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Mulalo and the giant

Author

Kai Tuomi

Illustrator

Natalie and Tamsin Hinrichsen

Mulalo could talk to animals. He could understand what each animal said AND each animal could understand what Mulalo said. 

While he was out walking one day, Mulalo passed a weaver bird’s nest. 

“Help us,” said a little voice from inside the nest, “there’s a snake in here and he’s trying to eat us.” 

Mulalo looked inside the nest and sure enough, a snake was coiled around three little weaver birds. The snake’s mouth was open and he was about to gobble them up. Mulalo pulled the snake out and threw him across the road. 

Noooo,” shouted the snake, as he flew through the air and landed in a bush. 

“Thank you,” said the weaver birds, “we will never forget this.” 

Further down the road Mulalo passed a fluffy brown bottom, belonging to an aardvark, poking out of a big anthill. 

“Help us,” said hundreds of tiny voices, “there’s an aardvark here and he’s breaking our anthill!” “Hey,” said Mulalo, tapping the aardvark on the back, “could you please leave these ants alone, you’re ruining their home.” 

“Okay,” said the aardvark, popping out of the anthill and running off into the bushveld. 

“Thank you,” said all the ants to Mulalo, “we will never forget this.” 

Mulalo carried on walking and soon he came to a river. 

“Help,” said a voice from the river bank. When Mulalo looked, he saw a fish lying on the sand. “Please put me back into the water,” said the fish, “a mean old giant left me here, and I can’t breathe on dry land.” 

Mulalo put the fish back into the water. SPLASH! 

“Thank you,” said the fish, waggling his fins, “I will never forget this.” 

Mulalo walked along the road that ran next to the river. He hadn’t gone very far when he heard: BOOM! CRASH! BANG! A giant was stomping through the bushveld! Then Mulalo saw him sit down in the middle of the road – THUMP! The giant was so big that Mulalo knew he would not be able to get past him. 

“Hello,” said Mulalo, “could you please move?” 

“Do you have any money?” asked the giant. 

“No,” said Mulalo. 

“Well, I’m not moving until I get something from you,” said the giant. “I suppose you could try to make me laugh. If you tell me a good joke, I will let you pass.” 

So Mulalo told the giant a joke. It was about a monkey and a giraffe, but it wasn’t very funny and so the giant didn’t laugh. 

“You’ll have to do something else,” said the giant. “Let me think. Do you see that baobab tree over there?” Mulalo nodded. “Get me a pod from the top of that baobab,” said the giant, “and I’ll think about letting you pass.” 

Mulalo tried to climb up the tree, but the trunk was very slippery and he couldn’t get a good grip. Suddenly, something flew past his head. 

“We can help,” said the three little weaver birds from earlier. Weaver birds are very good at making things. They collected grass and reeds and made a long rope. They hung the rope from the top of the tall tree. 

“Thank you,” said Mulalo, and he climbed up the rope and got a baobab pod from the top of the tree. 

“Not fair,” said the giant, taking the pod. “You cheated.” 

“I got help from my friends,” said Mulalo. “That’s not cheating. Can I please pass now?” 

“Well, no,” said the giant. “That was much too easy. I tell you what. Do you see that grass patch over there?” Mulalo nodded. The giant took out a bag of beans and scattered them all over the grass. “Pick up all my beans before I count to twenty and I will let you pass,” said the giant laughing. “Let’s see your friends help you now.” 

So Mulalo went to the grass patch and started picking up the giant’s beans. 

“We’ll help,” said hundreds of voices from the grass. Mulalo looked down and saw lots and lots of ants. 

“Thanks,” he said, smiling. With the ants’ help, Mulalo collected all the beans before the giant had even counted to twelve! He handed the beans to the giant. 

“Why did the little weaver birds and the ants help you?” asked the giant, looking very confused. 

“Because they’re my friends, and that’s what friends do – they help each other,” said Mulalo. 

“Okay, one last test,” said the giant. He picked up a red stone and threw it into the deepest part of the river. “Fetch that,” he said, laughing. 

Mulalo looked down into the river. There was a flash of silver and the fish popped its head out of the water. In its mouth was the red stone. 

“Thank you,” said Mulalo. He gave the red stone to the giant. 

The giant started to cry. “I wish animals helped me like they help you,” said the giant. “I’m mean and no one ever does what I want. Maybe I’ll try to be more like you.” 

Mulalo gave him a hug and the giant walked off into the bushveld. From that day on, the giant stopped being mean and even though he couldn’t talk to animals like Mulalo could, he became good friends with all of them and he helped them whenever they needed it.