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A short story for kids. By best selling author Luba Brezhnev. Read by Kristine Berg.
Puny and Don.
This is the story about a piglet named Puny who didn't like mud. All the other animals
laughed at him, but everything changed when Puny met his new friend Don.
The farmer's wife was startled when she entered the shed. Next to the sow on the straw
lay eight little piglets, squealing and jostling one another. They were all so pink and so
round, with their little tails sticking up in the air like mattress springs!
She admired the piglets for a moment and was about to leave, when all of a sudden she noticed
a ninth piglet, a little fellow sprawled motionless on the straw. He was definitely smaller than
the others and looked very frail. She took him into her hands and gently stroked his
pink back. The piglet opened his eyes and grunted softly.
"Great," she said. "You're alive! I'm going to take you indoors!"
She wrapped the newborn piglet in her apron and went back to the kitchen.
From that day on, the piglet lived in the house. Everyone fell in love with him at first
sight, and they named him Puny. He had the funniest way of stamping his hooves as he
ran around the house. He slept next to Doozy the dog, who took care of him as if he were
one of her puppies.
To keep the tiny piglet warm, the farmer's wife sewed him a beautiful little jacket.
Puny protested at first, but when he caught cold and kept sneezing loudly, he had no choice
but to wear the jacket.
As time passed, the piglet gained weight and got bigger and bigger. One morning the farmer's
wife decided it was time to send him to the yard to be with the rest of the animals.
It was sunny and clear, and the rain had just stopped. Puny's brothers and sisters were
lunging into an enormous puddle by the fence and squealing joyfully at their first opportunity
to wallow in the mud.
"Go on then, catch up with the rest of your family," the farmer's wife said, taking
Puny out into the yard and pushing him toward the big puddle.
The little piglet began to dig himself into the ground with all four hooves, squealing
and tearing himself away from her. Every time she tried to drive him toward the puddle,
he became hysterical and fought his way out of her grasp like a warrior on the battlefield.
"What is going on with him?" she wondered.
No one could understand why Puny refused to play in the mud with the other piglets from
his litter. Everyone knows pigs love mud. They like splashing about in the mud more
than anything else, even eating; and they always choose the muddiest, dirtiest puddle
available. They can't stand to live without their mud baths; they get bored and restless.
Imagine children without candy or a rabbit without a carrot! But no matter how hard the
farmer's wife tried to change Puny's mind, nothing seemed to help. Puny simply hated
the mud. While strolling about the yard, he did his best to avoid risky areas and swerved
sharply away from any puddles that came into view.
So the veterinarian was called in. He examined Puny, listened to his lungs and heart, shook
his head and said: "A perfectly healthy little pig. I don't know why he doesn't
like mud. In all my years taking care of pigs, I've never seen a thing like it."
Acting on the vet's advice, the farmer's wife decided to gradually introduce Puny to
the pleasures of a pig's life. She poured muddy water into a tub and tried to place
the piglet inside, but he raised a ruckus. In his desperate attempts to escape, he knocked
the tub over. Looking at the muddy water that had spilled out over the kitchen floor, he
ran in horror to the bedroom and disappeared under the bed. Puny was a pig -- but not
at all like any other pig the world had ever seen!
As the weeks passed, Puny spent more time cautiously exploring the farm. Knowing how
different from other pigs he was, the animals in the yard never missed a chance to make
fun of him.
The geese would squawk: "Mind you don't get dirty! Ha, ha, ha..."
The chickens joined the chorus: "Cluck, cluck, cluck..."
They laughed so hard that some fell over backwards and waved their feet. The pompous turkeys
refused to greet him, showing their contempt. The cow tried her best to spear him with her
horns. The other piglets began to chuckle loudly when they saw him.
Puny walked about the yard, secretly swallowing tears as he maneuvered his way around the
mud puddles.
