Missing frog returned to Elephant’s Fork

Published 12:00 am Thursday, April 21, 2005

It appeared that the mystery that had gripped Elephant’s Fork Elementary last week had been solved. Ribbity, the frog that has provided a welcome reading companion in the school library for years, had been returned, and a suspect had been apprehended and confessed.

Little did anyone know that, while the suspect had offered several tearful apologies, in the back of his mind, he’d never stopped grinning. Because all along, he’d done the right thing. By the time all the facts were out, everyone else knew it as well.

All through last week, school nurse Judy Fisher had noticed that Ribbity’s greenness had been fading. He hadn’t seemed as enthused about working with the kids as usual. So, delving off into another field of medicine, Fisher checked out some veterinary books and decided that being with his own kind for a while might help the amphibian.

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She told art teacher Ed Lane of her suspicions. Later that day, Lane was walking near a pond and noticed the sounds of Ribbity’s croaking colleagues.

He went to the library and asked the frog if he’d like to visit some old pals. The excited anmial leaped up, and knocked over a rocking chair. Picking him up, Lane knocked over a few chairs, created a false struggle scene. Not wanting the students to think that their friend had just up and left them, Lane wrote a fake ransom note, demanding 10,000 goldfish crackers.

Over the next few days, students became Sherlocks. They examined the scene, and collected evidence from the library. They questioned teachers. They dusted the note for fingerprints.

&uot;We got to find clues and we had fun while we were going it,&uot; said second-grader Micah Bailey. &uot;I missed (Ribbity), because I really enjoyed reading with him.&uot;

The prints were the key; Lane’s trademark was found on the paper. All the while, he was heading down to the pond, checking on his green amigo. The frog’s color was improving, and his energy was returning.

On Monday, the kids confronted Lane, and he immediately told them the &uot;truth&uot; about Ribbity.

&uot;I’m sorry that I took the frog,&uot; he wrote in a confession. &uot;I needed something for my wife’s birthday, and she loved goldfish crackers. I hoped I could get some goldfish if I got the frog for her birthday.&uot;

He returned the improved frog, and Ribbity and the kids renewed their happy acquaintance. But on Monday, the kids found out the real reason why Lane had borrowed their buddy.

&uot;I was glad that he returned (Ribbity), but I thought Mr. Lane had a really good reason,&uot; said his student, Catie Weaver. &uot;Ribbity did look a little bit off-color lately. I think we should be thanking Mr. Lane.&uot;