'The Twin Monkeys' | Circle Round 11522:36

("The Twin Monkeys" by Sabina Hahn)
("The Twin Monkeys" by Sabina Hahn)

Think about the last time you shared something.

Maybe you shared your new toy with a friend, or you shared your favorite snack with a sibling.

Sharing is nice, but it isn’t always easy - especially for one of the characters in today’s story. Instead of splitting something 50/50, she wants to keep all 100% of it for herself!

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Our story is called “The Twin Monkeys.” Versions of this tale originally come from the Tibetan and Burmese people in Asia.

Voices in this episode include Sidney Sholley, Igor Shimelonis, Lizzy Capri and Julia Nickson. Lizzy Capri is known for her super-fun family-friendly videos on YouTube; she also works to raise awareness for the global water crisis with the non-profit organization, Thirst Project. Julia Nickson has starred in such films as The Unbidden, Half-Life and Rambo: First Blood Part II.

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

Coloring Page

("The Twin Monkeys" by Sabina Hahn)
("The Twin Monkeys" 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

Think about the last person who shared something with you - who did something generous. One way to do something generous back is to write a thank-you note!

Find some paper and fold it in half to make a card. Decorate the front of the card however you’d like, then ask a grown-up to help you write a special thank-you note inside. After that, pop the card in the mail, and you’re on your way to brightening someone’s day!

Musical spotlight: Marimba

The marimba originated in Africa but is now a standard instrument in the percussion section of orchestras and jazz ensembles. The marimba looks like a xylophone, but has a greater range (3 - 5 octaves versus the xylophone’s 2 ½ - 4). You usually play the marimba with soft mallets, and each hit produces a quick, bright, playful sound. It’s typically played by one person at a time, but as you’ll see in this video, as many as three people can play the marimba at once!


NARRATOR: Once there were two sisters known as Star and Moon.

Star lived by herself in a cozy cabin high in the mountains, surrounded by lush green trees full of delicious fruits and chattering, swinging monkeys. Moon lived in the town beneath the mountain, in a little house which she shared with her two young sons, whom everyone called Happy and Cheerful.

Star and Moon ran a vegetable farm that had been in their family for generations. Every time planting season rolled around, Star and Moon woke up bright and early, and traveled from their respective houses to the fields, where they spent long days digging and mixing the soil so they could plant carrots, radishes and potatoes.

But one afternoon, as Star was digging, she felt her shovel strike something…

[SOT: shovel clang]

NARRATOR: ...hard!

STAR: Woah! Did you hear that, Moon?

MOON: I sure did, Star! Keep digging and see what it is!

NARRATOR: So Star plunged her shovel into the ground, over and over, until at last, she found… a pitcher. But not just any pitcher. This pitcher… looked like it was made... of gold!

The sisters stared in wonder as the unearthed vessel shimmered and sparkled in the bright summer sun.

STAR: Can you believe it, Moon? This must be a long-lost family heirloom! (beat, getting an idea) I think we should clean off this beautiful golden pitcher and share it! You could take care of it one week, and I'll take care of it the next!

NARRATOR: Moon felt her heart drop. She should have known Star would suggest something like that.

After all, ever since Star and Moon were kids, Star was always thinking of others. Always waking up early to help her parents pull up radishes… always staying up late to tutor classmates who were struggling with schoolwork.

So of course Star would want to share the golden pitcher!

But Moon wanted to keep this glittering treasure all to herself. So the conniving sister began to concoct a scheme.

MOON: (hatching a plan, laying it on thick) You know what, Star...? You’re right! We should share this pitcher. If it truly is a family heirloom, sharing it would be the proper and honorable thing to do.

NARRATOR: Star was taken aback. After all, ever since she and Moon were kids, Moon was always thinking of herself. Always borrowing Star’s favorite sweaters without asking… always lounging in bed instead of helping Mother and Father in the fields. If Moon had found that pitcher, it would have been "finders keepers," and that would be that!

STAR: (pleasantly surprised, falling for Moon’s plan) Well, I’m glad to hear you agree with me, Moon! So, how about you take the pitcher this week, and I'll take it next week — and so on!

