'Little Frog’s Big Voice' | Circle Round 112

Download Audio
("Little Frog’s Big Voice" by Sabina Hahn)
(Sabina Hahn for WBUR)

Do you remember a time you worked hard to achieve a goal?

You probably felt really proud, right?

It’s good to give ourselves a pat on the back when we accomplish something - to toot our own horn. But in today’s story, our main character doesn’t just toot that horn. He blows it so hard, it breaks!

Our story is called “Little Frog’s Big Voice.” Versions of this tale come from the Aboriginal peoples of Australia.

Voices in this episode include Robert Feng, Precious Hollaway, Edward Hong, Delores King Williams, Alex Brightman and Dyllón Burnside. Broadway actor Alex Brightman received Tony Award nominations for his starring roles in School of Rock - The Musical and Beetlejuice. Dyllón Burnside hosted the PBS documentary, Prideland and stars in POSE on FX. He released his new single, “Silence,” earlier this year.

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

Coloring Page

("Little Frog’s Big Voice" by Sabina Hahn)
("Little Frog’s Big Voice" by 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, 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

Just like Frog, when we accomplish something, there’s a good chance we didn’t do it alone. And unlike Frog, we should take time to acknowledge and thank the people who helped us find success!

Think about a time you achieved something great with help from others. Maybe you scored the winning goal in a soccer game - after a teammate dribbled the ball all the way down the field, then kicked it your way. Perhaps you read a picture book all by yourself - after a grown-up worked with you to sound out letters and words.

Find a piece of paper and something to draw with, then create a picture of you reaching success... and include the individuals who helped you along the way!

Share your picture with someone you like to have fun with (a family member, a friend) and if you’d like, share it with us! Ask your grown-up to post your picture on Instagram and tag @circleroundpodcast.

Musical spotlight: Didgeridoo

Experts believe Aboriginal peoples in Australia played the first didgeridoos 40,000 years ago. Back then, they fashioned these wind instruments out of fallen eucalyptus branches that had been hollowed out by termites! Today, didgeridoo makers craft their instruments from eucalyptus, bamboo, and agave. Fun fact: the didgeridoo can be both a pitched and percussion instrument: you can blow into it to make tones and to create rhythm and keep time, as you’ll see in this didgeridoo performance by Australian Aboriginal artist and musician Lewis Burns.


NARRATOR: If you visit the country of Australia… and you have some change jingling in your pocket… you might notice that the back of the ten-cent coin shows a picture of a most splendid bird.

This most splendid bird has a most splendid tail — shaped like the ancient Greek stringed instrument known as the lyre.

As a result, the bird is called... the ‘lyrebird.’ And Lyrebird has a most splendid gift: the ability to mimic, to imitate, just about every sound it hears in the forest — from the warble of the brush turkey…

[SOT: brush turkey]

NARRATOR: the flute-like song of the magpie!

[SOT: Australian magpie]

NARRATOR: From the squeaks and grunts of the koala…

[SOT: koala]

NARRATOR: the barks and howls of the dingo!

[SOT: dingo]

NARRATOR: Now, when Lyrebird isn’t imitating other animals, he has a beautiful voice of his own.

And long, long ago... in the earliest times… Lyrebird always kicked off his days by sitting beside a crystalline pond…

LYREBIRD: (singing)

NARRATOR: ...and singing.

LYREBIRD: (singing continues)

NARRATOR: One sunny morning… while Lyrebird was singing his heart out… he noticed a ripple in the pond. Suddenly, a tiny, green creature popped out of the water, hopped onto a lilypad, and then sat there, staring at Lyrebird with big, bulging eyes.

LYREBIRD: Well, good morning, little one!

NARRATOR: The small green creature didn’t answer. It just puffed out its chest and kept staring.

LYREBIRD: Um, I haven’t seen you around this stream before! Who, might I ask, are you? What do you call yourself?

NARRATOR: Again, the creature didn’t respond.

LYREBIRD: Well, my name is Lyrebird. I got that name from my tail; see how the brown and silver feathers fan out like a lyre?

