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Family Folktales

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Susan

Susan is a cataloging librarian and recovering children’s librarian. She learned to read on her grandmother’s steps before she started school, and hasn’t stopped. She has a lifelong love of yarns, both the kind she knits with and the kind she is able to share through Family Folk Tales.

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Welcome to The Arabian Nights Entertainments! This is the third of 16 parts that make up Andrew Lang’s The Arabian Nights Entertainments. In this series, you’ll hear some familiar stories, some new stories, and even stories within stories.

Today we will begin to hear about an unusual dinner party in The Story of the Three Dervishes, Sons of Kings, and of Five Ladies of Bagdad. We’ll also hear The Story of the First Dervish, Son of a King, and the beginning of The Story of the Second Dervish, Son of a King; the third dervish’s story will be part of our next episode.
 

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Welcome to The Arabian Nights Entertainments! This is the second of 16 parts that make up Andrew Lang’s The Arabian Nights Entertainments. In this series, you’ll hear some familiar stories, some new stories, and even stories within stories.

Everyone has a story to tell. In today’s stories we have four different characters telling stories, in addition to our main narrator! Our stories are  The Story of the Fisherman, The Story of the Greek King and the Physician Douban, The Story of the Husband and the Parrot, The Story of the Vizir Who Was Punished, and The Story of the Young King of the Black Isles.
 

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Welcome to The Arabian Nights Entertainments! This is the first of 16 parts that make up Andrew Lang’s The Arabian Nights Entertainments. In this series, you’ll hear some familiar stories, some new stories, and even stories within stories. 

Our stories today are The Arabian Nights, The Story of the Merchant and the Genie, The Story of the First Old Man and the Hind, and The Story of the Second Old Man, and of the Two Dogs. Here we begin with Scheherazade and  stories within a story. You’ll soon discover that genies are not always kind and helpful!
 

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A young prince is left in charge of his step-father’s prize prisoner and decides to release him. Deciding not to wait for his inevitably painful death, the prince runs away. As he travels, he spares the lives of a wood-pigeon, a duck, and a stork, then meets up and travels with two former soldiers. Their ultimate betrayal leaves the prince fearing for his life; will his earlier kindness save his own life? 

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Three brothers have acquired amazing skills; who will most impress their father, and earn the inheritance? 

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Three sisters, each lost in the woods, find themselves in the same humble home for the night. Who will know the importance of kindness, and who will receive an unpleasant surprise? 

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You’re probably familiar with this story, but there’s a lot more to it than you may know! 

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Three princes are sent on an impossible quest by their stepmother. They join forces with a notorious thief, but can they talk their way out of death when they’re caught? 

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An exceptionally strong youth named Paul goes out to seek his fortune and is joined by three companions almost as strong. When he is betrayed by those friends, how will Paul find his way? 

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After his father’s death, a young man squanders his inheritance and is left penniless. When a friend sends him a trunk that can fly, he ends up in Turkey and charms a princess. Will they get their happily ever after? 

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The movie adaptation you probably know is much gentler than this story by Hans Christian Andersen really is; grown-ups may want to listen alone before listening with little ones! 

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A happy youth, or a happy old age – which would you choose? Catherine is given that very choice by her Destiny; let’s see if she chooses wisely!  

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 A king asks his two daughters if they are they satisfied to leave their life and fortune in his hands. The elder daughter, Kupti, agrees, but the younger daughter, Imani, would like a chance to make her own future. The displeased king calls for an old fakir, and sends Imani to live with him and try to make a life for herself. Which princess will have a happier ending?  

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You may already know this story! A woodcutter and his wife have no more food for their family, and so decide to take their 2 children into the forest and abandon them to their fates. They are taken in by an old woman living in a fantastical house, but all is not as it seems.

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This Icelandic tale features a clever princess, an evil witch-queen, and a prince taken by a dragon. What will happen when the prince returns to his parents years later?

