How to catch a Fairy

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It happened on the night that the fairies were busy bathing in the stream. She had been visiting her godmother in the North, and on her way through the moonlit woodland path she spotted them. They were quite naked, except for one, she was sitting on a throne on the bank bossing a couple of pixies around. A rabbit laughed by accident, and the queen scolded him until he ran away into the forest, mumbling something about a watch and a waistcoat that needed mending. But he was obviously just embarrassed to have been caught laughing at the naked fairies. Emberly crouched down between the brambles to have a better look. Her godmother had given her a glass jar to catch fireflies in for light, but now Emberly thought better of it. She was going to catch a fairy! But she had to be real clever about it.

“I don’t need a bath,” protested a small fairy baby, or to Emberly it just sounded like a faint squeaking sound, but that is just because she was too big to understand fairy language. The little fairy baby was sitting on a pebble with a leaf over his head. He was trying his best to appear invisible. The grown-up fairies didn’t seem to notice him at all, so maybe he really was invisible to them. “That is the one I will catch!” said Emberly to herself. The queen of the fairies had ordered the crickets to play music and some of the pixies began a funny dance, jumping and sprinting around the lavishly decorated throne. The pixies were wearing suits woven with pine needles and snake grass, and hats made of hazelnut shells. All the bathing fairies were watching the funny pixies now, and Emberly saw her chance. She crawled on her arms and legs closer to the stream and held her open glass jar out in front of her. She had put a piece of her godmother’s strawberry cream cake inside the jar and was hoping the fairy baby would smell it and willingly climb into the jar. She pushed the jar so that it was quite close to the fairy baby, and she had been right. The little creature wiggled his nose, turned his head and sniffed. He smiled when he saw the white and pink little cake, and threw the leaf he had been hiding under to the side and staggered on his little fairy legs into the glass. As soon as he was inside, Emberly quickly tipped the jar so that it stood upright again and closed the lid. She had done it! She had caught a fairy!

“It is a nice dance,” said the queen from her throne, “but something is missing.” She got up and looked ponderingly around. Her eyes went to the pebble where the fairy baby had been sitting just minutes ago, and she gasped. “Where is the little prince!? Where is he!?” she shouted as loudly as a fairy can shout, but to Emberly it just sounded like a little tingle of teaspoons of sugar being dipped into a small cup. Emberly peeked into the jar to have a better look, but when she tilted the jar to give the fairy a bit more space to move around, she saw to her astonishment that there was no fairy in there anymore, just a very small green frog with big yellow frightened eyes. “What happened to the little fairy?” she said out loud and shook the glass until the frog became so dizzy he almost fainted. The pixies had begun to dance again, but the queen stopped them and commanded rather sternly: “Stop! Stop! What is the matter with you? The prince is missing and the only thing you can think of is dancing and being funny!” The pixies stopped dancing and looked at each other, rather ashamed of themselves. “Your majesty,” said the oldest pixie, “what do you want us to do?” “Find the prince of course!” said the Fairy Queen. The pixies nodded and started looking around the banks of the stream, under pebbles, behind rocks, in between the snake grass and dandelions, but the prince was nowhere to be found. Suddenly a tiny blue fairy appeared before the queen. She had finished her bathing and was wearing a lovely frock made of bluebell petals. “I will find the prince for you, your majesty.” The queen was very pleased to hear this and asked the blue fairy to get started right away. The little blue fairy, whose name was Minoria, flew up in the tallest tree, a white slim birch, and from there she could see the entire forest.

Emberly was sure the ugly green frog must somehow have gotten into the jar before the fairy baby and eaten him up, and she was very much disappointed in her catch. A frog was a very common thing, and nothing really to brag about. So she opened the lid of the jar and the frog hopped happily back into the green grass and headed for the stream. When the bathing fairies saw the frog coming at them, they screamed in fright and disgust and swam to the shore as fast as they could. And as soon as their wings had dried they flew away from the stream. The Fairy Queen did not much like frogs herself, and she called for her firefly horses to pull her carriage home. Emberly saw the fairies leave and so she lost her interest in the forest and headed home. The only one who was left on the scene was the little green frog. He did not really like the stream, even though he was a frog, so he climbed into a walnut shell, left behind by the fairies, and fell asleep.

