| Kindergarten Gems|
|by Agnes Taylor Ketchum|
|A full collection of stories and rhymes for the youngest listeners. In addition to the usual fairy tales, folk tales, and fables, there are numerous stories about animals, tales of everyday doings, and stories of the seasons. The material is conveniently arranged in groups, with several stories and rhymes for each holiday and season throughout the year. Numerous black and white illustrations complement the text. Ages 4-8 |
N the last house in a small village the Storks had built a nest, and
the mother Stork sat in it with her four young ones, who stretched
out their necks, and pointed their black beaks, which had not yet turned
red like those of the parent bird.
A little way off, on the edge of the roof, stood the father Stork, quite
upright and stiff; not liking to be quite idle, he drew up one leg, and stood
on the other, so still that it seemed almost as if he were carved in wood.
"It must look very grand," thought he, "for my wife to have a sentry
guarding her nest. They do not know that I am her husband; they think
I have been commanded to stand here, which is quite aristocratic;" and
so he continued standing on one leg.
In the street below were a number of children at play, and when they
caught sight of the Storks, one of the boldest among the boys, began to
sing a song about them, and very soon he was joined by the rest. These
are the words of the song, but each only sang what he could remember of
them in his own way.
"Stork, Stork, fly away,
Stand not on one leg, I pray;
See, your wife is in her nest,
With her little ones at rest.
They will hang one,
And fry another;
They will shoot a third,
And roast his brother."
"Just hear what those boys are singing," said the young Storks; "they
say we shall be hanged and roasted."
"Never mind what they say; you need not listen," said the mother.
"They can do no harm."
 But the boys went on singing and pointing at the Storks, and
mocking at them, excepting one of the boys whose name was Peter; he said it
was a shame to make fun of animals, and would not join with them. The
mother Stork comforted her young ones, and told them not to mind. "See,"
she said, "how quiet your father stands, although he is only on one leg."
"But we are very much frightened," said the young Storks, and they
drew back their heads into the nest.
The next day when the children were playing together, and saw the
Storks, they sang the song again.
"Shall we be hanged and roasted?" asked the young Storks.
"No, certainly not," said the mother. "I will teach you to fly, and
when you have learned, we will fly into the meadows, and pay a,visit to
the frogs, who will bow themselves to us in the water, and cry 'Croak,
croak,' and then we shall eat them; that will be fun."
"And what next?" asked the young Storks.
"Then," replied the mother, "all the Storks in the country will
assemble together, and go through their autumn maneuvers, so that it is
very important for every one to know how to fly properly; if they do not,
the general will thrust them through with his beak, and kill them.
Therefore you must take pains and learn, so as to be ready when drilling
"Then we may be killed after all, as the boys say; and hark! they are
"Listen to me, and not to them," said the mother Stork. "After the
great review is over, we shall fly away to warm countries, far from hence,
where there are mountains and forests. To Egypt, where we shall see
three-cornered houses built of stone, with pointed tops that reach nearly
to the clouds. They are called Pyramids, and are older than a Stork
could imagine; and in that country, there is a river that overflows its
banks, and then goes back, leaving nothing but mire; there we can walk
about, and eat frogs in abundance."
"Oh, o-h!" cried the young Storks.
 "Yes, it is a delightful place; there is nothing to do all day long but
to eat, and while we are so well off out there, in this country there will
not be a single green leaf on the trees, and the weather will be so cold
that the clouds will freeze, and fall on the earth in little white rags." The
Stork meant snow, but she could not explain it in any other way.
"Will the naughty boys freeze and fall in pieces?" asked the young Storks.
"No, they will not freeze and fall into pieces," said the mother, but
they will be very cold, and be obliged to sit all day in a dark, gloomy
room, while we shall be flying about in foreign lands, where there are
blooming flowers and warm sunshine."
Time passed on, and the young Storks grew so large, that they could
stand upright in the nest and look about them. The father brought
them, every day, beautiful frogs, little snares, and all kind of Stork
dainties that he could lied. And then, how funny it was to see the tricks
he would perform to amuse them. Ile would lay his head quite around
over his tail, and clatter with his beak, as if it had been a rattle; and
then he would tell them stories, all about the marshes and fens.
"Come," said the mother one day, "now you must learn to fly."
All the young Storks were obliged to come out on the roof. Oh, how
frightened they were at first, and how they tottered, and were obliged to
balance themselves with their wings, or they would have fallen to the
"Look at me," said the mother, "you must hold your heads in this
way, and place your feet so. Once, twice, once, twice-that is it."
Then she flew a short distance, and the young ones made a spring to
follow her, but fell plump, as their bodies were still too heavy.
"I don't want to learn to fly, I don't care about going to warm
countries," said one of the young Storks, creeping back into his nest.
"Would you like to stay here, and freeze when the winter comes, or
till the bad boys come to hang you or roast you?" said the mother.
"Oh, no, no," said the young Stork jumping out on the roof with the
 others; and now all were attentive, and by the third day could fly a little.
The boys came again in the street singing their song:
"Stork, Stork, fly away."
"Shall we fly down, and pick their eyes out?" asked the young Storks.
"No, leave them alone, and listen to me," said the mother.
"But may we not punish them?" asked the Storks, who felt quite
brave now they could fly, and would not be quieted until their mother
promised they could be revenged before they flew away, but they must
wait until the day of their departure.
"We must first see how you acquit yourselves at the grand review,"
said she. "If you get on badly there, the general will thrust his beak
through you, and you will be killed as the boys said, though not in the
same manner, so we must wait and see."
"You shall see," said the young birds, and they took such pains, and
practiced so well, it was quite a pleasure to see them fly so lightly, and
prettily. As soon as Autumn came, all the Storks began to assemble
together at the marsh, before taking their departure to a warm country
for the winter. Then the grand review commenced. And the general
pronounced them fine soldiers, and they received a mark of honor, and
presents of frogs, and snakes, which they enjoyed most of all, for they could
eat the frogs and snakes, which they did quickly.
"Now let us have our revenge," they cried.
"Yes, certainly," replied the mother. "I have thought upon the best
way to be revenged. I know the pond in which all the little babies lie,
waiting till the Storks come to take them to their parents. The prettiest
little babies lie there, dreaming sweet dreams. All parents are glad to
have a little child, and all children are much pleased to have the Storks
bring them a little brother or sister. Now, we will fly to the pond, and
fetch a little baby for each of the children who did not sing that naughty
"But that naughty little boy who always began to sing the ugly song
first, what shall we do to him?" cried the young Storks.
 The mother thought for awhile, and then replied:
"I will tell you what you may do; you will not take a baby to his
home at all, but may take little Peter, (the little boy who told the others it
was a shame to laugh at animals,) a brother and sister too, because he
was so good, and after this, we will name all the Storks, Peter, after this
good little boy."
So they all did what their mother had arranged, and then flew off for
their winter home rejoicing.
Hundreds of additional titles available for
online reading when you join Gateway to the Classics