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Hoot by Roger Hargreaves (Hodder and Stoughton)
Hoot was a sort of owl. A Timbuctoo owl.
He thought he was a wise old owl, but he wasn't really. He lived in a house, up a tree, in a wood.
Everybody used to come and see Hoot when they wanted to know something.
And Hoot always pretended to know the answer. Even though he didn't.
'Why is the grass green?' asked Meow.
Meow was a sort of cat.
'Because, replied Hoot, 'if the grass wasn't green it would be red and it would look silly!'
'Oh,' said Meow.
Woof came along. Woof was a sort of dog.
'Why does the rain come downwards?' he asked.
'Because,' replied Hoot, 'if the rain didn't come downwards it would go upwards and then people's umbrellas wouldn't work!'
'Oh,' said woof.
Croak came along. Croak was a sort of frog.
Why can't trees talk?' he asked.
'Because,' replied Hoot. 'Trees can't talk because if trees could talk these woods would be a very noisy place to live!'
'Oh,' said Croak.
Now, what Hoot didn't know, and Meow didn't know, and Woof didn't know, and Croak didn't know, was that somebody had been listening to all this... In a hole, halfway up the tree, sat Squeak. Squeak was a sort of mouse.
'Silly old Hoot,' he thought to himself.' 'He doesn't know anything about anything. I'll give him something to think about!'
And he grinned a mousy grin.
'Nonsense,' he said in a very deep voice which came all the way up through the tree.
Hoot jumped. And so too did Meow, Woof and Croak.'Who said that?' gasped Hoot. 'I did!' said the voice. 'Who?' asked Hoot. 'Me,' said the voice. 'The tree!'
Hoot couldn't believe his ears. 'But trees can't talk,' he spluttered. 'So you said,' said the voice. 'But you were wrong, weren't you?' 'Me? Wrong?' hooted Hoot. 'I'm a wise old owl!' 'Old perhaps,' said the voice. 'But not particularly wise!'
Poor Hoot went inside his house, feeling not quite the wise old owl he thought he was.
Squeak popped his head out of the hole and winked at Meow, Woof and Croak. 'In future,' he said, 'if you want to know something, you'd better ask me!'
Woof looked at him. 'Why is the sky blue?'
'I've no idea,' he said.
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