Shortie: 'A Cup of Poi'

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

We’ve been hearing a lot from our listeners around the world - listeners like you! And many of you have been asking for more stories to help you get through this time of social distancing, when we’re all spending a bunch more time at home than we’re used to.

Today we’re bringing you a special bonus episode of Circle Round.  Our story is called “A Cup of Poi.” Poi is a popular food where our tale originally comes from: Hawaii, the only island state in the United States. It’s all about the magic that happens when we’re kind to others… especially when we’ve never met them before!

If you’re looking for something extra to do while listening to today’s tale ask a grown-up to help you with one of these two activities.

Activity One: Coloring Page

Print out the coloring page for this week’s story! Here it is:

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

Or here is the PDF of the coloring page. We’re also keeping an album so share your picture on FacebookTwitterInstagram, 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.

Activity Two: Kindness Bingo

Have you ever played Bingo? Well, now that you’ve heard today’s story, how about giving Kindness Bingo a try?

First, you’ll need to make your Kindness Bingo board. Find a piece of blank paper, or poster board, and draw a big square. Then divide that big square into nine little squares (i.e. three rows of three).

In each square, have your grown-up help you write one kind thing you can do over the next few months. It can be as simple as sending a card to a friend you haven't seen in a while, helping a grown-up in your home clean up, or telling someone in your family a funny joke when they're feeling blue.

Once you’ve written all nine squares, hang your Kindness Bingo board somewhere you can see it. Then, every time you complete an act of kindness on the board, fill in that square! You can color it, stamp it, paint it; you can even cut out paper hearts or stars, and stick them on. When you’ve completed your Kindness Bingo board, we’d love to see it! Have a grown-up snap a photo, then email it to us at circleround (at) wbur (dot) org.

And no need to stop at just one Kindness Bingo board! Play as many times as you’d like! Just get a new piece of paper or poster board and draw a whole new square, with nine new acts of kindness. Or sixteen… Or twenty-five… The possibilities are endless!


NARRATOR: Pele was the Hawaiian goddess of fire and volcanoes.

Among the goddess’s favorite things was disguising herself as a human — sometimes a spritely young girl, sometimes a creaky old woman — then wandering through the villages of Hawaii, among the people.

One evening, as the sun was going down, Pele assumed the form of a frail, elderly woman, with a bent back, a wrinkled face, and straggly hair as silver as the moon that shimmers in the night sky. A tattered cloak hung from her bony shoulders, and her pale fingers clutched a gnarled cane as she hobbled down a country lane and up the stone path of a large, grand house.

[SOT: knock on door]

PELE: Hello...? Anybody home?

[SOT: door opens]

WOMAN: (annoyed) Yes????

NARRATOR: Just as Pele suspected, the door was answered by a well-heeled woman wearing glittering earrings and bracelets, and dressed in fine shoes and clothes. And, the fancy woman had no idea that the feeble, elderly beggar standing before her was actually the ferocious goddess of fire and volcanoes!

WOMAN: (annoyed) Um, what do you want? My husband and I are in the middle of dinner!

NARRATOR: Pele snuck a glance through the doorway and spied an equally extravagant man sitting at a large table. The table was covered with a fancy tablecloth, and enough delicious foods to feed an army! Bowls of juicy mango… platters of fresh fish... and an enormous pot of the sticky, pudding-like dish called poi... made from the yam-like root vegetable known as “taro.”

PELE: If you please, ma’am, I’ve been traveling all day and somehow I’ve lost my way. It’s getting late and I’m very hungry. Could you please share some of your food...?

NARRATOR: The fancy woman fidgeted with one of her sparkly bracelets and shifted her eyes.

WOMAN: (lying, uncomfortable) “Share some of our food”... ? Um... sorry, lady. My husband and I don’t have any food to spare.

NARRATOR: Now, you remember what the woman and man’s table looked like, right? It was piled with bowls of mango, platters of fish and gobs and gobs of poi! Clearly this couple had plenty of food to spare!

Pele fixed her gleaming eyes on the woman’s shifty ones.

PELE: Well, ma’am… I don’t need much more than a bite or two. How about some slices of mango...?

NARRATOR: Again, the woman looked away.

WOMAN: (totally lying) Nope! No mango!

PELE: Fish, then...? Just one itty-bitty piece...?

NARRATOR: The woman shook her head.

PELE: Alright… well, how about some poi? Just one cup of poi...?

