Encore: 'A Taste Of Honey'

Download Audio
(Sabina Hahn for WBUR)
(Sabina Hahn for WBUR)

"A Taste of Honey" is now an illustrated picture book. Buy it here.

Think about the last time you accomplished something on your own.

It can be a wonderful feeling, right? Knowing you’re strong and independent enough to get something done?

Working with others is fantastic, too, of course. But in today’s story, we’ll meet a woman who learns that self-reliance can be very sweet, indeed.

Today, our story is called “A Taste of Honey.” Versions of this folktale originally come from Pakistan and India, in South Asia.

Some really great people came together to bring you our tale, including Hannah Simone. Grown-ups, you might know Hannah from her seven seasons on the Fox comedy, “New Girl.” And special treat… you’ll get to hear Hannah’s father, author Naren Simone, in this story, too! Actors featured in this episode include Elle Borders, Evan Casey, Maurice Parent, Lynette Rathnam, Anne Undeland, Craig Wallace, Thom Whaley, Jacob Yeh.  This episode was adapted for Circle Round by Rebecca Sheir and edited by Jessica Alpert.  Original music and sound design by Eric Shimelonis.

Naren Simone is the author of numerous books, including "Pink Balcony Silver Moon" and "Desert Song." And Hannah Simone starred for seven seasons on the Fox comedy, “New Girl.”

ADULTS! Print THIS OUT 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

Think about a time you relied on yourself and used your smarts to solve a problem.

Perhaps you figured out a homework question all on your own. Or you fixed a broken toy. Maybe you came up with a solution for a friend or family member who was struggling with something.

Whatever it was, grab some paper and something to draw with and make a picture of how you felt after you solved that problem. We bet you’ll have a big smile on your face!

Musical Spotlight: Sitar

(Courtesy of Eric Shimelonis)
(Courtesy of Eric Shimelonis)

The sitar is featured throughout this episode.  A stringed instrument from India, it has a gourd-shaped body and, like a guitar, it has a long hollow neck with frets: raised strips you put your fingers on to play different notes. The sitar can have up to 21 strings. The player plucks six or seven of these strings; the rest are there just to vibrate. All of these features give the sitar a notable vibration-rich sound which, appropriate to our story, can sound like the buzzing of bees!

Story Transcript
NARRATOR: Once upon a time… in a village in the countryside… lived a woman who made the most delicious honey you’ve ever tasted.

Her name… was Kamala.

Kamala kept three beehives in her tiny backyard. She collected the honey from the hives, and sold it at the market.

Everyone in town raved about how sweet and golden Kamala’s honey was… and yet somehow she couldn’t sell enough to make ends meet. She lived in a modest cottage with her father, and as he got older, he depended on his daughter more and more. So with business so slow, Kamala feared that… soon… she wouldn’t be able to support either one of them.

Then one day… Kamala heard the king’s son was getting married… and everyone in the village was invited to the party!

Now, it just so happened that Kamala had recently sold a jar of her sweet, golden honey to one of the king’s advisors. The advisor reported back that his Royal Majesty… loved it.

Suddenly, Kamala knew what she would do.

KAMALA: I’ll go to the wedding reception and ask the king for a favor. Everybody knows it’s bad luck to refuse a request at a wedding!

NARRATOR: At the reception, Kamala stood in a long, long line of people, all waiting to talk with the king. By the time she reached the front, the party was nearly over… and ‘His Excellency’ seemed rather… grumpy.

KING:  Yes…?

KAMALA:  Oh, Your Highness. This is such an honor! Look. You don’t know me, but -

KING:  No. I don’t know you.

NARRATOR: Kamala gulped, then flashed her warmest smile.

KAMALA: Like I said, you don’t know me. But one of your advisors bought my honey a few weeks ago, and I hear you really enjoyed it! A lot of people do, it seems… but not enough. I live with my father, and he depends on me, and I don’t know what’s going to happen if business doesn’t pick up. (beat) So, I’m wondering if maybe, just maybe, you could help me out…?

NARRATOR: The king narrowed his eyes.

KING: Help you out?

KAMALA: Well… yes!

KING: Hmmmm. They do say it’s bad luck to refuse a request at a wedding… and I do want to get all this partying over with and just go to bed. (beat) So… I tell you what. I own some land at the edge of town, and I have absolutely no use for it. If you plant it, and sell the harvest, I’ll let you keep half of the gold coins you make.

NARRATOR: Kamala quivered with joy.

KAMALA: Yes! Yes, please! Thank you, Your Majesty. Thank you!

KING: You’re welcome. Now, move along. (sigh) (looking down the line of people) Next!

NARRATOR: The next morning, Kamala and her father journeyed to the edge of town, to check out the king’s land.

Kamala had heard this desolate area was popular with thieves and robbers. But she was so excited about her deal with the king, she had a smile on her face the whole trip… until… she and her father reached their destination.

