For ages 3 - 6
Derrick knelt at the edge of the pond in his backyard. As he looked into the water, he could see dozens of tiny frogs swimming. Derrick stayed still until a frog swam close to him. Then he swooshed his net through the water.
"Gotcha!" Derrick shouted, grinning from ear to ear. He carefully placed the frog into a jar and hurried toward his house. He couldn’t wait to show his pet its new home.
When Derrick got to his room, he set the jar down and lifted the lid off the aquarium he and his daddy had set up earlier that day.
Derrick picked up the frog in his hand. It felt cold and slimy as it tried to wriggle away. Derrick lowered his cupped hands into the aquarium and set the frog free.
"I’m going to call you Iggy,” Derrick said to the frog. “I hope you like your new home."
Iggy jumped into the water and swam around. Then he climbed out and perched on a large leaf. For the longest time after that, Iggy didn’t move.
Derrick was certain that Iggy was just getting used to his new home. He’d be fine once he got all settled in.
A few days later, Derrick stood over the tank.
“What’s wrong, Iggy?” he asked. Iggy would not eat. All Iggy did was sit around and look sad. Derrick thought Iggy might be missing his friends, but Derrick knew that the tank wasn’t big enough for another frog.
Derrick plopped himself down on his bed and looked out his window. When Iggy was outside, he had a large pond to swim in, but now he was stuck in a tiny tank.
Derrick knew that if Iggy didn't start eating soon, he would get sick. There was only one thing he could do. Derrick scooped Iggy up, placed him in a jar and headed back to the pond.
As he knelt at the edge, a tear rolled down his cheek. He took a deep breath and slowly tipped the container. Iggy jumped into the water with a tiny plop and zoomed toward the middle of the pond.
“Goodbye, Iggy,” Derrick said. Even though he would miss Iggy, he knew that Iggy was happy to be home, and that made him smile.
Originally published in Our Little Friend, June 2006.
Photo by Vera Kuttelvaserova through Fotolia.com