Search
  • Chris Morris

Tover the Plover's Crocodile Conundrum

By Mirryn Morris and Chris Morris


Listen to this story on the podcast: Podcast | Chris Morris (chrisamorris.com)


Long ago, in a deep river in Africa, there lived a crocodile called Croc. He was the biggest, greenest, and greediest crocodile in the jungle. He had teeth as sharp as knives and a belly as fat as pig’s.

One morning, Croc was sitting in the water with his mouth wide open. Along fluttered a small black and white plover. She sailed through the air and landed inside the crocodile’s mouth. Croc did not move. He had been waiting for the bird, because now it was time to get his teeth cleaned.

‘Good morning, Croc,’ said the plover.

‘Good morning, Tover,’ said Croc.

Tover the Plover began pecking at Croc’s teeth. She was eating the tiny bits of food that were stuck between the crocodile’s teeth.

‘You’re late today,’ said Croc. ‘I’ve had some very big bits of food stuck in my teeth. It’s been quite uncomfortable.’

‘What do you mean late?’ complained Tover. ‘I come every morning when the sun has peeked its bright head around the tops of those trees.’

‘If I say you’re late, you’re late!’ growled Croc. Saying nothing in return, Tover continued to peck at the crocodile’s teeth.

‘I do hope you’re not going to try any of your tricks again today,’ said Tover after a while.

‘Whatever do you mean?’ asked Croc with a toothy grin.

‘You know what I mean, you old brute!’ said Tover. ‘Every time I clean your teeth you snap your jaws up almost too quickly for me to fly away! I thought we had a deal – I clean your teeth and you don’t eat me! What would you do without me? There are no dentists in the jungle!’

‘I’d find some other silly little bird,’ grinned Croc. ‘And when she was finished cleaning my teeth, I’d gobble her up too!’

‘Oh, you nasty crocodile!’ said Tover. ‘I have half a mind to leave your teeth to rot out of your mouth!’

And that was when it happened.

It started with a shake, a quake and a quiver,

The plover bird’s feathers began to shiver,

And with a SNAP and a CLAP, the crocodile’s mouth shut,

But Tover escaped without so much as a cut!

‘Drat it!’ shouted Croc. ‘You escaped me again! I’ll taste bird some day soon, mark my words!’

Tover flew away into the jungle without a reply.

***

The next day, Tover sat upon a branch in a tall tree, thinking about the crocodile.

‘Hmph!’ snorted Tover. ‘That silly old Croc! Doesn’t he realise that he and I are helping each other? I clean his teeth and he gives me food! It’s been the way of things for thousands of years!’

Suddenly, two monkeys named Flip and Flop swung up to meet Tover.

‘Good morning, Tover!’ said Flip.

‘Good morning, Tover!’ said Flop.

‘Oh, good morning,’ said Tover, with a sad note in her voice.

‘What’s wrong?’ asked Flip. ‘Why do you sound sad?’

‘It’s that silly brute, Croc!’ said Tover. ‘Every morning I clean his teeth for him and then SNAP! He tries to eat me!’

‘Yes,’ said Flop. ‘We hear the snap every morning.’

‘If only there was some way of making sure that he doesn’t snap his jaws together as soon as I’ve finished cleaning,’ said Tover.

Flip and Flop huddled together and began whispering.

‘What’s this?’ asked Tover. ‘What are you monkeys chattering about? Eh?’

‘Well…’ said Flip. ‘We thought we might be of some help to you.’

Flip and Flop told Tover that they had thought up a plan to help the bird with her problem. Tover’s face lit up in a smile and she sang a beautiful song while dancing loops in the air.

‘What a brilliant idea!’ said Tover. ‘We must try it at once!’

A few minutes later, when the sun had peeked its bright head through the top of the trees by the river, Tover flew down to see Croc, accompanied by the two monkeys, Flip and Flop.

‘What’s this?’ asked Croc with his usual croccish grin. ‘Have you brought me my breakfast? I do like the taste of monkeys!’

‘Don’t be so rude!’ said Tover. ‘Flip and Flop are here to make sure you don’t snap your foul mouth shut when I’ve finished cleaning your teeth. Now open wide, Croc.’

Croc opened his huge mouth to reveal his hundreds of sharp teeth. Tover flew into his mouth, sat on the crocodile’s tongue, and began pecking away. While she did this, Flip and Flop swam into the river and approached the crocodile.