Minoria saw the frog from the tree, and thought to herself that he must not be much more than a baby, and she felt so sorry for him that she flew down from the tree, and covered his green ugly body with violet leaves. Feeling rather tired herself, she climbed into a marigold and settled herself in between the soft delicate petals and fell fast asleep. The next morning, when the frog woke up, he found the sleeping blue fairy beside him and woke her with a lick of his long tongue. Minoria was startled by the unfamiliar awakening, but she did not get scared. She actually laughed and started playing with the little frog. It was a rather charming sight to see, and the squirrels came down from the trees to watch. “Maybe he can help me to find the prince…” said Minoria to herself and she beckoned the frog to follow her.

For hours they walked around in the forest, sometimes Minoria took little flights into the trees to see a bit further on, but there was no sign of the prince. “You should ask the witch,” chirped a blackbird from its nest. “But how do I find the witch?” asked Minoria. “Oh, she lives here and there. Try under that root over there,” replied the blackbird and pointed towards a fallen over tree with its wing. The root looked rather abandoned and forlorn, but Minoria found a small piece of solid wood that perhaps looked a little bit like a door and knocked it three times. “Who’s there?” said an old hoarse voice. “It is Minoria, the blue fairy, and a little green frog; we have come to see you on urgent business.” Minoria could hear the sound of something being pulled and pushed and kicked, and then slowly the piece of wood, that was indeed a door, opened.

The witch was old and wrinkly with a toothless smile and a round, rather red nose. “What is it you want? I have a cold and a fever and I am not up to any spells today,” said the witch and coughed noisily. “I am so sorry to hear about your cold, Madam Witch, I will not keep you, but please we need help urgently!” The witch reluctantly let them inside. The root-home was dark and damp( a very bad place for colds, thought Minoria to herself), and there were only a few cones for furniture, and a big black cauldron made of a broken crow egg sooted black with coal. “Now, hurry,” said the witch impatiently, “tell me why you have come.” The little green frog huddled close to Minoria and stared at the witch with his frightened yellow eyes. “It is the Fairy Prince,” said Minoria, “he is missing. We have looked everywhere, but we cannot find him.” The witch looked from Minoria to the frog and cackled. “Oh, I think you have,” she said, and laughed even louder. Minoria looked at her puzzled. Perhaps the witch was mad with fever. “Take this seed,” said the witch and held out a little yellow and brown object, “and plant it tonight, when the moon comes out, in the garden of the white and blue cottage just at the border of this forest. By next morning a tree will grow from that seed, and you must pick the first berry that ripens on the tree and feed it to the little green frog.” “And then what will happen,” asked Minoria. She didn’t understand what the white and blue cottage and the frog had to do with finding the prince, but she was scared to disobey the witch. “Then you will see,” said the witch and cackled even louder.

Minoria knew the white and blue cottage well; she had flown there many times to look at the enormous golden haired girl who lived there. Fairies were not allowed to interact with, or be seen by humans, but Minoria had always been careful. The cottage garden was beautiful this time of year, all ripe and lush with roses, periwinkles, jasmines and forget-me-nots. Minoria chose a barren spot right next to the white strawberry flowers to plant the seed, and once it was done, she and the frog went to sleep amongst the sweet smelling flowers.

They were awakened next morning by a bumblebee who had mistaken Minoria for a bluebell. “Shooosh with you,” hooted Minoria and the startled bumblebee buzzed hurriedly on to the bed of roses. “Look!” called Minoria, “the seed has grown into a tree! Just like the witch said!” She kicked off and flew up to the crown of the tree to examine it closer, and there, just on the top branch, she spotted a little red berry. She picked it and gave it to the little green frog who hungrily gobbled it up in one bite (breakfast was his favorite meal). Then something funny happened, the frog started to grow! He grew and grew until he was almost as tall as the tree! His face changed too! His big yellow eyes became blue and small, and his green frog-skin turned white and pink. “You are a boy!” exclaimed Minoria. “A human boy!”

