Once upon a time there was a little girl. Her name was Sally. Sally lived in a house with her mom, dad, 2 brothers, 6 cats and one rather large hippo. They lived in a rather large house.
Sally loved to play tea party with her mom, play golf with her dad and play tag with her brothers. She enjoyed playing dress-up with her cats on rainy afternoons (the cats, however, did not much enjoy this and would try, often unsuccessfully to hide under the couch or behind the dryer).
But by far her favorite thing to do was play “ballerina:” with her hippo. Her hippo was named Eustace Eugene Englebert. You didn’t expect an animal so large to have a small, common name like Fred did you?
Eustace Eugene Englebert was an expert ballerina. He could Plié, Dégagé and Fondu like the most famous of all ballerinas. He was light on his huge, enormous feet and made all aspiring ballerinas jealous. So of course Sally loved to dance with him.
Then, one bright, sunshiny Wednesday afternoon, Eustace Eugene Englebert fell down. When Eustace Eugene Englebert fell, it was not a small bump like when you or I fall. No, in fact, when Eustace Eugene Englebert fell, it shook the entire block. People came outside to see if it was an earthquake. Several people noticed poor Eustace Eugene Englebert lying on the ground near the apple tree. Many neighbors came running over to see what had happened.
Poor Eustace Eugene Englebert! He couldn’t get up. All he could do was lie there in the grass and cry.
Sally ran to Eustace Eugene Englebert and begged him to try to get up. He just stayed there, crying and covering his eyes with his enormous front feet. Sally knew he was embarrassed with all the crowd gathered around. She also knew that she couldn’t help Eustace Eugene Englebert stand up alone.
Oh, what to do? The local veterinarian happened to live across the street. Dr. Wolfe came over to make sure Eustace Eugene Englebert hadn’t actually damaged any bones. When he had pronounced Eustace Eugene Englebert to be in fine health, Sally knew she had to convince Eustace Eugene Englebert to stand up. But how? He was so embarrassed.
Suddenly, an idea came to Sally. She ran to her friend Joey, whose dad happened to be the school principal. She whispered her idea to Joey. He agreed and ran to his dad and whispered the idea to him. After thinking for a few moments, Joey’s dad, Mr. Board, smiled and agreed. Mr. Board went to Miss Groove and chatted with her.
Miss Groove was the school theatre and dance instructor. She jumped up and down with giddiness over the idea. She ran to the 5 little girls and 3 little boys that had been having a private lesson with her just moments before and discussed it with them.
They all beamed and bounced and agreed that this was the best idea ever. The group of kids ran to Sally and poor Eustace Eugene Englebert. The children began to dance and twirl and spin in front of the poor hippo. They practiced all their best moves. Eustace Eugene Englebert stopped crying long enough to see what they were doing. When the children saw that Eustace Eugene Englebert was watching, they stopped and began to plead with Sally, quite loudly to ensure that Eustace Eugene Englebert could hear every word, to let Eustace Eugene Englebert help them perform their spring recital in 9 days. Sally, who of course had orchestrated the whole thing, pretended to be concerned that Eustace Eugene Englebert might not be able to dance, having fallen so recently. The children pretended to be sad and begged further, knowing all the time that this was Sally’s big plan.
While Sally stood, her back to Eustace Eugene Englebert, slowly and sadly shaking her head to the children, Eustace Eugene Englebert slowly began to stand. Sally pretended she could not hear him standing. She said she was very sorry, but if Eustace Eugene Englebert was hurt too much to stand up, there was no way he could dance in a mere 9 days!
Sally, hearing much commotion from the neighbors, turned around to see her rather large hippo dancing behind her! He did his finest moves, showing off each bend and stretch and twirl with great joy and pleasure. The children laughed! Miss Groove bounced up and down! Mr. Board rubbed his hands together excitedly! Yes! This would be the best spring recital ever to take place at Sunnyside Elementary School!
Sally stood back and smiled realizing that sometimes all it takes to help us get up when we fall down is the love and encouragement of our friends, family and neighbors.