One day, to leave the cruel laughter behind, Puny went all the way to the far end of the
yard. There, in a large corral, the beautiful, limber-legged horses frolicked, enjoying the
sunshine and the smell of fresh grass.
Suddenly Puny saw a shed in one corner of the yard, alongside the fence. He approached
and listened closely. Someone lived there! The piglet walked around and saw an entrance.
Without thinking twice, he rushed through the door into the shed. He stood motionless
for a few seconds, watching a strange animal chewing on some oats from a trough, paying
no attention to him. The animal resembled the horses running about in the big pasture,
but was smaller.
"Are you a horse, or what?" asked Puny, coming closer.
The animal stopped chewing his oats, turned his head toward Puny and looked at him curiously.
"No," said the animal, surprised by the question. "I'm not a horse, I'm a donkey."
"Ah," said the piglet. He paused to give himself time to think. He knew the many animals
that lived in the yard, but had never seen a donkey.
"So are you different?" he asked timidly, afraid he might hurt the stranger's feelings.
"Of course, I'm different. Horses and donkeys are distant relatives, but they don't
admit it. Horses are so proud of their handsome looks and their elegant stature."
"You're very handsome too," said Puny.
"Thank you," said the little donkey, nodding his head. "So what is your name?"
"Puny," he answered.
"What an odd name," said the donkey.
"I got that name because I was small and weak."
"I'm small too, but I have a different name."
"So what is it?"
"Don. It's because I'm a donkey."
"That's a great name."
"Thanks," said the donkey, flattered.
"So, do you like mud?" asked the piglet, looking hopefully at Don.
"Not much. So is there any one that likes mud?" the donkey asked curiously.
"There are some," sighed Puny. "My brothers and sisters... But I don't like the mud
at all. So everyone laughs at me."
"Strange," said Don. "I always thought that people who are dirty all the time get
made fun of."
"I thought so too, but I'm a misfit."
"Why? You're a very nice-looking piglet."
"The farmer's wife said that every family has at least one misfit. So I had to be the
"Well, she was just speaking off the top of her head," Don said in a reassuring voice.
"Do you want to chew on some oats or some grass?"
"No thanks. I prefer bread crusts."
"Today I have no bread crusts," sighed Don. "The farmer's wife got upset with
me because I stepped on her foot. She thinks I did it on purpose."
"Say, why don't we take a little walk together? The weather's nice," said Puny.
"Sure, let's go," Don answered.
The new friends walked all around the farm. They stood for a while by the big corral,
enjoying the sight of the frolicking horses.
"That's what I wish I were doing," said Don softly. "I'd like to be leaping in
circles and letting my mane fly in the breeze."
"So what's stopping you?" asked Puny. "Go ahead and leap to your heart's content."
Don's feelings were hurt and he answered: "Have you ever seen my mane? Does it ever
fly in the wind? Even in a storm, it stays glued to my head!"
"Sorry," said Puny, embarrassed. "I didn't know you had such a short mane."
"If it were only the mane," sighed the little donkey. "There's also my short
stature and my short legs. If I move my legs at all, I look like an old lady running to
the market."
"Who ever told you that?" exclaimed Puny.
"The farmer's wife," the little donkey answered, his head drooping sadly. "And
she said it to some guests who had come to look at me."
"She was joking," Puny said, trying to comfort the little donkey. "I think your
gait is just fine. Just look at me, with my pug nose and my curly tail. I tried to straighten
it out; I smoothed it down, I put my whole body weight on top of it. I suffered like
that for a few days, but there was no gain with all that pain."
"You are so right," said Don. "Neither of us has any luck, I guess."
"Well, so what, we may not be handsome, but we're nice and we don't hurt anyone.
And we don't make fun of anyone. Is it nice to make fun of others?"
"No it's not nice. I don't think so."
