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'The Most Powerful Of All' | Circle Round 5518:00
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(Sabina Hahn for WBUR)
(Sabina Hahn for WBUR)

When you hear the word “power,” what comes to mind?

Electricity, maybe? Or something really strong, perhaps - like a bulldozer or a blue whale?

In this story, we’ll meet a character who wishes for more power, and he gets it — or so he thinks!

Our tale is called “The Most Powerful of All.” Versions of this folktale come from a lot of places. In Asia, it’s been shared in Japan, China, Thailand, India and Siberia! It’s also been told in Spain, Latin America, plus the southwestern United States, home of the Zuni people.

Voices in this episode include: James Konicek, Tracy Lynn Olivera, Kimberly Schraf, Craig Wallace, Delores King Williams, and Iain Armitage. Check out Iain on 'Young Sheldon' on CBS. And grown-ups: look for this young talent on 'Big Little Lies' on HBO.

This episode was adapted for Circle Round by Rebecca Sheir and edited by Executive Producer Jessica Alpert. Original music and sound design by Eric Shimelonis. Our artist is Sabina Hahn.


ADULTS!  PRINT THIS 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.

Story continues below

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Things To Think About After Listening
What makes you feel powerful? Maybe it’s an activity or a place or a person. Whatever — or whoever — it is, find a piece of paper and draw a picture of you feeling powerful. What do you look like? Where are you? Who are you with?

When you’re done, we’d love to see what you drew. Ask a grown-up to snap a photo of your picture, then email it to us. Our address is circleround@wbur.org   We'd love to share it with the rest of our listeners!


Musical Spotlight: Pipe Organ

(Cons.Maximus/Flickr)
(Cons.Maximus/Flickr)

Fun fact about the pipe organ: no two are the same! Each organ is custom made, based on the look/sound you want, and the size of your room. Organs can be quite small, or incredibly large: the largest pipe organ ever built weighs 150 tons and has 33,114 pipes!

Air blowing through the organ’s metal or wood pipes creates the music you hear. And while you may think you can only play an organ loudly, that’s not true! Different types of pipes can play different volumes; as a result, some say the organ is both the loudest and the quietest of all instruments.

Because of the organ’s surprising variability, we chose it to score “The Most Powerful of All”: a story about a child who learns that strength and power aren’t one-size-fits-all!


Story Transcript

NARRATOR: There once was a child.

The child did the kinds of things so many children do... maybe even you!

He drew pictures. He made up stories. And he skipped, romped and frolicked all over the place... wandering through fields of flowers… wading across babbling brooks… and climbing and swinging on playgrounds.

And all the while… every day... the child wished for one thing.

CHILD: I wish I were all grown up. If I were all grown up, I would be in charge… in control! I’d call all the shots and be the most powerful of all!

NARRATOR: But the child did not get his wish.

So he continued doing the kinds of things so many children do. He drew pictures… he made up stories… and, yes, he skipped, romped and frolicked all over the place.

But then came an especially brutal winter, and the child couldn’t skip, romp or frolic anywhere but inside his own house! The fields of flowers were blanketed with snow… the babbling brooks were frozen solid… and the playgrounds were slick with ice.

School was closed, and it was too frigid to venture outside, so the child stayed indoors, as clump after clump of snow pummeled the windows.

CHILD: Well, this is no fair. Thanks to all this snow, I’m stuck inside, with nothing to do. Even school is closed! You know… I wish I were the snow. If I were the snow, I would be in charge… in control! I’d call all the shots and be the most powerful of all!

NARRATOR: Suddenly, from outside the window, the child heard... a voice.

SNOW: So… you wish you were the snow, eh?

NARRATOR: The child whipped his head around to see who was speaking.

CHILD: (surprised) Wait - what - who said that? Who’s there?

SNOW: Why, it’s me, of course!  The snow!

CHILD: The what?!?

SNOW: The snow! You did say you wished you were the snow, right?

NARRATOR: The child’s eyes grew wide.

CHILD: I did, but - wait. You’ll really let me become the snow?

SNOW: I’ll let you give it a whirl!

NARRATOR: The child saw a flash of white light, and next thing he knew he was outside his house… floating above the ground! He rose up, up, up into the air, before swirling around and around and around. Then he settled down softly on the ground.

It was true: the child had actually become the snow!

CHILD: Woah!

