'The New Neighbor' | Ep. 156

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Have you ever welcomed a new neighbor — right next door to you, maybe, or down the street? If so, chances are you went over and introduced yourself, right? Maybe even brought a housewarming gift?

Being a good neighbor is important. But in the story we’re about to hear, being a bad neighbor can leave a bad taste in everyone’s mouth!

Our story is called “The New Neighbor.” You’ll find versions of this tale from the Arab, Uygur, and Turkish traditions.

Some really great people came together to bring you our adaptation of this folktale, including Melora Hardin and Michael Zegen.

Melora Hardin has starred on such television shows as The Office, Transparent, and The Bold Type. You kids will recognize her from our episode a couple of seasons ago, “Every Other Friday.” Michael Zegen stars in The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel. Season four premieres on Amazon Prime on February 18th.

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 this week to be a good neighbor?

Perhaps you can bake something delicious for your neighbor, or help them rake leaves or shovel snow. Maybe you can slip a hand-written note or hand-drawn picture under their door. Whatever you do, they’re bound to appreciate the kindness!

Musical Spotlight: The Bağlama  

The name bağlama comes from the Turkish word bağlamak, which in English means "to tie." (courtesy of Eric Shimelonis)
The name bağlama comes from the Turkish word bağlamak, which in English means "to tie." (courtesy of Eric Shimelonis)

Like the Western lute and the Middle-Eastern oud – both of which have been used by composer Eric Shimelonis in several Circle Round episodes – the Turkish stringed instrument called the bağlama has a deep round back and a long neck. Sometimes known as a saz, the bağlama can be played with a wooden or plastic mızrap or tezene (similar to a guitar pick), or with a fingerpicking style known as Şelpe or Şerpe.

The bağlama has three main parts: the tekne (bowl), gögüs (sound board) and sap (neck), all made of wood. The tuning pegs are known as burgu (Turkish for “screw”). The bağlama has seven strings and can even be connected to an amplifier, for an electric sound!


NARRATOR: There once lived a baker. One sunny afternoon, as the baker gazed out the front window of his house, he noticed some horses and carts lined up on the street.

A bunch of workers were lifting big boxes and chests from the carts and wheeling them into the house next door.

BAKER: Oh wow! It looks like I’m finally going to have a new neighbor! That house has been empty for ages. Tomorrow I’ll pay my new neighbor a visit and welcome them to the neighborhood. I’m sure we’ll be fast friends!

NARRATOR: The baker spent the rest of the afternoon in the kitchen, melting butter, whisking eggs, sifting flour, and crushing nuts, until his house was filled with the tantalizing aroma of a freshly-baked almond cake.

The next morning, he laid the almond cake on a fancy plate and brought it next door.

[knock, knock… door opens]

NEIGHBOR: (coldly) May I help you?

NARRATOR: The woman who answered the door wore a big scowl on her face. But the baker flashed her a big grin.

BAKER: Good day, madam! I live just next door. I noticed you moved in yesterday, and I wanted to bring you a housewarming present. Here!

NARRATOR: The baker held out the cake.

BAKER: I baked it myself! My own special recipe!

NARRATOR: Now… if you were given a homemade cake by a friendly new neighbor, what would you do?

You’d probably say “Thank you,” right? Maybe even invite your neighbor inside for a cup of tea?

Well, that’s not what the baker’s neighbor did! Instead, she grabbed the cake plate right out of the baker’s hands…

NEIGHBOR: (brusque) I’ll take that!

NARRATOR: …then slammed the door in his face!


BAKER: What was that all about? She didn't even say “Goodbye!” or “See you later!” – let alone “Thank you!” Maybe she’s just exhausted from the move… I’ll come back tomorrow! Surely she’ll be in a better mood.

NARRATOR: The baker spent the rest of the day mixing chocolate and sugar, eggs and cream, and prepared a delicious chocolate mousse. The next morning, he spooned the mousse into a big bowl and brought it to his neighbor’s house.

[knock, knock… door opens]

NEIGHBOR: (coldly) May I help you? (still coldly) Oh! It’s you again. What do you want?

NARRATOR: The baker could see his new neighbor was just as grumpy as she was yesterday. But again, he flashed her a warm grin.

BAKER: Good morning, neighbor! I hope you enjoyed the almond cake. Today I made you this chocolate mousse! I know what a bear it can be to move into a new place and get all settled in, so I figured a little homemade mousse might make things all the sweeter!

NARRATOR: Same as yesterday, the baker’s new neighbor didn’t even crack a smile. She just seized the bowl of chocolate mousse…

NEIGHBOR: (brusque) Give it to me!

NARRATOR: …then slammed the door in the baker’s face.