"It really, really hurts when the chickens laugh at me," the piglet complained to his
new friend. "They're so dim-witted, they spend their entire day knee-deep in manure,
and they fight over every single kernel of grain. And the turkeys don't notice me at
all, it's like I'm invisible. Anyway, they can't even talk right. The way they
cackle, no one can understand them. And my brothers and sisters! All it takes to make
them happy is a roll in the mud. Do they realize what they look like afterwards? Standing next
to them makes me sick. How could anyone ever play with them? The farmer grumbles at me,
'I have to wash you every night, like a human child. Who did you ever take after?'
Well, I don't like dirt and mud, I just can't stand it!"
Puny and Don traded sad stories as they headed toward the livestock yard. When they got there,
the place went wild with laughter... The chickens laughed as they sprawled and rolled on the
ground, their legs jerking every which way. The geese guffawed so loudly that folks at
nearby farms could hear. The piglets let out with squeals of glee. The turkeys continued
to parade solemnly, without so much as sneaking a glance at the donkey and the piglet.
"They make a great pair, those two," the chickens gloated.
"Brother, where did you dig up such an ugly horse?" squealed the piglets.
Not even Puny's mother could hold back her laughter. The entire yard was echoing with
laughter, clucking, and squeals as its denizens mocked the two little friends.
Puny raised his pug nose proudly and twirled his tail to make it even more curly, while
the donkey flung his head upward and banged his hooves ever more loudly.
They walked around the yard trying to appear dignified and proud, after which they returned
to Don's little corner.
"I almost died from fright," Puny admitted.
"Yeah, it wasn't exactly fun," said Don in agreement.
They said goodbye till the following day.
The next morning, Puny once again visited his new friend. Don was standing by his little
shed with something on his mind.
"How did you sleep last night?" Puny asked.
"Not bad, but I had some weird dreams. Now here I am, trying to remember, but my memory
doesn't seem to be working right."
"I don't remember my own dreams either. It's really a shame. While I'm asleep,
I remember everything, but when I wake up there's nothing left in my head, not a thing!"
"Really," Don said. "I thought I was the only one with that problem."
"What are you talking about?" said Puny to console him. "I'm up to my neck in
"Well, that can't be too bad, considering how close your neck is to the ground!" said
Don mischievously, looking his friend over.
"Well, the bigger you are, the bigger your problems get..."
"Oh, I almost forgot," said Don, suddenly remembering something. "I brought you a
"Really?" asked Puny, turning pinker than usual with embarrassment. 'No one ever gave
me a surprise before."
"So this will be your first time," said Don. He wanted to stretch out the suspense.
"Walk over a bit closer to the feeding trough, and you'll find it there."
The piglet slowly walked over to the trough and peered inside. At the very bottom lay
a large crust of bread.
"Oh, is all of that for me?" exclaimed Puny, turning bright pink all over.
"Of course!" said Don surprised. "There's no one else here."
The piglet took hold of the bread, looked at it for a long time, and said: "Let's
divide it evenly. Then it will be a double surprise."
"Fine," Don said. "Let's share it."
The friends eagerly sunk their teeth into the bread and set off on a stroll.
On that day, the owner of the farm was out walking the horses. Today was a big family
celebration, and the horses had been carefully groomed to play their part. Some wore shiny
ribbons that had been woven into their manes; some sported bright-colored stockings on their
knees; some were festooned with colorful horse-blankets.
It was a bright and sunny day, and the celebration gave every sign of being a success. A few
horses ran at a leisurely pace around the training yard, their slender legs gracefully
rising and falling. Suddenly the two little friends saw the owner's favorite horse.
Farmers from all the nearby farms had come by to gaze at this stallion, and no wonder.
He was snow-white with brown eyes, and today he was particularly stunning. The finest blanket
had been arranged carefully on his back. It was white with blue and gold embroidery and
was a perfect fit. Everyone could see the blanket was custom-made. From its edges hung
little silver bells. At the slightest movement, they sang like little angels in heaven.
