The Dirigible Balloon
Poetry for Children

Sophia Says Hello (Sophia Dit Bonjour)

Listen to Jonathan reading his poem ...

There was a girl Sophia,
who loved to say hello.
She’d say “hello” to everyone, everywhere she’d go.
She said it to her friends and to all her neighbours too.
She’d sing it to the birds and the creatures at the zoo.
She’d shout it up the chimney, to Santa with his sack.
And Sophia always loved it when they waved and said it back.

She travelled round the country, she went from door to door,
She met so many people, yet still she wanted more.
“I want to greet the world, I can’t say exactly why,
I just love being friendly, I just love saying hi.”

So Sophia packed her bag.
“I hope the world likes greeting me.”
Then she rode a train from London on a track beneath the sea.
She skipped out of the station greeting everyone she saw.
But no one said “hello”, instead they said “bonjour”.

“Bonjour?” Sophia cried, “why don’t you say hello?”
“We all just did,” they laughed, “we’re speaking French you know.”
“Oh, okay,” Sophia nodded, “well I’ll have to speak that too.
Bonjour bonjour bonjour, bonjour bonjour to you.”

So Sophia met the whole of France.
“Now what should I do?”
Then crossed some snow-capped mountains as she went to somewhere new.
She came across a farmyard and a farmer with a cow.
She waved and said “bonjour”, but the farmer just said “ciao”.

“Ciao?” Sophia frowned, “that sounds quite rude to me.”
“No, no,” the farmer smiled, “it’s Italian you see.”
“Oh, okay,” Sophia chuckled, “well in that case ciao to you.
I know hello, I know bonjour, and now I’ve learnt ciao too.”

So Sophia met the whole of Italy.
“What next now that’s done?”
Then she flew across the world until she reached the rising sun.
She met a pair of policemen and said, “ciao, I’ve come quite far.”
But the officers just looked at her and said “konnichiwa.”

“Konnichi-huh?” Sophia gasped, “does that also mean hello?”
“Why yes it does, it’s Japanese, why don’t you have a go?”
“Oh, okay,” Sophia grinned, “now that’s language number four.
Four different ways to say hello, there can’t be many more.”

So Sophia asked a teacher.
“I bet it’s ten or less.”
But the teacher rubbed her chin and said, “eight thousand at a guess.”
Okay,” Sophia shrugged, “learning languages is fun.
I still want to greet the world, so I’ll have to learn each one.”

So off Sophia went.
She went by car and boat,
Sometimes she went on foot or bike, sometimes on horse or goat!

She said “dobryi den’” in Ukraine, and “hola” in Uruguay.
She cried “nǐ hǎo” in Mandarin, and “sawasdee” in Thai.
She smiled “guten tag” in Germany, and in Australia “g’day”.
She beamed “jambo” in Swahili, and in Hindi “namaste”.
From the seashores of Samoa to the mountains of Nepal,
Sophia went around the world and said “hello” to all.
With her final “as salam aleykum”, she had now fulfilled her quest.
And feeling quite exhausted, she thought, “I need a rest.”

So Sophia journeyed home,
where she clambered into bed.
But then she heard a noise outside the window by her head.
She opened up the curtains and was shocked by what she saw.
There were so, so many people, eight billion, maybe more.

And in their different languages they each began to cry,
“Sophia, we loved greeting you,
but you never said goodbye!”

About the Writer

Jonathan Sellars

Jonathan lives in Greenwich, England. He is severely obsessed with writing poems, primarily ones that rhyme. His work has featured in The Caterpillar and Parakeet magazine and his first picture book, Polly Plum: Brave Adventurer, comes out in Spring 2022. He has two small children, neither of whom can read or write poetry. He's not worried about that. Yet.