NARRATOR: Never had he felt so comfortable. It was as if he were lying on the coziest feather bed in the world.

And he didn’t feel a lick of cold. Though everyone around him did. People outside were shivering and trembling, while people inside were huddling around their fires.

CHILD: Wow! Look at that! Everyone is helpless! Because of me!  Now that I’m the snow, I’m the most powerful of all!

NARRATOR: But soon, things began… to change.

The days got longer... and the temperatures got warmer. The sun spent more time shining in the bright blue sky, and the snow… started to melt!

CHILD: Oh no! Spring is here! As the snow, I don’t stand a chance against that hot, hot sun. You know, I wish I were the sun. If I were the sun, I would be in charge… in control! I’d call all the shots and be the most powerful of all!

SUN: What’s that? You wish you were the sun?

NARRATOR: The child’s mouth dropped open.

CHILD: Wait a minute! Is that who I think it is?

SUN: Yes, indeedy! It’s me! The Sun!

CHILD: No way this is happening!

SUN: Yes way this is happening! You did say you wished you were the sun, right?

NARRATOR: The child could hardly contain himself.

CHILD: I did say that! But, seriously. You’ll really let me become the sun?

SUN: I’ll let you have a crack at it!

NARRATOR: The child saw a flash of red light, and next thing he knew he was flying high, high, high into the sky. Bright rays and sizzling streams of heat radiated from his body, down to the earth below.

It was true: the child had actually become the sun!

CHILD: Woah!

NARRATOR: The child watched as people panted for breath, and wiped beads of sweat off their brows. The green fields he used to run through were scorched to a dull brown, and the babbling brooks dried up in their beds.

CHILD: Wow! Look at that! Everyone is helpless! Because of me! (beat) Now that I’m the sun, I’m the most powerful of all!

NARRATOR: But soon, things began… to change.

[theme music in]

What do you think the change is? What will happen next?

We’ll find out, after a quick break.

[theme music out]

[MIDROLL]

[theme music in]

NARRATOR: Welcome back to Circle Round. I’m Rebecca Sheir. Today our story is called “The Most Powerful of All.”

[theme music out]

When we left off, a child was trying to become “the most powerful of all.” At first, he thought that meant being all grown up. Then he thought it meant being the freezing snow… then the hot, hot sun.

But after he turned in to the sun, his view of the earth became fuzzy - like he had cotton over his eyes. When he squinted to get a better look, he saw drops of rain splattering onto the ground. The fields turned a brilliant green again, and the brooks began to babble, kicking up droplets of white water as they rushed through their beds.

CHILD: Oh no! I’ve been covered by a cloud! And the cloud is making it rain! As the sun, I don’t stand a chance against clouds. (beat) You know, I wish I were a cloud. If I were a cloud, I would be in charge… in control! I’d call all the shots and be the most powerful of all!

CLOUD: Did I hear somebody say, “I wish I were a cloud”?

NARRATOR: The child felt a ripple of excitement.

CHILD: Yes! It was me! I wish I were a cloud!

CLOUD: Well, you’re in luck, kiddo. It just so happens that I am a cloud.

CHILD: And uh, you’ll really let me become... well... you?

CLOUD: I’ll let you have a go at it!

NARRATOR: The child saw a flash of blue light, and next thing he knew, he was surrounded by drop after drop after drop of mist. Some of the mist turned in to falling water, causing torrents of rain to pelt the ground below.

It was true: the child had actually become a cloud!

CHILD: Woah!

NARRATOR: The child watched as picnickers scurried to find shelter. People rushed to grab umbrellas. The brooks flooded their beds, fields were soaked, and small buildings were washed away.

CHILD: Wow! Look at that! Everyone is helpless! Because of me! (beat) Now that I’m the clouds, I’m the most powerful of all!

NARRATOR: But soon, things began… to change.

The child felt himself being pushed across the sky. He felt positively helpless as a big gust of air shoved him this way and that.

CHILD: Oh no! I’m being blown away by the wind! As a cloud, I don’t stand a chance against the wind. (beat) You know, I wish I were the wind. If I were the wind, I would be in charge… in control! I’d call all the shots and be the most powerful of all!
WIND: Did I get that right...? You say you ‘wish you were the wind’…?

NARRATOR: The child was elated.

CHILD: You did get that right! I do wish I were the wind! (beat) So, let me guess. You must be -

WIND: (interrupting) The wind. Yes.

