Encore: 'The Owner Of The Sun'

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

If you look up at the sky, what do you see?

On a nice, clear day, chances are you can see... the sun.

Today we’ll hear a folktale about where that sun comes from - and what life was like before the sun was allowed to come out and shine.

Today’s tale comes from Venezuela: a country in South America, along the northern coast. People of the Warao tribe have been sharing this folktale for years.

This episode includes the voices of Joanna Haussman, Jose Miguel Dao, Chantal Nchako, and Eric Messner.  Adults: check out Joanna's YouTube channel HERE.

This story was adapted for Circle Round by Jessica Alpert and Rebecca Sheir.  Sound design and original composition by Eric Shimelonis.  Casting by Amy Lippens, CSA.

Adults: Print out this picture and let your listeners color along with the episode.

Things To Think About After Listening

Aliana sure did some quick thinking to figure out how to slow down the sun so it wouldn’t disappear too quickly!

Now it’s your turn. What would you do if you wanted to make the sun move more slowly across the sky? Use your imagination to come up with a plan. Just figure out what you need to gather… and what you need to do.

Find someone you like to have fun with, and share your idea with them. Then perhaps they can share some ideas of their own!

Story Transcript

NARRATOR: Once upon a time, the world was a dark place. You couldn’t see the rivers. You couldn’t see the gardens. You could barely even see your fellow people!

It was all because of a man who lived far, far to the east. He had stolen the sun.

The man kept the sun in his house, trapped in a large bag. He kept the bag closed so tightly that the sun couldn’t get out and rise up over the clouds.

The people were growing tired of the constant darkness. So a brave, noble girl named Aliana decided to do something about it.

ALIANA: Mami, Papi. We have been living in the darkness long enough. We have to figure out how to free the sun!

MOTHER: But, dear child, how will we do that?

FATHER: We don’t even know where the sun is hidden!

ALIANA: Leave it to me. I will find the way.

NARRATOR: Aliana’s parents knew their daughter was strong and resourceful. They hugged her goodbye, and waved proudly as she set off to save the sun.

Aliana traveled for a long time. She passed through jungles and forests. She crossed streams and rivers. As she walked, she sensed some heat in the air. First it felt just a little warm… then very warm… and eventually, it was so hot, she was sweating!

ALIANA: I must be close. This heat is becoming unbearable!

NARRATOR: Aliana followed the trail of heat all the way to a distant house in the east. The temperature around the house was practically sweltering! Aliana had to wipe the sweat off her hand before she knocked on the door.

ALIANA: Hello? Is anyone there?

NARRATOR: The door creaked open, and Aliana saw him: the man who had stolen the sun. He was very tall, and he wore a black hat. Without losing a beat, she scurried past the tall man and dashed into the house. It was hotter than any house she’d ever been in, but that didn’t slow Aliana down.

ALIANA: I know what you are hiding in here! It’s time to free the sun from his hiding place. Let him fly up past the clouds, let him shine his light on everyone!

NARRATOR: As Aliana sprinted from room to room, trying to find where the sun was hidden, the man laughed.

MAN: Ha! You think I’d release the sun for you? Or anyone? I’ve caught him and I’m keeping him for myself!

NARRATOR: Aliana’s eyes wandered to a wall in the kitchen. There… hanging on a wooden post… she spied a very large, very strange bag.

ALIANA:  Could that be… the sun…?

NARRATOR: When the man saw where Aliana was looking, he grew pale.

MAN: Careful, you! Don’t you even think about touching that bag!

NARRATOR: By the anxious tone of his voice, Aliana knew for sure that the tall man must be hiding the sun in the large, strange bag. In a single bound, she leapt toward the bag and ripped it open with a swipe of her hand.

ALIANA: Ha-yah!!!!

NARRATOR: Suddenly, the bright face of the Sun appeared: orange, dazzling, and hot! Its light and heat seeped out of the bag... out of the kitchen... and out of the house!