Puny and Don stood still, enchanted, their gaze glued on the white stallion as he leisurely
pranced about in his fine blanket, preparing for the arrival of the guests.
"If only I had a blanket like that to wear on my back..." said Don moodily. "I would
be just as handsome."
"But what about your mane?" asked Puny, remembering Don's complaint.
"Who would be looking at my mane if I were wearing a blanket like that?"
"That's true," said Puny in assent. After a moment's thought he added, "You
wouldn't have anything against me giving you my jacket? What's the difference between
a blanket and a jacket?"
"Thanks, but how can you compare a jacket and a blanket? Plus, just take a look at you
and me. Your jacket wouldn't even fit over my head."
"That's true," sighed Puny. "But I wanted..."
"I know," Don said, nodding his head. "You meant the best, like a true friend."
The piglet turned so pink with pleasure that even the horses looked at him in amazement.
How often does one get a chance to see a bright-pink piglet wearing a double-breasted jacket!
In the meantime, the owner's favorite stallion was running faster and faster, waving his
snow-white mane and jangling his silver bells. The other horses caught up with him. How beautiful
they all were in their festive attire! The black mare, the sweetheart of all the stallions,
walked into the middle of the corral, showing off and admiring herself. Her mane had red
ribbons woven into it, and the knees of her slender, elegant legs were adorned with stockings
of the same color... There was plenty for the eye to feast on that day.
When the black mare appeared, Don began to tap his hooves nervously and shake his head
back and forth for no good reason.
"Are you in love with her?" asked the piglet.
"Are you kidding?" said Don, and then brayed for no good reason.
The beautiful mare sized them up with a withering glance and averted her gaze.
"Wow, we have a real princess on our hands," said Puny, trying to pacify his friend. "Let's
get out of here. I'm getting a bit bored with this place. Horses rule here."
"You don't understand the first thing about beauty," sighed Don, but he left quietly
along with Puny.
"So I don't understand anything? More than some. She's as hefty as the farmer's
pickup truck, her eyes bulge out, her legs are long and skinny; and she races around
the pasture, accomplishing nothing. To top it off, she has those silly ribbons woven
into her hair..."
"You understand nothing about feminine beauty!"
"I do too understand. I just have different tastes. I prefer round little females, small
and pink with white eyelashes and pug noses..."
"Everyone has different tastes. It would make more sense for us to go take a walk down
the road, because these silly chickens don't appeal to me. There's a nearby hole in the
fence where we can get through."
There was nobody on the road, except for a small girl trying to master a bicycle her
dad had just given her. She was making very meager headway. She constantly fell to the
right or left.
"Let's help her," suggested Don.
"Well, I guess we could at that," agreed Puny.
They approached the little girl and said hello.
"We came over to help you out," said Don.
"Thanks," said the girl, laughing. "The problem is, you don't know how to ride a
bicycle yourselves."
"That's true," sighed Puny. "We don't even own a bicycle, but we'll help you all
the same."
So the two friends ran alongside, one on the right, one on the left, and every time she
was about to fall, one of them caught her and put her back on board. Matters progressed
rapidly, and one hour later, the little girl was speeding down the road like a pro.
"Thanks," she said, wheeling up to the piglet and the donkey. "Let's introduce
ourselves. My name is Lisa. What are yours?"
"This is Puny and I'm Don."
"Wow, those are amazing names. Why Puny?"
The piglet told her his story. Then Don invited the little girl to visit his little corner
of the farm.
"I'll be sure to visit you," she promised. "But I have to ask Mom for permission first."
Several days passed. As before, the friends spent a great deal of time together. Every
day, Don would share the bread crusts he got from the farmer's wife with Puny, and the
piglet would bring him a carrot from the vegetable patch. Gradually they became such good friends
that they had to see each other every single day. The chickens and geese continued calling
them a "great pair," while the solemn turkeys didn't bother to even look in their
direction. But Puny didn't let hurt feelings make him cry. Now he had a friend who loved
him in spite of his small stature, his pug nose, and his curly tail.
