'Berlioz the Bear'

Story Time

September 02, 1998|By Jan Brett

Editor's note: Berlioz the bear and his fellow musicians are due to play at the town ball when their bandwagon gets stuck. A strange buzzing in his bass saves the day.

Zum. Zum buzzz. Zum. Buzz. Berlioz had been practicing for weeks, and now just when the orchestra was going to play in the village square for a gala ball, a strange buzz was coming from his double bass.

"Why now?" Berlioz said to himself.

The musicians arrived with their instruments. As Berlioz watched them climb aboard the bandwagon, all he could think about was his buzzing bass. What if his bass buzzed during the ball? What if the dancers stopped dancing and laughed at him?

Berlioz picked up the reins and clucked to the mule. Off they went down the road. He was so worried that he didn't see a hole in the road ahead. Suddenly, the wagon lurched to a stop. The front wheel was stuck in the hole. The mule took one look back, sat down and yawned.

"Oh dear," said Berlioz, as he tried to get the mule to stand up and pull the bandwagon out of the hole. "What can we do? We'll be late for the ball."

"I'll help you," said a rooster who was passing by on his way to the ball. "I'll just tug on the rope and pull you out," he bragged.

The rooster pulled and pulled, but the mule stayed put.

Just then a schnauzer came trotting over the hill.

He panted and pulled, but the wagon stayed in the hole.

Berlioz checked his pocket watch. There wasn't much time left. He was about to give up when he heard a new voice.

"Allow me," said a plow horse coming across the field. "This will be easy. I spend my days pulling."

But even the plow horse couldn't move the mule.

Berlioz tugged at his ears. It was almost time for the ball to begin. He looked around and saw a large ox lumbering toward them.

"Everyone tune up. Here comes someone that can pull us out!"

"You're saved!" roared the ox. "This poor plow horse means well, but only I am strong enough to pull a bandwagon full of musicians."

He twisted the rope around his horns and gave a mighty tug. The animals held their breaths. But the mule wouldn't budge. The clock on the tower started to chime eight o'clock.

"Oh no," Berlioz shouted. In desperation he pulled his bow across the strings and to his dismay he heard Zum...zum...buzz...buzzzz. All the musicians turned to look at the buzzing double bass.

Out of the bass shot a very angry bee. It had been disturbed once too often. The first thing it saw as it flew out of the bass was the hindquarters of the mule.

With one giant sting, the bee made the mule jump to his feet and pull the bandwagon of musicians out of the hole, down the road and into the village square before the bells had stopped chiming.

The audience roared. "What an entrance!" they cried, and the orchestra, already dressed and tuned, began to play.

It was hard to say who had more fun at the ball, the musicians or the dancers. Berlioz had never played better.

"Encore, Berlioz! Encore!"

Berlioz came forward.

"Thank you all. And this evening, I would like to dedicate our encore to the buzzing bee."

From BERLIOZ THE BEAR by Jan Brett. Text and Illustrations copyright 1991 by Jan Brett. Reprinted by permission of G.P. Putnam's Sons, a division of Penguin Putnam Inc.

Pub Date: 9/02/98

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