The sun traveled over the clouds and above the hills and woods of the earth. Its rays reached to the very bottom of the rivers, streams and oceans.

The man gazed up at the sun in the eastern sky. He was so furious that his secret had been discovered… that he took the bag where he’d been hiding the sun… the same bag Aliana had torn… and he threw it as far, and as hard, as he possibly could.

MAN: [grunt, etc., as he throws the bag far]

NARRATOR: The bag flew up and up and up... until it landed in the sky. It settled into a circle shape and hung high. There, it stayed… and it became the moon.

Meanwhile, Aliana ran home to tell her father and mother how she had managed to free the sun from its hiding place.

ALIANA:  Mami! Papi! I did it! I freed the sun!

FATHER: We see, mijita! It’s glorious!

MOTHER: It’s so dazzling and bright! We are so proud of you, Aliana.

NARRATOR: The three hugged as they contemplated the beauty of the sun, shining in the east.

But the sun was so excited to be free… and to no longer be trapped in the tall man’s bag… that it skipped and danced across the sky. Quickly, it skipped and danced from east to west… then it dropped over the waters of the rivers, so that it could cool itself off with a drink, and go to sleep.

Once the sun disappeared, the earth and water were lit only by the dim glow of the moon.

FATHER: What’s going on? We just saw the sun for a few minutes, and now it’s already gone?

MOTHER: The moon glow is beautiful. But surely we can enjoy more daylight! Aliana, what do you think we should do?

NARRATOR: The brave, noble girl thought for a moment. There must be some way to slow down the sun… but what?

Aliana was determined to create more daylight. After thinking it over, she looked at her parents and smiled.

ALIANA: Mami, Papi, I know what I’m going to do! I will go to the east, and then I will wait for the sun to start his trip over the clouds, and then… well, I don’t want to spoil the surprise. Just leave everything to me!

FATHER: Our brave, resourceful girl: we knew you’d come up with something!

MOTHER: Thank you, Aliana. Stay safe! Stay strong!

NARRATOR: Once again, Aliana’s parents hugged her goodbye. They waved proudly to their daughter as she set off to slow down the sun.

The first thing Aliana did was race to the nearest stream. She walked up and down the edge of the water with her eyes down, searching for something. Soon, her eyes landed on exactly what she’d been looking for:

ALIANA:  A-ha!

NARRATOR: There it was: an enormous tortoise, crawling slowly across the ground!

ALIANA: Hello, my sluggish friend! You are going to work out just fine!

NARRATOR: Aliana scooped up the tortoise and scampered off to the east. It was early morning, so the sun was just beginning to rise.

When Aliana reached the sun, she extended her arm and grabbed hold of one of its bright rays.

ALIANA: Here goes!

NARRATOR: Aliana held the sun-ray in one hand, and the tortoise in the other. Then she lasso’d the ray around the tortoise’s large shell. The shell was thick enough that the tortoise couldn’t feel the ray’s sizzling heat. But with her bare hands, Aliana had to act quickly.

ALIANA: [sound of trying to avoid the heat on her fingers while attaching tortoise to the sun]

NARRATOR: As soon as the sun-ray was wrapped around the tortoise’s shell, Aliana let go of the tortoise… and the sun… and she smiled.

ALIANA: It worked! The sun is slowing down its pace!

NARRATOR: It was true! Now that the sun was attached to the sluggish tortoise, it was no longer quickly dancing across the sky. Instead, it was taking its time as it traveled from east to west. In between, it shone its dazzling light down on the earth for a nice, long period that we now know as… “day.”

And when day was done… the sun didn’t just drop down over the waters of the rivers to sleep. Instead, it went away… little by little. Once the sun dipped below the horizon, the moon came out and shone a little light on the earth. We now know that time… as “night.”

And it’s all thanks to the quick thinking of a brave, young girl… and the slow crawling… of a tortoise!

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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