Teddy Bear by A. A. Milne ||Storytelling

I haven’t really learned poetry before, preferring stories. However, this poem is really cute, and also long enough to fill time. 🙂 It takes about 4 minutes.

Teddy Bear

 by A.A. Milne


A bear, however hard he tries,
Grows tubby without exercise.
Our Teddy Bear is short and fat,
Which is not to be wondered at;
He gets what exercise he can
By falling off the ottoman,
But generally seems to lack
The energy to clamber back.

Now tubbiness is just the thing
Which gets a fellow wondering;
And Teddy worried lots about
The fact that he was rather stout.
He thought: “If only I were thin!
But how does anyone begin?”
He thought: “It really isn’t fair
To grudge me exercise and air.”

For many weeks he pressed in vain
His nose against the window-pane,
And envied those who walked about
Reducing their unwanted stout.
None of the people he could see
“Is quite” (he said) “as fat as me!”
Then with a still more moving sigh,
“I mean” (he said) “as fat as I!”

One night it happened that he took
A peep at an old picture-book,
Wherein he came across by chance
The picture of a King of France
(A stoutish man) and, down below,
These words: “King Louis So and So,
Nicknamed ‘The Handsome!’ ” There he sat,
And (think of it) the man was fat!

Our bear rejoiced like anything
To read about this famous King,
Nicknamed the “Handsome.” Not a doubt
The man was definitely stout.
Why then, a bear (for all his tub)
Might yet be named “The Handsome Cub!”

“Might yet be named.” Or did he mean
That years ago he “might have been”?
For now he felt a slight misgiving:
“Is Louis So and So still living?
Fashions in beauty have a way
Of altering from day to day.
Is ‘Handsome Louis’ with us yet?
Unfortunately I forget.”

Next morning (nose to window-pane)
The doubt occurred to him again.
One question hammered in his head:
“Is he alive or is he dead?”
Thus, nose to pane, he pondered; but
The lattice window, loosely shut,
Swung open. With one startled “Oh!”
Our Teddy disappeared below.

There happened to be passing by
A plump man with a twinkling eye,
Who, seeing Teddy in the street,
Raised him politely on his feet,
And murmured kindly in his ear
Soft words of comfort and of cheer:
“Well, well!” “Allow me!” “Not at all.”
“Tut-tut!” A very nasty fall.”

Our Teddy answered not a word;
It’s doubtful if he even heard.
Our bear could only look and look:
The stout man in the picture-book!
That “handsome” King – could this be he,
This man of adiposity?
“Impossible,” he thought. “But still,
No harm in asking. Yes, I will!”

“Are you,” he said, “by any chance
His Majesty the King of France?”
The other answered, “I am that,”
Bowed stiffly, and removed his hat;
Then said, “Excuse me,” with an air
“But is it Mr. Edward Bear?”
And Teddy, bending very low,
Replied politely, “Even so!”

They stood beneath the window there,
The King and Mr. Edward Bear,
And, handsome, if a trifle fat,
Talked carelessly of this and that …
Then said His Majesty, “Well, well,
I must get on,” and rang the bell.
“Your bear, I think,” he smiled. “Good-day!”
And turned, and went upon his way.

A bear, however hard he tries,
Grows tubby without exercise.
Our Teddy Bear is short and fat,
Which is not to be wondered at.
But do you think it worries him
To know that he is far from slim?
No, just the other way about –
He’s proud of being short and stout.



The Night the Bed Fell ||Storytelling

I spent most of the spring of 2015 learning to tell this story. It is definitely a very complicated tale, since the wording and expressions have to be “just right” to make the story come alive. It really is wonderful to tell, though, and I have found that adults really like it, but children tend to be like, “What??”. This is a wonderfully hilarious story, and I have told it quite a few times to older people, and they have really enjoyed it. I would recommend telling this at a venue for mainly adults (e.g. a senior home) rather than for kids. I learned the story word-for-word, but I had to cut out a few parts, in order to make it within the 5-7 minute time range. Telling it exactly as I have cut it here will take about 7/a little more than 7 minutes. Here is The Night the Bed Fell by James Thurber, written exactly as I tell it.

I suppose that the high-water mark of my youth in Columbus, Ohio, was the night the bed fell on my father. Although it is a somewhat incredible tale, it still took place.

