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Wednesday, February 2, 2011

A prejudice-busting story for Valentine's Day

I've been asked to write a kids' story for Valentine's Day that's more inclusive than the usual boy-meets-girl style.... so here it is.  Feel free to copy, print and read to your kids.  And thanks to the brilliant free site for the ready-made illustrations.
The Lion who Loved a Tiger

It was the day before Valentine's Day. 


All the animals were hard at work writing cards, picking flowers and buying boxes of chocolates. 


Eric the eagle had watched Emily soaring through the clouds so many times. 


He had a special bunch of balloons ready to give her, 


balloons that would soar through the sky just like her when she let go of the string.

 The other eagles said he was silly to chase after Emily. 

"She's not even the same colour as you, Eric. Look- you're a beautiful glossy black, and she's that funny brown colour. How can you love a girl who looks like that?"

"I just do," said Eric. "I think she's beautiful.  And if you can't be nice, go away." 

Keith the koala had bought a box of chocolates for Karen, so she could share them with her baby, Kim.


The other koalas said he was silly to chase after Karen. "She's already got a baby, Keith," they said. "Don't you want to make your own babies instead of looking after Kim? You're not her real daddy!"

"I don't care," said Keith. "Karen's the girl for me, and I love Kim too." And he turned his back and went right on wrapping up the box of chocolates.

Larry the lion was lying down in his cave feeling a bit scared. He knew the other lions would laugh at him when they saw who he gave his Valentine present to. And mum and dad... maybe they'd even be angry. They didn't approve of Animals Who Worked At The Circus.

He took a big, deep breath. He let it out again, reeeeeeaaaally slowly... whoooooooooooooo. He was a LION. He could be brave! He looked at the beautiful rose he'd picked. It had lots and lots of sharp thorns on the stem. It was a perfect present for someone who liked walking on beds of nails and jumping through hoops of fire.

The next day Larry tip-toed out of his cave with the thorny rose in his mouth.

"Where are you going with that rose?" said his mum, smiling. Her little lion cub was growing up.

Larry took another big breath. "It's Valentine's Day, mum. I'm going to give it to..." It was too hard! Larry chickened out. "I'm giving it to my Valentine."

His mum chuckled. "And who might that be, young Larry?"

Larry couldn't tell a lie. Be brave, he said to himself. He stood up straight and looked his mum right in the eye.

"I'm giving it to Tom. You know, Tom from the circus. The one who jumps through hoops of fire. He's awesome."

"YOU'RE WHAT?" roared his dad. 

"You can't give a Valentine to Tom! He's a boy!"

"Yes I can," said Larry bravely. "I can just walk straight up and give it to him. I want Tom to be my special friend." 

"Larry, darling," said his mum very kindly, "that's not what your dad means.  Tom's got stripes. You can't give a Valentine to someone with stripes."

"Stripes are cool," said Larry. "I like them."

"LARRY!" roared his dad, even louder. "He's a TIGER! 

You can't make cubs with a TIGER, 

and you can't make cubs with a BOY!  

Now, listen. BOY lions give Valentines to GIRL lions, 


and boy TIGERS get Valentines from girl TIGERS!"

"No," said Larry stubbornly, "not always." He was starting to get cross. "We're different.

"But Larry, darling," said his mum a little bit sadly, "there are lots and lots of lovely little lionesses out there. Why don't you choose one of them?"

Larry's lip quivered. Be brave, you're a lion, he said to himself. 

"But I love Tom," said Larry. "I can't help it. I just do. He makes me feel happy in my heart."

Larry's mum sighed. "Oh well... if it makes you feel happy, then I suppose that's the main thing. But the other lions might laugh at you."

"I know, mum," said Larry. "I don't care." 

And he gave her a hug and stalked out of the cave.

Larry's dad growled softly. "No good will come of this!" he muttered. "And all my friends will laugh at me!"

"Is that really so important?" said Larry's mum sternly. 

"They can laugh till their tummies hurt, if they like. Better that than our little Larry crying till his tummy hurts. If giving Tom a Valentine makes Larry feel happy- well, we'll just have to get used to it."

Meanwhile Larry was on his way to Tom's cave. 

He passed Eric and Emily, who were letting go of the balloons and then swooping up to catch them.

"I'm going to give Tom a Valentine!" he called. "He's got stripes!"

"Good on you," said Eric.

"Stripes are cool," said Emily, fluffing her brown feathers. "Be happy in your heart."

He passed Keith and Karen and Kim, who offered him a chocolate. "Thanks," said Larry, chewing happily. "I'm going to give Tom a Valentine!" he added. "He's a tiger!"

"Good on you," said Karen.

"Tigers are awesome," said Keith, cuddling Kim. "Be happy in your heart."

He got to Tom's cave and knocked. 

Suddenly he felt a bit nervous. What if Tom didn't like him back?

But just then Tom came leaping out of his cave with a happy roar. "Larry! I was just about to bring you a present! Happy Valentine's Day!" 


All Larry's nervous, scared feelings disappeared. Suddenly he really knew what it was like to be happy in his heart.

"Happy Valentine's Day, Tom.  I think you're cool."

"Awesome!" shouted Tom. "I love thorns! Here, Happy Valentine's Day, Larry. I bought something really cool for you.  These will stop the flames from my hoop burning your eyes!"


Larry purred with pleasure.  He wore his cool Valentine's Day glasses all the way home, feeling ever so happy in his heart.


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