Rita the Cheetah, Why Won’t You Run? (Excerpt)

by Doug Jantzen


As the light of the moon gives way to the sun,
the zoo creatures stir. Their day has begun.


The hippos yawn wide, then take a quick dip.
The monkeys do handstands, tumbles, and flips.


Everyone at the zoo is out having fun,
all of them happy…that is, except one.


Away from the buzz, alone in a tree,
a cheetah named Rita sits nervously.


In just a few minutes The Great Race begins.
Only the fastest zoo creature will win.


All the best runners are out getting loose,
from lions to leopards, from gazelles to moose.


They dreamed of this day ever since they were small,
hoping to be crowned, “Fastest of All.”

But to Rita, running just didn’t seem fun.
She preferred to read books and lounge in the sun.


A race through the zoo? There just was no need.
A slow, pleasant stroll was much more her speed.
She asked both her parents to not make her race.
“What?!” they exclaimed. “That would be a disgrace!”


She needed some guidance. She needed advice.
Dr. Long, the giraffe, was sure to be nice.


Now whenever a problem arose at the zoo,
Dr. Long was the one who knew what to do.