It happened, then, that my father had decided to sleep in the attic one night, to be away where he could think. My mother opposed strongly because, she said, the old wooden bed up there was unsafe: it was wobbly and the heavy headboard would crash down, in case the bed fell, and kill my father. There was no dissuading him, however, and at a quarter past ten he closed the attic door and climbed the narrow creaky stairs. We heard ominous creaking when he crawled into bed.

We had visiting us at this time a nervous cousin of mine named Briggs Beall, who believed that he was likely to stop breathing when he was asleep. He thought that if he weren’t awakened every hour in the night, he would die of suffocation. He was accustomed to setting an alarm clock to ring at intervals until morning, but I convinced him to give it up. He slept in my room and I told him that I was such a light sleeper that anyone who slept in the same room with me and stopped breathing would awaken me instantly. He tested me that first night- which I had suspected he would- by holding his breath after my regular breathing had convinced him that I was asleep. I was not, however, and called to him. This seemed to relieve him of his fears a little, but he still took the precaution of putting a glass of spirits of camphor on a little table by his bedside. In case I didn’t rouse him until he was almost gone, he said, he would sniff the camphor, a powerful reviver.

On the night the bed fell on father, we were all in bed by midnight. The layout of the rooms and the disposition of their occupants is important to an understanding of what later occurred. In the front room upstairs (under father’s attic bedroom) were my mother and my brother Herman. Briggs Beall and I were in a room adjoining this one. My brother Roy was in a room across the hall from ours, and our bull terrier, Rex, slept in the hall.

My bed was an army cot, one of those which are made wide enough to sleep on by putting up the two sides that usually hang over the side like the sideboards of a drop leaf table. When these sides are up, it is dangerous to roll too far over toward the edge, for then the cot is likely to tip completely over, bringing the whole bed over upon its occupant. This, in fact, is precisely what happened at about 2 o’clock in the morning.

Always a deep sleeper, slow to arouse (I had lied to Briggs), I was unconscious of what had happened, although it didn’t matter. It left me still warmly bundled up, and unhurt, for the bed rested above me. Hence I did not wake up, I only reached the edge of consciousness and then went back. The racket, however, instantly awakened Mother, in the next room, who came to the immediate conclusion that her worst dread was realized: The big wooden bed upstairs had fallen on father. She screamed, “Let’s go to your poor father!”

It was this shout, rather than the noise of my cot falling, that awakened Herman, in the same room with mother. “You’re all right, Mamma!” he shouted, trying to calm her.

They exchanged shout for shout for some time: “Let’s go to your poor father!”

and “You’re all right!”

That woke up Briggs. By this time I was vaguely conscious of what was going on, but did not yet realize that I was under my bed instead of on it. Briggs, awakening in the midst of loud shouts of fear, came to the quick conclusion that he was suffocating. With a low moan, he grasped the glass of camphor and, instead of sniffing it, poured it all over himself. The whole room reeked of camphor. He leaped out of bed and grouped towards the open window, but he came up against the one that was closed. With his fist, he beat out the glass, and I could hear it crash and tinkle in the alleyway below. Foggy with sleep, I now tried to get up and had the uncanny feeling of feeling my bed above me! I thought that the uproar was an endeavor to extricate me from this unheard-of and perilous situation. “Get me out of this!” I bawled, “Get me out!”.

By this time, mother, pursued by Herman, both shouting, was trying to open the door to the attic, in order to pull my father’s body out of the wreckage. The door was stuck, however, and wouldn’t yield. Her frantic banging on it only added to the din and confusion. Roy and the dog were now up, one shouting questions, the other barking.

Father, farthest away and soundest sleeper of all, had by this time been awakened by the banging on his door. He decided that the house must be on fire. “I’m coming, I’m coming!” he wailed in a sleepy voice. Mother, still believing he was caught under his bed, detected in his “I’m coming!” the note of one about to meet his Maker.

“He’s dying!” she screamed.

“I’m all right!” Briggs yelled He still believed that his own closeness to death was worrying mother.

I joined the others at the attic door. Roy pulled the attic door open with a mighty jerk, and father came down the stairs, sleepy and irritable. “What in the name heaven is going on here?” asked Father.