MOON: (pleased her scheme is working) That would be wonderful, Star! I’ll bring the pitcher back to my house, and after one week, you can come pick it up! Then it’ll be your turn to enjoy this glorious family heirloom.

NARRATOR: Now, the truth is, Moon had no intention of letting Star “enjoy” the pitcher — at all! But Star didn’t know that. So she agreed to the deal.

And when the work day was through, Star headed back to her cabin in the mountains, and Moon headed back to her house in town... with the golden pitcher cradled in her arms.

Moon spent all week admiring her treasure… and once the seven days were up, she jumped into action!

After Happy and Cheerful left for school in the morning, Moon grabbed the golden pitcher and made a beeline for the closet. She reached way, way up and stashed the pitcher on the tallest shelf. Then she raced to the fireplace, knelt down, and pulled out a handful of ashes. She sprinkled the ashes into a small wooden box.

With just minutes to spare before Star arrived, Moon chopped up a strong-smelling onion and took a nice, big whiff so that her eyes would fill with tears.

Soon after...

[SOT: knocking]

NARRATOR: ...there was a knock at the door.

STAR: (calling in from outside) Hello…! Moon? It’s me! I’m here!

NARRATOR: At the sound of her sister’s voice, Moon grabbed the wooden box of ashes, then slumped down on the floor. She pasted a big frown on her face.

MOON: (calling out from inside) (downtrodden-sounding, with a frown) Oh. Hello, Star. Come on in.

[SOT: door opening]

STAR: Good morning, Moon! (beat, noticing Moon’s face/tears) Oh dear! You look terrible!

MOON: That’s because I am terrible, Star! Just terrible!

NARRATOR: Moon heaved a great sigh.

MOON: I’m so sorry to tell you this, sister, but our plan has been absolutely and utterly ruined!

NARRATOR: Star cocked her head.

STAR: What are you talking about?

MOON: Well, you know that golden pitcher we found in the field...?

STAR: Yes...

MOON: The one we were going to share…?

STAR: Of course! That’s why I’m here! To pick it up!

MOON: Well, dear sister… I was holding the pitcher in my hands... moving it out of the way so I could do a little cleaning… when all of a sudden... I tripped! This house is so small and cramped, and Happy and Cheerful’s toys were scattered every which way, so I stumbled over a pile of blocks! And as I tumbled to the floor, the pitcher went flying out of my hands and straight into… the fireplace!

STAR: Oh no!

MOON: Oh yes! (beat) But it gets worse, sister. The moment the pitcher landed in the fireplace… it began to spark and smolder! And it immediately turned…

NARRATOR: She held up the wooden box.

MOON: ashes! (beat) Just like that!

NARRATOR: Star blinked her eyes.

STAR: Wait… I don’t understand! (beat) (confused) How could goldturn into ashes?

MOON: I don’t know, sister! It was a total freak accident! But, strange things happen, I guess... (beat) Can you believe it...?

NARRATOR: The truth is… Star couldn’t believe it.

Not one word.

Obviously, Moon was scheming to keep the golden pitcher all to herself!

But not if Star could help it. The wheels in her brain began to spin as she concocted a scheme of her own — one that would teach her sneaky sister a very important lesson.

[theme music in]

NARRATOR: What do you think Star is plotting?

We’ll find out what she’s up to, after a quick break.

[theme music out]


[theme music in]

NARRATOR: Welcome back to Circle Round. I’m Rebecca Sheir. Today our story is called “The Twin Monkeys.”

[theme music out]

NARRATOR: Before the break, Moon told Star that a “freak accident” occurred: she had tripped over her sons’ toys, and the golden pitcher the sisters were supposed to share had tumbled into the fireplace… and turned to ashes!

Star, however, was not convinced. She suspected Moon was scheming to keep the golden pitcher all to herself! So Star decided she would beat her sly sister at her own greedy game.

STAR: (playing along) My goodness, Moon! That sparkling, glittering, golden pitcher we unearthed really turned into ashes, eh...? That is a bummer! (beat) But hey, like you said, strange things happen, I guess...

NARRATOR: Star laid a hand on Moon’s shoulder.