Then, Kamala’s face dropped.

KAMALA: Oh no...

NARRATOR: Stretched out before Kamala and her father was a mess of dirt. Sticks and weeds poked out of the clumpy brown earth, which clearly hadn’t been plowed in years.

FATHER:  My dear, dear daughter. I’m no farmer, but how in the world are we going to plant anything here? We’d need a team of horses to plow this land!

KAMALA: I know. And we never could afford that!

NARRATOR: Kamala thought for a moment.

KAMALA: (to herself) Hmm. I tried relying on the king to solve my troubles, and clearly that wasn’t the answer. I’ll have to come up with something on my own. But… what?!?

NARRATOR: Looking around, Kamala spotted two long sticks on the ground. Suddenly, she had an idea. She snatched up the sticks, and handed one to her father.

KAMALA: Here, father. Take this. And do exactly what I do.

FATHER:  Um… okay...

NARRATOR: Kamala’s dad watched as Kamala put an anxious expression on her face.

So, he did, too.

Kamala glanced nervously over her shoulder.

So, he did, too.

Then Kamala began walking around the field, poking at the ground with her stick.

So… yes… he did, too.

FATHER: Um, Kamala? Can I ask what we’re doing?

KAMALA: (under her breath as they walk) Trust me on this one, father. I have a plan.

NARRATOR: Now, remember: Kamala had heard that thieves and robbers hung out around these parts. Sure enough, seven of those thieves and robbers were hiding in a thicket nearby. And… just as Kamala hoped… her and her dad’s odd behavior had caught the greedy thieves’ attention.

THIEF 1: Guys! What’s going on over there?

THIEF 2: Those people have been walking around that field for hours!

THIEF 3: ...and poking the ground with those sticks!

THIEF 4:  It’s pretty weird!

THIEF 5: It sure is!

THIEF 6: Hey, boss! What do you think?

NARRATOR: The chief of the thieves squinted to get a better look at Kamala and her father.

HEAD THIEF: Hmmm. I can’t tell what’s going on. (beat) But look at the way they’re glancing over their shoulders. Maybe they have something to hide... something valuable! As the leader of this pack, I’ll go see what I can learn.

NARRATOR: So, he stuck his hands in his pockets and sauntered over to Kamala and her dad. Though he was burning with curiosity, he tried to act casual.

HEAD THIEF:  Hey there, folks. I hope you don’t mind me asking, but... what’s with the sticks?

NARRATOR: Kamala glanced to the right and left, like she was checking to make sure nobody else was listening. Then she leaned in, and looked the leader of the thieves right in the eye.

KAMALA:  If I tell you what we’re doing, do you promise you won’t tell a soul?

NARRATOR: The thief leaned in, too.

HEAD THIEF: I promise!

KAMALA:  Well, last night I attended the king’s wedding banquet. His Royal Highness said my father and I should plant this plot of land. (beat) But rumor has it… there’s gold in it!

NARRATOR: The thief’s eyes widened.


KAMALA: Yes! So we’ve been using these sticks to dig for treasure. But we’re getting very tired, so we have to head home now. We’ll try again tomorrow.

NARRATOR: As soon as Kamala and her father put down their sticks and walked away, the leader of the thieves rushed back to the thicket to share the news.

The seven thieves immediately sprung into action. They grabbed some sticks and dug all day under the hot summer sun, turning up every single inch of earth. But they didn’t find any gold - not even one coin. So… sweaty and tired… they trudged back to their camp, to sleep.

The next day, Kamala returned to the plot of land, a big bag of seeds slung over her shoulder.

KAMALA: (pleased as she looks around) Ahhh! Yesterday, this place was a mess of weeds and dirt. Now, it looks like it’s been plowed seven times over! Ha! Thank you, thieves!

NARRATOR: Kamala began walking up and down the field, planting seeds in the neatly-plowed earth.

Suddenly, she heard a voice behind her. It was the the leader of the thieves… joined by his six greedy companions.

HEAD THIEF: You! You told me there was gold hidden in this land!

NARRATOR: Kamala smiled sweetly.

KAMALA:  That’s what we heard!

HEAD THIEF: So you lied, then!

KAMALA: Did I? Or is it you who lied? Look how many friends you’ve brought with you! Didn’t you promise you’d keep my secret?

NARRATOR: The head thief gritted his teeth. His cheeks turned bright red.

HEAD THIEF: Well... this isn’t the last you’ve heard from us! That gold should be ours… and it will be!

NARRATOR: Then he turned on his heel and stomped away... the other six thieves following obediently behind.

KAMALA: Ohhhh, you’ll have your gold… just not the kind you think!

NARRATOR: What do you think will happen next? We’ll find out… after a quick break.


NARRATOR: Welcome back to Circle Round. I’m Rebecca Sheir. Today our story is called “A Taste of Honey.”

