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Shortie: 'The Dinner Date'14:07

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

Think about a time someone shared something with you.

Maybe a friend shared a book, or a game. Perhaps a family member shared some of their dessert.

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When people share with us, it feels really good, right? But as we’ll hear in today’s bonus episode, when people don’t share, it can leave a pretty bad taste in our mouth!

Our bonus story is called “The Dinner Date.” Variations of this tale come from many places, including Greece, Sweden and Russia. Our adaptation is inspired by versions told in parts of Africa.

Voices in this episode include Amy Brentano and WBUR reporter Quincy Walters.

If you’re looking for some extra creative fun while you’re listening, we have two activities for you. Or you can try Circle Round Bingo and our other new activity pages!

Activity One: Coloring Page

Ask a grown-up to print out the coloring page for our 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: Sharing

What’s one thing you can do this week to share?

It could be something you can see and touch — like a book, or a game, or a cookie — or it could be something you can’t see, like a story, or a joke, or a few minutes of your time!

Think about what you’d like to share, and who you’d like to share it with, then make it happen! The act of sharing will make you feel good, and it’ll definitely brighten someone else’s day.


NARRATOR: If there was one thing Spider loved... it was eating.

Soups and stews, meats and fish, beans, rice, corn, cassava… Spider enjoyed it all. 

But what Spider did not enjoy… was sharing. So the crafty critter often dreamed up all sorts of sly, slippery schemes just so he wouldn’t have to split his food with anyone!

This is the story of one of those schemes.

It was a sizzling, scorching summer, and Spider was sitting down to a nice big dinner of grilled fish, peanut stew and boiled yams, when he heard a knock at the door.

[SOT: not-too-energetic knock]

SPIDER: Who could that be? I wasn’t expecting guests!

NARRATOR: When Spider scuttled to the door and opened it…

[SOT: door opens]

NARRATOR: ...who should he see standing outside his house, but Turtle.

TURTLE: (exhausted, hungry) Oh, Spider! I’m so glad you answered! I’ve been out walking in the sweltering heat all day long, and I’m ever so hungry. As I crawled along the dirt path outside your home, I smelled the delicious aromas wafting through the window and I just had to knock. (beat) Mind if I join you for dinner?

NARRATOR: Spider knew it would be impolite to turn Turtle away, but remember — he wasn’t very keen on sharing his food. So the wily fellow plastered a warm smile on his face, and began to cook up a plan.

SPIDER: (over-the-top friendly/ingratiating as he hatches a plan) Welcome, Turtle! Please, come in! Have a seat at the table and help yourself to some grilled fish, peanut stew and boiled yams!

TURTLE: Thank you, Spider!

NARRATOR: Turtle trundled over to Spider’s table and had a seat. But as Turtle extended her stubby arms to reach for a piece of fish, Spider nearly choked on a mouthful of stew!

SPIDER: (faux-outrage/shock) Turtle!!! What do you think you’re doing?!? Look at those grubby hands of yours; they’re positively filthy! (beat) I don’t know about you, but where I come from, it’s bad manners to come to the table with such dirty mitts! 

NARRATOR: Turtle blushed.

TURTLE: Oh! I’m sorry, Spider. It must be the dirt path outside your house — it hasn’t rained in days, and the ground is so sandy and dusty!

SPIDER: Well, luckily that dirt path leads to a nice, clean pond! Go down to the pond, wash your hands, then come back.

NARRATOR: So Turtle crawled out of her seat, inched out the door, and trekked down to the pond. She rubbed and she scrubbed in the clear, clean water. Then she trudged back up the sandy, dusty path to Spider’s house.

Now, as you know, turtles aren’t very swift creatures, right? So by the time this turtle inched through the door, selfish Spider had already scarfed down half the food on the table!

SPIDER: Turtle, you’re back! Come. Sit down.

NARRATOR: So Turtle went back to the table and sat down. But just as she reached for a piece of fish, Spider scrunched up his face.

SPIDER: Turtle! What did I tell you?!? Where I come from, it isn’t proper to eat with grubby hands! And yours are still as grimy as can be!

NARRATOR: It was true. After trekking up the sandy, dusty path from the pond, Turtle’s hands were covered in dirt. Again.

TURTLE: Apologies, Spider. I’ll go wash them. Again. 

NARRATOR: So Turtle plodded back down the path to the pond. Again!

But this time when she returned to Spider’s house, the table was empty… and Spider’s belly was bulging!

SPIDER: Oh! I’m sorry, Turtle, but you were gone so long that I assumed you weren’t coming back! And I ate up all the food! There isn’t one crumb left.

NARRATOR: Turtle’s tummy rumbled with hunger… and her blood boiled with anger.

