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Children's Stories
by Margo Fallis
Spring Welcome Party

Once a year, when the sun first rises above the horizon, signaling spring is on its way, the creatures of the ice gather together for a party. They come from their snowy dens and burrows, ice floes and from the sea to join in the celebration.

Since this was Blanche's first spring, she was excited about the party. “Mama, tell me what we're going to do. Are we going to sing songs and dance and eat fish until our bellies are full?” The little polar bear ran behind his mama as they traveled.

“Yes, Blanche. We'll do all those things and more. Hurry along now. We don't want to be late,” Mama said. Her white, shaggy coat of fur hung over her padded paws as she plodded across the ice.

When they arrived the ice was covered with animals. Seals, walrus, caribou, reindeer, and penguins sat about, waiting for the others to arrive. Several other polar bears were there already and killer whales swam off shore, not wanting to miss out on the festivities.

“Wow, Mama! I didn't know there were this many animals. What are those?” Blanche pointed at the walrus. “They've got big tusks.”

“Those are walrus. They eat fish. They're awfully lazy looking and quite plump. I am glad I'm not a walrus,” Mama said.

“What about those animals?” Blanche pointed to a group of penguins.

“Those are penguins. They don't do much except play and swim and dive into the water. I am glad I'm not a penguin,” Mama said.

“I like those animals with horns. What are they called?”

“Those are caribou and the other ones are reindeer. They don't do much except run from one place to another. I'm glad I'm not a caribou or a reindeer,” Mama said.

Blanche looked at all the animals and remembered the things her mama had told her. “Can I go and play with the other animals?”

“Go ahead,” Mama said, “but don't get too close. None of the animals are as great as we polar bears.”

Blanche ran off to find someone to play with. She came upon a baby walrus. “Hi. My name is Blanche. What's yours?”

The baby walrus scraped the snow with her tusks. “I'm called Bristles.” Just then her mama and papa came over.

Blanche looked at them. “My mama says that you're lazy and fat and she's glad she's not a walrus.”

The walrus's gasped with horror. “What? Where is your mama?”

Blanche pointed at her. She was sitting on a chunk of ice, talking to another polar bear.

“We'll just see about that,” said one of the walrus and headed for Blanche's mama.

Blanche saw a baby penguin and ran over to him. “Hi, I'm Blanche. What's your name?”

“My name is Tux.” The penguin's mama and papa came over to meet Blanche.

“My mama says you do nothing all day but swim and play. She thinks you're lazy and is glad she's not a penguin,” Blanche said.

The penguins gasped with horror. “What? Where is your mama?”

Blanche pointed at her. She was sitting on a chunk of ice, talking to another polar bear.

“We'll just see about that,” said one of the penguins and waddled over to Blanche's mama.

Blanche ran on. She saw a baby caribou and reindeer chasing each other. “Can I play with you? My name is Blanche. What's yours?”

The baby reindeer said, “You can call me Skip.”

The baby caribou said, “You can call me Speedy.”

Skip and Speedy's mamas came over to meet Blanche “My mama says all you do is run about and that you have no idea where you're going. She's glad she's not a caribou or a reindeer.”

The caribou and reindeer gasped with horror. “What? Where is your mama?”

Blanche pointed at her. She was sitting on a chunk of ice, talking to another polar bear.

“We'll just see about that,” said one of the caribou and ran over to Blanche's mama.

“I think I had better go and tell Mama that I made some new friends.” Blanche ran over to her mama.

The walrus, penguins, caribou and reindeer stood around Mama in a circle. Blanche ran up and held onto Mama's legs. “They look angry, Mama.”

“What's this about us being fat and lazy?” The walrus snarled at Mama. “Blanche told us what you said about us.”

Mama was very embarrassed. She hadn't wanted Blanche to tell the other animals what she had said.

“And you told her that we did nothing but swim and play,” said a penguin.

“And you told her that we do nothing but run about and have no idea where we are going,” said a reindeer.

Mama blushed. “I'm sorry. I shouldn't have said any of those things.”

“Well, we don't want you at the party. You're not welcome here,” said one of the caribou.

Mama felt bad. Blanche started crying as the two polar bear walked back home. “Mama why did you say all those bad things about the other animals. They don't look lazy and fat to me. They're just walrus and penguins and they're different than us.”

“You're right. I shouldn't say bad things. Just because they're not polar bears doesn't mean they're not good animals.” Mama hung her head and walked on.

All spring and summer Blanche had to play by herself. When the other animals saw her, they pointed at her and ran away. She and Mama had to move to another part of the ice. “From now on, Blanche, we'll only say good things about others.”

When spring came the following year, the animals in the new area celebrated spring's arrival with a party. Blanche and her mama were invited. Mama told Blanche about all the wonderful things the other animals could do that polar bears couldn't. When Blanche told them, they were happy and wanted to include Blanche and Mama in all the activities. They had many friends from then on.

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