Think about a time you did something nice for someone.
Maybe you shared a kind word, or you held the door open for a stranger.
We’re about to meet some characters who think that helping others will be a burden, and weigh them down.
But little do they know, lending a hand could actually give them wings!
Our story is called “The Wind Catcher.” Versions of this folktale come from the Marshall Islands — a country made up of thousands of islands in the Pacific Ocean.
Voices in this episode include Feodor Chin, Andrew Donnelly, Jason Ennis, Robert Feng, Hrishikesh Hirway, Edward Hong, and Tony Award winner Lea Salonga, star of numerous Broadway musicals including Flower Drum Song, Les Misérables, Miss Saigon and Once On This Island. Lea is also the voice behind two Disney princesses: Jasmine in Aladdin and Mulan in Mulan. Her new album, Live from Sydney with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra, is available wherever you stream and download music.
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.
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
Have you ever played Pictionary? You draw something on a piece of paper, and the people you're playing with try to guess what it is.
Well, today we have a new kind of Pictionary for you: Sharing Pictionary!
Gather up some teammates – whoever's in your house with you – then take turns drawing pictures of things you’ve shared at home. It could be a jar of peanut butter, the family dog, even a snuggly moment before bedtime.
As each person draws their picture, everyone else should guess what it is. Once you guess correctly, take a few moments to talk about a time you shared the thing you drew, and how it felt when you did.
Musical spotlight: The Ukulele
In the late 1800s, immigrants from Portugal came to Hawaii with a small Portuguese guitar known as the braguinha (or braginho). Because musicians could play the tiny guitar so swiftly and nimbly — their fingers jumping like fleas across the fingerboard — Hawaiians came to call their version of the instrument the ukulele, which translates to “jumping flea”! Through the years, the ukulele has garnered fame outside Hawaii; it’s especially popular in the Marshall Islands.
NARRATOR: Long, long ago, a mother lived with her ten sons on a balmy, tropical island in a glittering blue sea.
The island was surrounded by many other islands, each of them covered with white-sand beaches, leafy trees, and palm-like shrubs known as “pandanus.”
All ten of Mother’s sons were strong and strapping and smart. So when it came time for their island to name a new chief, the people decided that one of the sons would assume the role. But with ten intelligent, able-bodied fellows to choose from, how would they pick which one?
The islanders pondered and puzzled… until Mother had an idea.
MOTHER: I know, friends! We will hold a boat race! My ten sons will speed their boats away from our island, across the water, until they reach the next island over. Whoever arrives at the neighboring island first will become our new leader!
NARRATOR: Back in those early times, the only boats the islanders had were canoes: narrow, pointy-ended vessels that you skim through the water with a paddle.
So over the next weeks, Mother’s ten sons crafted special canoes for the race. The brothers spent long hours sweating on the beach as they scraped out tree trunks, then polished and oiled the wood till it gleamed.
The morning of the race, the brothers were buzzing with excitement as they lined up their brand new canoes along the shore.
BROTHER 2: Listen, guys! You’d better watch out, because I can paddle as fast as a gull flies!
BROTHER 3: Ha! That’s nothing! I can paddle as fast as a dolphin swims!
BROTHER 4: Well, I can paddle as fast as a ray stings!
BROTHER 5: And I can paddle as fast as an eel strikes!
NARRATOR: The oldest brother... a burly fellow named Tūm̗ur... crossed his brawny arms.
TŪM̗UR: And I can paddle as fast as all of you show-offs combined! (beat) Honestly, I don’t know why you’re even bothering to race against me, brothers! Especially you, Jabro̗!
NARRATOR: All eyes turned to Jabro̗... the youngest and most mild-mannered of the ten. The kind, calm fellow had been quiet all this time.
Jabro̗ was about to open his mouth when all of a sudden, who should appear on the beach...
MOTHER: Good morning, my sons!
NARRATOR: …but Mother!
