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Reptile and Amphibian Stories 1

The Flying Turtle (adapted from Aesop)

Keywords: turtle, eagle, adaptation, cracks in shell

Summary: Long ago, Turtle would watch the birds soaring overhead and dreamed of being able to fly. "If I could just get airborne once, I'm sure I could fly as well as any hawk," thought Turtle. Turtle tried jumping off some rocks, but he just couldn't get enough "lift," he thought. Of course, Turtle was smart enough to know he should learn from an expert, so he went to Eagle and promised him all the treasures of the sea of Eagle would teach him how to fly. "Turtle, you may not realize this ... But you're a turtle!" said Eagle. "You don't have any feathers or wings and that's what you need to fly." But Turtle insisted, so finally, Eagle agreed to carry Turtle into the sky and try to teach him to fly. But when Eagle let go of him, Turtle plummeted to the ground. He it the ground with a "smack,"  cracking his shell. And that's why turtles have cracks in their shells today and why they don't spend their days leaping off of rocks.

Handford, S. A. Aesop's Fables (New York: Puffin, 1994). 212pp. ISBN 0-14-130929-6.

Zipes, Jack ed., Aesop's Fables (New York: Signet Classic, 1992). 288pp. ISBN 0-451-52565-5pa.

 

The Talkative Turtle (adapted from India)

Keywords: turtle, goose, shell, adaptations, hibernation, cracks in shell

Summary: Once a talkative Turtle wanted to fly south with his goose friends when they migrated. He worked out a plan where he would hold on to a stick with his jaws while two geese would carry the stick into the air. But when Turtle rose into the air, he couldn't stop talking and he fell right out of the sky, cracking his shell. After that, instead of trying to migrate, turtle sleeps through the winter.

"The Talkative Turtle," on page 55 in Krishna Dharma, Panchatantra (Badger, CA: Torchlight Publishing, 2004). $12.95pa. ISBN 1-887089-45-4pa.

"The Turtle Who Couldn't Stop Talking," on page 49 in Martha Hamilton and Mitch Weiss, How & Why Stories: World Tales Kids Can Read & Tell (Little Rock, AR: August House, 1999). 96pp. $24.95; $14.95pa. ISBN 0-87483-562-3; 0-87483-561-5pa.

"The Wild Geese and the Tortoise," on page 45 in Lucia Turnbull, Fairy Tales of India (New York: Criterion Books, 1959).

Find another version in Kevin Strauss, Tales with Tails: storytelling the wonders of the natural world. (Westport, CT: Libraries Unlimited, 2006). 230pp. $35.00pa. ISBN 1-59158-269-5pa.

 

Turtle Wins at Tug-of-War (adapted African American tale)

Keywords: turtle, bear, moose

Summary: One day, Turtle tried to talk with Bear, but Bear ignored him because Turtle was a "small, weak animal." That made Turtle angry so he challenged Bear to a tug-of-war contest. Bear couldn't back down, so he agreed. They met at a river and Turtle sat in the water. He tied his end of the rope to a boulder underwater. Bear pulled and pulled, but he couldn't pull Turtle out of the water. The spectator animals cheered the "strong" Turtle. But Moose wasn't happy. He challenged Turtle to a tug-of-war, but he wanted to stand in the water this time. Turtle agreed, but the next day he waited on the far side of the river on a cliff. He tied his rope to a tree behind the cliff and won the contest again. Both Bear and Moose asked Turtle to live with them, but Turtle said some of his children would live on land and some in the water.

"How the Tortoise Overcame the Elephant and the Hippopotamus," on page 9 in Robert Nye, ed., Classic Folk Tales from Around the World (London: Leopard, 1996). 605pp. ISBN 1-85891-330-6.

"Take up the Slack," on page 95 in Joel Chandler Harris, The Favorite Uncle Remus (Cambridge, MA: Riverside Press, 1948). 310pp.

Find another version in Kevin Strauss, Tales with Tails: storytelling the wonders of the natural world. (Westport, CT: Libraries Unlimited, 2006). 230pp. $35.00pa. ISBN 1-59158-269-5pa.

 

How Turtles Got Their Shells (African American)

Keywords: turtle, shell, fire, shells

Summary: In the long-ago times, turtles had smooth leaf-green skin and beautiful black hair on their heads. They would picnic on the river banks every weekend. But even though parents warned little turtles to be careful with fire (which turtles got form people), some young turtles set the river grass ablaze. The slow turtles got burned form the flames and dove into the water to escape the heat. The flames burned their hair and darkened their skin and when they dove into the water, their hot skin shrank and hardened into the shells they have today.

Branner, John C. How and Why Stories (New York, NY: Henry Holt and Co., 1921).

Miller, Candace R., ed., Tales from the Creature Kingdom: More Than 160 Multicultural Legends and Pourquoi Stories about

Mammals, Insects, Reptiles and Water Creatures. (Lima, OH: Pourquoi Press, 1996). 94pp. $20.00pa. E-mail: naturelegends@wcoil.com.

 

Alligator Learns What Trouble Is (African American)

Keywords: alligator, rabbit, trouble, fire

Summary: Long ago, Alligator was beautiful, with emerald skin and red and yellow stripes down his body. He would spend all day long napping the tall meadow grass. But on day, Alligator awoke as Rabbit ran right over him. Rabbit explained that he was "running from Trouble." Alligator had never met Trouble before, so he asked Rabbit to show him Trouble. Rabbit agreed and ran off to light the meadow grass on fire. The flames burned Alligator's skin dark green and when he dove into the water to quench the flames, the cool water made his hot skin crack. Ever since that day Alligator has been grumpy and has stayed in the water. To this day an alligator sees a rabbit, he eats it for lunch.

Hurston, Zora Neale, Mules and Men (New York: HarperCollins, 1990). 291pp. $29.50; $13.95pa. ISBN 0-25333-932-4; 0-25320-208-6pa.

Miller, Candace R., ed., Tales from the Creature Kingdom: More Than 160 Multicultural Legends and Pourquoi Stories about Mammals, Insects, Reptiles and Water Creatures. (Lima, OH: Pourquoi Press, 1996). 94pp. $20.00pa. E-mail: naturelegends@wcoil.com.

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(c) 2006 Tales with Tails Storytelling Programs

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