NARRATOR: This time, the green critter nodded.

LYREBIRD: Ah! So you do understand me! Good! (beat) But, I take it you don’t talk...?

NARRATOR: The green critter shook its head.

LYREBIRD: And I’m assuming you don’t sing...?

NARRATOR: Once more, the green critter shook its head.

LYREBIRD: Well I, for one, spend my entire day singing! And not just my own song, but the songs of pretty much everyone else in the forest! (beat) So, uh, no offense, little buddy, but I’m not sure you and I will get along so well. See you around, though!

NARRATOR: Lyrebird was about to turn around and walk away — for lyrebirds, you see, are ground-dwelling birds — when he suddenly heard…


NARRATOR: … a voice.

CREATOR SPIRIT: Just where do you think you’re going???

NARRATOR: Lyrebird stopped in his tracks. The voice belonged to the Great Creator Spirit, and you never ignored the super-powerful creator of all things!

LYREBIRD: Well, Creator Spirit, I’m going away! I tried chatting up this brand new critter here, but he can’t utter a peep!

CREATOR SPIRIT: That’s because he doesn’t know how! (beat) This “little critter here”... is Frog. I happen to know that Frog would love nothing more than to sing… and I want you to teach him how, Lyrebird. I want you to share your wonderful gifts with Frog, and help him learn how to make his voice soar!

NARRATOR: Lyrebird knew better than to argue with the Great Creator Spirit. So, that very day, he began teaching Frog how to sing.

LYREBIRD: Repeat after me. (singing) Laaaa!

FROG: (singing, not smooth at all) Laaaa…

NARRATOR: He continued his lessons the next day…

LYREBIRD: (singing) Laaaa!

FROG: (singing, a little smoother) Laaaa…

NARRATOR: ...and the next…

LYREBIRD: (singing) Laaaa!

FROG: (singing, a little smoother) Laaaa…

NARRATOR: ...and the next!

LYREBIRD: (singing) Laaaa!

FROG: (singing, a little smoother) Laaaa…

NARRATOR: And before long, Frog was singing like a pro!

FROG: (virtuosic vocal demonstration) La la la la la la laaaaa!

NARRATOR: Eventually, Lyrebird decided his pupil was ready to give his first recital. So Lyrebird invited the other animals to come meet Frog and hear him sing.

The day of the concert, all the animals bustled over to the pond. Possum arrived first...

POSSUM: Thanks for the invite, Lyrebird!

NARRATOR: ...followed by Wallaby...

WALLABY: Looking forward to a great show!

NARRATOR: … then Kookaburra…

KOOKABURRA: Can hardly wait!

NARRATOR: … then every other animal in the forest.

ANIMALS: (ad-lib excitement about show)

NARRATOR: But when little Frog popped out of the water…

FROG: Hiya, folks!

NARRATOR: ...the animals were skeptical.

POSSUM: Um, what’s going on, Lyrebird?

WALLABY: This is your ‘star student’...?

KOOKABURRA: He doesn’t look very impressive!

POSSUM: / WALLABY: / KOOKABURRA: / OTHER ANIMALS: (ad-lib doubts/disappointment about Frog)

LYREBIRD: Come, come, friends!

NARRATOR: Lyrebird held up a reddish-brown wing.

LYREBIRD: I didn’t invite you here to look at him… I invited you here to listen! 

NARRATOR: So… they did.

FROG: (singing)

NARRATOR: And as they listened, it wasn’t long before their jaws dropped open and their eyes opened wide.

FROG: (singing)

NARRATOR: Because even though Frog was a very little creature...

FROG: (singing)

NARRATOR: …he had a very big voice!

FROG: (singing)

NARRATOR: It was loud... it was clear… it was expressive!

FROG: (singing)

NARRATOR: And when Frog’s performance came to an end...


NARRATOR: ...the animals just sat there, transfixed, before breaking into a roaring round of applause.

POSSUM: That was tremendous, Frog! Tremendous!

WALLABY: Your voice is extraordinary!

KOOKABURRA: Is there any sound you can’t make?!?