MOTHER: This is going to be quite a race, isn’t it!
TŪM̗UR: It’s going to be an amazing race, Mother!
NARRATOR: Tūm̗ur puffed out his brawny chest.
TŪM̗UR: And as your eldest — and mightiest — son, I’m going to win it!
MOTHER: (knowing exactly what’s going to happen later) Tūm̗ur, I admire your confidence!
NARRATOR: Mother gazed at her sons with twinkling eyes.
MOTHER: I admire all of you boys! Just look at those fine canoes you’ve built! (beat) (launching her plan) So... that’s why I’m wondering… which one of you will let me ride along in your boat? I want to witness all the action close-up! (beat) You’ll just have to carry me…
NARRATOR: She held up a large parcel.
MOTHER: ...and this.
NARRATOR: The brothers stared at the wrapped-up bundle in their mother’s arms. The package looked clunky… and heavy! The sheer weight of it was sure to slow down whichever boat Mother rode in!
MOTHER: Well, my dears...? Who will let me join them in their boat? (beat) (knowing exactly what’s going to happen) Tūm̗ur! Like you say, you’re the eldest. May I ride with you?
NARRATOR: Tūm̗ur bit his lip, then shifted his eyes and shrugged his broad shoulders.
TŪM̗UR: (thinking up something to say, not wanting to offend her) I’m sorry, Mother, but look at those choppy waves out there! And feel how the wind keeps changing directions and swirling about?! Clearly, this race is too dangerous to bring along any passengers! (beat) You can’t ride with me.
NARRATOR: So Mother turned to her next oldest son.
BROTHER 2: (making up excuse) Um… my boat’s too narrow, Mother!
NARRATOR: ...and her next...
BROTHER 3: (making up excuse) My boat’s too tippy!
NARRATOR: ...and her next...
BROTHER 4: (making up excuse) My boat’s too small!
NARRATOR: ...and her next!
BROTHER 5: (making up excuse) My boat’s too rough! I should have sanded it more...
NARRATOR: Each and every son found an excuse for why he couldn’t bring Mother along in his boat.
That is, until she turned to her tenth and youngest son… Jabro̗.
MOTHER: Jabro̗...? May I please ride with you...?
NARRATOR: Jabro̗ eyed his mother’s bundle. It sure did look heavy!
But the kind-hearted fellow adored his mom, and he could see how much she was yearning to join the race.
JABRO̗: (sincere) Of course you may ride with me, Mother! It would be my honor!
NARRATOR: So Mother lowered her bundle into Jabro̗’s boat and climbed in.
And when Tūm̗ur gave the signal…
TŪM̗UR: Ready… set… GO!
NARRATOR: ...the race began!
The brothers set off paddling as fast as they could. Water splashed and waves crashed as their canoes surged across the sea and shot out toward the next island over.
But one of the brothers lagged far behind.
Do you know which one?
You guessed it!
With his mother’s heavy bundle weighing down his canoe, the poor fellow simply couldn’t keep up with his older siblings. So before long, Mother and son were left far, far behind.
JABRO̗: I’m sorry, Mother! I know you wanted to “witness the action close up”... but I can’t paddle quickly enough! (beat) At this rate, we’ll never catch up with the others.
NARRATOR: Jabro̗ looked at his mother with a frown.
To his surprise, she looked back at him… with a grin!
MOTHER: (mysteriously, with a grin) What’s that you say, Jabro̗...? “We’ll never catch up with the others”…? (beat) I wouldn’t be so sure about that, my son!
NARRATOR: She gestured toward the big, bulky bundle.
MOTHER: (mysteriously, slowly, dramatically) Let’s just say I brought along… some help!
[theme music in]
NARRATOR: What do you think Mother packed inside the mysterious package?
We’ll find out what it is… 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 Wind Catcher.”
[theme music out]
NARRATOR: Before the break, ten brothers were holding a boat race. The first man to get from one island to the next would become chief.
