This week's bedtime story is also available as a podcast.
Summer Runs Away
Summer Bunny was the smallest out of all her brothers and sisters. She was never allowed to stay up as late as the others, or play in the meadow by herself. She sometimes wished she was bigger, especially when she got told off for things the older bunnies had done. And it felt like that happened a lot.
One warm morning, Summer was sitting in the meadow, daydreaming, whilst her brothers and sisters hopped through the long grass. She heard her mum calling her: "Summer! Be careful you don't go too far from the burrow!"
Summer's whiskers twitched and she scrunched up her little face. She was tired of being the small one. She was tired of being told what to do. She was tired of being at home.
So, Summer packed a bag and decided it was time to go out into the world. "Goodbye, everyone," she said, as she hopped away. "I'm going to run away and live by myself!"
And before anyone could stop her, Summer had bounced off through the meadow, to the path beyond.
The sun shone brightly on Summer as she made her way down the path. Before long, she heard a rustling in the leaves. She stopped and frowned. "Who's there?"
A wet snout appeared and a snuffly voice replied: "Just me, Harry Hedgehog. And who are you?"
"I'm Summer Bunny," Summer replied. "And I'm running away!"
Harry wrinkled his nose. "Okay," he said. "I'll join you."
So, Summer Bunny and Harry Hedgehog carried on making their way down the path.
After a while, they reached a pond and stopped to take a rest. Soon, they heard a quacking sound. From behind some reeds, a duck came bustling out. "What are you doing by my pond?!"
"Sorry," Summer Bunny replied. "I didn't know it was your pond."
"Well, it is," the duck insisted. "Everyone knows this is Delilah Duck's pond!"
Summer nodded. "Oh..." She began. "Well, we won't stay long," she promised. "Harry Hedgehog and I are running away!"
Delilah rubbed her chin with one wing. "Hmm... Running away, you say? Well... Now you mention it, that sounds like it might be fun. I'll come with you!"
And so, Summer Bunny, Harry Hedgehog and Delilah Duck carried on walking, not quite sure where they were going.
Soon, they arrived at the entrance to some woods. They heard a rustling in the trees and everyone looked up. A pigeon swooped down and landed on the ground in front of them. "Hello," she said, excitedly. "You're new around here! What are you up to?"
Summer smiled and waved. "I'm Summer Bunny and this is Harry Hedgehog and Delilah Duck," she told the pigeon. "And we've all decided to run away."
The pigeon frowned. "Run away? From what?"
Summer sighed. "Well... From being the smallest and from being told what to do," she explained, although her reasons didn't feel all that important, anymore.
"Hmmm, I see," the pigeon replied. "Well, I'm Penny Pigeon and I'm not doing anything important right now. Mind if I join you?"
So, Summer Bunny, Harry Hedgehog, Delilah Duck and Penny Pigeon started making their way through the wood.
They hadn't been walking for long, when they saw a face grinning at them from inside a bramble bush. Summer peered closely and a badger popped his head out. "Hello," he smiled. "I'm Barry Badger. You look like you're all off on an adventure. Where are you going?"
Summer glanced up the wooded path ahead and shook her head, slowly. "I'm not sure," she began. "I'm running away and everyone's sort of... Coming with me."
Barry crawled out from the bramble bush and shook himself until his fur stood on end. "Running away? Why, what happened?"
Summer shrugged. "Nothing really," she explained. "It's just... I'm the smallest and I'm never allowed to do anything and..." Her words trailed off. Truth be told, she was starting to miss her mum and dad and her brothers and sisters. She liked how safe and warm their burrow was - not like the dark, creepy woods ahead.
"Okay then," Barry said, interrupting her thoughts. "I'll come along, too."
So, Summer Bunny, Harry Hedgehog, Delilah Duck, Penny Pigeon and Barry Badger continued their way through the wood.
Eventually, they came to a shadowy den. Everyone slowed down. Nobody spoke. A pair of eyes glinted at them from inside the den. Slowly, a big fox began stalking out of the den, looking at the animals and greedily licking his lips.
"Well, well, well..." He began. "What have we got here?"
Summer Bunny gulped and glanced at her new friends. "Um... Er..." She stammered.
The fox peered closely at her. "What are you all doing here, in the woods, right by my house?!"
Summer felt her breath catch in her throat. "We... We're running away."
The fox bent his head even closer. "From what?"
Summer yelped. "From you!"
And with that, Summer Bunny, Harry Hedgehog, Delilah Duck, Penny Pigeon and Barry Badger all went scurrying back down the woodland path.
On their way, Barry dived back into the bramble bush. Penny flew back up into the trees. Delilah went splashing back into the pond and Harry snuffled back beneath his cosy pile of leaves.
Summer didn't stop running until she reached the safety of the burrow. Her brothers and sisters were still playing in the meadow. Her mum was still keeping an eye out for her. When she saw Summer, her ears twitched and a smile appeared on her face. "Hello, Summer," she said. "I thought you were running away?"
Summer flung her arms around her mum and squeezed her tight. "I did," she said. "And then I ran all the way back again."
From then on, Summer didn't mind so much about being the smallest. She knew she'd grow in time.
And she didn't mind not being allowed to do as many things as her big brothers and sisters. She'd had enough adventures to last her a very long time!