CHILD: And you’ll really let me become -

WIND: (interrupting) Become me. Yeah. I’ll let you try it on for size!

NARRATOR: The child saw a flash of yellow light, and next thing he knew, he was racing across the sky. Then he swooped down to earth, blowing tiles off the roofs of houses, and bending trees until they broke.
It was true: the child had actually become the wind!

CHILD: Woah!

NARRATOR: As he howled across the land, people rushed inside their homes and bolted their doors and windows. Some of the bolts snapped right off, and the doors and windows flapped open and shut on their creaky hinges.

CHILD: Wow! Look at that! Everyone is helpless! Because of me! Now that I’m the wind, I’m the most powerful of all!

NARRATOR: But soon, things changed.

The child ran up against something that wouldn’t move, no matter how forcefully he blew against it. It was a hard, towering surface that simply refused to budge.

CHILD: Oh no! I’m being stopped by a mountain! A huge, towering mountain! As the wind, I don’t stand a chance against a mountain. (beat) You know, I wish I were a mountain. If I were a mountain, I would be in charge… in control! I’d call all the shots and be the most powerful of all!

NARRATOR: Just then, a deep voice emerged from the stone.

MOUNTAIN: So you really think by becoming a mountain, you’d “be the most powerful of all”...?

NARRATOR: The child didn’t have to guess who — or what — was talking to him.

CHILD: Yes, Mountain, that’s exactly what I think! The snow freezes the people and land… the sun melts the snow… the cloud covers the sun… the wind blows the cloud… and the mountain stops the wind!

NARRATOR: The child could have sworn the mountain… smiled.

MOUNTAIN: (with a little smile) Okay, so let me get this straight. Now that you’ve tried being all those other things — the snow, the sun, the clouds, the wind — you wish you could be... me.

CHILD: Yes!

MOUNTAIN: Because I’m “the most powerful of all.”

CHILD: (growing frustrated) Yeeeesssss!

MOUNTAIN: But… have you ever considered the possibility that you’re the most powerful of all?

NARRATOR: The child was confused.

CHILD: What are you talking about? Right now, I’m the wind; when I blow, I don’t stand a chance against -

MOUNTAIN: No, no, that’s not what I mean. Have you ever considered the possibility that you’re the most powerful of all… as a child?

NARRATOR: Now the child was even more confused.

CHILD: Okay, this is just nuts. I don’t have any power as a child! Everyone’s always telling me what to do, where to go — who to be, even! What ‘power’ are you talking about?

NARRATOR: This time, the child was certain the mountain smiled.

MOUNTAIN: ‘What power am I talking about?’ Well, let’s see.  I’m talking about the power to draw pictures… to create works of art out of the depths of your imagination! I’m talking about the power to make up stories… to dream up characters and places and plot twists that never existed before! (beat) I’m talking about the power to skip and romp and frolic. To have not a care in the world as you pick flowers and toss stones and swing so high your feet almost brush another planet.  You can do all those things, right?

CHILD: (not quite sure where this is going — yet) Right...

MOUNTAIN: Well — news flash! — I can’t. Here I am — this huge, towering mountain — and all I can do... is sit here. Sit here and (paraphrasing the child) seem ‘to be in charge… in control!’ Seem ‘to call all the shots and be the most powerful of all!’  But let me tell you: what I wouldn’t give to be able to create like you do. To dream like you do. To move and grow like you do.  You’re a child. A child with his entire life ahead of him. And kiddo? If that doesn’t make you ‘the most powerful of all’... I don’t know what does.

NARRATOR: The child thought about what the mountain said.

Then he saw a flash of light with all the colors of the rainbow, and next thing he knew… he was back inside his house. The child walked over to his art supplies. He took out a piece of paper and some crayons. And he began... to draw. He drew a picture of the snow… the sun… the clouds… the wind… and the mountain. Then, he used every single color in the box to draw a picture of himself.

He made that picture a little bit bigger than all the others.

Then the child took out a pencil, and began… to write. To write a story about a child who wants more than anything to be all grown up. To be the most powerful of all.
And maybe, just maybe, he asked me to tell it… to you.

Jessica Alpert Twitter Managing Producer, Program Development
Jessica Alpert is the managing producer for program development at WBUR. In this position, she develops new podcasts and programs while also launching and nurturing WBUR’s newest projects.

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