The day of the race, their mother appeared on the beach carrying a big bundle. She asked each of her sons if she could ride with them, but they all said no. Well, all except for Jabro̗ — her youngest... and kindest, most easygoing — son.
As the race began… and Jabro̗’s older brothers pulled far ahead... Mother loosened the strings of her bundle and reached inside. Jabro̗ watched with wonder — and confusion — as his mom pulled out two wooden poles… a coil of rope… and a large piece of cloth.
JABRO̗: Um, Mother...? What are these things? The poles…? The rope…? The cloth...? What are you going to do with this stuff?
NARRATOR: Mother arched her eyebrows.
MOTHER: (sly, excited) The question, my son, is... “What are we going to do with this stuff?” (beat) And the answer is... we will win this race!
NARRATOR: Mother stretched out the cloth and held it above her head. Jabro̗ noticed the fabric had three sides, like a triangle.
MOTHER: This cloth, Jabro̗... is a sail!
JABRO̗: (new word to him) A... ‘sail’…?
MOTHER: Yes! I wove it from the strong, sturdy leaves of the pandanus bush.
JABRO̗: I see...
NARRATOR: Jabro̗ cocked his head.
JABRO̗: ...But what does the “sail” do...?
MOTHER: (enjoying this) ‘What does “the sail” do…’?
NARRATOR: Mother grinned.
MOTHER: (having fun, with a laugh) It gives us wings, my boy! (beat) Watch this!
NARRATOR: Jabro̗’s eyes widened as Mother took the rope and used it to lash the two wooden poles together. Then she stood one of the poles up vertically, high toward the sky. The other pole stuck out horizontally, parallel to the boat.
MOTHER: This here… is a mast... and boom.
JABRO̗: (new words to him) “Mast” and “boom”...
MOTHER: Yes! The mast is vertical, the boom is horizontal. And if we tie the sail to the mast and boom... the cloth will fill up with wind! (beat) Like this!
NARRATOR: Mother tied the sail to the mast and boom. Immediately, the three-sided cloth rippled and billowed as it caught the wind.
And just like that, Jabro̗’s boat — the very first sailboat the islands had ever seen — went speeding across the swelling waves.
JABRO̗: This is amazing, Mother! It’s like we sprouted wings! (beat) But the wind… it’s so unpredictable today. It keeps changing directions! What if the breeze pushes us where we don’t want to go?
NARRATOR: Mother’s eyes glittered.
MOTHER: I’m glad you asked, Jabro̗! (beat) Check this out!
NARRATOR: The wind shifted directions, and Mother moved the boom from one side of the boat to the other. When the wind shifted again, Mother repeated this move. Back and forth she swung the boom, back and forth, back and forth, and the boat stayed right on course!
MOTHER: You see, son? If you know how to catch the wind, it’ll take you wherever you want to go! (beat) But if you don’t know how to catch the wind…?
JABRO̗: (figuring it out) ...then it’ll take you wherever it wants you to go…?!
MOTHER: Exactly! (beat) Now…! Show me what you can do!
NARRATOR: The moment Jabro̗ took control of the mast and boom, the sail puffed up with air and the boat shot forward. When the wind changed direction, Jabro̗ did as his mother instructed. He moved the boom… and the boat stayed on course.
With the boat swiftly skimming over the waves, Jabro̗ felt his heart throb with joy. As he picked up speed, faster and faster and faster, it wasn’t long before he began passing his older brothers, one by one by one.
BROTHER 9: Wait a minute!
BROTHER 8: Is that… Jabro̗?!?
BROTHER 7: It couldn’t be!
BROTHER 6: How is his boat so fast?!?
BROTHER 5: So quick?!?
BROTHER 4: So swift?!?
BROTHER 3: He looks like…
BROTHER 2: ...he’s flying!!!
NARRATOR: At last, Jabro̗ caught up with his oldest brother, Tūm̗ur. Tūm̗ur was so strong he had taken an early lead… so he was shocked to find his youngest brother suddenly racing along beside him!