The situation was put together eventually like a giant jigsaw puzzle. Father caught a cold from prowling around in bare feet but there were no other bad results.

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The Barking Mouse (A Cuban folktale)

I’ve only told this story once, but I’m still learning it. The last time I told it, I skipped the Spanish part, since I didn’t want to tell it and bungle the pronunciation. I told it to younger kids (like around 2 years old) and I’m not sure if they understood it, but I think older kids (like around 5-8) would enjoy listening to it.

The Barking Mouse

Una vez habia una familia de ratones..

(Once upon a time there was a family of mice.)

There was Mama Raton. Who’s that? Momma Mouse.

There was Papa Raton. Who’s that? Papa Mouse.

There was Hermana Raton. Who’s that? Sister Mouse.

And there was Hermano Raton- Brother Mouse.

They all went on a picnic on a beautiful fall day. When they were finished eating, Hermana and Hermano said, “Mana, Papa, vamos a jugar!” (We’re going to play!)

Mama said, “Esta bien, pero cuidense, por que en la cerca hay un gato” (That’s fine, but be careful, because near the fence lives El Gato (the cat).)

Hermana and Hermano said, “OK”- which is Spanish for “OK”- and they stayed away from the fence for some time. But Hermana and Hermano had never seen a cat in person before- or in cat, or however you say that. They had read about cats, and seen cats on television, and so their curiosity got the better of them. You know what they say, Curiosity killed the….Oh, that’s a different thing, but you know what I mean.

So where do you think they went? Right up to the fence

They peeked through the slats in the fence, and sure enough, there was the cat- big green eyes, long whiskers, a tail that flopped in the grass. The brother was amazed. He said, “Hermana, es un gato?”

And the sister said, “Si, es un gato!”

The brother said, “Hola, gato!”

The sister said, “Hola, gato!”

The cat didn’t move a whisker.

The brother got silly. He said, “Hola, gato flaco!” (Hello, skinny cat!) He stuck out his tongue at the cat.

The sister thought that was funny so she joined in. “Hola, gato glaco–pphhhlllppphhh!” Oh, they were having a great time making fun of that cat!

The cat’s eyes got smaller. Her tail stopped moving. She stretched her claws into the earth and sprung for the fence, pushing her paws through the slats, swinging at and just barely missing the mice. The mice were scared, but when they saw that the cat couldn’t reach them they got bold and made fun of her even more.

The cat sat back on her haunches, jumped as high as she could, and fell- splat- right into the top of the fence. She fell down on her side of the fence, pawing at her nose. The mice thought that was the funniest thing in the world. The cat tried again- Meow!- and smashed into the fence.

The mice had tears coming out of their eyes now, they were laughing so hard. The cat walked back slowly, stretched up and stretched down, and leapt again, only this time she led with her claws. She dug her claws into the wood of that fence and clawed her way up. She got to the toop, looked down, and snickered- Hee, hee, hee!- at the mice.

“Adios gato!” yelled the mice, turning away and running for their lives. The cat jumped down. She was gaining on them with every single stride when, with a burst of speed, the mice jumped through some little bushes back to their family.

Breathlessly they said, “Mama, Papa, vamanos, por que el gato va a comernos!” (We’d better go, that cat is going to eat us!)

Papa looked around, but he didn’t see that cat. Papa got tough. He said, “Gato, yo no tengo miedo del gato”  (I’m not scared of the cat.) “Si el gato viene (if the cat comes), yo voy a decir decir que yo soy Papa Raton, y yo voy a darle Pow Pow!

And just then, the cat jumped through the bushes. Papa froze. “Mama!” he cried, jumping behind her. Hermano and Hermana jumped behind her too. The only thing that stood between her and her familia, was Mama.

Mama didn’t know what to do! But with the courage a mother feels when her family is threatened, she stood up as tall as she could on her tiny back paws, looked into the great green eyes of the cat, took a deep breath, and said, “Roof roof rooof rooow rooo rooff!!!”

That cat stopped, looked all around, turned around, jumped over that fence, and was gone.

Mama couldn’t believe it had worked. When she got her family home nice and safe, she said, “You see, kids, it pays to speak another language!”

If I were to tell this story again, I would either change the title (because it gives away the story quite a bit), or announce the title at the very end.

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