Long ago in Australia there was a thirsty sand frog called Tiddalick. Tiddalick had a special trick. He could keep extra water in his belly.
One day Tiddalick was very thirsty. He drank the water of the nearest river until it there was not a drop of water left. He hopped across the land, looking for more water to drink. He drank up all the water from the billabongs, lakes, streams and creeks until there was no more water left in all of the land.
The animals were upset. They were thirsty too and there was no water left for them to drink. Tiddalick had it all in his swollen stomach. The animals held a meeting. All the animals were at the meeting: the kangaroos, the wallabies, the echidnas, the kookaburras, the snakes, the wombats, the pygmy possums, the koalas, and all their friends. They decided that the only way for them to get a drink was to somehow get it back from Tiddalick. Wombat said they should get the water back without hurting Tiddalick because after all he had just made a mistake and we all make mistakes.
“We must make him laugh”, said the kookaburra. “If we can do that, he will have to hold his hands against his sides and the water will pour out of his mouth.”
Kookaburra perched on a branch close to Tiddalick’s head and laughed and laughed until he could laugh no more. Tiddalick did not even smile.
The other animals tried all sorts of ways to make Tiddalick laugh. Some of them danced and turned somersaults and some told jokes. Tiddalick did not even smile.
Finally the animals decided the best way to make Tiddalick laugh was to tickle him. Wombat reminded them to tickle Tiddalick very gently because they should not hurt Tiddalick. So one by one the animals began to tickle Tiddalick’s tummy.
A tiny smile began to creep slowly over Tiddalick’s face. His smile became bigger and bigger and water came out of his mouth. Deep rumbles of laughter made Tiddalick’s big swollen belly shake. Soon he was laughing so much that he put his hands to his sides and rocked to and fro. His mouth opened wide and a great smooth tide of water came gushing out. The water flowed back into the rivers, the streams, the creeks and the billabongs.
Tiddalick knew he had been greedy and he ran away in case the other animals tried to hurt him. But the other animals remembered what Wombat said. Tiddalick had just made a mistake and they did not want to hurt him. But if you go out into the desert today you will not find Tiddalick because he still runs away and hides in the sand whenever he hears anyone coming.
An Aboriginal Dreamtime story retold by JB Rowley: teller of stories, writer of books and teacher of English.
Song: Five Speckled Frogs
Five little speckled frogs sat on a great big log
Eating the most delicious bugs — YUM YUM!
One jumped into the pool where it was nice and cool
Now there are four speckled frogs. GLUG! GLUG!
Tiddalick drank, Tiddalick drank; Tiddalick drank all day long
Water from the creek, water from the billabong.
Tiddalick drank all day long
Activity: Frog Puppet