THE FLYING TORTOISE
Spider Magazine for Kids|September 2020
THE FLYING TORTOISE
A Nigerian Folk Tale
Rachel Craft

A LONG TIME ago, when the animals could still talk, Tortoise was the cleverest of them all. He was also the most handsome. His shell was smooth and shiny as a jewel, and he was very proud of it.

Then one day, a terrible drought came to the savanna where Tortoise lived. The rivers dried up, the trees died, and the grasses disappeared. All the animals on the ground, from the meerkat to the hippopotamus, were hungry. But the birds stayed as plump and happy as ever. Tortoise wondered how this could be.

One night, Tortoise was so hungry he couldn’t sleep. While his wife slept in their burrow, he went for a walk outside. He saw all the birds flying up to a wide silver cloud, where the Sky People were having a feast!

Tortoise’s eyesight wasn’t good enough to see the food, but he could see the birds smacking their beaks. It made his mouth water. He couldn’t stand another day of this drought knowing the birds feasted every night. So he used all of his cleverness to come up with a plan.

The next morning, Tortoise went to his friend Parrot.

“We’re so hungry down here,” he said sadly. “Why don’t you and the other birds share your feast with us?”

“We would,” Parrot replied, “but the Sky People’s food is too heavy for us to carry. And if we dropped it from the clouds, it would smash into many pieces.”

“I am much bigger and stronger than you birds,” Tortoise said. “Perhaps I could join you at the feast and carry some food down with me.”

Parrot laughed. “Ca-ca-caw! A fine plan, my friend, except you cannot fly.”

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September 2020