‘What’s this then?’ asked Croc. ‘Why are you coming into my river?’

‘We’re just going to hold your mouth open,’ Flop said, and he held the top half of the crocodile’s jaws in his paws, while Flip did the same with the bottom half.

‘There,’ said Tover, happily. ‘Now you won’t be able to snap!’

‘Hahaha!’ laughed Croc. And as he did, Tover began to feel a familiar tremble.

It started with a shake, a quake and a quiver,

The plover bird’s feathers began to shiver,

Flip flipped upwards and Flop flopped to the floor,

The monkeys ran away with a shout and a roar,

And with a SNAP and a CLAP, the crocodile’s mouth shut,

But Tover escaped without so much as a cut!

‘Drat it!’ shouted Croc. ‘And drat it again! I’ll get you next time, Tover the plover bird!!’

***

Once again, the next morning, Tover felt sad. She sat upon a branch of another tall tree and tried to think of how she could fix her problem with Croc.

‘Why does he snap at me and clap at me every day? If only we could be friends!’

Just then, Percy the parrot flew to the branch opposite Tover.

‘Good morning, Tover!’ he said. ‘Why do you look so sad?’

‘It’s that horrible old crocodile!’ said Tover. ‘Every morning I clean his teeth for him and then SNAP! He tries to eat me!’

‘Hmm…’ said Percy. ‘It sounds like you need to come up with a plan to help make sure that nasty crocodile doesn’t gobble you up.’

‘Yes,’ said Tover. ‘But I can’t think of anything!’

‘Oooh!’ said Percy. ‘What about this?’

Then Percy flew to the branch that Tover was sitting on and whispered in her ear. Tover once again smiled brightly and began singing and dancing in the air.

‘What a brilliant idea!’ said Tover. ‘We must try it at once!’

A few minutes later, when the sun had peeked its bright head through the top of the trees by the river, Tover flew down to see Croc, accompanied by Percy the parrot.

‘Hello there!’ said Croc with a smile. ‘I’ve been ever so looking forward to having bird for breakfast, but now there are two!’

‘Don’t be so rude!’ said Tover. ‘This is my friend, Percy. And he’s here to help make sure you don’t snap at me today! Now open wide. It’s time for your cleaning.’

‘With pleasure,’ said Croc, and he did as Tover asked. But before Tover flew in this time, she and Percy began flying around the jungle, picking fruits from the trees and piling up them inside the crocodile’s mouth. Soon, Croc’s mouth was stuffed with bananas, pineapples, coconuts, berries, cherries, and papayas.

‘That should do it!’ said Tover, and she began to peck at the crocodile’s teeth as Percy watched.

But soon enough, Tover felt that familiar rumble.

It started with a shake, a quake and a quiver,

The plover bird’s feathers began to shiver,

The fruit was squashed with a bang and a pop,

The crocodile’s jaws rushed together, they couldn’t stop,

And with a SNAP and a CLAP, the crocodile’s mouth shut,

But Tover escaped without so much as a cut!

‘Drat it!!’ screamed Croc. ‘I nearly had you! Come back tomorrow, Tover. I’ll get you then!’

***

The next morning, Tover flew to another tall tree and she tried to think very hard about what to do about Croc.

‘Nothing I’ve tried works!’ she cried. ‘That silly old crocodile will just keep trying to eat me forever!’

Down below Tover was a group of pink flamingos. They were drinking water from a small pond. Tover watched them with interest and saw that one of the flamingos had began pecking at some bright blue berries from a bush. And then something peculiar happened.

With each peck of the blue berries, one of the flamingo’s feathers turned from pink to blue! Tover watched on in amazement as the flamingo kept eating the berries and turning each feather blue until the whole bird was as blue as the sky. The whole time, Tover’s beak was wide open with awe.

And that’s when she had her own idea!

She sang and danced in the air, then flew down to the flamingos to speak with them.

A few minutes later, when the sun had peeked its bright head through the top of the trees by the river, Tover flew down to see Croc, accompanied by a pink flamingo named Fred.

‘Tover!’ grinned Croc. ‘You’re too good to me! Here was me thinking that I would be snacking on a little plover bird, but you’ve brought me a great big flamingo for my breakfast! You can clean my teeth after this flamingo is in my belly!’

