'Maushop And Grandfather Sun' | Circle Round 27

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(Sabina Hahn for WBUR)
(Sabina Hahn for WBUR)

Can you imagine a world without the sun?

Think about it.

It would be dark... all the time! And so cold! What would you do to keep yourself warm and entertained?

Well, in today’s story, we’ll visit a world where there’s hardly any sun. And it takes a kind, gentle giant named Maushop… to try and bring the sun back.

Today’s story comes from what we now know as Massachusetts, in the northeastern United States. That area is home to members of a Native American tribe called the Wampanoag, and they’ve been sharing versions of this folktale for generations.

Voices in this episode include Katasha Acosta, Alexandra Templer, Delores King Williams, Brendan Dalton, Tom Story, Keshav Moodliar, Morgan Elizabeth, Craig Wallace and Wes Studi. Adults: you can see Wes Studi on the Showtime series, “Penny Dreadful,” and look for him later this year in the feature film, “The Pipeline.”  Adapted by Jessica Alpert and Rebecca Sheir.  Music and sound design by Eric Shimelonis.

ADULTS! Print out this picture so everyone can color while listening. We’re also keeping an album so share your picture on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or Pinterest, and tag it with #CircleRound. We'd love to see it! To access all the coloring pages for past episodes click HERE. Our resident artist is Sabina Hahn and you can learn more about her HERE.

Things To Think About After Listening
What's one thing that helped you out today: one thing that originally came from the earth?

Go back and imagine where it started out. If it’s an apple, where did that apple grow? If it’s the shirt you’re wearing, where did the material come from? Draw a picture showing the journey this item might have taken before it came to you. How many stops did it make along the way?

Share your picture with someone you have fun with – a family member, or a friend. Then ask them to pick a different item – and together, imagine the journey it took!

Story Transcript
NARRATOR: Long, long ago… just like today… the sun would shine in the sky.

He was known as “Grandfather Sun.” And all day long… by the light of Grandfather Sun’s dazzling, golden rays… people would plant their corn and beans and squash. They would catch fish in the waters. The children would run outside and play tag, and hide-and-go-seek.

But then… little by little… Grandfather Sun came out less and less.

The days got shorter and shorter.

Soon, Grandfather Sun was only visiting the people for one minute a day. He’d pull himself up out of the sea in the east… and next thing you knew? He was dipping back down under the hills in the west!

The people… began to worry.

WOMAN 1: What’s become of the sun?

MAN 1: The days are so short!

WOMAN 2: We used to have time!

MAN 2: Time to plant corn!

WOMAN 3: And beans!

MAN 3: And squash!

WOMAN 1: We had all day to catch fish!

CHILD: And to go out and play!

MAN 2: But now we can’t see enough to plant.

WOMAN 2: We can only fish at night…

MAN 3: …by the light of Grandmother Moon!

CHILD: And we’re stuck inside all day, hearing the same old stories, over and over and over!

NARRATOR: Food was growing scarce… firewood, too. Remember: all of this happened in the days before electricity, so people had to keep crackling fires burning to see through the darkness, and to stay warm.

It wasn’t long before everyone was restless… and bored… and hungry.

WOMAN 3: We cannot live like this anymore.

MAN 1: It’s so dark…

WOMAN 1: … and cold!

MAN 2: Our children must enjoy the light and warmth of Grandfather Sun, as we once did!

WOMAN 2: It’s time to talk with Maushop!

MAN 3: Yes! Maushop!

WOMAN 3: He will know what to do!

NARRATOR: Whenever the people were in trouble, they turned to Maushop for help. Maushop was the kind, helpful giant who had first taught them how to survive, using all the gifts of the Earth.

He’d shown them how to plant and grow their own crops... How to cut wood to build homes and canoes... How to carve stone to craft spears and bowls... How to weave and sew to make their own clothing.

Everything the people needed, Maushop showed them how to use the earth to create it themselves.

But one thing they couldn’t create... was their own sun!

So they told Maushop their problem: how Grandfather Sun was only showing up for one minute a day, leaving them no time to plant or fish or play.

