Amy T. Wilkinson
The once was a bear named Bertram, who was a mostly happy chap.
He spent his days sleeping quietly or eating honey comb and sap.
But he had a problem, Bertram the Bear, a problem he could not mend,
for though most bears preferred to live alone, what Bertram really wanted was a friend.
On the day this story begins, not so ago long in the past,
Bertram the Bear woke up rather blue, wondering how long his loneliness would last.
He said, "I cannot just sit around and wait for friendship to appear.
If I want a friend, I should search for one. I cannot just stay here."
And would you believe it if I told you that luck was on his side?
For as soon as Bertram began to look he immediately did find,
A group of squirrels gathered around a bag, trying to figure just how,
to carry the big bag back to their home, for their squirrel strength would not allow,
them to lift it, or roll it, or slide it, or budge it in any way,
And that was when Bertram stood straight up and to them he did say,
"My name is Bertram and I am looking for friends, maybe you would see,
if you let me carry that bag home for you, that you would have a good friend in me."
The squirrels conversed and decided at once, that they would happily accept his request.
So Bertram the Bear picked up the sack and followed with cheer and zest.
When they arrived back at the squirrelís abode, the squirrels were quick to say
that Bertram the Bear had carried their food, that he had really saved the day.
The rest of the squirrels they gathered around, they gave Bertram three cheers,
all but one squirrel who sulked in the back, not celebrating with her peers.
That night when Bertram was sleeping, content with his new found friends,
he was shaken awake by that squirrel, and no kindness did she pretend.
She shook him and she whispered, "Wake up, you big, giant, lazy head.
"Sit up and listen, I have something to tell you." And this is what she said;
"You donít like the things we like to eat, you donít talk the way we talk.
You donít look just like the rest of us, and I donít like the way you walk.
I donít care what the others think, I donít care what they say.
I have decided that you must leave because youíre different in every way."
"But," whispered Bertram and he sat up in his bed, "I am just a bear.
I donít know why being different is wrong. Why is it that you care?
Because I am not the same as you, that does not make me bad.
In fact, if youíd get to know me youíd see, Iím really a decent lad."
But the squirrel seemed to not have listened, she held her hand up to him.
"I see you are not understanding, you must be rather dim.
You could be the smartest, best bear in the land, but you are still a bear.
That is the only thing that matters and that is why I care."
Well, Bertram was a gentle bear, and he did not want to fight.
So he hung his head and walked away and he thought maybe the squirrel was right.
Was there something wrong with him because his fur was brown instead of grey?
Was he really just an awful bear? He knew what the squirrel would say.
The squirrel would stand, tall on a stump, and to the others she would decree,
"This bear is a danger to us. Look at him! He is different from you and me!"
And the others would nod and shake their fists and would not let him stay.
He decided to make it easy for them, he would just go away.
Did being different make you bad? Was being different wrong?
And if it was true he was dangerous, had he been a bad bear all along?
He walked away with his head hung low, his life turned upside down,
but before he could get very far, he heard an awful and frightening sound.
He turned and he ran, as fast as he could, back from where he had come.
And what he saw there made him freeze in his tracks and made his brain go numb.
The squirrels were hiding, high up a tree and right there underneath,
was a pack of wolves who were howling and barking and gnashing their sharp teeth.
Well Bertram the Bear had no time to think, and even though he was afraid,
he summoned the courage from deep in his chest and ran straight into the raid.
He fought off the wolves, every last one, only him alone.
And when it was over and all the squirrels were safe, he decided he had shown;
that one nasty squirrel that she couldnít change him and no matter what she thought,
it is who we are on the inside that counts, and what others say means naught.
And Bertram the Bear spent the rest of his life, with the squirrels and shared their home.
And though they were different, they all lived the same; happier together than alone.
Read other Bedtime Stories by Amy Wilkenson
Amy Wilkinson is a graduate of Hood College with a Bachelorís in Law and Society and lives in Frederick Maryland.
Amy began writing and telling stories at a very young age. Starting with daily journals at around 8 years of age, she later progressed to fiction and poetry never putting her pen down for more than a few hours. Nature and animal lover, essayist, and poet, Amy Wilkinson sets many of her stories in a forest or other outdoor setting. Much of the
material for children focuses on various life cycle, coming of age, morality, and individual interaction issues frequently seen through the everyday lives of her woodland creatures. Her bedtime stories balance equal parts of lively prose with food for parent/child discussions.