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In this French tale, an impish little rogue who can transform himself into anything but a sewing needle seeks new victims for his tricks.

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After being conned by three rogues, how far will a man go to get his revenge? 

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An aging king wants his son to marry before he dies, so the young man sets off to find the princess he has vowed to wed; the problem is, she’s a prisoner of an evil wizard. As he travels, the prince is joined by 3 companions with unusual skills that may help free the princess.  

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A man provides costly aid but later receives help from an unlikely source in this Spanish tale.  

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Kindness to a crane leads to a wonderful gift – but watch out for greedy relatives!  

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Unable to find an appropriate master for his son to apprentice with, a man is thrilled to find someone willing to take him on – until the stranger flies off with the lad. Now the father must begin a quest to locate and try to rescue his son.  

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A weaver needing work takes a job as a shepherd – but wait until you hear how foolish he and some other weavers are!  

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An old peasant is tricked by a wicked tanuki into doing something terrible. Now the peasant and his friend, a hare, must work together to bring about the tanuki’s demise.  
 

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The filmed versions of this story that you’ve seen stay pretty close to this version of this tale. If you enjoyed the versions by Disney or Cocteau, you’ll like this too!  
 

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A young man called Dullhead by his family is kind to a stranger and is rewarded with a golden goose. When a young woman finds the goose irresistible, she also finds herself stuck to it, along with a flock of others! Dullhead decides to use these silly people to try and win the hand of a princess – but what will the king say to that?
 

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A poor man with too many mouths to feed agrees to give his youngest daughter to a giant lizard to raise. The girl is raised like a princess, with lovely manners – and a bad attitude. That attitude may lead her into a difficult situation when she marries the king!  

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After being disowned by his father for marrying without his knowledge, a once-wealthy young man descends into poverty. Although his brother shows him some kindness and he has some small success, his greedy sister-in-law plunges him into legal turmoil. Can he refute the charges against him, or will he lose his life?  

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A princess has spent her entire life in an underground palace, and now that she is of marriageable age, the king has set a challenge: find the princess, and you shall marry her. Try and fail, and you lose your life. Is this clever young man clever enough to outwit the king?  

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In this Icelandic tale, a princess must avoid a forced marriage to a giant, and outwit a witch and that giant’s ghost so she can save her beloved foster brother from living half his life as a lion! 
 

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A young emperor falls in love with a neighboring princess, only to find that his ambassadors are arranging a marriage to her less-desirable older sister, who is outraged at the emperor’s choice of her younger sister. She convinces her father to exile the younger princess in a tower in the desert with the older sister’s nurse as a companion and guard, but the emperor finds her, though he is seriously injured when he tries to see her. Will the two lovers thwart the older sister’s evil plan and find happiness?
 

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When a maiden decides she must have a sprig of rosemary, she ends up finding her true love. But when her actions cause him to vanish, she begins a quest that will take her farther than she ever imagined in order to find him again.  

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When Lizina is rejected by her mother (who much prefers Lizina’s older sister, Peppina), she goes to work in a house filled with cats. She finds great success there, so much so that her greedy sister decides to try her own luck with the cats. But which sister will live happily ever after?  

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When a man’s dead wife is restored to him, can he obey the one rule that will return her to him forever? Find out in this tale from the Iroquois.  

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A man dies while trying to keep wild animals from stealing his chickens, and the animals band together to take his body for their dinner. But what will the six hungry beasts do when their food starts to run out?

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A man discovers that the kettle he’s found is really a tanuki! What will happen when he sells it to a tradesman without telling the secret?

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A stone-cutter is content with his life until he is exposed to the life of a rich man. When his wish for such a life is granted, he wishes to be greater and stronger until the mountain spirit grants one last wish.

