A Gebbe story
It is not a good day and not a bad one either. Such a
day when nothing really happens. Gebbe the frog has
nothing special to do, but still he feels a bit restless
inside. Maybe he should look if Wopp is at home.
That is his best friend. They’ve know each other
since they were tad-poles. Gebbe jumps to Wopp’s
house taking his ball with him. The beautiful one
with all those colours and sounds. It’s his favourite
toy. You never actually see him without that ball.
Wopp’s mother sits outside. “He is not there, Gebbe”
she says, “Wopp is staying with his uncle and aunt
remember. He won’t come back until tomorrow.”
Gebbe had forgotten that. Ugh, how annoying. But
now that he is on the way, it seems like a good idea
to look for some new friends. One can never have
enough friends, he thinks. So it is, right?
Gebbe swims to the end of the ditch and there he
climbs up the side. The weather is nice and rainy so
there’s a good opportunity to jump a bit over land.
And after a while he arrives at a wide ditch, much
wider than his own. Stately reed plumes grow along
the side. Huge lily pads float on the water and there
are more flies than you can eat. A group of frogs is
sitting there croaking loudly. Gebbe is a little
impressed, but he jumps closer anyway.
“And who might you be?” asks a big frog. “Gebbe,
nice to meet you,” says Gebbe politely. Luckily he
has his ball with him. This way it feels like he is not
all alone facing such an impressive group. The big
frog has two huge vocal sacs on the sides of its
mouth when croaking. The other frogs make room
for Gebbe. He tries to croak along as best as he can.
He finds it rather cozy now and then. The big frog is
very funny and it doesn’t take long before he gets
started about Gebbe’s ball. “Aren’t you a bit too old
for toys?” he asks. “It looks rather childish, don’t you
agree?” The other frogs laugh. But Gebbe doesn’t
want to get rid of his ball. “Why not put it in a bag
then, so that no one sees it,” the big frog suggests.
“You’ll look a lot cooler that way, just as cool as we
are.” Gebbe says that it seems like a good idea and
that now it is time for him to leave.
On the way home Gebbe thinks that it has been
quite cozy and that he’d like to be one of these cool
frogs. He is in a rather good mood. But where will he
find a bag? Wanja flies by. It’s a wasp he once helped
when it was attacked by humans. “Do you know
where I can find a bag for my ball, Wanja?” “Not
really, but you can use my old nest if you want. That
too is roundish, so it might fit.” Gebbe tries to push
in his ball, but the nest is made of paper and is torn
to pieces. A little later he meets Mirko the ant.
“Can you help me? I’m looking for a bag for my ball,”
says Gebbe. “No, we ants always bear everything
ourselves.” Further along the way flutters a butterfly
he knows. Once he did her a favour. “Maybe you can
help me? I’m looking for a bag to put my ball in.” “I
would like to, but we butterflies don’t have bags. We
don’t need them, because we collect pollen on our
fur. To fly with a bag seems heavy by the way.” When
Gebbe comes home he is no longer in such a good
mood. Finding a bag is harder than he thought. But
Gebbe’s Mom comes up with a solution. “I will make
you a bag”, she says. She sews together some sturdy
lily leaves with reed straws. Water-plants are twined
to a pair of shoulder straps and attached to the bag.
Gebbe’s ball fits in perfectly. He puts on his new
backpack and looks at his reflection in the water.
“That looks cool, thanks a lot Mom!” he says and
jumps outside right away. Like that morning he
swims the first part to the end of the ditch. Oh it
does feel strange. He’s swimming a little too deep due
to the weight of the bag. He must make an effort to
stay on the surface so that the bag does not form
any resistance in the water. But the idea that his
new friends will now find him cool makes him happy.
He's even feeling a little distinguished with his new
After a bit of jumping over land (which is not going
so well either) finally he comes to the wide ditch.
Gebbe's new friends are gathered together and one is
croaking even louder than the other. They make
place for Gebbe again. “Oh dear, you hardly fit in
now,” one croaks. Gebbe feels a bit uncomfortable,
although it seems like a cozy place. Nobody cares
much about him until the big frog suddenly looks at
him and says, “The way you look, old chap! Did you
get entangled in the water lilies? ” He bursts out in
roaring laughter. The others start to laugh too.
Gebbe is confused. Didn't they say it would be better
with a bag? What's wrong? But he keeps up and also
starts to laugh. "Ha-ha yes ha-ha, just a funny
thing." Quickly he takes off his backpack and croaks
along with the other frogs for a while. “Well, I’m off
now,” he then says and swings the backpack loosely
over one shoulder. It has to come along because he
doesn't want to lose his ball. “Don't have any
accidents now, old chap,” the big frog croaks and
blows up his vocal sacs quite a bit. The laughter of
the other frogs resonates for a long time in Gebbe's
head. On the way he passes Wanja. “A nice bag. But
isn't it difficult when you jump? ” "Yes, but my
mother made it." “Sweet of your Mom. What's
actually wrong with your ball?” Then Gebbe jumps
past the ant Mirko, who looks after him approvingly.
Moments later he rests near a large stone.
There is the butterfly, saying “You see, you cannot
spread your wings freely like that. I mean your frog
legs. A nice bag by the way.”
When Gebbe comes home he immediately takes off
the backpack and takes out his ball. It had become
quite dull, but now it is getting back its colours.
Mother says: "What a beautiful ball it is with all
those colours, it’s even luminous!" Gebbe sees it too.
"Yes Mom, I put the bag in my room for the time
being." Then he jumps out with a giant leap and the
ball also rolls into the water. He swims his water
figures like a true acrobat. Sometimes he dives
under the ball, then he comes up and jumps over it.
He even finds out a whole new figure. This is what
Gebbe likes to do most of all as you may already
know. But what about making friends now? He has
had enough of that for the time being. Friends come
in all shapes and sizes, Gebbe thinks, but your best
friend…? Is just you.
© Nicolette van der Leeuw