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The Folktale Project

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Who says you're too old for a good fairy tale? Reading original versions of folktales and fairy tales from around the world every Monday through Friday, this podcast is for everyone who has a love of the mystery that surrounds us and the ways we try to explain it.

Who says you're too old for a good fairy tale? Reading original versions of folktales and fairy tales from around the world every Monday through Friday, this podcast is for everyone who has a love of the mystery that surrounds us and the ways we try to explain it.
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Who says you're too old for a good fairy tale? Reading original versions of folktales and fairy tales from around the world every Monday through Friday, this podcast is for everyone who has a love of the mystery that surrounds us and the ways we try to explain it.




How The Five Ancients Became Men - A Chinese Folktale

The Chinese folktale of 'How The Five Ancients Became Men' explains the creation of the Gods from nature. It's a beautiful mixture of folklore, history and mythology.


The Maiden Who Was Stolen Away - A Chinese Folktale

'The Maiden Who Was Stolen Away' features a young maiden, a brave brother and an ogre in love that just doesn't take no for an answer, but still respects the no that's given.


The Cellar of the Old Knights in the Kyffhauser - A German Folktale

In the German folktale of 'The Cellar of the Old Knights in the Kyffhauser' we get a terrific moral lesson about trying to profit from that which is given to us. Because folklore morality it best morality.


Bearskin - A German Folktale

There was once a young fellow who enlisted as a soldier, conducted himself bravely, and was always the foremost when it rained bullets. So long as the war lasted, all went well, but when peace was made, he received his dismissal, and the captain said he might go where he liked. His parents were dead, and he had no longer a home, so he went to his brothers and begged them to take him in, and keep him until war broke out again. The brothers, however, were hard-hearted and said, “What can we do...


The Mouse, The Bird and The Sausage - A German Folktale

Once upon a time a mouse, a bird, and a sausage became companions, kept house together, lived well and happily with each other, and wonderfully increased their possessions. The bird’s work was to fly every day into the forest and bring back wood. The mouse had to carry water, light the fire, and lay the table, but the sausage had to cook. He who is too well off is always longing for something new. One day, therefore, the bird met with another bird, on the way, to whom it related its...


The Guest - A North American Folktale

An old hag lived in a house with her grandson. She was a very bad woman who thought of nothing but playing mischief. She was a witch and tried to harm everybody with witchcraft. One time a stranger came to visit some friends who lived in a house near the old woman. The visitor was a fine hunter and went out with his host every morning and they brought home a great deal of game. It made the old woman envious to see her neighbor have so much to eat, while she had little, and she determined to...


Samuel Sewall's Prophecy - A North American Folktale

The peace of Newbury is deemed to be permanently secured by the prophecy of Samuel Sewall, the young man who married the buxom daughter of Mint-Master John Hull, and received, as wedding portion, her weight in fresh-coined pine-tree shillings. He afterward became notorious as one of the witchcraft judges. The prophecy has not been countervailed, nor is it likely to be, whether the conditions are kept or not.


The Division of the Saranacs - A North American Folktale

In the middle of the last century a large body of Saranac Indians occupied the forests of the Upper Saranac through which ran the Indian carrying-place, called by them the Eagle Nest Trail. Whenever they raided the Tahawi on the slopes of Mount Tahawus (Sky-splitter), there was a pleasing rivalry between two young athletes, called the Wolf and the Eagle, as to which would carry off the more scalps, and the tribe was divided in admiration of them. There was one who did not share this liking:...


The Stepmother - An Italian Folktale

There was once a husband and a wife who had two children, a son and a daughter. The wife died, and the husband married a woman who had a daughter blind of one eye. The husband was a farmer, and went to work in a field. The stepmother hated her husband’s children, and to get rid of them she baked some bread, and sent it by them to her husband, but directed them to the wrong field, so that they might get lost. When the children reached a mountain they began to call their father, but no one...


The Baker's Apprentice - An Italian Folktale

There was once a baker who every morning loaded an ounceworth of bread on a horse that came to his shop. One day he said: “I give this ounceworth of bread to this horse and he renders me no account of it.” Then he said to his apprentice: “Vincenzo, the horse will come to-morrow and I will give him the bread, but you must follow him and see where he goes.” The next day the horse came and the baker loaded him, and gave the apprentice a piece of bread for himself. Vincenzo followed the horse,...


