Yakkity Yak woke up in the middle of a circle of yaks. He shook the snow off his back and greeted the Himalayan mountain morning with his best Tibetan warm-up dance.
“Guess what I’m doing today!” Yakkity shouted.
Mama Yak opened one eye. “Sh-h-h,” she said. “Everyone is still sleeping.”
But Yakkity wasn’t listening. He pushed his way out of the circle and called to his friends. “Li. Hua. Wake up!”
Li Langur and Hua Hoopoe [say: HU-PU] opened their eyes.
“Want to watch me play my new game?” Yakkity asked.
Li stretched his long legs. “Sure!” He climbed onto Yakkity’s back.
Hua flew up and settled on Yakkity’s horn. “Can I play, too?” she asked.
But Yakkity wasn’t listening. His hoofs quickly hit the buttons on his hand-held YakAttack game. “Yes! Hooray! Woot, woot!” he shouted, scoring point after point.
At school, Mr. Knack Yak made an announcement. “Saturday is the Great Yak Race!” he said. “We hold it every year up and down the steppes of our mountainside.” [starburst to explain steppes]
Just then, Yakkity remembered something. “My birthday is coming up,” he announced, “and I’m having a party on Saturday!”
Mr. Knack Yak frowned. “That’s nice, Yakkity, but please raise your hoof if you want to speak. As I was saying, our class is going to wear red, so everyone will know we’re on the same team.”
Mr. Knack Yak held up a red hat. “Whatever you do, don’t wear blue like our rival team.” He paused. “The winning team gets free tickets to Nima’s Fun Palace!”
The class cheered, but Yakkity didn’t listen. He was too busy planning his birthday party.
Saturday dawned bright and cold. Yakkity stayed fast asleep.
“Wake up,” Hua called, flying up wearing a bright red ribbon and coat. “It’s time for the race.”
Yakkity opened one eye. “What race?”
“The Great Yak Race!” Li said, running up on red-mittened hands and feet. “The one all the yaks have been talking about.”
“I haven’t heard anything about it,” Yakkity said.
“We’ll meet you there and cheer for your team,” Hua said, flying off. “Don’t be late!”
“And be sure to wear red!” Li raced away.
But Yakkity hadn’t heard his friends. He was busy looking for tasty grass to chomp.
After a long breakfast, Yakkity Yak put on his favorite blue hat. He trotted down the mountain trail. Finally, Yakkity got to the steppes.
Oh no! I’m late! Yakkity thought. The race had already started. He wished he had listened better so he knew what to do.
A group of yaks, all wearing blue, thundered past him down the steppes.
“Come on!” a big yak hollered. Yakkity galloped along. But where were his friends? He didn’t know any of these yaks.
Suddenly, Yakkity spotted Li and Hua. They were on the sidelines, cheering for the red team.
Yakkity dug in all four of his hooves and screeched to a halt. Bump! Thump! Yaks bumped into Yakkity and piled in a heap. Yaks in red tripped over yaks in blue. Yakkity couldn’t believe the big mess he’d started.
Tweet! Mr. Knack Yak blew his whistle. “Who caused the pileup?”
“He did!” Hoofs pointed at Yakkity from every direction.
“You’re wearing the wrong color!” Li called out.
“Yakkity,” Mr. Knack Yak frowned, “I’m afraid you’ve disqualified your team. The blue team wins.”
Yaks in blue cheered, while yaks in red glared at Yakkity.
“I’m sorry,” Yakkity told his class. “I haven’t been a good listener.”
Yakkity hung his head and walked away from the group. He tried to hold back his tears.
With mouth closed tight and ears open wide, Yakkity heard a different sound. The howls of a wolf pack. And they were coming this way!
“Wolves!” Yakkity called out. “Circle up. Hurry!”
All the big yaks made a circle around the little yaks. The wolves ran up and stopped outside the circle.
“Go away!” Yakkity shouted as the big yaks shook their sharp horns. The wolves howled. Then they ran away.
Mr. Knack Yak turned around and smiled at Yakkity. “You saved the day!”
“It’s because I listened,” Yakkity said.
“Three cheers for our friend,” Hua and Li shouted.
Everyone cheered. “Hip, hip, hooray!”
Nima Yak stepped forward and made an announcement. “Free pizza and games at my Fun Palace for everyone!”
And Yakkity heard every word.
“Listen to advice and accept instruction, and in the end you will be wise.” Proverbs 19:20, NIV