NARRATOR: The woman threw up her hands

WOMAN: No! No poi! (beat) Look, lady! I told you! My husband and I don’t have any food to spare! No mangos, no fish, and no poi!

NARRATOR: Pele felt her heat begin to rise. Just as the goddess’s sharp eyes were beginning to glow like molten lava... she took a deep breath... and tried her best to smile.

PELE: Very well then, ma’am. I understand. Thank you for your time.

NARRATOR: And with that, Pele leaned on her cane and shuffled away from the grand house and back to the country lane.

Before long she came to another house… a much smaller one… more of a hut, really. The entire thing could have fit inside the first house’s dining room!

Pele noticed that beside the hut was a teeny-tiny garden — a dry and dusty garden, with nothing but a handful of scrappy and wilted taro plants.

She lifted her crinkly hand and knocked on the hut’s door.

MAN: Good evening, madam! How may I help you?

NARRATOR: Pele noticed that the man who answered the door wore a shabby, stained shirt… and a warm, broad grin. Behind the man, a little boy sat at a rickety wooden table. On the table were two small cups… of poi.

PELE: I’m sorry to bother you, sir, but I’ve gotten lost and my belly is as empty as a scooped-out pineapple. Could you please share some food? If it isn’t too much trouble...?

MAN: Oh! No trouble at all! Come in, come in! My son and I were just about to sit down to dinner, and you are more than welcome to join us! (beat) Hey, kiddo, look! We have a guest!

NARRATOR: The little boy jumped up from his stool and led Pele to the table.

BOY: Welcome to our house! Would you like some poi?

PELE: (to the boy) Oh, I’d love some poi! Thank you! (beat) But I only see two cups here. Are you certain you and your father have enough to share?

BOY: Of course we do! Daddy and I always share! Right, Daddy?

MAN: You’re absolutely right, son! (beat) Here.

NARRATOR: The man handed Pele his cup.

MAN: Take my poi. Eat all you want, and enjoy.

NARRATOR: Pele took the cup and spooned the entire helping of gooey, sticky poi into her mouth.

PELE: Mmm, mmm, mmm! This is the most scrumptious poi I’ve ever tasted! (beat, testing them) Would it be too much to ask for another cup? It’s so very tasty, and I haven’t eaten all day, and --

NARRATOR: Before Pele could utter another word, the little boy pushed his cup in her direction.

BOY: Here! Have mine!

NARRATOR: So Pele devoured a second cup of poi.

PELE: Goodness gracious! I tell you, this poi is exquisite!

MAN: We still have a bit more left in the pot on the stove; I’d be happy to scrape it out for you! (beat, sincere) I wish we could offer more, but our taro garden didn’t do so well this year.

BOY: The ground was so dry and dusty, we could hardly grow a thing!

PELE: (secretly plotting) Oh, I’m sorry to hear that! But no need for more poi. My belly is nice and full. (beat) This was a very fine meal, friends! Thank you for taking care of a hungry, old stranger.

MAN: You’re very welcome, ma’am.

BOY: Will you come back and see us again?

NARRATOR: Pele’s bright eyes gleamed.

PELE: (mysteriously) Oh, you’ll see me again. Don’t you worry about that.

NARRATOR: Then, the disguised goddess of fire and volcanoes leaned on her cane and lifted herself from the table. As she shambled out the door and back to the road, the man and boy could have sworn they heard a low rumbling… saw a cloud of gray smoke… and smelled something burning.

The next morning, when father and son went out to check on their dry and dusty garden, they could hardly believe what they saw!

MAN: / BOY: Woah!!!!

NARRATOR: Instead of a few scrappy and wilted taro plants, their garden was bursting with row after row of strong and hearty taro plants... their broad, heart-shaped leaves stretching toward the sky.

The man knelt down and scooped up a handful of soil. He noticed it wasn’t dry and dusty at all. Instead, it was dark and rich.

And do you know why?

Because the soil… was volcanic soil — one of the most fertile soils in the world! Volcanic soil contains actual ash from a real volcano... so volcanic soil is chockful of minerals and nutrients that make plants thrive.

And from then on, the father and son’s plants did thrive. All thanks to a fierce, fiery goddess with a burning belief that if you plant seeds of kindness, you should harvest the rewards.


This episode was adapted for Circle Round by Rebecca Sheir. It was edited by Circle Round’s executive producer, Katherine Brewer. Circle Round’s original music and sound design is by Eric Shimelonis. Our artist is Sabina Hahn.

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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