The Cock and The Mouse - An Italian Folktale

Once upon a time there was a cock and a mouse. One day the mouse said to the cock: "Friend Cock, shall we go and eat some nuts on yonder tree?" "As you like." So they both went under the tree and the mouse climbed up at once and began to eat. The poor cock began to fly, and flew and flew, but could not come where the mouse was. When it saw that there was no hope of getting there, it said: "Friend Mouse, do you know what I want you to do? Throw me a nut." The mouse went and threw one and hit...


Maria of the Forest - A Portuguese Folktale

Once upon a time there was a young king who went into the deep forest on a hunting expedition. He and his favorite page became separated from the rest of the party and soon they realized that they were lost. As night approached they found the rude hut of a charcoal burner and begged for permission to pass the night there. They were received most hospitably. Just at the hour of midnight the king was awakened from his sleep by a voice. This is what it said: "Here in this hut is born...


King Robin - A Portuguese Folktale

There was once a little boy called Sigli, who, I am sorry to say, took great pleasure in catching and killing little birds. His father was a notorious robber, so it was not surprising that Sigli gave way to acts of cruelty. His mother died when he was little more than a year old, and he did not know any other relation. In the north of Portugal, bands of robbers used to frequent the roads, and some of them lived in strong castles, and had a large retinue of followers. In time of war these...


The Magic Mouthful - A Portuguese Folktale

Once upon a time there was a woman who lived a most unhappy life. She and her husband were always quarreling. Every day when he came home from work he was cross, and said harsh words to her. She would respond with bitter words, and things would go from bad to worse until at last he would beat her. One day the woman took her water jar and went to the fountain to fill it as usual. She was so unhappy that great tears were rolling down her cheeks. There was a little old woman standing by the...


The Master and His Pupil - An English Folktale

There was once a very learned man in the north country who knew all the languages under the sun, and who was acquainted with all the mysteries of creation. He had one big book bound in black calf and clasped with iron, and with iron corners, and chained to a table which was made fast to the floor; and when he read out of this book, he unlocked it with an iron key, and none but he read from it, for it contained all the secrets of the spiritual world. It told how many angels there were in...


Henny-Penny - An English Folktale

One day Henny-penny was picking up corn in the cornyard when--whack!--something hit her upon the head. 'Goodness gracious me!' said Henny-penny; 'the sky's a-going to fall; I must go and tell the king.' So she went along and she went along and she went along till she met Cocky-locky. 'Where are you going, Henny-penny?' says Cocky-locky. 'Oh! I'm going to tell the king the sky's a-falling,' says Henny-penny. 'May I come with you?' says Cocky-locky. 'Certainly,' says Henny-penny. So...


The History of Tom Thumb - An English Folktale

IN the days of the great King Arthur there lived a mighty magician, called Merlin, the most learned and skilful enchanter the world has ever seen. This famous magician, who could take any form he pleased, was travelling about as a poor beggar, and being very tired he stopped at the cottage of a ploughman to rest himself, and asked for some food. The countryman bade him welcome, and his wife, who was a very good-hearted woman, soon brought him some milk in a wooden bowl, and some coarse...


The Leaf Fairies - A New Zealand Folktale

In the wood the Leaf Fairies were busy making their leaves. They made them of every shape and size, for each fairy had her own idea of what looked prettiest. Some made them long and narrow, like tall and graceful ladies; some made them round and dumpy, like fat little men; some made them heart-shaped, and some cut up the edges till they were all dainty points and curves. Some placed them sitting down on the branches, while others set them on slender stalks. There was no set rule for...


The Magic Mirror - A New Zealand Folktale

There was once a wise old king in a far-off land who said to himself, "I have a daughter as well as a son; why should she not have a kingdom too? I will see to it at once." He called the chief map-maker to him, and said: "Make a map of my kingdom and divide it by a line so evenly that each part shall be exactly half. There must not be one hair's breadth more on the east of the line than on the west." The chief map-maker worked hard, and soon had the map ready, and it was divided so evenly...


Tea Tree - A New Zealand Folktale

One of the Piccaninnies had a horrid adventure one day. He had heard a tui that morning singing in the Bush, and had made up his mind to speak to it, because he was sulking with the other Piccaninnies. You know they say a tui can be made to talk, but it's hard to get near enough to one to find out, but perhaps if you did get close and surprised it, it would be so mad at you that it would answer back.