POSSUM: / WALLABY: / KOOKABURRA: / OTHER ANIMALS: (ad-lib enthusiasm about the show/Frog’s talent/etc.)

NARRATOR: As Frog took bow after bow, Lyrebird gazed at his star pupil and smiled.

LYREBIRD: He did it! Frog learned how to sing! (beat) I hope he’s proud of himself.

NARRATOR: Well, as Lyrebird would soon learn, Frog was proud of himself.

So proud, in fact, that his little green head… was about to become a whole lot bigger!

[theme music in]

NARRATOR: What do you think Frog will do now that he can sing?

We’ll find out what happens, after a quick break.

[theme music out]


[theme music in]

NARRATOR: I’m Rebecca Sheir. Welcome back to Circle Round. Today our story is called “Little Frog’s Big Voice.”

[theme music out]

NARRATOR: Before the break, the Great Creator Spirit asked Lyrebird to teach Frog how to sing. Lyrebird had a glorious singing voice; he could also imitate all the sounds of the forest.

So Lyrebird taught Frog everything he knew, and when Frog gave his first recital, the other animals showered the small creature with praise.

Once the animals went back home, Lyrebird walked up to Frog and gave his student a pat on the back.

LYREBIRD: That was terrific, Frog! You sounded great!

FROG: (haughty) “Great”...!???!??

NARRATOR: To Lyrebird’s surprise, Frog scowled.

FROG: I sounded... “great”!???? (beat) (arrogant) No, Lyrebird. I sounded glorious! Sensational! Sublime! (beat) In fact, I have the most glorious, sensational and sublime voice in the entire world! (beat) I bet I could make the moon tumble down from the sky just so it could hear me better!

NARRATOR: Lyrebird was shocked to see his humble little pupil acting so high and mighty.

LYREBIRD: Okay, Frog. You’re right. Your voice is spectacular! (beat) But, look. I don’t care how spectacular your voice is... there’s no way you can bring the moon down to earth...!!!

FROG: Oh, no...?

NARRATOR: Frog hopped onto his favorite lilypad and puffed out his chest.

FROG: (over-confident) Watch me!

NARRATOR: Then he took a deep breath, and began…

FROG: (singing)

NARRATOR: … to sing.

He sang…

FROG: (singing)

NARRATOR: ...and he sang…

FROG: (singing)

NARRATOR: ...and he sang.

FROG: (singing)


LYREBIRD: Um, I don’t see the moon getting any closer to earth, Frog!

NARRATOR: Lyrebird was right. The moon hadn’t even budged. It kept its place high in the sky, bathing the earth with its shimmering glow.

So the next night, Frog tried again.

FROG: (singing)

NARRATOR: And yet…

LYREBIRD: Sorry, Frog — but the moon isn’t going anywhere. It’s staying perfectly still!

NARRATOR: Indeed, the moon seemed to take absolutely no notice of Frog’s singing.

But now Frog was more determined than ever. So he sang to the moon the next night…

FROG: (singing)

NARRATOR: ...and the next…

FROG: (singing)

NARRATOR: ...and the next!

Until finally…

FROG: (singing extra hard… then sound of voice dramatically giving out)

LYREBIRD: Frog! Frog! Are you okay?

NARRATOR: Well, as Lyrebird quickly discovered, his proud and ambitious little student was not okay.

Because after singing at the top of his lungs, night after night, Frog’s voice had finally given out on him!

Now when Frog opened his mouth, the only sound that came out was…

[SOT: real frog croak]

NARRATOR: … a croak!

[SOT: real frog croak]

LYREBIRD: (amazed, amused/amusing, actual epiphany here) Boy! So that’s what it means when folks say “they have a frog in their throat”!

[SOT: real frog croak]

NARRATOR: So the next time you see the moon hanging in the night sky, and you’re near a pond or a lake or a stream, keep your eyes open and watch for Frog as he pops out of the water and hops onto his favorite lilypad.

Then, listen to him as he puffs out his chest and sings the only song he can.

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



More from Circle Round

Listen Live