STAR: (hatching her plan) Now that I’m here, though... it occurs to me... You always complain about how small and crowded this house of yours is... (beat) Why don’t you send Happy and Cheerful to my cabin in the mountains for a month? They can get some fresh air... they can go hiking... they can watch the wild monkeys swinging around in the trees… It’ll be like summer camp with Auntie Star!

NARRATOR: Moon considered her sister’s proposal. Happy and Cheerful were always pestering her about visiting Star’s cabin. They would have a ball playing in the mountains for a month… and Moon would get some peace and quiet. Plus, she could show the golden pitcher off to all her friends!

MOON: (falling for her sister’s plot, not at all suspecting/suspicious) Alright, Star. It’s a deal! I’ll bring the boys over first thing tomorrow!

NARRATOR: The next morning, Moon huffed and puffed her way up to Star’s cabin, with Happy and Cheerful in tow.

HAPPY: Wow! Check out the view from up here! It’s like you can see the whole world!

CHEERFUL: Yeah! And did you see all those wild monkeys on the way up!??

HAPPY: This summer is going to be…

HAPPY: / CHEERFUL: ...amazing!

NARRATOR: The boys gave each other a big high five. Moon smiled.

MOON: I’m sure you’ll have a fantastic time with Auntie Star! Now you be good, and I’ll see you in a month!

NARRATOR: Moon kissed her sons goodbye. As she headed back to town, Star called Happy and Cheerful over to the table for lunch.

STAR: (launching her plan) Welcome to the mountains, kiddos! I’m so happy you’re here. (beat) And speaking of those monkeys you mentioned… How would you like to bring a couple of those critters home? And keep them as pets?

NARRATOR: Happy and Cheerful exchanged an excited look.

HAPPY: We could have monkeys as pets?!?

CHEERFUL: Seriously...?!?

STAR: Sure! We’ll take extra-good care of them and at the end of the month, we’ll let them go. (beat) Whuddya say?

HAPPY: We say…

HAPPY: / CHEERFUL: ...Awesome!!!

NARRATOR: Then the boys jumped up and gave each other another high five.

That night, while Happy and Cheerful were sleeping, Star filled a basket with bananas and sugarcane. She crept into the forest where the wild monkeys were chattering and leaping from tree to tree. Using the bananas and sugarcane as bait, Star got two of the monkeys to step inside a big bamboo cage. Then she brought the monkeys home.

When Happy and Cheerful spotted the furry creatures the next morning, the boys jumped up and down and gave each other their usual high five.

HAPPY: Monkeys!

CHEERFUL: We have monkeys!

HAPPY: Thank you, Auntie Star!

CHEERFUL: Thank you!

STAR: (continuing her plan) I’m glad you like them, boys. (beat) Hey — here’s an idea! What if we name each one of these monkeys after each one of you? We’ll teach them to answer by your names… we can even teach them how to do a high five, just like you do all the time! (beat) It’ll be like you have little monkey twins!

NARRATOR: Star’s nephews loved the idea. They named the bigger monkey “Happy,” and the smaller monkey “Cheerful,” and began their training.

The monkeys were quick learners, and before long, every time Star called out...

STAR: (calling out to monkey) Happy!

NARRATOR: … the bigger monkey would come scuttling over! And every time she called out…

STAR: (calling out to monkey) Cheerful!

NARRATOR: … the smaller monkey would come running. Not only that, but the monkeys learned to give each other a high five, just like the “real” Happy and Cheerful did all the time. The boys couldn’t have been more pleased.

But, at last, their month in the mountains came to an end… and it was time for Moon to pick them up. Their last morning at the cabin, Star served Happy and Cheerful a hearty breakfast, then handed each of them a basket.

STAR: Listen, kiddos. Your mother will be here any minute. Why don’t you take these baskets and pick some wild pears and plums from the forest? Then we can surprise your mom with a nice, tasty treat to bring back to town!

HAPPY: Sure thing, Auntie Star!

CHEERFUL: We’ll be back soon!

NARRATOR: The moment Happy and Cheerful went skipping out of the cabin, Star raced over to the bamboo cage and let the monkeys out.

Soon after...

