Once there was an elephant who wanted to fly. His name was Elly.


Now this elephant was very big, and very strong, and could walk for days across the plains and jungles of Africa without stopping; he could eat a bale of hay in one sitting, and spray water from his trunk like a fire hose, and trumpet so loudly the sloths would stir for miles around. But he would still wonder what it would be like to soar through the blue high over his head.


He asked the birds sometimes what it was like to fly, especially the little ones that would land on his back and shoulders and head and pick off the little itchy bugs that were biting him behind the ears. (He felt really good after the birds cleaned behind his ears.) But it took so long to ask the question in his big deep voice that most birds would have flown away, distracted.


Eventually one bird named Boomerang answered. “I don't know, really. You see a place you want to be, right, and you launch yourself with your legs, and you catch the air with your wings, and you push on it to fly, and push harder when you want to turn, and you get to the place. Got any more of those bugs to eat?”

They said all this in a fast and fidgety voice, and Elly couldn't follow all of what Boomerang said, but it still sounded amazing. He thanked Boomerang, and they became friends.


He had a few ideas. One day he decided to flap his ears as hard as he could, like wings. He rose a great cloud of dust, but he did not rise even a little bit himself.


Another day he blasted water through his trunk, straight down. He created a huge mess of bubbles and spray in the river, but did not lift himself out of the river. His ideas did not seem to be working, and he felt a little discouraged.


Then one day a wonderful thing happened. A giraffe friend of his, who was even taller than Elly and could see quite far across the plains, came over and confided he had seen something very large and yellow flying through the air and landing on a distant hill.


“How large?” asked Elly.

“Oh, much larger than yourself.” said Giraffe.

“How fast was it flying?” asked Elly.

“Not very fast. Rather slow and graceful and drifting.” recalled Giraffe.

“This is a wonderful thing.” reasoned Elly. “If something that large and heavy can fly, it stands to reason that I could too. I really must go find them and ask for some pointers.”


So Elly, and his friend Giraffe, and his bear friend from the jungle, and his bird friend Boomerang, set out the next morning after a good breakfast and walked to the distant hill. It took them all morning. When they got there the large yellow thing was sitting in a nest of branches, very quietly. It was in fact at least five times wider than Elly and three times taller than Giraffe, and rather rounded and hairless.


“Hello!” called Elly, in greeting.

The yellow thing did not answer.

“Excuse me! Helloooooo!” roared his bear friend, who thought this behavior a little rude.

The yellow thing did not answer her, either.

Giraffe thought it best to say nothing for the moment.

Boomerang flew up to the top of the yellow thing, and landed on its head, which was rubbery and bouncy. “Hello-hello-hello?” chirped Boomerang. He flew and looked around for its eyes. “All I can hear is some faint snoring,” he reported when he flew back to Elly.

Elly pondered. “I suppose we should wait for them to wake up.”

So they waited.


Now luckily it really wasn't long before a bear in a blue shirt came around from behind the tangle of branches. “Hello there,” he said to Elly with a smile, “I'm Travelling Bear. Are you admiring my balloon?”


Elly smiled back. “Hello, I'm Elly. Actually I was wondering if I could ask your balloon some tips about flying. You see, I always wanted to fly, but I sometimes thought maybe I was too big and heavy. But your balloon is much bigger than me!”


“Well.” pondered the balloonist bear. “Unfortunately, my balloon is not alive. So you cannot ask it any questions.”

“Fortunately, you can ask me any questions you want about my balloon.”

“Unfortunately, the balloon is hollow. So it is much lighter than you.”

“Fortunately, when I fill it with hot air from my burner, it can fly with very heavy things in the basket. Even you!”

“Unfortunately, I cannot fly the balloon right now. It is tangled in these branches, and I am not strong enough to move them.” Travelling Bear looked sad, and shrugged his shoulders.


“Oh!” said Elly.

“Fortunately I am strong enough to move them.” So he did,and the balloon was freed.

“Thank you very much!” said Travelling Bear. “Now I can continue on my travels! Would you like to come fly in my balloon for a while?”

Elly said,


“YES. Yes please. Please and thank you very much.”


So Elly, Giraffe, their bear friend from the jungle, and Travelling Bear climbed into the basket, and the balloon filled up with hot air until it was pulling at the anchor rope, and Travelling Bear loosened the anchor rope and they rose gracefully into the air. Boomerang flew alongside them then perched on the basket and looked at Elly. Elly looked very happy.


Travelling Bear landed right near Elly's house just before it got dark so they could all go home. He promised to send some post cards and visit next year, and he sent some post cards from very far away indeed.


The End.

(An inpromptu bedtime story from tonight, as performed by stuffed toy animals.)