Hibbou was too excited to go to bed. She had one too many sweet treats and she was hopping about the nest more than usual.
“Come and sit here, Hibbou.” Mother Chouette called her owlet. “I will read you a story of a famous cow who was just as jumpy as you are.”
Once upon a full moon, a very pregnant cow laid upon the hay and moo-ed loudly for she knew it was about time for her to give birth. She laid on her side as the baby inside her kicked and bounced. And then all of a sudden, it didn’t move at all. Just as she was getting ready to stand up (for she thought the baby had changed its mind), out jumped the calf. Thus was born Skipper, the jumping calf.
Skipper learned early on that jumping was his special gift. While his peers usually pranced and hopped every time they saw something different, Skipper always jumped the highest. He jumped over anthills, fences, and soon enough, over ladders as well. Instead of munching on grass, Skipper would jump to grab the juiciest leaves on the tallest trees.
One night before bedtime, Momma Cow told Skipper that he was born during a full moon.
“What’s a full moon?” Skipper asked his mom.
“It’s a moon just like that one,” Momma Cow pointed to the shiny white platter in the night sky.
Skipper couldn’t contain his excitement. “Someday, I’m jumping over the moon!”
Momma Cow chuckled at her son’s words. “That’s too high, even for you.”
But Skipper would not hear of this. He practiced every day and jumped over taller and taller objects. As he grew into a young calf, he began jumping over the roof of his master’s house. Soon, he could jump over a mountain with ease.
Finally, he once again saw the full moon and knew he was ready to give it his best try. He closed his eyes, bent his knees and soared through the skies!
When Skipper opened his eyes, he was already above the moon.
“Yahoo, I did it!” Skipper hollered. “Wait till I tell my friends about this!”
When he had landed on the ground, he felt something heavy on his head. He quickly headed to the nearest pond to see if there was something stuck to his horns. When he looked at his reflection, he saw a crown of glittering stars on his head.
“Now my friends will believe that I reached the moon,” Skipper admired the reflection of his shiny crown. But just as he was about to sleep (for the business of jumping can get quite tiring), he heard whimpering in his ears.
“Who’s making all that noise? I’m trying to sleep here!” Skipper shouted to no one in particular.
“It is us,” his crown spoke. “We are the stars entangled in your horns. Please jump over the moon again so that we can go back to our home.”
“Oh no,” Skipper said as he shook his head. “You’re my prize for being the highest jumper in the world!” Skipper puffed his chest with pride. “Now quiet down so that I may get some sleep.”
The next day, Skipper showed his mom his crown of stars and how he got it. Then, he went to all the animals in the farm to show his trophy. When everyone in the village knew, he jumped to the other villages to show his crown of stars. Finally, everybody was quite sick and tired of hearing the story of how he had jumped over the moon and came back with stars on his horn. But still, Skipper would not stop, always jumping from one place to the next to tell anyone willing to listen of his amazing achievement.
One day, when he was telling a group of young calves the story, one had the guts to cut him off.
“Are you sure those are stars on your head?” The spotted calf said with raised eyebrows. “It just looks like a bunch of grayish rocks to me.”
Skipper was shocked. He jumped to the nearest pond to view his reflection. True enough, the stars were almost out of light!
“Why aren’t you shining?” The frustrated Skipper asked the stars.
“We are sad and lonely for this is not our home,” the stars said. “We will lose all our light if you don’t bring us back to the night sky,” they sobbed inconsolably.
Skipper finally felt sad for them. He didn’t want the stars to die because of him. But he had wasted a lot of time, going from village to village to spread his tale. He was no longer a young calf, but an old bull. Could he still jump over the moon a second time?
Skipper practiced again and again until the full moon was upon the farm at last. Then, gathering all his strength, he jumped the best he could.
Farm animals from all over the world say that they saw the shape of a cow jumping over the moon that night. But, none saw one coming back to the ground. Others believe that the great jumper became one of the stars in the vast sky.
Hibbou hopped to the window and looked for a group of stars shaped like a bull. “There he is, mama!”
Mother Chouette nodded and smiled.