Once when the friends were sitting in the donkey's little shed and shooting the breeze,
someone knocked lightly.
"Come in," said Don, looking at the door with curiosity.
The door opened and Lisa walked in. She was wearing a light-colored frock, and held a
basket in her hands.
"Greetings," said Lisa. "How are you doing?"
"We're fine," answered Don.
"Quite well," added Puny.
"Well, I brought you some gifts," said the girl, and she pulled some apples and carrot
cakes out of her basket.
After sampling the gifts, the three of them decided to take a walk. The friends volunteered
to show their guest the farm. First they took her to the corral where the horses were running
in a circle.
"Aren't they beautiful?" asked Don.
"Yes, they are," she answered. "But they're so vain. I would never want to be
friends with them!"
"What about me?" Don asked quietly, his head lowered.
"We're already friends," she answered, surprised by the question.
"Really?" asked Puny. "I'm your friend too?"
"Of course," answered the girl and stroked them both on their backs. "You helped me
out, and that makes us friends. I don't choose friends because of physical beauty.
Dad told me a friend in need is a friend indeed."
At this point they walked into the farmyard. As usual, the chickens fell down laughing
and cackling, their legs jerking up and down. The geese honked so loudly that everyone in
the neighborhood could hear. Even the turkeys began to make sarcastic creaking sounds. The
cat, a well-known bully and thief, arched his back and hissed at the donkey angrily,
as though the donkey had insulted him.
"What's going on here?" Lisa said in a loud voice. "What is going on here anyway?
Who are you laughing at?"
The yard grew unusually quiet. Lisa broke the hush: "You are cold, unfeeling, cruel
animals. You mock those who are weak and those who are too noble to respond to you in kind..."
The yard froze. All this was so sudden, unexpected, and incomprehensible.
"If I ever again hear that you are making fun of my friends Don and Puny, you'd better
watch out," said the girl. Then she said goodbye to her friends and went home.
The following morning, the friends once again headed out to stroll along the street and
met Lisa. She was riding recklessly on her bicycle, doing all kinds of tricks.
Finally she got tired and put the bike down at the side of the road so she could take
a walk with her new friends. It had rained not long before, and Puny was trying his best
to steer clear of the mud and the puddles.
"What's the matter, are you afraid of drowning?" said the girl, laughing.
The piglet was too embarrassed to say anything.
"He hates mud," said Don, to save his friend from having to answer.
"What do you mean, he hates mud?" said Lisa, amazed. "All piglets adore the mud."
"All the others do, but I don't," said Puny quietly.
"Wonders never cease!" said Lisa, laughing. "This is the first time in my life I have
met a pig who didn't like mud."
"That's the reason they all make fun of us," Don said sadly. "Puny doesn't like
the mud, and I wish I were handsome like a horse."
"What is the matter with you, have you gone crazy?" Lisa asked. "Why do you want to
be arrogant and beautiful like those stuck-up horses? You're handsome in your own right."
"Plus, he dreams of having a blanket for his back like the horses do," added Puny,
doing his bit to be helpful.
"What kind of blanket are you talking about?" asked Lisa.
"Well, the handsomest of all the stallions has a wonderful blanket for his back with
little silver bells woven into it. It's incredibly beautiful! So Don is all upset.
He thinks that if he only had a blanket like that one, the beautiful coal-black mare would
pay attention to him."
Don remained silent, his head hanging low.
"But I don't see how he could court her, even if he had a blanket like that. You see,
he is short and small and he has a very stubby mane. It doesn't fly in the wind. No wonder
he's so sad."
"Of course," said Lisa. "Helping friends is what friends are for. Give me time to think
about it and I may think of something."
She left.
