Story Library

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Busi's gift

Author

Retold by Joanne Bloch

Illustrator

Jiggs Snaddon-Wood

Busi was a little green frog who lived with her family next to a winding river in the Drakensberg mountains. Busi was a happy frog, but one thing made her sad. She looked different from her brothers, her sisters, and all the other frogs. Her face was the same. Her body was the same. But one of Busi’s back legs was extra long and thick. Sometimes the other young frogs teased her about her strange leg, and this made Busi feel even worse. 

 

“If only I looked like everybody else!” she often said with a sigh. “If only I wasn’t so ugly!” 

 

“What nonsense!” said Grandpa Frog. 

 

“Grandpa is right!” said Mama Frog. “How can such a special little frog talk such nonsense?” 

 

But Busi didn’t believe them. When the frogs sat croaking on the bank of the river in the long summer evenings, Busi sat behind the rest of them so that no one would see her extra long back leg. And when they caught flies for lunch, she tucked that leg out of sight, so that she looked more like the others. 

 

Further down the river, in a gloomy cave high up on the mountain lived a wicked eagle. “Stay far away from that eagle!” Mama Frog often warned. 

 

One day, when Busi was feeling very sad, she decided to go for a swim on her own. “I’m too ugly to play with the others,” she thought. “I’d rather spend the day alone.” 

 

The little frog swam for a long time, then she crawled out of the water to rest on the grassy river bank. Lying there in the sun, she looked up, and saw the eagle’s cave. 

 

“I’d better not stay here!” she thought to herself. She was about to jump back into the river when she heard voices drifting down from the cave. 

 

“Sir,” Busi heard a child’s voice say, “I’ve swept the cave and prepared your lunch. Please may I go down to the river while you eat, so I can wash my dress? It’s the only one I have now, and it’s very dirty.” 

 

“Do you think I’m a fool, little girl?” shrieked a loud, angry voice. “If I let you go near the river, you’ll just run away!” 

 

“Oh no, Sir,” the frog heard the child say. “I won’t run away. You’ll know I’m still here because you’ll hear me beating my wet dress against the rocks until it is clean.” 

 

“Well, all right then,” the cruel eagle said, “but be quick because there’s lots more work for you to do!” 

 

Busi watched as a young girl in a very dirty dress made her way down to the river. She sat down on the rock next to Busi, and started to cry. 

 

“Don’t cry, little girl,” said the frog gently, but the child just cried more. 

 

“Oh, Frog,” she sobbed, “I’ll never be able to go home again! That cruel eagle stole me from my village last week, and now I am his slave!” 

 

Just then, they heard the eagle’s harsh voice calling out from his cave, “Girl, are you still there? If I don’t hear the sound of beating soon, you’ll be in BIG trouble!” 

 

“My friend,” said Busi quickly, “you have no time to lose! Give me your dress, and then run away as fast as you can. I’ll beat the dress against these rocks, and the eagle will hear the noise. By the time he finds out you’ve gone, you’ll be home again with your mother!” 

 

“Frog, you’re so kind,” said the girl. “But how can a tiny creature like you beat the dress hard enough to make a loud noise?” 

 

“Well,” said Busi, “you haven’t seen my special, strong leg yet!” 

 

Shyly, the frog showed the little girl her long, thick back leg, which had been tucked underneath her as usual. Then the child knew she had a chance. She pulled off her dress and dipped it into the water. When it was wet, she beat it against a big rock a few times. Then she passed the dress quickly to Busi. She kissed the frog on her forehead, whispered, “Thank you,” and ran away. 

 

WHACK! WHACK! WHACK! went the wet dress, as Busi slapped it against the rock for a long time. Her extra long leg was so powerful that it was easy for her to make a loud noise. It was only when the eagle again shouted for the girl to hurry up, that Busi threw the dress down, jumped into the river with a plop and swam away quickly.  

 

“At last!” said Busi’s mother when Busi reached home. “Where have you been?” 

 

As she hugged Busi, she saw a glowing jewel on the little frog’s forehead, right on the spot where the girl had kissed her. 

 

“How beautiful you are!” said Mama Frog, and all Busi’s brothers and sisters agreed. When Busi saw her reflection in the water, she smiled a huge, wide frog smile. She was happy that she looked so beautiful. But even more than that, she was happy that her extra long leg wasn’t such a bad thing after all.