LISTEN LIVE: BBC Newsday

Advertisement

'The Persimmon Sisters' | Ep. 14517:58
Download

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

Have you ever gotten into an argument with someone?

Maybe one of you said something hurtful, or you were having a hard time sharing?

It can be tough getting along all the time, but today we’ll meet a pair of siblings who figure out a way to work together and stick together!

Story continues below

Subscribe to the podcast

Our story is called “The Persimmon Sisters.” Versions of this tale come from the Jewish and Arab traditions. You’ll also hear variations from Korea in East Asia.

Voices in this episode include Robert Feng, Elizabeth Kelly, and Tennille Read, star of SurrealEstate on SYFY, and Workin’ Moms on Netflix.

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


Coloring Page

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

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

What’s one thing you can do to share?

Maybe you can build something with a friend and take turns adding to your creation. Or you can donate clothing, toys, or food to a local charity.

Think about one way you can share, then find some paper and draw a picture of it. Hang your picture where you can see it, and over the next week… make your picture become a reality!


Musical Spotlight: The piano 

Composer Eric Shimelonis playing the piano, an instrument that revolutionized music when it was invented, thanks to its ability to play loud and soft. (courtesy of Rebecca Sheir)
Composer Eric Shimelonis playing the piano, an instrument that revolutionized music when it was invented, thanks to its ability to play loud and soft. (courtesy of Rebecca Sheir)

Music scholars believe that Italian instrument maker Bartolomeo Cristofori invented the first piano in the early 1700s. Cristofori had been building clavichords: keyboards that could play softly and lightly (piano in Italian). He’d also been making harpsichords: keyboards that could play loudly and strongly (forte). After a lot of tinkering, Cristofori created the piano: a keyboard instrument that could play all levels of dynamics! Thanks to felt-covered hammers that strike wire strings inside the instrument, the piano can play soft, sweet melodies, loud, epic ones... and everything in between.


Script:

NARRATOR: From the time they were young, Big Sister and Little Sister simply could not get along. They fought over food...

BIG SISTER: You can’t take the last slice of cake, Little Sister! I want it!

LITTLE SISTER: No, I want it!

BIG SISTER: No, I want it!

LITTLE SISTER: No, I want it!

BIG SISTER: No, I want it!

LITTLE SISTER: No, I want it!

NARRATOR: They fought over clothing…

BIG SISTER: That red satin jacket is mine, Little Sister!

LITTLE SISTER: No, it’s not! It’s way too small for you!

BIG SISTER: Is not!

LITTLE SISTER: Is too!

BIG SISTER: Is not!

LITTLE SISTER: Is too!

BIG SISTER: Is not!

LITTLE SISTER: Is too!

NARRATOR: They even fought over who got to hold the basket for Father as he picked bright orange persimmons in the family’s grove of persimmon trees.

BIG SISTER: Father! You said I could hold the basket today!

Advertisement

LITTLE SISTER: He did not, Big Sister! He said I could hold the basket today!

BIG SISTER: But it’s my turn!

LITTLE SISTER: No, it’s my turn!

BIG SISTER: No, it’s my turn!

LITTLE SISTER: No, it’s my turn!

BIG SISTER: No, it’s my turn!

LITTLE SISTER: No, it’s my turn!

FATHER: Enough! Girls! You’re both my daughters and I love you very much, but all this quibbling has got to stop!

BIG SISTER: Well, Little Sister started it!

LITTLE SISTER: No, Big Sister did!

BIG SISTER: Did not!

LITTLE SISTER: Did too!

BIG SISTER: Did not!

LITTLE SISTER: Did too!

BIG SISTER: Did not!

LITTLE SISTER: Did too!

BIG SISTER: Did not!

LITTLE SISTER: Did too!

FATHER: Oh dear.

NARRATOR: This kind of thing went on and on… for years. Until finally… when Father grew older, frailer, and weaker… he called his daughters to his bedside.

