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Stories from the world Spring/Summer 10
New discovery #29:
Discover the world through its stories This Spring/Summer 2010 catalogue is also a collection of eight stories and legends from five continents. Eight very short tales full of fun and invaluable teachings. A little treasure that you can keep so that your children can start to read while discovering the world.
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The Whole Truth (Traditional German story)
isten carefully because Iâ€™m going to tell you the whole truth about what happened to me one cold day in August. I was having a nap when I was awoken by the singing of two roast chicken flying through the air. I followed them until we came to the ocean, where a cannonball was floating.
Then a hare appeared, which crossed the ocean in one bound and began to run. A blind man saw the hare and told his deaf and dumb friend about it, and the deaf and dumb man shouted it out to a lame man who was walking past. The lame man began to run and caught the hare. The blind man led his two friends to his house, where they planned on eating the hare. They were so hungry that they boarded a ship and sailed full steam across the land, but when they were crossing a mountain, they ran into a storm, the ship sank and they were drowned. The hare seized its opportunity and made its escape, but a snail was faster and was able to catch it again. Even so, the poor snail had to fight some mosquitoes as big as zebras who wanted to steal the hare from it. And now run. Open doors and windows. The wind is coming in and taking all the lies away.
The Sack of Wisdom (Traditional story from Togo)
here was a time when there was no more intelligent animal in the world than Yavi the spider. She was wise, prudent and very clever, but that wasn’t enough for her. Yavi was worried because the other animals were becoming increasingly more intelligent. She was especially jealous of humans because she knew that very soon they would be as wise as she was.
So Yavi had an idea: she was going to use her great intelligence to hoard all the wisdom in the world. The clever spider made a magic bottomless sack. One by one, she went up to all the animals and all the people, and without their knowing she soaked up all their knowledge and all their wit and she stored it in the sack. When she had finished, the sack had become really very heavy and difficult to carry. Then Yavi had another brilliant idea: she would hide the sack with all the wisdom in the world in the trunk of the highest tree that she knew. The spider held on to the sack with two of her legs and began climbing the tree with her other six legs. But the sack was too heavy and Yavi could barely move. Seeing her suffering, a pigeon gave her some advice: “Spider, why don’t you put the sack on your back? Then it will be much easier to climb the tree.” Yavi stopped in her tracks: the pigeon was right. And then she began to feel very ashamed. She thought she had all the wisdom in the world but a simple pigeon had shown himself to be more intelligent. With great sadness, the spider dropped the sack. When it hit the ground, the sack broke and all the intelligence flew through the air and was deposited in every corner and on every creature on Earth. And from that day to this, there is no one who knows nothing and no one who knows everything...
The Conquest of Fire (Traditional Amazonian legend)
magine what it would be like to live without fire. We couldn’t heat our food and we’d get really cold in winter... There was a time when man had to live like this. Takea the giant was the lord of fire, but he hid it in his cave and wouldn’t share it with anyone. When a Shuar Indian died, they would become a bird and try to steal the fire from Takea’s cave, but no one had ever managed it. The cave doors closed so quickly that no bird had ever been able to escape. Until one day Jempe appeared. Jempe was a very beautiful hummingbird, but he was also very fast and clever. Tired of seeing men suffer from not having fire, he decided to retrieve it. One stormy day, Jempe stood outside Takea’s cave. The giant’s children, fascinated by his beautiful colours and long tail, took him inside the cave. The hummingbird was soaked through, so they took him near to the fire to let him get warm. As soon as he’d dried off, Jempe put his plan into action. The hummingbird put his tail into the flames until it caught fire. Before Takea could react, Jempe flew off as fast as he could and left the cave.
The brave little bird flew and flew until he found some dried branches. With his burning tail, he set fire to the branches and so restored fire to the Shuar Indians. Only then did Jempe look for a river into which to immerse his tail and so put out the flames. From that day on, the Shuar Indians kept the fire always lit and they were never cold again. And Jempe became the only hummingbird in the Amazon to have a tail split in two as the flames had burned the bit in the middle. It’s a reminder of how he managed to steal fire from Takea the giant to give it to men.
THE TURTLE AND THE COYOTE (Traditional North American Indian story)
he turtle was in a right mess. That morning, she’d left the river to take a stroll on dry land, but without realising, she’d wandered too far from the water. The day was getting hotter and hotter and the poor turtle didn’t know if she’d be able to get home.
And that’s when things got worse: a very hungry coyote came across the turtle and said to her: “What luck finding you, little turtle! I’m going to cook you straightaway in a fire and then I’ll eat you.” “You think,” replied the turtle with a big smile. “My shell is so tough, your fire won’t touch it...” “Oh, yes? Then I’ll climb the highest tree and drop you from the top of it. Your shell will break against the rocks and shatter into tiny pieces.” “Are you kidding?” The turtle laughed. “My shell is harder than rocks. You wouldn’t even scratch me...” “Right, that does it,” said the coyote, getting angrier by the minute. “I’m going to throw you in the river so that you drown, and then I can eat you.” The turtle looked frightened and began to cry out. “No, please, don’t do that. For pity’s sake, don’t throw me in the river...” Very pleased with his own intelligence, the coyote didn’t listen to the turtle’s pleas. He put her on his back, ran to the riverbank as fast as he could and dropped her into the river. Once in the river, the turtle felt safe. “Thanks, coyote,” she called to him. “You’ve brought me home. You’ve saved my life.” Very happy, the turtle swam off while the coyote stared at her from the riverbank, unable to do anything.
