Alfred was in the garden trying to blow bubbles. The harder he blew, the less the bubbles came. His brother laughed loudly at his attempts. A very cross Alfred snatched up his bubbles and stomped inside.
“What’s the matter?” Grandpa asked Alfred.
“I’ll never be able to make a bubble. If I could, I’d blow the biggest shiniest bubble in the whole world.”
“I see,” said Grandpa. “Come, sit with me and I’ll tell you a story.”
Alfred did not know how a story was going to help but sat down anyway.
“Once upon a time, there was a small mouse,” his Grandpa began.
“In fact, he was the smallest mouse in the village. One day, he said to his big brother ‘I’m going to be the first mouse in the village to row around the Great Big Lake.’ His brother laughed but the mouse ignored him. In the garden shed the mouse found a bucket and two sticks of wood.
His brother was fishing on the banks of the lake. ‘You silly little mouse! You’ll never get anywhere in that rusty old bucket!’ he said. The mouse ignored him, climbed into the bucket and started rowing with the sticks. He was still by the shore when the boat started sinking. There was a hole in the bucket!
His brother laughed even harder. But the mouse ignored him and returned to the shed.
This time he found a giant slipper. Back at the lake his brother was skimming stones. When he saw the mouse, he giggled.
‘That’s not going to get you around the lake you silly little mouse!’
This made the mouse even more determined, he got his oars, put the slipper on the lake and sat in it. Straight away water whooshed over the sides. And when the soggy slipper got tangled in the reeds, the mouse’s brother laughed until his sides almost split. ‘You might as well give up!’ he said. But the mouse ignored him. This time instead of going to the shed, he went to the kitchen. He looked everywhere for the best thing he could use as a boat. He even inspected a chunk of cheese and though it was very tasty, it wasn’t going to help him be the first mouse to row around the lake. Then he saw the giant half a walnut shell his grandma used for mixing cakes and cookies.
The mouse carried it to the lake where his brother was snoozing in a deckchair. He put the walnut shell in the water and sat in it. This time, his boat didn’t have a hole in it and the water didn’t whoosh over the sides. He started rowing only pausing to wave at the ducks and geese and say hello to the frogs. When he finally made it back to the riverbank, all the mice in the village had gathered to cheer him loudly. His brother was cheering the loudest!
‘I’m sorry I made fun of you and didn’t believe you. I’m so proud that you are the first mouse to row around the Great Big Lake!’ The mouse smiled. ‘I knew I could do it. It wasn’t a question of if but of how.’”
Grandpa looked down and smiled at Alfred. Alfred ran back into the garden. He stopped and thought. Not if he could blow a bubble but how. An idea came to him. He put his lips together and this time blew very gently. Alfred and his brother watched as the biggest shiniest bubble in the whole world floated up up up and away into the clouds.