FATHER: My dear, dear daughters. All your life you’ve been arguing, fighting, trying to one-up one another. But I want you to promise me… when I breathe my last breath and take leave of this earth… you will divide the persimmon grove fifty-fifty, between the two of you. I will leave you enough money to build your own houses, and start your own lives… But once I’m gone, you will share those beautiful persimmons… and prove to the world that you can be good sisters! You can love one another, and get along! Will you promise me that?

NARRATOR: Big Sister and Little Sister eyed each other sheepishly. But they knew what they must do.

BIG SISTER: Of course, Father. Little Sister and I will share the persimmon grove.

LITTLE SISTER: Yes. Big Sister and I will split it fifty-fifty!

NARRATOR: And indeed, once Father breathed his last breath and took leave of this earth, that’s exactly what they did.

Each sister built her own house, but every day they worked side by side in the persimmon grove. They spent all summer tending the trees, and when the harvest came, they had plenty of persimmons to store, or dry, or crush into sweet persimmon tea.

And in time, Big Sister and Little Sister became more than just siblings; they became friends.

BIG SISTER: Little Sister, I can’t help but feel like I picked more persimmons today than you did. Please — take some of mine!

LITTLE SISTER: Well, Big Sister, I was about to say that I feel like I picked more persimmons today! Please — take some of mine!

BIG SISTER: Oh, but I insist!

LITTLE SISTER: No, I insist!

BIG SISTER: No, I insist!

LITTLE SISTER: No, I insist!

BIG SISTER: No, I insist!

LITTLE SISTER: No, I insist!

NARRATOR: Well, the day eventually came when Big Sister fell in love and got married. She went on to have three sons — triplets! Little Sister was overjoyed to meet her new baby nephews, but after coming home from her first visit, she felt troubled.

LITTLE SISTER: How wonderful that Big Sister’s given birth to such beautiful children! But she has so many mouths to feed now… and here I am, responsible for no one but myself. Yet Big Sister and I own the same number of land, and the same number of persimmon trees! It doesn’t seem right.

NARRATOR: Little Sister stroked her chin as she pondered over how she could help her older sibling.

LITTLE SISTER: Let’s see… I could offer Big Sister a share of my persimmon trees, but we promised Father we would split the grove fifty-fifty. So that won’t work. And I could give her a bushel from my harvest… but she never lets me give her things these days. If I were to present her with some of my persimmons, she’d no doubt refuse!

NARRATOR: Little Sister thought and thought. Then suddenly her mind went click, and she knew exactly what she would do.

NARRATOR: What do you think Little Sister will do?

What would you do if you were Little Sister?

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

[BREAK]

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

NARRATOR: Before the break, Big Sister and Little Sister promised their father they would share the family’s persimmon grove. But after Big Sister had triplets, Little Sister felt like her older sibling deserved more.

Big Sister was too selfless and generous to accept gifts, so Little Sister wracked her brain for some way to help out.

Then, it came to her.

LITTLE SISTER: I’ve got it! I’ll bring Big Sister a bushel of persimmons from my harvest… but she won’t be able to refuse, because she won’t know it’s from me!

NARRATOR: That night, under a moonless sky, Little Sister grabbed a lantern and hurried out to the barn, where she stored her persimmons. She counted up her bushels.

LITTLE SISTER: Two, four, six, eight, ten. I have ten bushels! Terrific! I’ll sneak over to Big Sister’s house with one of them, and tomorrow morning she’ll be in for a wonderful surprise!

NARRATOR: Little Sister loaded a bushel of persimmons into her cart, then made her way to sister’s house. It was so dark out, her horse kept wandering off the road!

When Little Sister reached Big Sister’s house, she crept into the storeroom where Big Sister kept her persimmons and left the bushel inside the door. Then Little Sister returned home.

The next morning, Little Sister woke up, ate breakfast, then went out to the barn. But as she approached her bushels of persimmons…

LITTLE SISTER: Wait — what?!?

NARRATOR: ...she did a double-take.

LITTLE SISTER: Okay. Yesterday I had ten bushels of persimmons stored in this barn, then I snuck one bushel over to my sister… which should have left nine. But somehow this morning I have two, four, six, eight, ten bushels. How could that be? Did I miscount? Did I dream the whole thing? Well, no matter. I’ll bring Big Sister another bushel of persimmons tonight!