The Wooden Plates (Traditional story from Armenia)
hen the grandfather was so old and so weak that he couldn’t live on his own, he went to live in his daughter’s house. She was married and had two children, a boy and a girl.
At mealtimes, his pulse was so weak and his hands shook so much that he kept letting the glass fall to the floor or dropping the plate without meaning to, and it kept smashing. His son-in-law was sick and tired of the grandfather’s little breakages at meals, so one day he brought home a set of plates and a glass made of wood for the grandfather so that he wouldn’t break any more crockery. The grandfather accepted his new plates with resignation, sad to see that he had to eat from them every day and not the same ones as his daughter, his son-in-law and his grandchildren. A few days went by and one afternoon, when the daughter and son-in-law went out into the garden, their little children were silent in a corner, absorbed in some seemingly extremely important task. “What are you doing, children?” They both turned to their parents, smiling and proud. “We’re making wooden plates...” “For you two.” Their parents looked at each other in astonishment. “For us?” “Yes, for when you’re old like grandfather and your hands shake...” And from that day on, the grandfather once again ate off a porcelain plate. Like the rest of the family.
The Fisherman in the Storm (Traditional story from Spain)
ery early every morning, Joaquín used to go out fishing. His boat was very old, but he didn’t mind. He would row and row until he was far from the coast, cast his nets into the sea and wait until the fish came along to fill it.
But one day, even though he waited and waited, the fish didn’t appear. When the sun set, Joaquín gathered in his net to find to his surprise that it wasn’t empty: a tiny little fish had been caught and was looking at him sorrowfully. “Please, fisherman,” it said to him. “Let me go home. I’m still too small and my family will miss me.” Joaquín didn’t think twice: he freed the little fish from the net and threw it back into the sea. Weeks, months, years passed and Joaquín still went out every day to fish. One morning in December, a fierce storm took him by surprise in the middle of the sea: thunder, lightning, wind, huge waves. Joaquín held on tightly to his boat with all his strength, but he was now an old man. In despair, the fisherman realised that his ancient boat would not last long in these conditions, so he began to cry out. “Oh, king of the seas! If you can hear me, help me return home safe and sound!” At that moment, Joaquín lost consciousness. When he opened his eyes again, he breathed in relief: he was lying on the beach under a clear sky and a bright sun. And then he heard a voice calling to him. It was a big, strong fish speaking to him from the shore. “Friend,” the fish said. “One day you saved my life, and today I have returned the favour. Now we are even.” Joaquín understood everything: that tiny little fish that he had helped years ago had become a true king.
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TAKUMI AND THE FLY (Traditional story from Japan)
akumi had a fly in his stomach. And it’s not like his mother hadn’t warned him dozens of times: “Close your mouth, my son,” she would say. “Or one day you’ll swallow a fly.”
But Takumi didn’t take any notice and finally the threat came true. A fly flew into his wide-open mouth and began buzzing around inside his stomach, giving him a lot of pain. “Don’t worry,” the doctor soothed him. “All you have to do is swallow a frog and it’ll eat the fly that’s troubling you so.” Takumi obeyed the doctor. Patiently, he managed to swallow a frog, which didn’t take long to eat the fly. But of course, now Takumi had a frog in his belly, and it wouldn’t stop leaping. The problem had got worse. “Snakes eat frogs,” the doctor reasoned. “Swallow one and it’ll take care of the frog.” And that’s what he did. Takumi swallowed a snake, which ate the frog. But no one can live with a snake inside them. So the doctor recommended that Takumi swallow a lion. It wasn’t easy, but when the lion finally entered Takumi’s body, it gobbled the snake up in one mouthful. Exhausted by the weight of the lion, our hero spoke to the doctor again. “I’ve got it,” said the doctor. “Swallow a hunter.” After hours of hard work, Takumi was able to swallow a brave hunter, bow and arrows and all. The fight was long and perilous, but finally the hunter managed to bring down the lion. But Takumi’s stomach was so dark that the hunter couldn’t find the way out, and even though the doctor had new ideas, Takumi didn’t want to hear any more. Wary, he returned home. And he still lives there to this day, with a hunter in his stomach.
Why Are You Crying? (Traditional story from Papua-New Guinea)
long, long time ago, there was once a man called Nothing. He was very miserable and never helped anyone. Worse still, if anyone asked for his help, he got angry.
But one day, Nothing died and his wife was deeply saddened, because Nothing had been very good to her. She was very much affected and was very hurt that no one, no man, no woman, mourned the death of her husband. No one cried. So one day, she took a decision: she gathered together all the sweet potatoes that she had in her house and cooked them. When they were ready, she put them all in a basket, left home and handed them out to all the children she found playing in the street. In exchange for the sweet potatoes, she asked all the children to cry for her husband, Nothing. So when you see a child crying and you ask them: “Why are you crying?”, don’t be surprised when they reply: “For Nothing.”
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Stories from the world Spring/Summer 10
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