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amber-and-the-big-white‘I think there will be a surprise for you tomorrow, Amba,’ whispered his mother as she looked up at the sky. The stars twinkled like tiny diamonds. There were no clouds to be seen, but she could sense something in the cold air.

‘Is it my birthday tomorrow?’

‘No, Amba.’

‘Then what could it be?’

‘This surprise is something different, something you have never seen before.’

‘What is it? What is it?’  he asked.

‘Wait and see,’ she smiled, settling down beside Amba to keep him warm.

Amba’s mother was still fast asleep when he woke early, the next morning. He stretched his stripy paws and decided to go and play by the pool and jump from his favourite rock ledge until she woke up.

But when Amba poked his head out into the enclosure, what he saw made him gasp.

Something had changed during the night. Everything had turned from green to white. The long grass had disappeared, and there was a bright white blanket in its place. The White was in the trees, sitting in the branches and sticking to the leaves. Amba couldn’t even see his favourite rock ledge. It had disappeared! Where had it gone? Was this the surprise that his mother had spoken about?

He wondered what the White would feel like. It looked soft and warm, like the thick fur on his belly.

Slowly, Amba stretched out his paw.


Amba’s paw sank into the White and startled him. He lifted it out quickly and ran back into the sleeping hut. His paw felt tingly and cold.  Amba looked out into the enclosure again. He saw where the rock ledge was supposed to be and he began to feel worried. If I go out there, maybe I will disappear too, he thought. Maybe I will be eaten by this big, cold, White.

‘Don’t you want to go and play?’ asked his mother, who had woken and was standing beside him.

‘I’m afraid, that if I go outside, the White will eat me too,’ said Amba.

‘It can’t eat you,’ said his mother.

‘But look. Everything has disappeared! The White has eaten it.’

Amba’s mother smiled and shook her head.

‘It looks like it has disappeared, Amba, but it is still there, underneath the snow.’

‘What is snow?’ asked Amba.

‘The White is called snow,’ said his mother. ‘It falls from the sky. Where we are from, there is plenty of snow, but here in the zoo, we don’t get to see it very often. Tigers love snow, Amba.’

‘I don’t! I don’t like the snow,’ cried Amba, remembering the crunching sound that had frightened him, and the cold tingling feeling it had left on his paw.

Amba’s mother smiled at him, and he watched as she walked outside, leaving big paw prints in the snow behind her. Amba was pleased that she didn’t sink, and that the White did not eat her. He watched her leap onto his favourite rock ledge; it was still there, underneath the snow, just as she had said.

Amba reached out his paw. This time the crunching sound didn’t frighten him as much. He took another step, and another, and then another.

Amba began to run in the snow. It was cold and tingly and crunchy, and Amba liked it. He buried his nose in the snow and laughed when it stuck to his whiskers and clung to his fur.
He leapt onto the rock ledge. Amba’s paws slipped and he fell on his tummy, but he didn’t feel cold. His fur kept him warm and protected from the cold white snow.

All day Amba ran and jumped and rolled in the snow. He kicked it up with his paws and made patterns in it with his tail. And when the clouds began to thicken and more snowflakes began to fall, Amba opened his mouth to let the snow land and melt on his tongue.

At last, his mother called to him. ‘Come Amba. It’s time to sleep.’

But Amba didn’t want to sleep. He was having too much fun.

‘Let me stay just a little bit longer,’ called Amba as he rolled on his back

‘I LOVE the snow!’

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