(A story for kids ages six to ten.)

Once upon a time there lived an elephant named Frankie. Frankie lived in a zoo; not one of those modern zoos that you may have been to, but an old zoo with tired buildings and cracked sidewalks. You would think that this would make Frankie a very unhappy elephant, but no, he was very happy indeed. The lions were not happy, the penguins were not happy, the parrots and the monkeys were not happy, but Frankie didn’t care. He was happy.

Outside of Frankie’s window, just off to the side of his trench there was a little machine for giving out peanuts. Every day the children would come from all over town, and they would bring their lunch money and their candy money to buy peanuts for their elephant. Frankie was very happy. He would reach through the bars of his cage with his long trunk, and he would carefully pluck each peanut from the little hands that offered them. Then he would take the delicious peanuts, he would put them in his mouth, and chew each one so carefully. Then he would smile, look out at all the smiling faces, and he was so very happy. Frankie loved peanuts.

One day a man in a suit came to the zoo to make sure that everything was safe and that the zoo was taking care of the animals. This man saw all the sad animals, the cracking concrete, the worn down buildings and the peanut machines. He shook his head, “We will have to close down this sad little zoo in a few years. We could sell all the animals except for the elephant. He’s too old to sell. We will have to put him to sleep and give his body to the glue factory.” Then the man said, “Ed, stop filling up those peanut machines;. It’s too dangerous. The elephant might hurt someone. No more peanuts for Frankie.”

Ed was very sad. He had been taking care of Frankie for a long time. He knew how much Frankie loved peanuts, he knew that the man was serious about closing down the zoo and that would be the end of Frankie. He took away the peanut machines so that Frankie wouldn’t see them anymore, and he hoped that Frankie would forget all about the peanuts. The children stopped coming to see Frankie. Now Frankie was unhappy.
He stood in his cage, looked at the blue sky, and got very depressed.

One day Frankie decided not to get up. He said “This is the end. I’m not getting up ever again.” What a sad little elephant he was. Ed came in to clean Frankie’s cage. “What’s wrong Frankie? Are you OK?” he said, “I have a treat for you.” Ed reached into his pocket, and he took out a little bag of peanuts. But Frankie didn’t move. He was that down. Ed looked at him, and then he dropped the peanuts and ran out the door to get help.

Frankie was lying there not feeling so good about himself, but he kept smelling peanuts. He looked around and there was the bag that Ed had dropped. Frankie thought he would have just one, and maybe another and then, all of a sudden, the bag was empty. Frankie was feeling a little bit better. He looked over and noticed that the door to his elephant house was standing wide open. Frankie thought, “Maybe I can get my own peanuts. I’ll just take a quick look around town.”

Frankie tried to be very quiet about sneaking out of the zoo. But all of the animals saw him, and they wanted to go too. The lion roared; the parrot called; the penguins splashed and the monkey yelled. Frankie ran out of the zoo fast. The man at the toll booth said, “Stop Frankie. Go back.” But he did not stop and ran into town. He smelled something really good. Hmmm, what was that smell? He ran around corners and down streets until he came to a bakery. He didn’t like bread, even if it smelled so good.

Frankie decided he needed a place to hide out so that the police couldn’t find him. He was lucky, and he found a beautiful fountain with many stone elephants. This was a great place for an elephant to hide on a hot summer day. While he was hiding in the fountain a police car stopped in front of the fountain. Frankie thought for sure he was caught; but the two officers were only having lunch at the fountain. “Where did my peanuts go?” said one of the officers, “I had them right here.” Do you know where the peanuts went? Then I don’t need to tell you. Frankie loved peanuts.

Frankie smelled another delicious smell. He followed his nose for a long time and discovered a doughnut shop. He found the doughnuts easy to carry on his trunk, but he still wanted to find some peanuts. Then Frankie smelled another scent. The smell was s so rich and full of flavor. He thought, “This must be where there are peanuts hmm” but there were no peanuts, and that shop was full of people drinking coffee. Frankie was getting discouraged. He had looked everywhere all over town, but he could not find any more peanuts. I might have told him to look in the grocery store, but he never asked me.

It was getting dark and Frankie smelled peanuts! He was so sure that he ran down a street, and over a hill. There, they are in front him was a peanut factory! Frankie ran into the factory. He looked through all the different rooms until he found a room filled with piles of peanuts. Frankie had never seen so many peanuts and his whole life. The pile of peanuts in that room was five times bigger than him! There were dump trucks and bulldozers to move the peanuts around. He ate peanuts till he was full. Then he burrowed into the pile of peanuts and leaving only his eyes sticking out.

The next day when the workers at the factory came back, they were surprised at how many peanuts were missing. “Where did all the peanuts go?” they asked. I don’t need to tell you. Frankie loved peanuts. The next night, after the night watchman had been in to check on the peanuts. Frankie went exploring. He explored all around the factory until he found a little building which said, ‘Top-Secret’ and ‘Keep Out’.

Elephants are very curious creatures, and Frankie couldn’t help himself. What was in that building? Was it a special type of peanut? A secret recipe?

Frankie peeped in the door. He didn’t mean to break-in. He leaned on the lock a little. Then he stuck his head in the door. Then he had to get down on his knees, and crawl in the room. There were lots of peanuts in this building, each in its own special pile. Some were marked, ‘peanuts with honey’, and others were marked, ‘peanuts with mustard.’ Frankie’s favorite type of peanut was with chocolate.

Frankie ate all the peanuts covered with chocolate. Chocolate is not good for elephants. He did not feel so good, and he fell asleep standing up. When Frankie woke up it was morning, and he had been caught. There were cameras taking his pictures, and women with microphones. He was surrounded by people; policeman firemen and doctors, but best of all Ed was there too.

Ed said, “Frankie you are famous. People all around the world have heard about you, the famous disappearing elephant.” Then cameras and reporters came closer to Ed and Frankie. “Why did Frankie come here?” they wanted to know. You know the answer to that question; Frankie loved peanuts.

That night Frankie got to go home to the zoo. The next morning the president of the peanut factory came to see him and Ed. He said that Frankie had made the peanut company famous. That nobody cared if Frankie had eaten all those peanuts because now everybody all around the country wanted to eat Frankie’s chocolate covered peanuts. The president of the company said that before he had been planning to close down the factory. Now he had to hire more workers, and he wanted to thank Frankie in his own way. The company had decided to give Frankie a lifetime supply of peanuts.

That tired old zoo has been closed down, and made into a park. All the animals were sent away to find happy places to live. Except in one little house there lives a very happy elephant, and every day when the children come after school, he throws them peanuts! Frankie loved to share peanuts.