TŪM̗UR: Jabro̗…!?! Where is your paddle...?!? And what is that new-fangled contraption on your boat...?!?
NARRATOR: A smile spread across Jabro̗’s face.
JABRO̗: (proudly) This “new-fangled contraption,” Tūm̗ur, is a gift from Mother! And it’s going to help me win this race!
NARRATOR: Tūm̗ur gritted his teeth.
TŪM̗UR: (angry, envious) A gift...?!? That’s not fair! I’m the eldest son! I’m the one who deserves gifts!
NARRATOR: Mild-mannered Jabro̗ didn’t know what to do.
Luckily, Mother did. She flashed Tūm̗ur her sweetest smile.
MOTHER: (sweetly as she puts her plan in motion) You know what, Tūm̗ur? You’re right! You are the eldest son! (beat) So we will trade. For the rest of the race, you can ride in Jabro̗’s boat... and Jabro̗ and I will ride in your boat. (beat) But first, let me show you how this boat works. You see these two poles here? And how one of them is sticking out like — (gets interrupted)
TŪM̗UR: (interrupting her) Oh, I don’t need your help, Mother! I can figure it out myself!
NARRATOR: Tūm̗ur stood up in his canoe.
TŪM̗UR: Now scram, you two! That boat is mine!
NARRATOR: Jabro̗ and Mother got up and switched places with Tūm̗ur. As the big, burly fellow scrambled into the sailboat, he shot his mother and brother a withering glare.
TŪM̗UR: (smug) Alright, folks. Now that that’s done… I have a race to win! (beat) (over-confident) So sit back and watch me fly!
NARRATOR: And what do you know?
Fly he did!
...In the wrong direction!
You see, the wind had changed course... but Tūm̗ur didn’t know about moving the boom! So as his sail puffed up with air, the wind pushed his boat back toward his island! Where the race had begun!
TŪM̗UR: Hey! What’s wrong with this thing? Why is it taking me this way? I want to go the other way! The other way! How do I turn this around?!? Help! Heeeeeeelp!!!!!
[SOT: voice fades into the distance]
NARRATOR: Tūm̗ur’s voice faded into the distance as Jabro̗ and Mother charged ahead. Jabro̗ paddled harder and faster than ever, and reached the finish line long before any of his brothers did.
As Jabro̗ sat huffing and puffing — and beaming — in the canoe, Mother reached back into her parcel and pulled out two more items… a crown of flowers, and a seashell necklace. She placed the flowers on Jabro̗’s head, and hung the shimmering shells around his neck.
MOTHER: Congratulations, my boy! As the winner of the race, you are the new chief of our island! (beat) And like all chiefs before you, we will give you a new chiefly name — Jabro̗-Jel̗eilōn̄! Jabro̗ “the Wind Catcher”! May you reign in peace and prosperity for the rest of your days.
NARRATOR: And wouldn’t you know it… that’s exactly what he did!
According to legend, after many years passed, and Mother and her sons grew old and finished their time on this earth, they all went up to the heavens… and became stars.
Mother became Capella — a big, bright star we see in the night sky.
Jabro̗ became Jel̗eilōn̄ -- a cluster of stars close to Capella.
And as for hot-headed Tūm̗ur…? Well, he became the reddish star known as Antares. Antares is so far away from Jel̗eilōn̄, that you never see them in the sky at the same time! That’s because when Jabro̗ became chief of the island, Tūm̗ur was so furious, and so envious, he turned his back on his youngest brother... and never went near him again.
In the Marshall Islands… where this story comes from… sailors say that when they see Tūm̗ur's star in the sky, the weather will be blustery and the seas will be stormy.
But when Jabro̗’s cluster of stars sparkles above, the weather will be pleasant and the seas will be calm. Just like the mild-mannered, easy-going young man whose generous heart helped him catch the wind... and win the race.