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Oh, hello. I'm Sam. Welcome to my tea party.
Well, it's not my tea party, really. It's Daddy Lion's tea party.
But you're invited, too. This is a story by Mark Sperring,
with pictures by Sarah Warburton.
Teacups at the ready?
Then I'll begin.
One bright, sunny day,
Daddy Lion reached for his favourite teapot
and smiled at the lion cubs.
"Ah! Today is the perfect day
"for a quiet, little tea party," he announced.
But the three lion cubs looked doubtful.
They liked big, noisy parties, not quiet, little ones.
"Can we at least invite the chimps?" they asked.
Daddy Lion shook his mane.
"I don't think so," he said.
"Those chimps are always monkeying about."
"Then how about the potbellied pigs and the rhino?"
asked the cubs.
"Can they come, please and pretty please?"
"Not today," said Daddy Lion.
"The potbellied pigs always hog the cream buns."
"And Rhino never stops charging about."
Kerthump, kerthump, kerthump!
"Then what about all our other friends?"
asked the cubs. "Can they come instead?"
"Well, my dears," sighed Daddy Lion.
"They could, but you know how all the other animals normally behave."
"Crocodile snaps at everyone."
"Sloth only turns up when all the other guests have gone.
"And as for skunk, that awful skunk,
"he always poo-pong-stinks the whole place out."
So it was decided. It would just be Daddy Lion
and the lion cubs at the tea party.
Wouldn't that be nice?
There was just one huge problem.
Elephant, who was all ears, had overheard the whole thing.
"Psst," he whispered.
"Did you know Daddy Lion is having a tea party
"and none of us are invited?"
But Ostrich, for obvious reasons,
was only half listening.
So when she shook the sand from her ears, she told the parrots,
who were all talk, what she thought she'd heard the elephant say.
Which is how the parrots ended up flying high overhead, squawking,
"Daddy Lion's having a tea party and we're all invited."
And which is why, just as Daddy Lion
lifted his favourite china teacup daintily to his lips,
the lion cubs let out a mighty cheer.
For there stood all the animals, ready to join in the fun.
"Well, now you're here, you might as well all sit down,
"but remember, this is a quiet, little tea party.
"So best behaviour, please."
So down they sat as nicely and politely as they possibly could.
And no-one hogged the buns or monkeyed about.
But just when the lion cubs thought things were a little too quiet,
Ostrich nudged Daddy Lion.
"Psst," she said.
"Look. Everyone's staring at us."
And for a moment, everyone froze.
"Zoo visitors," muttered Daddy Lion.
"I think we should all ignore them
"and just behave as we normally would."
Which is how Daddy Lion's party
finally turned into a rip-roaring
poo-pong stinking, big, noisy, wild success.
And that is why, the very next day, the lion cubs asked,
"Can we please have another quiet, little tea party,
"just like yesterday?"
A quiet, little tea party, yeah?
Well, it didn't turn out that way, did it?
I hope you enjoyed that story,
and maybe you could have a tea party of your own tomorrow.
But now, it's time for you to sleep.
I'll see you again soon for another bedtime story.