NARRATOR: So that night, after carefully counting her bushels of persimmons…

LITTLE SISTER: Two, four, six, eight, ten!

NARRATOR: ...Little Sister took one of the bushels, loaded it into her cart, then rode to her sister’s house. Again, the sky was black as coal and she struggled to keep her horse on the road.

When she reached Big Sister’s storeroom, she slipped inside, left the bushel of persimmons by the door, then hurried back to her house.

But the next morning, when Little Sister went out to her barn and saw her persimmons...

LITTLE SISTER: What is going on here?!???

NARRATOR: ...she discovered she had just as many bushels as yesterday!

LITTLE SISTER: Two, four, six, eight, ten!!!??

NARRATOR: Little Sister was certain she had counted correctly this time. And she knew she had not been dreaming.

LITTLE SISTER: Okay, something bizarre is going on. How does this bushel keep coming back to me after I leave it in my sister’s storeroom? It’s almost like some crazy ghost is making it happen. But I don’t believe in ghosts… do I?

NARRATOR: Ghosts or no ghosts, Little Sister was determined to bring her sister that bushel of persimmons — and have it stay there!

So that night, she tried again. A crescent moon hung in the sky, but the silver sliver was shrouded behind thick clouds and cast an eerie glow as Little Sister trotted down the empty road.

LITTLE SISTER: I do not believe in ghosts. I do not believe in ghosts. I do not believe in ghosts. I do not believe in — (gasps!)

NARRATOR: Little Sister stopped short. Something was approaching her through the shadows. It was lumbering, staggering, moving very slowly. Little Sister was tempted to turn right around, when all of a sudden...

BIG SISTER: Hello!???

NARRATOR: … that “something” called out. And immediately, Little Sister knew it wasn’t a “something” at all! It was a “someone.” A very important, very beloved someone. It was none other than…

LITTLE SISTER: Big Sister! 

NARRATOR: Little Sister started up her horse. When she reached her older sibling, she saw Big Sister was pulling a cloth-covered bundle in a big wagon.

LITTLE SISTER: Big Sister! What are you doing? Where are you going?

BIG SISTER: I could ask the same of you, Little Sister! But as for me, I was just bringing you... this!

NARRATOR: Big Sister pulled off the cloth to reveal…

LITTLE SISTER: A bushel of persimmons?!???

BIG SISTER: That’s right, Little Sister! You see, ever since I had the triplets, I’ve been thinking about how I have my husband, and my three boys — a nice big family to support me. And though you’re the strongest person I know, you live on your own, without anyone to lend a hand. So I thought I’d bring you some persimmons to eat, or sell — anything to help you out. Only I know you’re far too selfless to accept a gift from me, so I figured I’d leave it in your barn. I’ve left you two other bushels already!

NARRATOR: Little Sister smiled with relief… and amusement.

LITTLE SISTER: But Big Sister! I’ve left you two bushels of persimmons! I figured with all those mouths to feed, you could use the help!

BIG SISTER: Ohhhhh!

NARRATOR: Big Sister clapped a hand to her forehead.

BIG SISTER: So that’s why my stock of persimmons hasn’t changed! I was beginning to think I was being haunted by a ghost! Isn’t that silly?

LITTLE SISTER: Actually...?

NARRATOR: Little Sister grinned.

LITTLE SISTER: It isn’t silly at all! Anyway. I feel so lucky to have you as a sister. You’re the kindest, most generous person in the world.

BIG SISTER: No, you’re the kindest, most generous person in the world.

LITTLE SISTER: No, you are!

BIG SISTER: No, you are!

LITTLE SISTER: No, you are!

BIG SISTER: No, you are!

LITTLE SISTER: No, you are!

BIG SISTER: No, you are!

NARRATOR: So Big Sister and Little Sister managed to keep their promise to their father. And not only did they continue splitting the persimmon grove fifty-fifty, but they loved each other, and they reaped all the benefits that come when you work together.

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

More…

Advertisement

Advertisement

Play
Listen Live
/00:00
Close