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TITLE: Lenny The Leaper
By Catherine Maher

Leaping Lenny

Lenny grew up in a big family. The highlight of the summer was the family reunion. Thatís because Uncle Fred and Aunt Freeda put on an all star leaping contest at their pad every year.
Cousin Freddy was sent out to hop from pad to pad giving out the invitations. Anyone and everyone who lived on golden pond was included.

Good jumpers, bad jumpers, hurdle jumpers, and leapers of all sorts were going to be lining up again this summer.
Like every year, Lenny was dreading the race. He could still hear their laughter from last year. His tummy remembered too and was already hurting.

ďIf only there was a way to get out of jumping this year,Ē he said to himself.
He never won first place. In fact he never even tried to.
You see, Lenny could only jump backwards. Since the time he was a little tadpole he swam against the current. Whenever other tadpoles in swim school rushed by him going down stream, Lenny was always headed the other way.

He really didnít mind though. He knew he was different than most of the other bull frogs on Golden Pond. For one thing, he didnít like getting all sweaty. He preferred to stay cool.
He didnít have anything to prove to the other frogs on the pond.

Lenny was pretty happy with things the way they were. Deep in his heart he already knew he was a champion. Mama Frog told him many times how special he was. She always taught him to live by the Golden Pond Rule. Most of the frogs on the pond were very polite and friendly.

Then there was Croaky. He lived on a pad on the far side of the pond. Croaky didnít live by the Golden Pond Rule, ever. Itís not that he didnít believe in it. Croaky never heard of the Golden Pond Rule. His Mama Frog was swept away in a flood. His Papa Frog was always out on the pond showing off. When it came to teaching Croaky right from wrong, he was on his own.

Everyone said Croaky was a natural born leader. He could always get other bull frogs to follow him. Lenny always saw them croaking and jumping from one pad to another stirring up trouble on an otherwise peaceful pond.

The big day finally arrived. Every frog
lined up. Uncle Fred lowered the flag and the race was off. Croaky took the lead, followed close behind by all his adoring fans.
The way that old frog flew was a sight for all the frogs on Golden Pond.

All but Lenny that is. Trying to get started, he did his normal backwards leap. Coming up to his first lap in the race, Croaky passed him by going at full speed ahead to his second lap.
ďOh no, I just know that Croaky is going to trip me up again.Ē

Well, Croaky not only stuck out his leg but his tongue too and hurled out his insults. ďLenny Loser,why donít you just go home? You canít beat a bull frog like me, Why, you canít even leap like a normal frog.Ē

The race was already hard enough. Each lap took Lenny at least twice as long as everybody else. He had to sit facing backwards so his leaping would take him in the right direction. Worse than that, he could always see when Croaky was getting close again.

ďHere we are at The Golden Pond Leap Stakes, Croaky in first place, coming in a close second, Bumpy and behind them a glob in third, fourth and fifth. Lenny the famous backwards leaping frog is no where in sight. Looks pretty clear who will be our winner today.Ē

Getting knocked off the path and off balance again in the third lap, Lenny stopped to get himself together and readjust his aim toward the finish line.

It was in that moment he began to think, ďMaybe I am just a loser. I know I could never be the winner of this race with my backward ways. Maybe I should just go back home to Mama Frog. Who needs this race? Not me!Ē

Just about that time Croaky sped by to complete his fifth and final lap to the finish line while Lenny just sat there feeling sorry for himself.
With the croakies hot on his heels, Croaky led the way as they all wagged their tongues in shouts of victory.

Waiting for the usual kick and the sting of the insults again, Lenny braced himself. To his surprise, he felt no kick. He heard no insult.
But what he did see and hear was much worse. Croaky jumped Taddy and wrestled him to the edge of the water. This was Taddyís first race and as one of the runts he had weak and wobbly legs that were still untrained to race with the bull frogs.

Knowing that sometimes the bigger bull frogs will eat the runts, Lenny knew he had to act fast. He leapt into action, using all his energy to save Taddy. Landing on top of them, legs flying wildly, Lenny felt a new fear. He was not afraid of being a loser. He was not afraid of Croaky. He was afraid of seeing his friend getting eaten alive right in front of his eyes.

Croaky jumped up! He couldnít believe Lenny had it in him to fight. He didnít know his next move. Taddy didnít know what to think. Lenny didnít know what to think. Croaky didnít know what to think.

Taddy was glad because he didnít end up squished. Lenny was sad because he didnít believe in fighting. Croaky was mad because he didnít like being beat.
Lenny! Run! Quick! The racers all stopped to watch the tumble. With only a half a lap to the finish line, Lenny took off full speed in the lead.

ďLadies and Gentlemen: The winner is Lenny the backwards Leaper! And in second place is Taddy, who just wanted to catch up to Lenny to say thanks.

That day he found a strength inside he never knew he had. Lennyís weakness became his greatest strength. He quickly became the new hero on Golden Pond.

Everyone lined up for lessons on how to leap backwards. But Lenny had a special talent that couldnít be taught to others that leapt forward.
Taddyís mother had an idea to start a new race. One for any the frogs that were born backwards leapers? She invited all the special frogs from other families around the pond who leaped differently.

Things on the pond changed. Lenny took first place often and had many prize ribbons to display.

You might be wonderingÖ.What ever happened to Croaky? He saw the Golden Pond Rule in action. Now he flies the flag at the Special Backwards Leaping races each year. He is kind, and he cheers on the winners.

Everyone found a place in the new Special Backwards Leaping Races or the Leapsteak Races each summer. They all lived happily by the Golden Pond Rule and treated each other with kindness and respect.
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