On a beautiful summer’s day, a group of people gathered for a picnic. They spread out their tablecloth on the cool green grass and opened up their picnic basket full of delicious food. They were all very hungry and couldn’t wait to eat.
But the picnickers weren’t the only ones in the neighborhood who were hungry.
On the branch of a nearby tree sat a bothersome raven. “Caw! Caw! Caw!” called the raven. The raven hoped that his noisemaking would make the humans go away, leaving him alone to enjoy the picnic food. But those pesky humans wouldn’t be shooed away.
Then the raven had an idea. A black snake was sunning himself on a nearby rock. The raven knew that most humans are afraid of snakes. The raven flew over to the rock. Before the snake knew what happened, the raven picked it up in his claws, flew back over to the picnickers, and dropped the snake right in the middle of their picnic blanket.
The next sound the raven heard was screaming. The picnickers rushed back to their car, jumped in, and drove away. They were so scared that they left their entire picnic lunch behind.
The raven couldn’t believe his good fortune. He had come up with the idea to scare the people away with the snake, but even he was surprised it had worked so well. The raven was very proud of himself. “I’m so smart,” he kept telling himself. After a while, he decided to tell all the animals in the forest how smart he had been.
“Caw! Everyone. Caw!” shouted the raven. “Come here. I have an important announcement to make.” All the animals, insects, and birds in the neighborhood gathered around the picnic blanket to listen to the raven. The raven told everyone exactly what had happened. He was very sure to remind them how smart he was.
Meanwhile, all the forest creatures started eyeing the delicious food. One by one, each animal ate a small morsel of food while the raven was speaking. When the raven took a breath, a squirrel said, “Oh, yes, raven. What a smart bird you are.” A frog chimed in. “Yes, indeed, you are the smartest animal in the land. Would you please tell us the story again?”
The forest creatures got the raven to repeat his story five times. By then, they had eaten the entire picnic, right under the nose—or shall we say the beak—of the raven. The rabbits stripped the celery of their leaves. The turtles gobbled up the hard boiled eggs. The ants carried off all the grapes. The raven was so enthralled with his story, he didn’t even notice. Even the snake got to eat a big link of salami. At last the raven stopped talking and looked around. Everyone and everything was gone, including the picnic.