Once upon a time in the rainforest, lived a community of animals. Frog was one of these animals -- he and his best friend Bird liked to travel around the pond to find fish and flies to eat.
Until the day the visitor came.
One day, there was a stranger from the fields. An animal named Rabbit came to the rainforest. He said he was looking for a home, a place where he would be accepted. The animals of the rainforest gladly accepted, and Rabbit joined their community.
At first, all was well, until Rabbit went to get a refreshing drink at the pond, where he saw Frog and Bird hunting for food.
Rabbit laughed and shouted loudly, "Why, Frog, what an ugly mouth you've got -- it's too wide! And your tongue -- eeewww... it's long and slimy!"
"Do you really think so?" asked Frog. "It doesn't seem that bad..."
"Look at other animals' mouths and tongues! Ha! Yours are so different compared to the others!" replied Rabbit, and he hopped away.
At the end of the day, Frog was still very discouraged, so he went to visit Turtle, the elder of the community.
"Rabbit says my mouth is too wide and my tongue is too long," Frog told the elder.
"Well," said Turtle, "if you really think so, why don't you visit Praying Mantis tomorrow... I'm sure her medical skills can help you!"
Frog believed what Rabbit had said. The next day, he visited Praying Mantis and explained his problem.
"If you really think so," replied Praying Mantis, "I will stitch up your mouth and shorten your tongue."
So she performed the surgery, and Frog thought he looked much better. He went to Bird and showed him his new look.
Bird complimented him. "It looks great. Now, want to go hunting?"
"Yeah, sure!" replied Frog eagerly, and the two friends headed off for the pond.
But then, at the pond, Frog couldn't catch flies because his tongue was too short! And he couldn't help Bird catch fish because his mouth was too small.
Soon, Frog was starving and couldn't stand it anymore -- he went back to Praying Mantis and had his mouth unstitched and his tongue lengthened again.
When Rabbit saw that Frog had removed the stitches and had lengthened his tongue, he was disgusted. "You look horrible!"
Frog laughed. "You may think so, but I now realize that the wide mouth and long tongue are important to me. I need them to survive! Without them, I would have starved to death. I don't have to believe what other people say; what always matters is my own opinion."
(A story by Stephen Suen, a fifth-grader at Hong Kong International School)