Thinking things through

Philosophy for Juniors

Humfry Hippo
Thoughtful Tales for Little Ones


Selfishness and Guilt




Philosophy for Seniors

A Matter of Life and Death

Human Needs

Humfry hippo moves home

Tale 4 provides an opportunity for children to:

  • Talk about hunger.
  • Think about feeling guilty and how it is good to apologise.
  • Learn how good it feels to give and receive forgiveness.

Tale 4: Feeling hungry

Humfry loves his new pool. He has plenty of clean, fresh water to drink. Although he misses his friends, his biggest problem now is that he is feeling hungry. He has not eaten since the previous night, when he was at his old home.

Can you imagine how he feels? Have you ever felt really hungry?

The good news for Humfry is that there is tasty, green grass growing near the pool.

But there is some bad news.

The first is that he has to wait until night-time, because that is when hippos move onto the land to eat.

His second big problem is that the three hippos that he chased away from the pool have settled themselves down in the middle of the tasty grass.

Joel, Flo and Emeka are still disappointed that Humfry turned them away from the water. They are out in the afternoon sun, getting very hot and very thirsty.

They want Humfry to let them share the water.

Humfry wonders if they will let him eat the grass.

He feels guilty that he turned them away in the first place, but he would be embarrassed to say sorry. It would show that he was wrong and that would hurt his pride.

Have you ever felt guilty like this? What do you think he should do?

After giving the problem a lot of thought, Humfry decides to swallow his pride and apologise. He turns to Joel, Flo and Emeka and says: “Excuse me, I am so sorry that I was rude to you earlier. Would you please forgive me?” Joel, who was a very well brought up hippo, said, “Don’t worry! Even the best of us is grumpy and bad tempered at times. We would be happy to forgive you!”

Do you think Humfry was right to say sorry? Did he do it in a good way?

Humfry is delighted to have been forgiven. He now feels so much happier. It gives him the courage to say, “Actually, I am feeling very hungry. Would you mind if I come and join you this evening, so that I can share the grass with you?”

At this point, Emeka objects. He says, “Why should we share the grass with you, when you will not let us share your water?” Flo added, “Yes, Emeka has a point!” Joel turned to Humfry and said, “You can surely see their point of view? You will not let us share your water, so can you see why we might not want to share this grass with you?”

What do you think Humfry should do?

Humfry, realised that an apology was not enough. He had to make amends for his rudeness. So, he said, “Oh! I am so sorry for what I did earlier. Please come and join me in the water. You can cool off and have a drink and we can hang out together.” The other hippos were delighted to hear this, and they rushed into the water, without a moment’s hesitation.

It was so good for each of them to feel the cool water on their skins. They drank and drank until they had had their fill. Then, all four hippos, introduced themselves properly.

In the early evening, when the light started to fade, Flo said, “I am sure we are all very hungry after our long day. Should we go together to feed on the grass?” Then, they did what all hippos do every night.

What do you think that is?

They climbed out of the waterhole and onto the land. Their sensitive noses led them to the tasty, green grass. And they spent the night filling their stomachs.

Here is Humfry looking very happy – for a hippo!

The sky is beginning to get lighter. Morning is approaching and the sun will shortly be appearing above the eastern horizon.

The four hippos all have full stomachs, but there is one last thing that they have to do. Before they return to the water, all four hippos used their tails to flick their dung around to mark their new feeding ground. Other hippos, when they smell the scent of the four friends, will know to keep clear of this particular feeding ground.

Humfry feels a little more contented. He is so pleased that he plucked up the courage to say sorry, and he is so grateful to Joel, Flo and Emeka for forgiving him.

They are four very contented hippos!

Before the sun comes up, they find their way back to the waterhole and to the shade of the overhanging trees. Once they are settled in the cool water, they chat and daydream all day long.

What would you say was the moral of this story?

Forgiveness says you are given another chance to make a new beginning.

Desmond Tutu

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