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A widowed man with a son and a daughter (she is known as Maiden Bright-Eye) marries a cruel woman with a daughter of her own who cannot equal Maiden Bright-Eye in any way. After Maiden Bright-Eye is rewarded for her kindness and her stepsister punished for her cruelty, the king decides to marry Maiden Bright-Eye. Will Maiden Bright-Eye get her happily ever after, or will her cruel stepsister?

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Three princes go hunting with their stepsister, agreeing along the way to spare the lives of several animals in exchange for the young of those animals. When the oldest is betrayed by the stepsister – well, dragons, death, and peril ensue.

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For almost seven years, people have tried to reach the golden castle on top of the Glass Mountain; will anyone ever reach the princess who lives there?

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The suitor of a very silly young woman sets off to find three people sillier than the young woman and her parents.

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Brothers in search of wives are turned to stone by an old man whose heart is hidden in a distant bird. Their brother heads off to find the heart, but he may need the help of some unusual friends if he is to succeed.

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A witch-maiden, a magician, a broken heart, and magic – all may play a part in helping a young man defeat a dragon with “a body like an ox, and legs like a frog, two short fore-legs, and two long ones behind, and a tail like a serpent, ten fathoms in length.” Yikes!

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When a princess inadvertently curses her twelve brothers, she learns the only way to return them to their natural form is to remain utterly silent for 7 years. A single giggle or spoken word will cause their immediate deaths; can she do it, even after catching the eye of the king?

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Two step-children of a witch run away, but the witch’s enchantments follow them, turning the boy into a small roe buck. When the girl marries a king and takes her brother to live in the castle, the evil witch hatches a plot to put her ugly daughter in the queen’s place, and get rid of the rightful queen entirely.

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An old enchantress turns pretty girls into birds when they stray too close to her castle, and turns their suitors to stone. Once he is freed from his enchantment, how far will he to return his beloved to his arms?

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When a cruel widow’s kind daughter returns from serving a fairy, the widow sends her spiteful daughter to perform the same tasks. But will she earn the same reward? 

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A poor man agrees to do something for his wealthy brother in exchange for meat for his family. A stranger helps him to exchange that meat for something far more valuable – in the right hands, that is.

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A princess journeying to her wedding is betrayed by her waiting-maid, who takes her place, while the real princess is given the task of looking after the geese. Will the king be able to help her regain her rightful place?

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An orphaned girl with a cruel brother, a pot of flowers, a fairy queen, and an enchanted hen and cabbages: can all these parts work together to earn the girl a “happily ever after” with a prince?

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Three princesses are left at home while their father goes to war, and their disobedience shows them who they will marry. When the youngest betrays her pig husband, how far will she go to find him and save their marriage?

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A man is determined that he and his family will avoid death forever. What will happen when they reach a country where the people do not even know what death means?

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A man has everything but a wife, it seems; but all the eligible young ladies are put off by his odd blue beard. When he finally marries, he tells his wife there is only one room she is not to enter – but sometimes, curiosity is too strong.

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A king’s son goes off to see the world; what will he learn to help him win the hand of a lovely (though arrogant) princess?

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When a cruel widow’s kind daughter returns from serving a fairy, she sends her spiteful daughter to perform the same tasks. But will she earn the same reward?

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A little chick with only half a body goes off to see the world. How will his unwillingness to help others change his journey?

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A queen is forced to promise her daughter to an unkind and unworthy man. When the princess learns her fate, she is determined to marry another. Will anyone live happily ever after?

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When three brothers set off to find a cure for their father’s illness, it’s the youngest who discovers it. How will his brothers react?

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A shark deceives his monkey friend in an attempt to feed his heart to his sultan. Will the monkey be clever enough to save his heart – and the rest of him as well?

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A young man goes adventuring, and saves three princesses. When he forgets their careful advice, how will he win their favor back?

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A princess whose life is threatened takes shelter with an enormous sheep. Will she get the “happily ever after” that she hopes for?

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To help him choose the heir to his crown, a king sends his three sons on three quests. But how helpful can a toad be?

