Small mouse – frightened of bigger mice.
One day heard about a magician – lived across the river – could change people.
Mouse went to magician. “I want to be a BIG mouse.”
Magic words – mouse changed into a BIG mouse. Proud. Didn’t say thank you to magician.
Next day big mouse frightened by cats. Mouse went to magician. “I want to be a BIG cat.”
Magic words – changed. Proud. Didn’t say thank you.
Next day big cat frightened by dogs. Cat went to magician. “I want to be a BIG dog.”
Changed. Proud. Didn’t say thank you.
Next day big dog frightened by horse. Dog went to magician. “Never want to be frightened again – I want to be a BIG TIGER.”
Magic words – changed into small mouse.
“That’s because you didn’t say thank you!”
I heard this tale many years ago from an Indian teller, whose name I no longer recall.
As a type, it is a chain story, common in many different cultures. The Grimms’ “Von dem Fischer un syner Fru” (“The Old Woman who lived in a Vinegar Bottle”) or the title story I tell on the teaching video The Strongest of Them All are other examples.
Here is an article, Telling The Frightened Mouse as a participation story.
First printed in Primary English (Jan. 2003), it is reproduced here with kind permission of Pädagogischer Zeitschriftenverlag.
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For those who are teachers: Telling stories in the classroom: basing language teaching on storytelling