MAUSHOP: I hear you, my people. And I understand. First thing tomorrow... when Grandfather Sun rises above the sea in the east... I will talk with him.

NARRATOR: The next morning, when the first pale light began to dim the stars above the eastern sea, Maushop swam out into the ocean. He watched the sky go from dark blue to turquoise to magenta to orange. When the fiery top of Grandfather Sun’s head poked up over the horizon, Maushop called out.

MAUSHOP: Grandfather Sun! I come to you on behalf of the people. They are tired of the darkness. They need to plant, and fish. The children miss you, and long to feel your warmth on their faces. They want to be able to -

NARRATOR: But before Maushop could say another word, Grandfather Sun rose from the sea and raced across the sky, setting once again in the west.

MAUSHOP: Huh. Grandfather Sun didn’t hear a word I said!

NARRATOR: But Maushop was not one to give up easily.

MAUSHOP: I will wait through the night, and try again in the morning.

NARRATOR: And so he did. Maushop waited, and waited. And when the stars began to dim in the eastern sky, he swam back out into the ocean. As soon as he spotted the top of Grandfather Sun’s head again, he called out - this time, more quickly.

MAUSHOP:  Grandfather Sun! Please hear me! The people long to see you again! They long to feel your warmth –

NARRATOR: But just as before, the sun raced across the sky and disappeared in the west.

MAUSHOP:  Again, Grandfather Sun missed my every word!

NARRATOR: Maushop looked around him.

MAUSHOP: All these gifts of the earth I’ve taught the people to use… there must be something I can use to get Grandfather Sun to listen!

NARRATOR: Maushop combed through the land… he rummaged through the sea… and then… he had an idea.


[music in]

What do you think Maushop’s idea was? We’ll find out… after a quick break.


NARRATOR: Welcome back to Circle Round. I’m Rebecca Sheir. Today’s story is called “Maushop and Grandfather Sun.”

When we left off… the kind, helpful giant Maushop was trying to convince Grandfather Sun to move more slowly across the sky. The people were growing restless and bored and hungry, with so little light each day.

Twice Maushop tried talking to Grandfather Sun, and twice the sun raced right on by.

Until Maushop… had an idea.

He plunged down into the clear, blue waters of the ocean. Reaching out his giant hands, he gathered up… seaweed. Slick, strong, dark-green seaweed. He plucked handful after handful from the bottom of the sea until he was holding a million strands. He then wove them… into a net.

And not just any net.

MAUSHOP: This net’s big enough… to catch the sun!

NARRATOR: Clutching his new net, Maushop once again swam out into the ocean, right near the horizon where Grandfather Sun would appear.

And as soon as Maushop saw the stars begin to fade in the east, he lifted the great net up above his head. He began whirling the net… and twirling the net… spinning it with all his great strength! And as a giant, he had the strength of a thousand people... if not more!

Around and around the net spun, and when the fiery head of Grandfather Sun bobbed up from the horizon, do you know what Maushop did?

He let go!

The net whistled as it soared through the air… and landed right on top of Grandfather Sun!

MAUSHOP: Bullseye!

NARRATOR: The net jutted this way and that as the sun struggled to free himself.

SUN: What’s going on? Let me go! Let me go!

NARRATOR: Maushop grabbed the ends of the net and pulled them tight. Instantly, the sun was still.

MAUSHOP: Listen, Grandfather Sun. I am sorry to trap you like this. But twice now I have tried talking with you, and twice you have not listened. Please hear me out!

NARRATOR: The sun looked at Maushop and shrugged.

SUN: Alright, Maushop. I will listen. But I must bow my head so I do not boil the sea below.

NARRATOR: The sun lowered his fiery, orange head.

SUN: Now… what is it?

NARRATOR: Maushop told Grandfather Sun everything the people had told him. How worried they were about the days growing so short. How little time they had to plant their crops, and to fish. How restless the children were becoming, without warmth on their faces and rays to light their way.

Grandfather Sun listened quietly. At last, he lifted his head and spoke.

SUN: What you tell me, Maushop – I have to tell you, all of this comes as quite a surprise!

