STORIES FOR KIDS ON HEALTHY FOOD:
THE HAZELNUT AND THE OAK
Once upon a time in the forest, a hazelnut bush grew in the shadow of a mighty oak tree. Somebody had dropped a nut on the fertile earth beneath the great tree. Soon, the bush began to bear round, green fruits, each containing three nuts in hard shells. The hazelnut bush was rather small – only four metres tall – and did not take up much space, but some of the forest animals were less than friendly towards the newcomer.
“How does this bland little bush dare to settle next to such an honourable forest tree?” asked the field mice, moles and hedgehogs.
“Everyone is entitled to their space in the forest,” replied the oak, “and I heard that the nuts it produces are very tasty!”
“Look – they are green!” laughed the animals, who had never seen hazelnuts before.
“Don't worry about what they say,” said the oak to its new neighbour. “They are foolish. Once your nuts have ripened, they will be the talk of the forest.”
“Thank you for your kind words,” replied the hazelnut bush. “I may be small, but I will prove useful to you. My wide leaves will block the light from the ground and prevent weeds from growing near you.”
The oak and the hazelnut bush became such good friends that they were inseparable. Soon, the bush's nuts began to mature, turning brown and falling to the ground below.
Not far from the mighty oak, among some fir trees, lived a squirrel and its five children. Once, the young squirrels came to play under the hazelnut bush. One of the older squirrels shouted:
“Whoever can throw these nuts the longest distance will be the winner!”
The squirrels played with the nuts for a long time. Eventually they became tired and hungry and stopped their game. The hazelnut bush was saddened that its nuts no longer entertained the squirrels, so it decided to start a new game.
“Whoever can crack open one of these shells and eat the nut inside will be the winner,” whispered the hazelnut bush to the young squirrels.
The squirrels quickly grabbed a nut each and began to crack them open. They did not stop after the first nut, but opened a second, then a third. They ate until they were full, filled their mouths with some nuts for later, and made their way contentedly back to their fir tree. Back at home, the mother squirrel was rather sad.
“Today we will not have any supper,” she said glumly. “Somebody has raided our storeroom under the roots of this fir tree.”
“Don't worry, mum!” exclaimed her children excitedly, producing a pile of hard, brown nuts. “We have already had our supper – and here is yours!”
The area under the hazelnut tree was soon cleared completely of sweet brown nuts, all of which had been hidden away by the squirrels.
That year, the winter was particularly severe. As the snow finally began to melt, a crowd of small animals began to emerge from their homes in search of food.
“Hello neighbour,” said a hedgehog to the mother squirrel. “Your children look very healthy and well-fed. They obviously had plenty to eat through the winter. I, on the other hand, have become very thin and weak and am suffering from pains in my back.”
“Hang on, my dear hedgehog,” replied the squirrel. “I will fetch you some nuts and honey. When you eat it, your pain will go away.”
“Hi neighbour!” squeaked a field mouse nearby. “Look how strong and handsome your children have become over winter. Mine, however, have grown very weak – they can't even manage to get out of the burrow.”
“My dear mouse,” answered the squirrel, offering the mouse a basket of food, “you must treat them to a delicious meal. Take these nut pastries and nut desserts for your children.”
That evening, the groans of a mole could be heard near the fir tree.
“Well, what an awful winter that was!” exclaimed the creature. “The soil is still frozen so hard that I have had to leave my children underground. I am so weak from hunger that I cannot get back to them.”
“Try this,” suggested the squirrel to the old mole. “It is nut spread, and it will give you back your strength.”
The squirrel handed the mole a portion of the nut spread, wrapped in the previous year's oak leaves. Then she turned to the hazelnut bush.
“Everybody in the forest knows about you, my dear nut tree,” explained the squirrel.
The hazelnut bush looked around and saw the mouse, the hedgehog and the mole bowing down.
“Hazelnut bush,” said the animals, “you are the treasure of the forest!”
The hazelnut bush was so happy it began to bloom. All the other trees in the forest were still sleeping, but elegant blossom appeared on the branches of the little nut tree, surrounded by a cloud of golden dust. In summer, a miracle happened – throughout the forest, small hazelnut bushes began to grow out of the earth in the places where the squirrels had buried nuts and forgotten about them.
Soon, all the families of squirrels, mice and moles in the entire forest had a store of nuts for the next winter. The nuts were very easy to gather because the bushes dropped their entire harvest onto the forest floor.
Since that time, the hazelnut bush has always been the first in the forest to bear fruit, heralding the end of winter. All birds and beasts know that when the hazelnut is in bloom, spring has arrived.
Questions and exercises based on the story:
- Which other plants are among the first to greet spring?
- Which inhabitants of the forest benefit most from hazelnuts?
- Imagine that the squirrel's friends decided to organise a nut feast for all the animals in the forest. How would they use nuts to feed the predators such as wolves, bears, foxes and lions?
- Imagine that the hazelnut bush and the oak tree decided to open a shop in the forest, selling nut-based medicines. What nuts would they use to treat the diseases of different animals? Make up your own prescriptions for the following treatments: nut medicines, hazelnut ointments, nut plasters, nut tablets, nut milk for young animals, etc. You could use other forest plants and grasses in your prescriptions too.
- If you were given a basket of hazelnuts, what would you do with it? Whom would you give them to? What dishes would you make from them?
- Why did the oak and the hazelnut bush become close friends in the story?
The stories for kids about honey, nuts and chocolate
page 4 of 5
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