Every time we go to Baumarkt (aka German Home Depot) we allow each child to select a Schleich animal figure to take home. Schleich makes great, inexpensive toys that look amazingly real. You can buy them in the US, too, at Target for example, although they don't have quite the selection you get here.
Anyway, L likes farm animals like cows, horses and sheep, while K prefers more exotic animals like penguins and polar bears.
Ralf tells the girls bed time stories at night that he makes up and has recently begun a series of adventures involving a polar bear named Tom, a Penguin named Pin Pin and a Seal named Suzi. So naturally, K had her heart set on buying a seal to complete her collection of bedtime friends.
Then she saw a pink plastic storage container and lost her heart to it so she had to choose between the seal and the box. She finally chose the box amidst a storm of tears while L serenely picked out a dappled foal to add to her collection, 'so the mommy horse wouldn't be lonely any more.' K tried to persuade her to go for the seal but no dice.
When K lost her tooth Ralf snuck back to buy the seal. So now she has all three friends and Ralf told a special story last night to welcome Suzi to the team.
Here is Ralf's story - he makes one up like this every night. I think if either of could draw worth beans we'd be disgustingly rich.
The Adventures of Tom, Pin Pin and Suzi - Chapter 4
In which Tom, Pin Pin and Suzy travel to Africa to help their friend Abu
One day Tom, Pin Pin and Suzy received a message in a bottle from their friend Abu the Zebra in Africa asking for help. Abu had lost his stripes!
This is a very serious thing for a Zebra so the three friends set out for Africa right away. It was a long trip but they wanted to help their friend.
When they got there they found that Abu had indeed lost his stripes and was all white. He was very sad because the other zebras didn’t treat him the same any more without his stripes, as if he were no longer one of the herd. He wasn’t even allowed to bathe in the watering hole any more with his friends even though it was so hot.
The four friends greeted each other warmly and sat down in the cool shade of a tree to consult while a giraffe munched gently overhead. Tom, a very clever ice bear, took the lead.
‘When did you lose your stripes?’ asked Tom.
Abu didn’t need to think before answering. ‘The first Tuesday last June.’
Tom nodded and asked, ‘Did anything unusual happen on that day?’
Abu shook his head sadly. ‘Not really. The baker came through like he always does on Tuesday but I can’t see how that would have anything to do with my stripes.’
‘Me neither,’ said Pin Pin.
‘Nor me,’ said Suzy.
Tom was still thinking, his head in his paws. ‘Wait. . . don’t say anything. . . yes!’ He looked at his friends. ‘I know what this reminds me of. It reminds me of my uncle Tim when he was a cub. One day he was out playing and he got very dirty. When his mother called him in for lunch he couldn’t get the dirt off his fur so he covered himself with white snow so he’d look clean.’
‘But there’s no snow here,’ protested Suzy.
‘But what if the baker dropped a back of flour?’ said Tom. ‘Flour is white.’
‘Wouldn’t the flour wash away?’ asked Pin Pin.
‘No!’ cried Abu excitedly. ‘It hasn’t rained in months! And I’m not allowed in the watering hole anymore.’
‘That’s terrible!’ cried Pin Pin. ‘You’re still a zebra, with or without stripes.’
Tom stood up to his full height, which was quite impressive, and growled, ‘Come with me.’
He walked right up to the watering hole with Abu, Suzy and Pin Pin following close behind and spoke softly but in a carrying voice. ‘Abu, would you do me the favor or going into the watering hole now?’ Casually he examined one of his extremely sharp claws and polished it on his fur. The other animals moved quickly out of the way so Abu could go in the water.
Sure enough, a nervous white zebra went into the water but a striped zebra came out!
All the zebras cheered and were delighted that Abu had found his stripes again and apologized for their unkindness. Abu immediately forgave his friends but Tom reminded them sternly, ‘Being a zebra means more than just having stripes. It’s about being part of a herd. And being true to your friends, with or without stripes.’
‘Yes!’ agreed all the zebras. ‘We won’t forget.’
‘Thank you, Tom, Pin Pin and Suzy!’ said Abu gratefully. ‘You really helped me. You're true friends.’
‘You’re very welcome, Abu,’ said Tom kindly. ‘But if you don’t mind we’ll head home now. It’s much too hot here!’
Everyone laughed and the three friends started the long journey home again.
Guess we'll be buying a zebra next. . .