The frog, who indeed had turned into a human boy, looked at himself and smiled. Unfortunately he didn’t have any clothes on, and this seemed to bother him immensely, so Minoria helped him to gather some maple leaves to fashion into a suit. When it was done, he smiled happily and took a few dance steps in the garden. “Who are you?” called out a voice. Minoria, who could tell that the voice was human, quickly hid under a rose petal. The frog-boy turned around and saw the most beautiful girl he had even seen stand before him. She had golden hair and pink cheeks and lovely brown eyes. “I am a prince,” said the frog-boy, who discovered to his great delight that he could talk like a human. Emberly, yes it was indeed Emberly who lived in the white and blue cottage, looked at the boy and smiled, “then I should very much like to kiss you,” she said. The frog-boy smiled back at her and lifted his face up to hers. Emberly planted a big wet kiss on his mouth, but then as she did so, something strange happened. Emberly started shrinking, she shrank and shrank, and something else happened too, her white and pink skin turned green and her lovely brown eyes became large and yellow. She had turned into a frog! Frightened out of her wits, Emberly started hopping around frantically. The frog-boy hurried to catch her, and he put her into a glass jar that stood nearby. “I will keep you forever and ever,” he said to frog-Emberly inside the jar, and kissed the glass wall tenderly.

Minoria, who had witnessed the whole scene, was now beside herself with worry. What was she now to do? She still had no fairy prince, only a frog turned into a live boy, and a human girl turned into a frog! She sighed in frustration. “I better take both of you to the witch,” she said. But neither the frog nor the boy could hear her. But she motioned desperately with her wings, and soon they understood that they were to follow her. The frog-boy carried frog-Emberly in the jar, and Minoria flew a few feet ahead. When the witch she saw them, she laughed and laughed, even more than she had done before. Her whole face twisted in involuntarily grimaces and she held her stomach hard as she threw back her head and heaved for breath. Minoria looked at her a bit sternly and gave a little cough. “I am sure you find this all very amusing, but I need to find the fairy prince and your advice did not help at all!” “Oh, you think so, do you?” said the witch and smiled mischievously. “But what am I to do with these two?” asked Minoria and threw up her wings in resigned frustration. “You are to take the frog in the jar to the fairy queen. Tell her to keep it there for three days and three nights. She is not to open the jar. The boy has to go back to the cottage and live there for the same amount of days and nights. On the third day you will return to him, and take him back with you to the fairies, but before you go, pick all the ripe berries from the tree you planted, and mix them into a juice. When the sun sets that same day, give one cup of the juice to the boy, and one cup to the frog, they should drink it just as the last rays of the sun disappear.” “And then what will happen,” asked Minoria, rather confusedly. “Oh, you will see,” said the witch. And Minoria could do nothing else but take her advice.

The boy, who now had to live in the white and blue cottage, soon became very lonely, there was no one to play with, and no funny things to look at. The frog on the other hand, was thoroughly amused. Frog-Emberly had no idea how much fun it was to be a fairy! They painted nutshells purple, and danced along leafy paths, they flew and twirled in breezes, and slept in petal hats, they dried the tears of squirrel babes and hung their firs to dry, they sat and read on mushrooms and never did she see them cry! On the third day, Minoria flew to the little cottage as she had been told to do by the witch. She found a very sad boy sitting on a rock outside the door, waiting for her. He lit up when he saw her, and wanted to leave right away, but Minoria remembered the berries and motioned to the boy to pick them and keep them in his pocket. They boy understood and did as he was told. The Fairy Queen was not at all glad to see the boy walking into her little queendom. She had been reluctant enough to let the frog live with them for the past three days, and she had only agreed because it had been locked up in a glass jar. Now, however, she was to entertain a fully grown human! She stamped her foot so hard her daffodil slipper came off, and the youngest pixie had to run after it as it was caught in the wind.