But she took a breath and flashed Spider a grin.

TURTLE: (over-the-top friendly/ingratiating as she hatches a plan) That’s quite alright, Spider! Thank you for inviting me to dinner. (beat) Next time you find yourself near the river where I live, please come by and allow me to return the favor!

NARRATOR: Well, Spider was never one to turn down free food. So the very next evening he put on his best jacket and scurried to the river where Turtle lived. It was a long, hot journey, and by the time Spider arrived he was sweating inside his fancy coat.

SPIDER: (trying to sound casual) Hey there, Turtle!

TURTLE: (delighted that plan is working, but not wanting to let on) Well, hello, Spider! Look at you all dressed up in that spiffy little jacket! (beat) Have you come all this way to take me up on my offer? … Will you join me for dinner?

NARRATOR: After all that traveling, Spider was even more ravenous than usual.

SPIDER: I’d love to join you for dinner, Turtle!

TURTLE: Terrific! I’ve prepared all sorts of delicious things — rice balls, fish kebabs, I even fried up some banana fritters for dessert! You sit here on the riverbank while I dive down to the bottom and prepare the food. I’ll come back when it’s ready.

NARRATOR: Then Turtle plunged into the river with a splash.

[SOT: splash]

NARRATOR: Spider’s mouth watered as he waited for Turtle to return. His belly grumbled. Finally… just when Spider thought he’d faint from starvation…

[SOT: water splashing sound]

TURTLE: I’m ba-ack!

SPIDER: (super-hungry) Great! (beat) But, uh, where are those rice balls, Turtle...? Those fish kebabs...!? Those banana fritters...!? Your hands are empty!

NARRATOR: Turtle shook her head.

TURTLE: (thrilled her plan is working) Oh, you must have misunderstood, Spider! You and I aren’t having our dinner date up on the riverbank… we’re having our dinner date down on the river bottom! Where I make my home! (beat) Come! Follow me!

NARRATOR: Then, once again, Turtle plunged into the river with a splash.

[SOT: splash]

NARRATOR: Spider knitted his brow as he watched Turtle swim down to the bottom of the river. Then, he took a deep breath, and a running start, and he dove into the water with all his might.

[SOT: small splash]

NARRATOR: Spider sunk down a few inches… but then found himself floating back up, and bobbing to the surface like a cork!

SPIDER: Oh no!!

NARRATOR: Spider dove into the water again and again, kicking and flapping his spindly arms and legs. But his body just drifted back up to the surface, each and every time.

SPIDER: Oh man! I’m too small and light to sink down to the bottom of the river! (beat, determined) There must be something I can do.

NARRATOR: Spider dragged himself out of the water and took off his soaking-wet jacket. As he lay the coat on the riverbank to dry, he suddenly had an idea.

SPIDER: (gasp) That’s it!

NARRATOR: Spider pulled his sodden jacket back on and began scuttling around, scooping up rocks and pebbles and stuffing them into his coat pockets.

Soon, the coat was very heavy. So heavy, in fact, that this time when Spider dove into the river, he sank all the way to the bottom... where Turtle was sitting at a table loaded up with food.

TURTLE: Welcome, Spider! Please, come here! Have a seat at the table and help yourself to some rice balls, fish kebabs and banana fritters!

SPIDER: Thank you, Turtle!

NARRATOR: So Spider swam over to Turtle’s table and had a seat. But as Spider stuck out a slender arm to reach for a kebab, Turtle’s eyes grew wide.

TURTLE: (echoing Spider’s original dialogue + faux-outrage/shock) Spider! What do you think you’re doing? I don't know about you, but where I come from, it’s bad manners to come to the table wearing a jacket! We always take our coats off before we eat.

NARRATOR: Spider blushed.

SPIDER: Oh! I’m sorry, Turtle. I’ll take it off right away!

NARRATOR: Spider was so hungry that he didn’t stop to think about what he was doing. He just grabbed the sleeves of his heavy jacket, gave them a tug, and pulled the coat right off.

But do you know what happened the moment he did?

You guessed it!

Spider began floating up, up, up... away from the river bottom… away from Turtle’s table… and away from all that scrumptious food.

And as he did, his host called out to him in a voice sweeter than the banana fritters piled high on her plate.

TURTLE: (sweetly, with relish) Thanks for the dinner date, Spider! ... I hope you enjoyed the food I prepared as much as I enjoyed yours!

NARRATOR: So, in the end, just as Turtle didn’t get to eat at Spider’s house, Spider didn’t get to eat at Turtle’s house.

But while Turtle didn’t serve Spider any dinner… she had definitely served him right.


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

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


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