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The son of a good king and an evil queen marries a fairy and becomes a goose-boy. Where will magic and his wiles take him next?

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A young woman finds herself about to marry an old peasant she’s never seen before. Is there magic at play in this odd match?

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When a king seeks to marry his adopted daughter, she makes her escape cloaked in a donkey skin. What will her future hold?

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When a young man is given an enchanted ring, it leads to prosperity. When the same ring is given to his wicked brother, what do you think will happen?

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A king’s son becomes servant to a giant, and narrowly escapes with his life. But what will be his fate if he forgets the maid who helped him?

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From Andrew Lang's The Blue Fairy Book, "The Bronze Ring" is a story of the forbidden love between a princess and the gardener's son.

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From Andrew Lang's The Crimson Fairy Book, "The Hairy Man" is a story of a prince who escapes from his father and proves himself in battle with the help of three magical apples.

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Listen to "The Bunyip." In this Australian tale, a mother beast takes revenge on the hunters who take her child.

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Listen to "The Ogre." A lad takes a job working for an ogre. How long will it take him to learn to mind his tongue?

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The Glass Axe – A prince is taken by an evil fairy. After facing impossible tasks, will he be able to escape?

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Listen to "Puss In Boots." When a youth inherits nothing but a cat, how can he use it to make his fortune?

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When a man’s wife and her parents collapse in tears over what might have been, he sets off to find three people as silly as they; but will he succeed?

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Listen to “The Terrible Head.” In this retelling of the myth of Perseus, a young man goes adventuring before fulfilling a prophesy.

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The Bear – An overprotected princess finds a way to see the world. But will her true love find a way to see her?
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The Language of Beasts – When a shepherd saves a snake, he is rewarded with the ability to understand what animals say. But is this a gift or a curse?

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Princess Sylvia may choose any gift from the Flower Fairy. But after visiting others so honored, will she choose beauty, eloquence, or something far more rare?

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When a man receives special gifts to help his family, but doesn’t follow the rules, something unusual happens.

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An old woman curses a young prince, setting off a chain of events. Will the price be able to win the heart of the Silent Princess?

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A young man’s father is more than a little disappointed in his son’s education; can the lad make something of himself in spite of this?

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When the children of a king decide to take refuge in some hollowed-out trees, will a witch be able to deceive a prince?

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The sister of the sun – in a classic tale of a quest, a young man must first steal from the sister of the sun; then, he must win her heart.

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An abused stepdaughter finds riches and happiness when she is pushed into a well. What awaits her spoiled stepsister on the same journey?
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A young prince on a quest and finds an unusual friend and true love — but will his brothers be happy for him? Read at Andrew Lang’s Fairy Books: The Golden Mermaid.

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After a king’s new queen changes her six stepsons into swans, their sister must endure arduous trials to restore them to their human forms. But when her own life is at risk due to the workings of her evil mother-in-law, will she be able to complete her quest?

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In this classic tale from the Arabian Nights, a poor woodcutter discovers the hidden treasures of a band of robbers, survives great danger, and brings riches to his whole family — with some help from a clever servant.

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The Crow, an old tale from Poland, is quite similar to the French classic, Beauty and the Beast. This heroine, though, faces fear and isolation that her French counterpart never imagined!

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A prince finds his princess by mystical means in The Lovely Ilonka — but how will Ilonka clear up a case of mistaken identity?

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A king loves his daughters too much in The Whirlwind, and it is up to three brothers to do what the king’s armies cannot.

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The Sunchild is based on a Greek tale about a woman who longs for a child. The Sun sends her a child, but what will happen when it is time for the girl to return to the Sun?

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The Cunning Hare is a Native American story. A young hare surprises his grandmother by catching fish, but how can grandmother cook the fish with no fire?

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Spindle, Shuttle, and Needle is much like Cinderella – minus the evil stepmother and stepsisters! In this story collected by the Brothers Grimm, magic helps a girl win the love of a prince.