Chapter One: School Time
It was a bright, sunny day. All the baby animals made their way to the school, excited to start a new day and meet their friends.
Ellie the Elephant put down her grey backpack on her seat and turned around to say hi to her friends. Everyone smiled and waved back. As the class bell rang, the Jungle School’s roll call began.
The wise Mr. Otis Owl called out names for attendance. One by one, everyone raised their hand. Everyone was in class today as there was going to be a test. After the roll call, Mr. Owl wrote the word ‘happy’ on the whiteboard.
He turned around and asked everyone what it meant. Tina the Tiger raised her hand and said, ‘to smile.’ She smiled wide, showing all thirty of her milky white teeth. Tina the Tiger loved smiling and brushed every day to keep her teeth healthy, so she could show how happy she was every day.
Mr. Owl wrote down ‘smiling’ on the board. He said, ‘Good job Miss. Tiger. Smiling is a way to show you are happy.’ Then all the baby animals started saying words for Mr. Owl to write on the board. Soon, the whole board was filled with words like laughing, having fun, games, and food.
Mr. Owl stepped then asked the class if they wanted to add more. All the baby animals thought hard, but they could not find more words that showed happiness. Mr. Owl said, ‘You all did a great job, so I hope you can easily do your special assignment.
The assignment will have bonus marks, so if you cannot submit it, it is alright. Are you ready for me to tell you what it is?’ ‘Yes!’ exclaimed the whole class in unison. Mr. Owl smiled; his students were eager to know and get to work.
He felt proud his students loved to learn and do their best on assignments. ‘Okay, so you have to find the happiest animal in the whole jungle,’ he wrote on the board. ‘Happiest animal? Easy, that’s me!’ snickered Matt the Monkey.
Mr. Owl shook his head, ‘Yes, Mr. Matt, you are indeed happy. But, you have to search the Jungle for someone other than you. You are to use the word you chose to describe why you think your animal is the happiest in the Jungle.
Two students cannot have the same happiest animal.’ Cody the Crocodile raised his hand. Mr. Owl nodded at him, and he said, ‘But Sir, shouldn’t there be only one happiest animal?’
Mr. Owl smiled and said, ‘We all have different ideas of happiness. Look at the whiteboard; you all said different words. You will understand this when you go out and look for the animal you think is the happiest.’
The class looked confused but relieved that they would not have to look for the same animal. The students did not like to go against each other unless they were racing. As the class discussed who they thought was the happiest, the bell rang again.
Before dismissing the class, Mr. Owl put down a few sheets of paper and told the class, ‘These are your previous marked tests. If you feel that you got a low grade, please stay after class, and we can discuss your test.’
Everyone lined up to collect their tests. Ellie the Elephant saw that she had gotten a B, and though it was good enough, she was hoping for an A on her test. She read through the paper and noted the errors she had made.
Ellie promised herself that she would do better because she knew she could.
Chapter Two: The Group of Friends
As everyone sat in the cafeteria, Ellie the Elephant looked around and saw her friends in deep thought. They all wondered how to do the new assignment. Ellie joined them as they all started walking to the park.
The friends laid on the grass and looked at the blue sky. Fluffy clouds were floating, and Ellie could see one that looked like her. She smiled. Cody the Crocodile asked them all, ‘who is the happiest animal you have ever met?’
Matt the Monkey spoke up, ‘I don’t know about the happiest, but I know someone who always smiles when I pass by her at the river.’ Tina the Tiger stood up, ‘can you show me where she lives?’
Matt the Monkey nodded, and they all began their journey towards the river to find Aunty Quokka. Matt the Monkey swung from the trees, and others followed on the ground. Tina the Tiger was the fastest and kept up easily with him.
When they arrived Matt the Monkey knocked on a tree, and Aunty Quokka peaked her little head out from behind a branch. She was already smiling. Tina the Tiger took a shine to her and immediately started chatting to her about everyday life.
The others saw Tina the Tiger get excited over meeting someone who smiled more than she did. They left her with Aunty Quokka and started walking back to their homes. Cody the Crocodile took the river as the route was faster for him.
Matt the Monkey and Ellie the Elephant strolled through the lush Jungle together. As Matt the Monkey was swinging on the trees, he almost crashed into someone else. He caught a branch just in time to avoid falling.
He saw a bat hanging upside down on a shaded branch. The area was dark, which was why he could not see Ms. Brie the Bat hanging there. ‘Almost got you there, little one,’ she laughed. Matt started laughing too and told her that he had amazing reflexes.
Ellie the Elephant knew Ms. Bat as the funniest person in the Jungle. She had been to Ms. Bat’s comedy shows with her parents a few times, and they always had a great time laughing back home.
Matt the Monkey was funny too and liked to do tricks that made others laugh. Ellie the Elephant thought that two of her friends had already found the happiest animal for class tomorrow. Both were different but made her friends happy the way they liked to be happy.
With thoughts swimming in her head, Ellie the Elephant took off to find her old friend Steve the Snail.
Chapter Three: The Animal in the Lake
Ellie the Elephant found Steve the Snail exactly where he was last year. Near the side of a small tree, attached to a rock, Steve was fast asleep. The weather was hot and dry, so her friend had gone to sleep inside his shell last year to protect himself.
He wasn’t coming out until the weather got better. Ellie the Elephant had hoped that her friend could give her some advice. The sun was about to set, and she had made no progress on her class assignment.
As she walked back home, she kept getting sadder as she had never felt this way before. When she reached home, she greeted her parents and went to the nearby lake to wash up before the sunset. On her way, she saw Cody the Crocodile talking to Mr. Doug the Duck as they played together in the water.
Ellie the Elephant looked at the water and saw her sad face staring back. It was the opposite of happy. ‘Where can I find a happy animal when I am so sad myself?’ she said aloud. She stared at the water and used her trunk to make ripples in the lake.
They made it look like her sad face was smiling in the water. She smiled back. Then she laughed, and her reflection laughed too. She took some water and poured it onto her head. As the water poured over her head, Ellie said to herself, ‘This feels good and makes me so happy.’
She continued to wash up and dance in the water. She felt like the happiest elephant in the whole world. ‘It is me! I am the happiest I have ever met,’ she shouted with joy as the sun slowly set.
As she slept, she thought about everything that made her happy. She thought about her parents, friends, and school. She thought about her cool baths and how she ran with her friends in the park.
Even when she got hurt or failed, she always made herself happy by promising to do better. The next day at school, everyone was sitting with their partner. Aunty Quokka and Tina the Tiger were smiling while Matt the Monkey and Ms. Bat made everyone laugh.
Cody the Crocodile and Mr. Duck, on the other hand, talked about travelling. After the roll call, Mr. Owl looked at them all but noticed that Ellie the Elephant had no one with her. He called her and asked if she did not want to submit the assignment or her partner was late to class.
She proudly went up to him and gave him a bowl of water. When Mr. Owl looked inside, he saw his reflection looking back at him. Confused, he asked her what this meant. Ellie the Elephant said, ‘All my friends brought animals that made them happy the way they like to be happy.
Matt the Monkey loves jokes and tricks, Tina the Tiger loves smiling, and Cody the Crocodile found someone who can enjoy both land and water like him. But I found that when I do things with my friends or just spend time with myself, I make myself happy!
I can feel happy any time.’ Mr. Owl felt proud of her and asked, ‘So, you are the happiest animal of the jungle?’
Ellie the Elephant replied, laughing, ‘I am the happiest animal I have ever met Mr. Owl.’