‘I’m ever so tired of you being so rude all the time!’ said Tover with a frown. ‘I’ve brought my friend Fred because he has a wonderful trick to show you.’

‘Is that so?’ asked Croc. ‘Go on then! Show me this magnificent trick!’

Fred flapped his pink wings and many of the little blue berries Tover had seen earlier escaped from the flamingo’s feathers. He lowered his long neck and pecked at one of them. And his feather turned blue!

Just as Tover had hoped, the crocodile's jaws opened wide with shock and amazement. She quietly crept to Croc’s mouth, hoping he wouldn’t notice her, and began picking the food from his sharp teeth.

The crocodile continued to watch Fred with a wide open mouth as more and more of his feathers turned from pink to blue. Soon enough the flamingo had completely changed colour. And that must have been when Croc noticed that Tover was in his mouth, because the plover bird felt a familiar shake.

It started with a shake, a quake and a quiver,

The plover bird’s feathers began to shiver,

The flamingo jumped and the berries did too,

Fred ran away, he didn’t know what else to do,

And with a SNAP and a CLAP, the crocodile’s mouth shut,

But Tover escaped without so much as a cut!

‘Drat it, drat it, drat it!!’ shouted Croc. ‘How many times will you escape me? I’ll taste your feathers soon!’

***

On the next morning, Tover once more sat alone in a tall tree.

‘Oh, why can’t I think of something to stop that horrid crocodile!’ she cried.

Suddenly she heard some heavy footsteps. Down below her, she spotted Rohna the rhino on her morning walk.

‘Good morning!’ Rhona called to Tover.

‘Good morning,’ said Tover, sadly.

‘Why do you sound so sad, Tover?’

‘Oh, it’s that crocodile in the river,’ said Tover. ‘Every morning I clean his teeth for him and then SNAP! He tries to eat me!’

Then Rhona began to chuckle.

‘What’s so funny?’ asked Tover, grumpily.

‘Why, your problem is easily solved!’ said Rhona. ‘Come down here and I’ll tell you what you can do.’

Tover flew down and sat on the rhino’s horn. Then Rhona whispered a plan so brilliant that Tover sang and danced more happily than she ever had before.

‘Oh, what a brilliant idea!’ said Tover. ‘We must try it at once!’

A few minutes later, when the sun had peeked its bright head through the top of the trees by the river, Tover flew down to see Croc, accompanied by Rhona the rhino.

‘What’s this!’ gasped Croc. ‘Why have you brought a rhino here? Crocodiles can’t eat rhinos! They’re much too big!’

‘This is my friend Rhona,’ said Tover. And she’s come to help me make sure that you won’t ever snap or clap at me again! Now open wide, it’s time to clean your teeth!’

Croc opened his mouth wide, and before Tover flew into his mouth, Rhona grabbed at a wide branch from a nearby tree and snapped it off. She walked over to the crocodile and jammed the branch sideways into Croc’s mouth.

‘There!’ Rhona said. ‘That should do it!’

Tover flew into the crocodiles mouth and began her work of clearing all the food from his teeth. When her little belly was full and the crocodile’s teeth were cleaned, the plover bird once more felt that familiar tremor.

It started with a shake, a quake and a quiver,

The plover bird’s feathers began to shiver,

The wood of the branch began to creak,

A squeek of fright escaped Tover’s beak,

But there was no SNAP and there was no CLAP,

The crocodile’s jaws were caught in a trap!

‘Get this branch out of my mouth!’ the crocodile shouted. ‘The wood is too strong! I can’t snap it!’

Tover and Rhona were sitting on the bank of the river, laughing harder than either of them had ever laughed before.

‘Please take it away!’ pleaded Croc. ‘I’m stuck!’

‘Do you promise not to snap at Tover any more?’ asked Rhona.

‘Yes!’ said Croc. ‘Yes! I promise!’

So Rhona knocked the branch free with her horn, and Croc was able to close his jaws once more. As they walked away back into the jungle, Tover called to the crocodile.

‘Thank you for the food! See you tomorrow for your usual teeth cleaning!’

And so, Tover continued to visit Croc each morning when the sun had peeked its bright head through the top of the trees by the river. And Rhona the rhino would go with her. And just in case that silly old crocodile didn’t keep his promise, Rhona would always snap off a thick branch and keep Croc’s mouth propped open with it.

14 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All