BAKER: What is with this woman? Twice now I’ve tried extending a little kindness, and twice now she’s completely snubbed me!

NARRATOR: Determined to win his new neighbor over, the baker decided he would make her something especially scrumptious: his famous butter cookies. They were always a hit when he brought them to parties.

But when he carried the cookie tray over to his neighbor’s house…

[knock, knock… door opens]

NEIGHBOR: (coldly) May I help – ? (seeing who it is, and none too pleased about it) Uch! You?!? Again?!?

BAKER: (trying to be sunny/friendly) That’s right! Me! Again! This time I brought my famous butter cookies. They’re always a hit when I bring them to – [gets cut off somewhere in there]

NARRATOR: But the baker didn’t even get to finish his sentence. Because his new neighbor snatched the cookie tray right out of the baker’s hands…

NEIGHBOR: (brusque) Alright! I’ll take them!

NARRATOR: …then – you guessed it – slammed the door…


NARRATOR: …in his face.

BAKER: Man! What a piece of work this neighbor of mine is! She’s standoffish, she’s miserly, and she’s gruff as all get-out! There must be some way to make her see what an ungrateful grump she's being. The question is… what?


NARRATOR: Will the baker get his neighbor to change her ways?

What would you do if you were the baker?

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




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


NARRATOR: Before the break, a new neighbor moved in next-door to the baker. But even thought he baker welcomed his neighbor with treat after treat, she was nothing but surly and stand-offish.

So the baker decided he would do something about it. He racked his brain for an idea…

BAKER: Hmmm… How about…? No… Maybe…? Nah…

NARRATOR: And then finally…


NARRATOR: …it came to him! He ran outside, scurried to his neighbor’s house, then knocked on the door.

[knock, door opens]

NEIGHBOR: May I help – (seeing who it is) Ugh! What is it this time?

BAKER: Hey there, neighbor! How’s it shakin’? Listen. I’m wondering if I could please have my cake plate, mousse bowl, and cookie tray back?

NARRATOR: The neighbor shot the baker a withering look.

NEIGHBOR: You want those things back? No way! The cake, mousse, and cookies you made were for me, so now the plate, bowl, and tray are mine!

NARRATOR: This was exactly the answer the baker expected.

BAKER: Alright, fine. You can keep the plate, bowl, and tray. But in exchange, I wonder if you can do me a favor. You see, I’m going to this party, and I’m making a very special chocolate sauce. Trouble is, I need to feed it to twenty people. And I don’t own a pot large enough to melt down that much chocolate! So I wonder… could I please borrow a pot from you?

NARRATOR: The neighbor narrowed her eyes.

NEIGHBOR: Borrow a pot…? From me…?

BAKER: Well, yes! I mean, if I’m giving you the cake plate, mousse bowl, and cookie tray, the least you can do is let me borrow a simple pot. I promise I’ll give it right back!

NARRATOR: The neighbor pursed her lips and fixed the baker with a stern gaze. She was quiet for a moment, and then…

NEIGHBOR: (annoyed but capitulating) Alright, fine. I’ll let you borrow a pot. Wait here.

NARRATOR: The neighbor went into her kitchen, then brought out a big copper pot. The baker noticed the pot hadn’t been polished in ages; instead of being all bright and shiny, it was as dull as a cloudy sky. Plus, it was all dinged up!

But the baker pasted a big smile on his face as he took hold of the pot.

BAKER: (laying it on thick) Oh, neighbor! This pot is perfect! Thank you so much! I really appreciate this!

NEIGHBOR: Yeah, whatever. Just make sure you give it back!

BAKER: (with some mischief) Oh, you’ll get it back, alright! Don’t you worry about that!

NARRATOR: The next morning, the baker rooted through his kitchen supplies and found a copper pot that was slightly smaller than his neighbor’s dull, dinged-up one. The baker took excellent care of his belongings, so this smaller pot was as bright and shiny as a penny, with nary a dent or ding.

The baker stuck the smaller pot inside the larger one, then went back to his neighbor’s house.

[knock, door opens]

NEIGHBOR: You’re back! You better have my pot!

BAKER: Of course I do! Here you go!

NARRATOR: The neighbor took the pot and looked inside. When she did, her eyes grew wide.

NEIGHBOR: What’s this?!? Why is there a smaller pot inside my pot?

BAKER: (delighted that NEIGHBOR is taking the bait; putting his plan into action) Oh, that! Right. I meant to tell you. The pot you gave me…? It had a baby.

NEIGHBOR: It what?!?

BAKER: I know! I was just as surprised as you are! But while your pot was in my possession, it gave birth to a baby pot! And I was thinking, it wouldn’t be right to separate mother and child. So how about you keep both?

