What Are Neighbors For?

By Teresa Bateman

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    (An activity story.)Thou shalt love thy neighbor (Lev. 19:18).

    I was sitting on the sofa,

    When the weatherman turned white:

    “Better batten down the hatches, folks,

    A storm just came in sight.

    There’ll be winds like locomotives

    And about three feet of snow.

    City schools have all been closed.

    Hunker down, enjoy the blow.”

    I shrugged—why should I worry?

    I had wood to stoke the fire

    And a freezer full of pizza

    If the snow kept piling higher.

    My house was snug and cozy,

    And my power never blew,

    But what would happen right next door

    At the Merry Valley Zoo?

    Snow fell as thick as pudding.

    The wind cajoled and cried.

    Then I caught a glimpse of something

    At my window, just outside.

    A knock came at the kitchen door.

    I opened it. “Hello!”

    You’ll never guess what I saw

    Standing knee-deep in the snow!

    Outside, there stood a man in blue,

    Who said, “I hate to bother you,

    But there are problems at the zoo.

    Could you please take a guest or two

    Until this winter storm is through?”

    I ask you, what was I to do?

    Now there’s a hippo in the hot tub,

    Splashing water on the floor.

    It’s a bit peculiar, granted,

    But then what are neighbors for?

    I offered it some pizza,

    Which it ate, then asked for more.

    I was heading for the kitchen

    When a knock came at the door.

    Outside, there stood the man in blue,

    Who said, “I hate to bother you—

    Could you take another guest or two?”

    I ask you, what was I to do?

    So I have iguanas in the sauna,

    And they seem to like the steam.

    I offered them some pizza, too,

    Which they ate with peach ice cream.

    There’s a hippo in the hot tub,

    Splashing water on the floor.

    It’s a bit peculiar, granted,

    But then what are neighbors for?

    I was rushing through the kitchen,

    When a knock came at the door.

    Outside, there stood the man in blue,

    Who said, “I hate to bother you—

    Could you take another guest or two?’

    I ask you, what was I to do?

    Now I’ve lions in the living room,

    With gleaming, sharpened teeth.

    They seem to like the pizza—

    I admit that’s a relief!

    I’ve iguanas in the sauna,

    Eating pizzas by the score;

    There’s a hippo in the hot tub,

    Splashing water on the floor.

    It’s a bit peculiar, granted,

    But then what are neighbors for?

    I was sneaking by the kitchen,

    When a knock came at the door.

    There was—guess who—the man in blue

    Who said, “I hate to bother you—

    Could you take another guest or two?”

    I ask you, what was I to do?

    So there are baboons in the bedroom,

    Trying clothes on with delight,

    While lions in the living room

    Roar off and on all night.

    I’ve iguanas in the sauna,

    Eating pizzas by the score;

    There’s a hippo in the hot tub,

    Splashing water on the floor.

    It’s a bit peculiar, granted,

    But then what are neighbors for?

    I could not avoid the kitchen,

    And a knock came at the door.

    Oh no! There stood the man in blue,

    Who said, “I hate to bother you—

    Could you take another guest or two?

    I ask you, what was I to do?

    Now there’s a python in the parlor

    And a terrapin in the tub.

    Things are getting awfully crowded,

    And I’m running out of grub.

    The baboons in the bedroom

    Are dressed in my pajamas,

    And guess who’s at the door now

    With six or seven llamas!

    The lions and iguanas

    Eat pizza, hiss, and roar,

    And the hippo in the hot tub’s

    Splashing water on the floor.

    It’s a bit peculiar, granted,

    But then what are neighbors for?

    Instructions: Mount this page on lightweight cardboard, then cut out the figures. As you read the story on page 17, place the people and the animals in their places.

    Illustrated by Shauna Mooney Kawasaki