Chihuahua, he be teeny, like a piece a scaloppine...

Chelsea, wearing her rhinestone collar, danced forward as the room full of children repeated the chant about the Chihuahua.

Next Felicia Ann, dressed again in bright pink, twirled while the second-graders chanted, "Flamingo's legs be brown, she don' wanna put 'em down..." and the rest of the school repeated it. Then,

Got us a gnu, and got us another,

'Cuz the first gnu's a girl and she got her a brother...

Gooney Bird and Nicholas did a special little gnu dance while the children clapped.

Betcha thought nuthin' would make a rhyme with


But here she be, and her name be kangaroo...

Keiko giggled and did a hopping little kangaroo dance. The parade continued shuffling around the room while the entire school clapped in rhythm.

Panda be a babe who be eatin' bamboo,

She be black and white all over and she don't got no tattoo...

Mrs. Pidgeon held out her arms and did a bit of a waltz, but the children were all looking toward the doorway, where Mr. Furillo was standing with his broom. He grinned and held up his right arm so they could see his tattoo of a dagger and snake.

Here come tiger, he be one fierce dude,

He scare everybody wifhis attitude...

Principal Leroy, who just that morning had made a speech about school budgets to the Watertower Rotary Club at their monthly breakfast meeting, now did a lunging dance across the center of the floor, and growled loudly before he moved back into the parade line and resumed shuffling.

Mr. Tortoise be so dumb an' slow,

He dunno when to start and he dunno when to go ...

Tricia, laughing, waved her big leather gloves and did a very slow dance while the children repeated the tortoise chant.

Then, finally, Tyrone moved out of the parade line and all of the children cheered. He turned a somersault, spun in a circle on his back, and then jumped to his feet and started the T. rex part of the rap:

Mr. T. rex big but he dunno how to think,

'Cuz his brain be small, and he go extinct...

"He go extinct," repeated all the children and teachers. Tyrone continued:

This he the end of our fabulous parade

But there plenty more stories out there to be made

'Cuz ol' Mr. Aesop, he be a winner—

Now we all go home and eat our dinner!

"Turkey!" said Tyrone later, as the children were putting on their coats. "That's a T. I could do a rap about holiday food!"

"Cranberry sauce! That's a C!" said Chelsea. "Or celery!" She pulled her mittens out of her pockets.

"M for mashed potatoes!" Malcolm announced, zipping his jacket.

"I could be beans!" said Ben as he pulled on his boots.

"Or beets!" suggested Beanie.

"Uh-oh." Tyrone pointed. "Look at Nicholas."

Nicholas, who had been winding his scarf around his neck, was suddenly very still. He looked distressed.

Gooney Bird had removed her beard. She was wearing the sheared-beaver jacket that she sometimes borrowed from her mother. Carefully she wrapped a long scarf around her neck with a flourish. Then she went over to him. "Nicholas," she said sympathetically, "do not even worry about this for one second. We are not doing a food rap. We are all going home to enjoy the holidays.

"Right?" She looked around.

"Right," the other children agreed.

"Okay, right," said Tyrone, reluctantly.

"Even though," Gooney Bird said with a grin, "I would be gravy."