In the meantime autumn was approaching. This was not a very good time of year for the piglet
and the donkey. Don was cold without a blanket for his back, and the piglet didn't go out
on his walks as often as before, fearing he might step into some mud or a rain puddle.
He sat bored in the kitchen, remembering his friend.
Then came November, the rainiest month of the year. The wind blew the last of the fallen
leaves around the yard, and the cold rain poured down, leaving puddles and disgusting
mud. The piglet sat on his bench and looked longingly at the road. His brothers and sisters,
now much bigger, were walking around the yard. They were wallowing in the puddles and the
mud, grunting with pleasure.
"I am truly a freak, not like the rest. If I were taking a mud bath with them, no
one would be laughing at me", thought Puny.
One day someone knocked at the kitchen door. The farmer's wife opened the door. On the
threshold stood Lisa. She was wearing a yellow overcoat with a hood and bright yellow boots.
"Hello," she said. "May I have a talk with Puny?"
"Please go right ahead," answered the lady. "There he is, sitting on a bench and
moping. He's afraid to go out, because there's so much mud everywhere."
"Yes, I know," answered Lisa. "I brought him a present."
"Oh really?" said the farmer's wife, surprised. "Bread crusts?"
"No, I wouldn't have made a special trip all the way from town just for that," the
little girl answered.
"Well then, go ahead," said the lady invitingly.
The girl entered the kitchen. He was so happy to see Lisa that he almost fell off the bench
by the window.
"Here, Puny, I brought you a present," said the girl, and pulled out a large box.
"A present!" said Puny, his little eyes bulging with anticipation. "No one ever
gave me a present before."
"So this will be your very first gift," said the girl, bursting into laughter. "Go
ahead and try it on," she said, handing Puny four tiny rubber boots. They were bright
yellow, just the same color as Lisa's boots.
Puny was spellbound as he gazed at the boots.
"Well, then, go ahead and try them on, please. Dad ordered them custom-made for you at the
factory," said the girl. She began pulling them onto Puny's hooves.
"Now there, take a walk around the kitchen," she said, prodding the piglet into action.
Puny took one step, then another... The girl opened the door and said: "Let's go visit
Don. I brought him a surprise, too."
And they went to see Don, who was all alone and lonely in his little shed.
Don was so overjoyed to have company he couldn't say a single word. He rushed to offer Puny
stale bread. He hadn't seen the piglet in such a long time that he had saved up a huge
supply of bread.
"I have a present for you," said the girl as she stroked Don on his mane.
She unwrapped the package, revealing a glittering, shiny cloth. At first the friends could only
guess what it might be. But when Lisa draped the cloth gently over the donkey's back,
there was no more doubt. It was precisely the blanket that Don had been dreaming about
for such a long time!
The blanket was bright red, and along the sides hung little bells. Not once in his life
had Don heard more charming music than the jingling sound the bells made whenever he
made the slightest movement...
The next morning was bright and sunny. The friends decided to take a walk. They walked
side by side, proud of their friendship. Puny, his yellow boots glittering, no longer walked
around the mud to keep away from it, and puddles no longer fazed him. The donkey, with his
new blanket draped over his back, was just as handsome as the horses galloping around
the big corral.
The whole yard went silent. This time there was no one laughing at the "great pair,"
and everyone stepped aside respectfully to give them room to pass. The geese did not
honk, the chickens looked in fear from behind a pile of manure, and the turkeys stepped
aside from the trough to let them pass.
After feasting at the trough, the friends headed to the big pasture. At that very moment
the owner of the farm had just walked the black mare out of her stall. After running
past the two little friends, she stopped, looked at Don and said: "What a beautiful
blanket you're wearing!" Then she galloped onward.
Don proudly tossed back his head, shaking his mane for all it was worth. To him, it
felt like his mane was flying in the wind, just as though he were a real horse.


Children's Bedtime Story by Short Stories for Kids (+moral for children)

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田立瑋 2013 年 9 月 20 日 に公開
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