panda bears," Mungo
said. He stood up and walked over to the table and picked up a stuffed
panda. "This," he said, sitting in his chair, "is a panda bear. It has
black legs and arms and funny black patches around its eyes."
"Itís cute," said wee
"Can I hold it?" asked
Andy. He put his dinosaur back in the pile.
"Certainly," Mungo said,
passing it to him.
"My story is about a panda.
Her name is Su-Su. Panda bears donít like to live in big groups. They like
to live all by themselves. They enjoy peace and quiet and donít want to be
bothered with other pandas. Pandas eat only one thing. Do any of you know
what pandaís eat?" Mungo asked, looking at the bairns.
"I donít know," said wee
"Do they eat frogs?" asked
"No. Not frogs," Mungo
"Do they eat rabbits?"
"No. Not rabbits," Mungo
"What do they eat then, Mr.
McGee?" Morag asked.
"They eat bamboo," he told
"Whatís bamboo?" asked wee
"Bamboo is a plant. Itís
hard and is used to make things like baskets and chairs and chopsticks.
Pandas love bamboo. They have to eat it all day long because itís the only
thing they eat. Can you imagine eating just porridge and nothing else?"
"No. I hate porridge," said
Gregor, making a face.
"Su-Su was a panda and she
ate bamboo. She lived in a bamboo forest. Sheíd sit in the bamboo and
nibble on its leaves and crunch the bamboo with her sharp teeth. She was
quite happy with her solitary little life. Even when it rained, sheíd sit
and munch on the bamboo. One day another panda bear, named Po-jong, came
into the bamboo forest. It climbed up into the bamboo and began to nibble
on some leaves. Su-Su didnít really want the other panda to be there, but
as long as it was quiet, it would be all right. The other panda bear
started to eat and Su-Su noticed that it made a terrible noise when it
chewed. All day long she listened to Po-Jong making loud crunching noises
and slurping noises as it chewed the leaves. Su-Su didnít like that at
all," Mungo said.
"Was Po-Jong a boy panda or
a girl panda?" asked Morag.
"Po-Jong was a boy panda.
He looked almost identical to Su-Su but he was a little bigger than she
was. Every time he took a bite of bamboo, he crunched it so loudly and
with his mouth wide open. Su-Su heard every bite. She spent most of the
day with her hands over her ears so she didnít have to listen to the
horrible noises Po-Jong was making," Mungo said.
"Sometimes my big brother,
Colin, slurps his soup. I donít like it when he does that," wee Hamish
"My Auntie Peggy chews with
her mouth open too. It sounds disgusting," Gavin said. Wee Fiona nodded in
"Su-Su didnít know what to
do. She had her hands over her ears to stop the noise and that meant she
wasnít eating any bamboo. By the time the sun set behind the tall rocky
mountains, Su-Su was starving. Po-Jong fell asleep once it got dark.
Finally, Su-Su was able to take her hands away from her ears and eat. She
took a bite of bamboo and started eating. ĎHey, would you stop eating so
noisily!í Po-Jong called. Su-Su stopped chewing. She wasnít chewing
noisily. She wasnít making any noise. Po-Jong is the one who makes all the
noise. She took another bite. ĎHey, you over there, panda, I can hear
every bite you take and it sounds disgusting. Close your mouth when you
eat!í Po-Jong said loudly. Su-Su made a face. She wasnít eating noisily at
all! She didnít sound disgusting! How dare he say that to her!" Mungo
Wee Fiona and wee Hamish
started to laugh. "How silly," wee Fiona giggled.
Andy, Gregor and Gavin were
laughing too. "I think it is disgusting to eat like that. What did she do
then?" Morag asked.
"Su-Su had no choice but to
move to another part of the bamboo forest, even though she was there
before Po-Jong was. So she climbed down from the bamboo and waddled away.