NARRATOR: Now as you may guess, the pot didn’t really have a baby. The story was part of a plan the baker was cooking up.

And to his delight, his neighbor took the bait.

NEIGHBOR: Well… since you’ve returned two pots to me, I suppose I should keep them both.

NARRATOR: So she did!

The baker waltzed back home with a skip in his step.

BAKER: Oh boy, this plan of mine is working out perfectly! My neighbor has no idea what she's in for! Ha HA! 

NARRATOR: A week or so later, the baker went back to his neighbor’s house.

[knock, door opens]

NEIGHBOR: Yes? What now?

BAKER: Well, since you were kind enough to lend me your big copper pot last week, I wonder if I could borrow it again! I’m going to another dinner party and your pot would be perfect for a big rice pudding.

NARRATOR: The baker watched his neighbor's face, and knew exactly what she was thinking. Last week I got a bright, shiny new pot, and it hadn’t cost me a thing! Perhaps there’ll be another pot inside when this nutty neighbor of mine returns it?!?

And as it turns out…

NEIGHBOR: Alright, fine!

NARRATOR: …the baker was right.

NEIGHBOR: You may borrow my copper pot. Wait here.

NARRATOR: So the baker took the big copper pot home. And the next morning, can you guess what he did?

He found another smaller pot – bright and shiny as a penny – and stuck it inside the bigger one! When he returned to the house next-door, and his neighbor saw the smaller, sparkling pot tucked inside her bigger, dull pot…

NEIGHBOR: Wait – don’t tell me. My pot gave birth again.

BAKER: It absolutely did! And it’s only right that you keep them both.

NEIGHBOR: Well… if you insist.

NARRATOR: The next week the baker borrowed his neighbor’s copper pot again. And, you guessed it, he returned it with another “baby pot” inside!

BAKER: Congratulations, neighbor!

NARRATOR: He did the same thing the next week.

BAKER: Mazel tov!

NARRATOR: And the next week, too! Though this time he stuck two smaller pots inside the bigger one.

BAKER: Way to go, neighbor! It’s twins!!!

NARRATOR: Soon the baker was all out of bright, shiny pots… because his neighbor now owned all of them! And he could tell the greedy, grouchy woman was overjoyed to get so many pots for free.

The next time the baker went over to his neighbor’s house, he didn’t ask her for just one pot. He asked her for…

NEIGHBOR:Ten pots?!????

BAKER: Yep! Ten big ones! I’m cooking a whole bunch of desserts for dozens of people and I need the biggest pots I can get!

NARRATOR: The neighbor’s eyes lit up at the prospect of lending the baker ten of her dinged-up pots. Because after all, that meant getting ten bright and shiny baby pots! Maybe even more, if they had twins!

NEIGHBOR: Of course I’ll lend you ten pots. Wait here.

NARRATOR: The baker took the ten pots home.

But the next day, he didn’t return them. Instead, he put on a solemn face, hung his head down low, and trudged back to his neighbor's house empty-handed.

[knock, door opens]

NEIGHBOR: Oh! Baker! I was just about to come over! Where are my pots?!? And their babies?! And why do you look like you’ve been crying?

BAKER: (pretending to be very sad) I’m so sorry to tell you this, neighbor… but something tragic has happened! Something so sad that I can’t even – (pretending to burst into tears)

NARRATOR: As the baker pretended to burst into tears, the neighbor leaned in closer.

NEIGHBOR: What are you talking about? What happened?

BAKER: (as if crying) It’s your pots! I can’t return them to you because … they’ve died!

NARRATOR: The neighbor put her hands on her hips.

NEIGHBOR: What do you mean, they’ve died?!?? They’re pots, for crying out loud! And pots can’t die! They can’t even live!

NARRATOR: This was the moment the baker had been waiting for.

He halted his pretend tears, he stood up straight and tall, then he looked his neighbor right in the eye.

BAKER: Ohhhh! So pots can’t live, you say? …

NEIGHBOR: Of course not!

BAKER: Oh, I see. And yet every time I gave you a small, bright, and shiny copper pot inside your big, dull, banged-up one… and I told you the bigger pot had a baby… you took it! And you were delighted! So… if a copper pot can have a baby, then surely it can die, too. (knowing he’s got her right where he wants her) Don’t you think?

NARRATOR: The baker’s neighbor was speechless. Because – just as the baker had hoped – she finally realized how selfish, ungrateful and foolish she’d been.

After that, the neighbor changed her ways. She became kinder, friendlier, more courteous… and it was like a whole new neighbor had been born.

Headshot of Rebecca Sheir

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



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