Chapter Two: The Greedy Frog
One morning, Tiddalick woke up in a very grumpy, greedy mood. He was so
grumpy and greedy that when he went down to the lake to drink, he drank and
drank until he had drunk all the water in the lake. Then, he went down to the river.
He drank and drank until he had drunk all the water in the river. Tiddalick was so
greedy that he kept drinking night and day. He drank all the water from the lakes
and streams. The greedy frog drank so much that there wasn’t a drop of water left in
the whole world. Tiddalick was so full, he could hardly move. All he could do was lie
down, close his great yellow eyes, and go to sleep.
The land dried out and cracked. The rivers turned to dust. The trees lost their
leaves. The flowers did not bloom. Animals began to die. Nothing moved, and there
was no sound. There was no rain. The land suffered from a terrible drought. The
animals cried, “We have nothing to drink. We have nothing to eat. There is no rain
and no water. What can we do?”
Chapter Three: The Challenge
Wise old Wombat said, “We need to talk with Tiddalick. We can ask him to give
us back our water.” So one by one, the animals went to Tiddalick. The animals argued
about who should approach him first.
Kangaroo was bravest. He said, “I will speak with him.” “Tiddalick,” he cried, “I am
the jumping kangaroo. I cannot jump anymore because I am so weak. All I can do is
lie in the dust of the dry riverbed. Please, give us back our water.”
Then Dingo said, “I am the wild dog who barks and howls in the night. I cannot
bark and howl anymore because I am so weak. All I can do is lie in the dust of the dry
riverbed. Please, give us back our water.”
Kookaburra came next. He said, “I am the bird who laughs in the trees. I cannot
laugh anymore because I am so weak. All I can do is perch on a branch of a dead tree.
Please, give us back our water.”
Then, Cockatoo squawked loudly. “I am the bird with the brilliant white feathers
and a bright yellow crest. I am very, very weak. My beautiful yellow crest is growing
pale. Please, give us back our water.”
Tiddalick did not stir. He didn’t even open one of his big yellow eyes. It seemed that
the greedy, grumpy frog would be the only one to survive.
Chapter Four : A Solution
The animals were about to give up. It seemed they would die in the dust. But then,
they heard a small voice say, “I have an idea.” The animals looked around. There was
little Bandicoot, flapping his big rat ears. “If we could make Tiddalick laugh, I’m sure
the water would flow from his mouth ,” Bandicoot squeaked. “Maybe we can tickle
him. Let’s find a branch.”
So, the animals struggled to their feet and gathered around the giant frog to see if
they could make him laugh. First, they tried tickling him. But Tiddalick didn’t seem
impressed. Kookaburra told some of his funny stories. Everyone laughed and laughed,
but Tiddalick didn’t. He didn’t even blink. Next, Kangaroo and Emu jumped up and
down, and around and around. Everyone laughed and laughed, but Tiddalick didn’t.
He didn’t even open one eye! Lizard came down from a tree. He opened his frill and
showed the animals his bright orange and red scales. Then, he ran around and around
on his hind legs. Everyone laughed and laughed, but Tiddalick didn’t. He didn’t even stir.
“Come on, Tiddalick! Laugh, you big, squelchy frog. If
you could see yourself, you would laugh until you cried,”
the animals said. But all seemed lost. The animals were
sure they were doomed. Tiddalick would never laugh.
And they would never have water again.
Chapter Five: The World Awakes
As the animals gathered for the last time, they heard
a strange, tiny voice calling, “Let me try! Let me try to
make him laugh.” It was Eel, who had slithered from
a dry billabong. He began to dance. First, he moved
slowly, but soon he danced faster and faster. He wriggled,
twisted, and turned himself into strange shapes. Then,
he jumped onto Tiddalick’s tummy, spinning around
like a tornado.
Tiddalick began to shiver.
Tiddalick began to quiver.
Tiddalick began to giggle.
Tiddalick’s giggle became a gurgle.
Tiddalick’s gurgle became louder and louder until the
Then, all of a sudden, he began to laugh. The animals ran for shelter as water gushed
out of his mouth like a huge waterfall. Tiddalick laughed until every drop of water
was out of his stomach. The water filled the lakes; the ponds, the billabongs, and the
swamps. It filled the waterholes and the rivers.
New life came to the Earth. The whole world woke as if from a deep sleep. Trees
grew and flowers bloomed. Animals wandered through the grasses. Birds flitted from
tree to tree. Slowly, the Earth became beautiful again. And Tiddalick became just a
And, to this day, the Aboriginal people of Australia know that when they see little
frogs filling themselves up with water and burying themselves in the ground, there
will soon be a drought.
Tiddalick the Greedy Frog, An Aboriginal Dreamtime Story,
retold by Nicholas Wu, illustrated by Nina Rycroft, 2014.