She came to a small river. It was a muddy river and the water didnít look
very good to drink. She could see on the other side of the river that
there were huge bamboo forests. Somehow she had to get across. She stepped
into the water. Brrrrrr. It was cold. She took another step, and then
another and soon was standing in the middle of the rushing water. She
noticed that her fur was getting all brown because of the dirty water, but
kept moving. At last she got to the other side. She shook herself off and
brown water went flying everywhere. Her pretty black and white fur was all
dirty but she was happy because she had found a new bamboo forest with no
noisy Po-Jong. She climbed into the bamboo and quickly fell asleep. When
the sun rose the next morning, Su-Su took a deep breath of fresh mountain
air. She pulled a branch of tender green leaves towards her and started
eating. She was starving. Sheíd not eaten in two days. She munched and
munched and munched on the leaves and bamboo. Finally she had found
somewhere peaceful and quiet and most importantly, there was no Po-Jong!"
"That was a good story, Mr.
McGee," Andy said, hugging his panda.
"I want a panda too," said
Morag. She stood up and walked over to a pile of stuffed animals. "I
wonder if thereís another in this pile," she said and started tossing them
around the room. Suddenly she grabbed hold of something warm. MEOW! It was
Ginger. Morag screamed. SCREAM! She was afraid.
"Itís only Ginger," Gavin
"Ginger, what are you doing
out here," Mungo said. He stood up and carried her into the bedroom,
shutting the door behind him.
"Ha, ha, ha," laughed
Gavin. "You were scared of a cat," he said to Morag.
She ignored him and kept
looking through the pile. "There are no more Pandas," she said, annoyed.
"Andyís got the only panda."
"Itís not even my panda. It
belongs to Mrs. Robertson down the lane. She went to China on a visit and
picked it up," Mungo said.
Morag continued to pout,
giving Andy dirty looks. He wasnít about to part with the panda. "Come on,
bairns. Come into the kitchen. Tonight I have a special surprise for you,"
he said. They followed him in and sat down at the table. In front of each
of them were a napkin, a cup of water, an empty bowl and a set of
chopsticks. "Tonight we are all going to learn how to eat Chinese food
"Are these chopsticks made
of bamboo?" asked Gregor.
"Yes. First of all, here is
some white rice," Mungo said, carrying a huge bowl of it over and sitting
it in the middle of the table. "Each of you take a spoonful and put it in
your bowls." They did as he said, making a mess of sticky white rice all
over the table and floor. He carried several other bowls over. One had
peanuts in it, another had soy sauce, another had peas still in their
pods, and another had pieces of chicken that were covered in sweet, red
sauce. "Take whatever you want of these other foods and put them in your
bowl, on top of the rice." The bairns did as told. Peanuts rolled onto the
floor as they spilled from the spoon. Chicken dropped on the table,
leaving a sticky red mess.
"I like peas," said Andy.
He picked one up and crunched it.
"I like peanuts," said
Gavin. He tossed handful into his mouth.
"Bairns, pick up your
chopsticks now. Hold them like this in your hands," Mungo said, showing
them the right way. He started to eat his rice.
The bairns tried to copy
him. Gavin was able to do it. Morag tried hard but dropped the chicken on
her blouse and got red sauce all over it. Mungo gave her a washcloth to
wipe it off and a napkin to put around her neck. Mungo laughed as he
watched the children try to eat. They made a mess everywhere. Very little
got into their mouths. He gave each child a spoon to use instead. "Here
you go, bairns. Youíre not eating much. Most of its on my floor. Try the
spoons." They did much better. They gobbled down all their food and even
After theyíd finished,
Mungo brought out some fortune cookies. "Crack them open and thereís a bit
of paper inside. Read whatís on it."
"I canít read yet," wee
"I canít read either," wee
"Iíll read them for you.
Break your cookies open and bring the paper to me," Mungo said.
Each bairn read their
papers. Moragís said, "You shall be lucky in love today." She winked at
Gavin. Mungo chuckled.
DING DONG! The parents had
arrived to claim their bairns. After putting their stuffed animals back in
the pile, they left. Mungo let them take their chopsticks.
He shut the door after the
last bairn had left and went into the kitchen. "What a mess!" He went and
let Ginger out of the room. She dashed into the kitchen and ate all the
food off the floor. "Good girl," Mungo said, happy that some of the mess
was gone. It took him an hour to sweep and mop the floor, wipe the table
off, and wash the dishes. When he finished, he went into the living room
and picked up a book to read. Ginger found a place to lie among the
stuffed animals. At least for tonight she had some other animals for