MAUSHOP: It does?

SUN: Why, yes! You see, I didn’t know the people cared! They all seemed to ignore me!

When I’d come in the morning, everyone would be asleep. As I watched over them during the day, no one ever said a word to me. And at night, not one person looked up to say goodbye – or ask me to return.

With each day, I got lonelier and lonelier. But then — all the way around, on the other side of the world — I found people… who were different. People who greeted me each morning, and smiled at me all day, and waved goodbye to me at night. They said, “Thank you, Grandfather Sun, for your warmth. Thank you for your light.”

They were friendly. They were grateful. And it made me happy!

So I began spending more and more time over there… and less and less time over here. It’s good to feel wanted, and needed, when you’re sharing your gifts with others.

NARRATOR: Once again, the sun bowed his head, so as not to boil the sea. Maushop loosened his grip on the net a little.

MAUSHOP:  Oh, Grandfather Sun! Now I understand!

I spent so much time teaching the people how to use the gifts of the earth. But I never once taught them how to care for you!

You are the one who makes their plants grow. You are the one who lights their way.

Stay right where you are, Grandfather Sun. I’ll be right back!

NARRATOR: Maushop ran over to where the people were. They had noticed the sun sitting still in the sky… and not racing by… and they just stood there... happy.

But when Maushop told them what Grandfather Sun had said, they began looking sheepish, hanging their heads down and kicking their toes in the dirt.

MAN 1: Well, what can we say?

WOMAN 1: Grandfather Sun is right.

MAN 2: We didn’t appreciate him.

WOMAN 2: We weren’t very friendly.

MAN 3: All these gifts he’s given us…

WOMAN 3: …and we’ve never said a word of thanks!

MAN 1: We will change our ways…

WOMAN 1: …starting now!

NARRATOR: Maushop smiled as he walked back over to Grandfather Sun.

MAUSHOP: Grandfather Sun. The people are very sorry. They’ve taken you for granted, and they know that now. From now on, they will honor you, and appreciate you, for all the gifts you’ve given them in this world.

SUN: Thank you, Maushop. It will be nice to slow down and not race so fast… and to spend more time with the people!

NARRATOR: And so... he did. From that day forward, the people would greet the sun every morning.

WOMAN 2: Good morning, Grandfather Sun!

MAN 2: Thank you for coming back and giving us a good day to learn, and be alive!

NARRATOR: They would smile up at the sun during the day.

WOMAN 3: Hello, Grandfather Sun!

MAN 3: Thank you for making us warm…

WOMAN 1: …and for making everything so beautiful!

NARRATOR: And then… before the sun dipped below the hills in the west… they would say goodbye.

WOMAN 2: Goodbye, Grandfather Sun.

MAN 1: Thank you for this beautiful day.

WOMAN 3: Have a good journey to the other side, but hurry on back tomorrow!

MAN 2: We’ll be waiting for you, so we can honor your warmth and light once more!

NARRATOR: After that, the sun never stayed away so long again.

For a few months of the year, he would spend more time on the other side of the world, visiting with those people and spending time with them. When he was on the other side of the world, the days here were shorter, and the nights were longer. We call that part of the year... “winter.”

But then the sun would make up for it by spending more time on this side of the world. So there’d be longer days, and shorter nights. We call that part of the year, “summer.”

The sun was happy… the people were happy… and as for the kind, gentle giant Maushop?

He was proud of the people for changing their ways. But he began to realize something.

MAUSHOP: I have taught the people all I can about how to use and appreciate the gifts they’ve been given.  Now, it is time for them to take care of themselves.

NARRATOR: Maushop bid the people farewell and swam out to the sea. As he floated to the west, slowly he transformed into... an animal… the animal we now call the great white whale.

The people were sad to see him go, but they discovered that their kind, gentle friend was right: if they worked for themselves, they did, indeed, have everything they needed. With the golden, dazzling sun... to light their way.

Headshot of Rebecca Sheir

Rebecca Sheir Host, Circle Round
Rebecca Sheir is the host "Circle Round," WBUR's kids storytelling podcast.



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