When we left off, Kamala the beekeeper had accepted an offer from the king.

He sent her to a plot of land at the edge of town, and told her if she planted it, and sold the harvest, she and her father could keep half of the gold coins they made.

But the land was in desperate need of plowing. So Kamala tricked seven thieves into plowing it for her. When they realized they’d been fooled, they vowed to get revenge.

All summer long, Kamala devoted herself to weeding and watering the king’s land. Come fall, her father helped her harvest the crops and take them to market. The fruits and vegetables were so bountiful and beautiful, everyone wanted to buy them!

Kamala and her father took the gold coins they made and split them into two bags. Her father took one of the bags to the king. The other bag, Kamala brought home. She used some of the gold to pay off her debts, then buried the rest in her cottage’s front yard, underneath an apple tree.

But she suspected she wasn’t yet finished with the seven thieves… or rather... they weren’t finished with her.

That night, as a full moon rose in the sky, Kamala glanced outside her window. Sure enough, she spotted the seven thieves hiding behind the bushes near the apple tree.

This was the moment she’d been waiting for. In an extra-loud voice, she called out to her father.

KAMALA:  Oh, father! Can you believe how much gold we brought home today?

NARRATOR: Kamala’s dad knew exactly what his clever daughter was up to.

FATHER: It’s positively amazing, Kamala! I’ve never seen so much gold in my entire life! I hope you put it somewhere safe...!

KAMALA: Of course, I did! Do you take me for a fool? I’ve hung the gold in a bag, high up in the branches of the apple tree! Nobody will look for it there!

NARRATOR: Outside the cottage, the thieves chuckled quietly to themselves. As soon as it seemed Kamala and her dad had turned in for the night, the thieves tiptoed out from behind the bushes and looked up at the apple tree.

The leader of the thieves jabbed his finger toward one of the top branches.

HEAD THIEF: Ha! There it is, folks! The bag of gold! As the leader of this pack… and the strongest… I’ll climb up there and bring it down.

NARRATOR: Now, by the light of the moon, the head thief thought he saw a big, bulky bag of gold. But as he soon would learn… it was another kind of gold altogether.

In no time, he shimmied up the trunk of the tree, then climbed the branches to the very top. When he came close to what he thought was the bag of gold... he suddenly let out… a yelp!


NARRATOR: You see, the bag… was actually one of Kamala’s beehives, dripping with golden honey! She’d hung the hive so high, the thieves hadn’t heard the buzz-buzz-buzzing of her bees… and now they were buzz-buzz-buzzing all over the thieves’ leader!

HEAD THIEF: Oh! Ow! Eek!

NARRATOR: He began clapping his hands all over his body, trying to protect himself from the bees. In the process, he smeared himself with honey, and desperately tried wiping it off.

But the view from the ground was very different, and his fellow thieves thought he was doing something else entirely.

THIEF 6: Hey! Is he…?

THIEF 5: ...grabbing the gold and shoveling it into his pockets?!?

THIEF 4: It sure looks like it!

THIEF 3: Well, I never!

THIEF 2:  He’s stealing… from us!

THIEF 1: What a... thief!

NARRATOR: The leader overheard the thieves’ chatter below.

HEAD THIEF: No, no, no, folks! (Ow!) I swear! (Eek!) You’ve got me all wrong! (Yow!)

NARRATOR: But the other thieves weren’t convinced. One by one they clambered to the top of the tree, intent on getting the gold. And one by one they were swarmed by Kamala’s bees!

THIEF 1 / THIEF 2 / THIEF 3 / THIEF 4 / THIEF 5 / THIEF 6 / HEAD THIEF: Ay! Ow! Oh! Yahhh!

NARRATOR: By the time the seventh thief got to the top, can you guess what happened?

That’s right! The branch all seven thieves were standing on broke with a snap, and every single one of them came tumbling down… along with the beehive!

THIEF 1 / THIEF 2 / THIEF 3 / THIEF 4 / THIEF 5 / THIEF 6 / HEAD THIEF: (ad lib hoots and hollers as they get stung, run away)

NARRATOR: Meanwhile, Kamala and her father weren’t asleep at all. They’d been wide awake this entire time. As they watched from their window, they weren’t sure what was louder: the buzzing of the bees, or the hoots and hollers from the thieves as they stampeded away, dripping with gold.

Gold honey, that is.

KAMALA: What did I tell you? You wanted gold… and now you’ve got it!

NARRATOR: From then on, Kamala and her father lived comfortably. Soon after their adventure with the thieves, Kamala’s honey business took off. Turns out the grouchy king had recommended her sweet, golden honey to everyone he knew.

But even though Kamala now had plenty of money to get by… that wasn’t what made her feel rich. She’d learned the importance of relying on yourself to solve problems... and using your smarts.

And that sweet lesson... was worth all the gold in the world.

Headshot of Rebecca Sheir

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



More from Circle Round

Listen Live