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Why Bear Sleeps All Winter

Also read in Chinese »

Published June 30, 2011
Countries: USA
Age Levels: 5-6 and up

Fuzzy Rabbit was a friendly little animal with a big heart.  She was always helping other animals.  When Little Frog had nowhere to play, Fuzzy Rabbit dug a hole in the ground and filled it with water.  She helped Little Frog turn that hole into a really nice mud puddle to play in.

Fuzzy Rabbit saw Squirrel making a nest.  She gathered armloads of leaves to put in the nest to help Squirrel stay warm and comfortable.

Fuzzy Rabbit watched Brother Mole moving rocks so he could dig a hole to live in.  She helped mole move the rocks.

All the animals said, "Thank you."  They all offered to help Fuzzy Rabbit if she ever needed help.

Then Fuzzy Rabbit helped Big Brown Bear.  Bear had spent the summer eating berries that grew on bushes.  Bear had eaten honey from bee hives.  But, now Bear was hungry again.  Fuzzy Rabbit gave Big Brown Bear acorns she had collected for her own dinner.  She gave Big Brown Bear carrots and cabbage she had collected from local farms.  But, Big Brown Bear did not say, "Thank you."  Big Brown Bear just said, MORE!"

Big Brown Bear followed Fuzzy Rabbit everywhere!  Every time Fuzzy Rabbit stored up food for winter, Big Brown Bear said, "More!"  Then Big Brown Bear ate all the food.  Big Brown Bear became a BIG problem.  When Fuzzy Rabbit filled a hollow log with food for winter, Big Brown Bear said, "More."  He climbed in to eat the food and take a nap.

Fuzzy Rabbit went to Little Frog, Squirrel and Brother Mole for help.  "What can I do?" asked Fuzzy Rabbit.  "I am small, and Big Brown Bear is BIG.  He keeps eating the food I need to live through the winter.  Right now, he is living in my house in the hollow log."

Little Frog, Squirrel and Brother Mole decided to help Fuzzy Rabbit.  Squirrel filled up both ends of the hollow log with leaves.  Little Frog packed mud against the leaves at the ends of the log.  Brother Mole used the mud to pack rocks into the ends of the log. "Now, Fuzzy Rabbit," they said.  "Use your feet to pack the rocks tightly into the mud."  That is what Fuzzy Rabbit did.

Big Brown Bear slept while they worked.  When Big Brown Bear woke up, it was dark inside the log.  "It must be night," he thought.  Then he went back to sleep.  He slept, and he slept, and he slept.  Fuzzy Rabbit found a new home and filled it with food.  Winter came.  Fuzzy Rabbit was able to stay warm and had enough to eat thanks to his friends.

Big Brown Bear finally woke up when he heard birds chirping outside the log.  He pushed the leaves, dried mud and rocks out of the log and went outside.  It was spring.  "I slept all winter," he said.  "I think I will do that every winter from now on.

That was long ago.  Fuzzy Rabbit still tries to be kind to all of the other animals, including Big Brown Bear.  But Fuzzy Rabbit always knows that she will have enough food for the winter because she does not have to share with Big Brown Bear.  Bear always sleeps all winter!

Why Bear Sleeps All Winter was adapted by Dr. Lockett from a Native American Legend.  Dr. Lockett found a version of the story in Stories Children Want by Carolyn Bailey(1931) and liked it.  He then traced it back to legends by the Nez Perce Indians in the American Southwest before writing his own version of the story  Dr. Margaret Read MacDonald lists the storytelling motif for the tale as 'A2481.1' Why Bears Hibernate. Animals stop up hollow tree to be rid of disliked bear.  He sleeps all winter."

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