Minoria lead the boy into the meadow where he was made to sit down on a log-stool next to the frog, then she started pounding the little red berries into a juice, just as the witch had told her to do, and poured the liquid into two cups, one big and one quite small and flat for the frog. Then the she told the pixies to open the lid of the jar. The frightened pixies were clumsy, but after a few attempts they managed to open the lid just enough for the cup to be brought to the captured frog, and just as the last rays of the sun disappeared behind the trees, the boy and the frog drank the sweet juice. The first thing that happened was that the jar broke. The fairies shrieked and leapt up, some of them even hid under leaves and behind dandelions. Then the boy disappeared, and in his place stood a tiny naked fairy baby, and next to the fairy baby, an enormous golden haired girl. “Who are you!?” demanded the astonished Fairy Queen. But only the fairy baby understood what she said. “I am the fairy prince,” he said, and the queen saw to her delight that he was in fact the missing fairy prince. Emberly said something too, but no one understood her. But she reached out her little finger, and the fairy queen touched it with her hand, and then she left, and to everyone’s surprise the fairy prince started crying. “Fairy babies don’t cry,” said the fairy queen sternly. “Perhaps there is a little bit of boy in him still,” offered Minoria, and all the fairies nodded their heads in agreement and stared at the fairy prince rather worriedly.

The fairy prince grew up to be a handsome fairy king, and Emberly grew up to be an author. She wrote many books about the fairies and how lovely they were, but how one should never try to catch them because if you do, they might just turn into a frog. The fairy king and Emberly met again one day, when they were both grown-ups. The fairy king was the ruler of his own kingdom then, and needn’t bother too much about rules and such. Emberly was so delighted to see him, she wanted to make him something special to drink, and then she thought of the witch’s tree in the garden. She picked all the ripe berries and pounded them into a juice. She offered one glass to the fairy king and took one herself. The fairy king did not want to be rude, but ever since he was a baby he had hated the taste of juice, so he just pretended to drink, and poured the juice discretely in the flowerbed. Emberly however loved juice, and it was a hot summer day and she drank thirstily. But as she drank she started shrinking, and shrinking, and shrinking, and suddenly something light and feathery poked out from her back. She turned around to see, and to her delight discovered that they were wings, and when she looked up at the fairy king she could see that they were the same size! Emberly had become a fairy!

The fairy king, who had always had a secret crush on the enormous girl, fell in love all over again, and asked her then and there to marry him. Emberly, who remembered being a frog inside the jar and seeing how much fun it was to be a fairy, said yes of course. . They married shortly after, and ruled the fairy kingdom as fairy queen and fairy king for many many years to come.

THE END

 

 

The Ghost House and the Crystal Ball

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On the first day of the Easter Holidays, Cecily and I found a proper Ghost House. I, as usual, was the first to spot it. I opened the door to the potato cellar of the house boldly, and entered inside. Cecily was too scared to come, so she kept watch outside. I held my breath as I walked across the cold mud floor. I am almost ten years old, but I am braver than most kids my age. Cecily is almost eight and not brave at all. About half way into the cellar I saw something shiny on one of the many tool shelves across the wall. My heart began to pound really fast. It was a green glass ball wrapped in an old fishing net.

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“Where are you?” called Cecily from the garden outside. “I’ll be there in a minute!” I yelled back. I took the glass ball under my arm and carefully walked back outside and into the daylight. “What is that?” asked Cecily when she saw the green ball under my arm. I explained to her that it was a magic crystal ball and that we were to take it back home with us.

I carried the crystal ball very carefully back to Aunty and Uncle’s summer house. When we got there uncle explained to us that the ghost house we had discovered belonged to an old lady called Olga, but she had died and now the house just stood there empty and decaying. Uncle lowered his voice so that Aunty couldn’t hear him and said that Olga had been a real witch with a broomstick and all! “I knew it!” I said to Cecily then, “I knew that the crystal ball was magic! Olga must have used it to see all kind of magical things in.” Cecily was too frightened to say anything.

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I spent the whole evening staring into the crystal ball trying to see something in there, but all I saw was my own reflection. “We need the spell,” I said to Cecily. “I am sure Olga had to say a riddle of magical words to make it work. Let’s go to her house again tonight and ask her about the spell.” “No, that is very dangerous,” said Cecily. “Ghosts are no joke.” But I managed to convince her to come. I always do. “We’ll go tonight at midnight,” I said.