[SOT: knocking]

NARRATOR: ...there was a knock at the door.

MOON: (calling in from outside) Hello…! Star? Happy? Cheerful? It’s me! I’m back!

NARRATOR: At the sound of her sister’s voice, Star gathered the monkeys into her arms, then slumped down on the floor. She pasted a big frown on her face.

STAR: (calling out from inside) (downtrodden-sounding, with a frown, as her sister did earlier) Oh. Hello, Moon. Come on in.

[SOT: door opening]

MOON: Good morning, Star! (beat) Oooo! You look terrible!

STAR: That’s because I am terrible, Moon! Just terrible!

NARRATOR: Star heaved a great sigh.

STAR: I’m so sorry to tell you this, sister, but my heart feels like it’s been burnt to ashes!

NARRATOR: Moon cocked her head.

MOON: (not getting it) Your heart feels like it’s been ‘burnt to ashes’...!?! What are you talking about?

STAR: Well, you see these two monkeys here…?

MOON: Yes…

STAR: These adorable little critters with their adorable little faces?

MOON: Of course! They’re sitting right there in your lap!

STAR: Well, dear sister, this past month, Happy, Cheerful and I had the most delightful time! We ran through the forest, we clambered up and down the mountain… But when I woke up this morning, I didn’t see the boys anywhere!

MOON: Oh no!

STAR: (echoing her sister’s words from earlier) Oh yes! (beat) But it gets worse, sister. I began racing around the cabin, calling out the boys’ names, in hopes that they’d come running. But instead, who should come scampering over…

NARRATOR: She gestured toward her lap.

STAR: ...but these monkeys! 

NARRATOR: Moon peered at the furry critters. Then she shook her head, waved her hand, and let out a little laugh.

MOON: Oh! Surely you’re joking! Happy and Cheerful certainly are playful and mischievous, but they aren’t a pair of monkeys!

STAR: Actually, I’m afraid they are. (beat) Watch this.

NARRATOR: Star turned to the monkeys.

STAR: Okay, you two - you can go now. Go out and play!

NARRATOR: The monkeys leaped off of Star’s lap. But just as they reached the door...

STAR: Actually, Happy...? Can you come back here, please?

NARRATOR: Moon watched in wonder as the larger of the two monkeys spun around and went running back to Star’s lap.

STAR: And Cheerful? You come back here too, please!

NARRATOR: Moon let out a gasp as the smaller of the two monkeys followed suit.

STAR: Good job, you two! You’re such good little monkeys!

NARRATOR: Star patted the monkeys’ heads and they began to jump up and down. Then they reached up their furry little arms and gave each other a big high five. Moon felt a shiver run down her spine.

MOON: Wait a minute! That’s exactly what Happy and Cheerful do! They high-five over everything! (beat) And these monkeys answer by my boys’ names…!??? How could that be???

STAR: (echoing her sister’s words from earlier) I don’t know, sister! It was a total freak accident! But strange things happen, I guess. (beat) Like… say... that sparkling golden pitcher that turned into ashes...!? (again, echoing her sister’s earlier words) Just like that...!? 

NARRATOR: Moon’s heart tumbled in her chest. She had told her sister that ridiculous lie about the golden pitcher turning into ashes... and now look what happened! Her sons had turned into monkeys!

Moon fell to her knees. She began to tremble like a tiny leaf in a winter wind. Just then, the door of the cabin burst open...

[SOT: door]

NARRATOR: ...and who should come skipping inside, their baskets overflowing with wild pears and plums, but Happy and Cheerful!

The real Happy and Cheerful!

HAPPY: Hi, Mom!

CHEERFUL: We had the best summer ever!

HAPPY: We got monkeys!

CHEERFUL: And we taught them to do everything we do!

HAPPY: Like this!

NARRATOR: The boys reached out and gave each other a high five.

And all of a sudden, Moon understood everything. As a ripple of relief… and a wave of embarrassment… washed over her, she realized that her sons hadn’t been made into monkeys… but her sister certainly had made a monkey out of her! 

After that, Moon happily shared the golden pitcher with her sister. Because now Moon knew what Star had known all along:

That a generous heart is worth more than gold.

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