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We waited until Uncle and Aunty had gone to bed before we left. It was very dark, but we had brought our flash lights with us. Cecily walked behind me, she was so scared her teeth rattled. “Stop that!” I scolded. “You will scare the ghosts away!” But that was the wrong thing to say, because it made Cecily’s teeth rattle even more.

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I must admit that Olga’s house did look more scary in the dark, but I just decided not to be afraid, otherwise I would never get that spell. “Let’s try the front door this time,” I said to Cecily. The front door opened slowly with a long sigh. I pushed it firmly and went into the dark corridor. “Are you coming?” I said to Cecily, but she just shook her head. “Well, then I guess you will have to stand outside all by yourself.” I made my voice a little spooky for special effect. That did the trick. Cecily moved in behind me, but she insisted on holding my hand. I opened the door to the living room slowly and pointed my flash light into the dark room. Cecily sucked in her breath and gripped my hand tighter. “Olgaaaa!! Are you there?!” I yelled. “Olgaaaa, I have your crystal ball and I need that spell to make it work!” No one answered. We moved further into the empty living room. But all of a sudden out of nowhere, something huge with sharp claws jumped on me and screamed viciously into my ear. Both Cecily and I dropped our flash lights and ran out of the house screaming, with the big evil thing in hot pursuit. We managed to reach the corridor before the creature and I slammed the door shut behind me as soon as we were outside. The creature was locked inside the house.

Cecily was bawling and even I was shaking with the shock of it all, so we sat down on a couple of rocks to catch our breath. “What was that??” cried Cecily. I didn’t answer because I didn’t know. Then all of a sudden we heard a sound from one of the windows, like someone was tapping on the glass with sharp claws. I forced myself to look up at the window and there, to my horror, I saw two yellow eyes staring maliciously at us. I dragged Cecily to her feet and we ran in a panic all the way back to Uncle and Aunty’s summer house.

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We forgot to be quiet so we woke up Uncle and Aunty. Aunty was very angry with us for sneaking out in the middle of the night. But Uncle had a funny smile on his face and he made us tell him the whole story. After hearing the story Aunty shook her head angrily and said: “It must have been that wild cat you saw. He is big and vicious and growls at anyone who dares to come close to that house. Now off to bed with you two! March!”

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Uncle went with us to tuck us in, and when he put the blanked around me he said” “Your Aunty is right about the cat, but what she doesn’t know is that the cat is really old Olga transformed. You see, right before she died she put a spell on herself and transformed into a big black cat.” “Oh, I understand,” I whispered, Cecily was already sleeping, “because cats have nine lives, right?” “Precisely!” replied uncle and winked at me.

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I lay awake for some time staring into the green crystal ball. I would have to get that cat to give me the spell somehow. But next time I’d come prepared. And in my dreams I was already cooking up a magic master plan.

All the beautiful art is by Ilon Wikland. See more of Ilon’s wonderful art here: http://www.ilon.se/en/about.php

The Tale of the three little bunnies

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The doorbell was ringing in Carnation Cottage. Ding! Dong! “I wonder who it is?” said little Lavender Rose. “Probably just someone trying to sell something,” said Mother. Ding! Dong! There the bell went again. Little Lavender Rose opened the door excitedly. She liked buying things. Outside stood two little bunnies. They looked very pretty in their flower caps and white clean frocks. “Hello!” said Lavender Rose. “Are you selling something?” The two little bunnies shook their heads. “We have come to ask if you want to play, “said the smallest of the two bunnies. Lavender Rose did want to play. She put on her little lavender coat and her rose pink hat and went into the sunshine outside.

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“My name is Lily,” said the smallest bunny. “My name is Daisy,” said the other bunny. They all liked each other very much right away. “Let us go and play by the river,” said Lavender Rose. They all decided to go and play by the river. On the way to the river they met a butterfly. The butterfly asked if they wanted a drink of flower nectar. “Bunnies hate flower nectar,” said Lily and put out her tongue in disgust. “Bunnies hate flower nectar,” said Daisy and put out her tongue in disgust. “Bunnies hate flower nectar,” said Lavender Rose and put out her tongue in disgust. The butterfly felt dreadfully offended and flew away.
The river was very pretty. The banks were covered in wildflowers and weeping willows and there was no dangerous current to sweep them away into the Far-Away. On a little rock by the river sat a frog fishing for his supper. “Yuck! A frog!” said Daisy and wrinkled her little pink nose. “Yuck! A frog!” said Lily and wrinkled her little pink nose. “Yuck! A frog!” said Lavender Rose and wrinkled her little pink nose. The frog heard them and skipped away angrily.

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“Let’s go for a swim!” said Daisy. They all loved to swim so they took off their clothes and jumped into the river. While all this was going on, no one was watching the river bank. A poor little spider stood there crying. He also wanted to play, but he didn’t know how to swim. The little bunnies soon became tired of swimming and they returned to the river bank. “Can I play with you?” asked the little spider. “No, “said Lavender Rose, “we don’t like spiders!” “No, “said Lily, “we don’t like spiders!” “No,” said Daisy, “we don’t like spiders!” The little spider ran away crying noisily.

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The clouds in the sky went from white to very black and soon it started raining heavily. “Let’s go and stand under the weeping willows,” said Lily. “I hate getting wet!” All the three little bunnies agreed that getting wet was the worst thing in the whole world. They huddled together under the weeping willow. But the rain fell through the branches and the little bunnies started crying.
The frog who had been fishing for his supper heard the little bunnies crying and he felt sorry for them so he decided to give them his water lily leaf to use as an umbrella. “Thank you Mr. Frog “said Lavender Rose and smiled sweetly. “Thank you Mr. Frog,” said Lily and smiled sweetly. “Thank you Mr. Frog,” said Daisy and smiled sweetly. The three little bunnies were so small that they could all fit under the leaf without getting wet.

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After a little while the rain stopped. “Let’s go home!” said Daisy. They all thought that was a very good idea. They started walking home, but after just a few minutes Lily stopped. “ I am so thirsty, “ she said unhappily. “ I am thirsty too,” said Lavender Rose. “I am also thirsty,” said Daisy. The three little bunnies were so thirsty that they started crying. The butterfly they had met earlier that day heard the three little bunnies crying, she felt sorry for them and decided to help them. “I have some flower nectar if you want to try a sip,” she said to the three little bunnies. “I would like that very much Miss Butterfly,” said Lily and drank the sweet delicious nectar greedily. “I would also like some Miss Butterfly,” said Lavender Rose and drank the sweet delicious nectar greedily. “Please may I also have some,” said Daisy and drank the sweet delicious nectar greedily.

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The three little bunnies felt strong again so they hopped along homewards. “Help!” cried Lily as she suddenly fell into a very deep hole in the ground. “Help!” cried Lavender Rose and fell into the same hole. “Help!” cried Daisy and joined the other two in the hole. The three little bunnies had forgotten all about the farmer’s traps, and now it was too late. The farmer would have them for his supper!

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The three little bunnies started crying miserably. The spider from the river bank heard the three little bunnies crying and he felt sorry for them, so he decided to try and see if he could help them. When the spider saw the three little bunnies trapped in the hole in the ground, he quickly started to spin a long beautiful web. When the web was finished he lowered it into the hole. “Here, climb unto my web!” said the spider. Lavender Rose grabbed hold of the web and climbed out of the hole. Then Lily grabbed hold of the web and climbed out of the hole, and lastly Daisy grabbed hold of the web and climbed out of the hole. “Thank you kind spider,” said Lily and shook the spider’s hand. “Thank you kind spider,” said Lavender Rose and shook the spider’s hand. “Thank you kind spider,” said Lily and shook the spider’s hand.

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The three little bunnies hurried home and said their good byes. When mother asked Lavender Rose how her day had been, all Lavender Rose could say was: “Mother, from today I will be such a good little bunny for I never want to be made into supper for the farmer!”

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All the artwork is by the magical Beatrix Potter. Learn more about her art and books here: http://www.peterrabbit.com/en