Encore: Curious Boots

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Artist: Sabina Hahn
Artist: Sabina Hahn

What’s something you’re curious about?

Maybe you love dinosaurs, and want to learn everything about them. Perhaps you’re curious why the sky is blue.

Curiosity keeps life interesting. And as we’ll hear in this favorite tale from the Circle Round archives, it can also bring some rich rewards!

Our story is called “Curious Boots.” Versions of this tale originally come from Norway, in northern Europe.

Voices in this episode include Jon Bell, Elle Borders, Kevin Corbett, Emily DiPietro, Laura Gardner, Adam Mastroianni, Maizy Scarpa and Colin Hanks. You might recognize Colin from Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle and Jumanji: The Next Level, as well as Life In Pieces on CBS, and the FX miniseries, Fargo.

This episode was adapted for Circle Round by Rebecca Sheir. Our original music and sound design is by Eric Shimelonis. Our artist is Sabina Hahn.

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 FacebookTwitterInstagram or Pinterest, 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 something you’ve been curious about, and you don’t yet know the answer? Maybe you’ve been wondering why airplanes stay in the air, how earthworms can see without eyes or what makes your favorite food taste so darn good.

Now that you’ve asked your question, pick a grown-up and work together to find an answer. We bet you’ll have a whole lot of fun along the way!

Story Transcript

NARRATOR: Once upon a time, there was a beautiful castle with spacious, sunny windows, and glittering fountains of water where people could take a refreshing drink.

But then, the castle fell under a terrible spell.

Thick, thorny vines crawled over the walls and windows, blocking out all sunlight. The royal guards tried hacking away at the twisty vines with axes, knives and spears, but their sharp blades didn’t even make a dent!

What’s more, the enchanted spell made the palace’s well dry up and the sparkling fountains of water disappeared. So, the royal guards tried digging a new well. But every time their shovels and spades hit the ground, the earth turned to stone and the tools splintered into a thousand pieces!

The castle was getting darker and darker and the people at the palace were getting thirstier and thirstier, so the queen made a decision.

QUEEN: I hereby proclaim that any of my subjects who can chop down these enchanted vines then dig a well and fill it with water will be richly rewarded! Very richly rewarded, indeed!

NARRATOR: On the edge of the kingdom, in a patched-up little farmhouse, three brothers caught wind of the queen’s challenge. The oldest brother was named Elias, the middle was named Tobias and the youngest and smallest brother was named Lucas.

LUCAS/BOOTS: Yeah, that’s me, Lucas. But please, you can call me “Boots.” Everyone else does.

NARRATOR: The reason everyone called him “Boots” is because he always wore these big, floppy boots! You see, the family farm didn’t bring in much money, so Lucas — or Boots — had to wear his tall, strapping brothers’ hand-me-downs, including the massive work boots they’d outgrown long ago.

When Elias, Tobias and Boots told their mother about the Queen’s proclamation, her eyes lit up.

MOTHER: Oh, how wonderful! Times have been hard on our farm, and a reward from the queen could go a very long way! So, when will the three of you depart for the palace?

NARRATOR: Elias and Tobias exchanged an uneasy look.

ELIAS: You mean“the two of us,” right, Mom? Me and Tobias?

TOBIAS: Yeah! There’s no way Boots can survive this journey! Boots is so scrawny, he can’t even fit in to his boots!

ELIAS/TOBIAS: (mocking laughter)

BOOTS: Ha ha ha. Very funny, guys.

NARRATOR: Mother shook her head.

MOTHER: Listen, boys. If you’re going to travel across the kingdom, you’re going to travel together. All three of you. But before you go, promise me one thing.

NARRATOR: Boots clasped his mother’s hand.

BOOTS: Anything you say, Mother.

MOTHER: Alright. Promise me that no matter what happens, you’ll always stay curious. You’ll always ask questions. And each and every time you ask a question, you will not rest until you find the answer. Will you promise me that?

NARRATOR: Elias and Tobias shrugged.

ELIAS: (totally not getting it) Um ... sure?

TOBIAS: (totally not getting it) Yeah … what he said?

NARRATOR: Boots smiled.

BOOTS: Of course, Mother! “Always stay curious.” Consider it done.

NARRATOR: The next morning, the three brothers took off for the palace. They walked until the sun went down. Just as they were setting up camp in the middle of a forest...

[very fast chopping sound]

NARRATOR: Boots tilted his head and cupped his ear with his hand.

BOOTS: Hmm, I wonder what’s making that sound?

NARRATOR: Elias and Tobias rolled their eyes.

ELIAS: (sarcastic) Well, gosh, Boots!

TOBIAS: (sarcastic) Given that it’s a chopping sound…

ELIAS: ...and we’re in the middle of a forest…

TOBIAS: ...maybe it’s, I dunno…

ELIAS/TOBIAS: (slow, mocking) …an axe chopping a tree?

ELIAS/TOBIAS: (mocking laughter)

BOOTS: OK, fine. Mock me. But Mother said to always stay curious, and I’m curious to learn what’s making that chop-chop-chopping sound! I mean, no human could possibly chop wood that fast!

NARRATOR: So Boots hoisted his satchel over his shoulder and ventured deeper into the woods. He followed the chopping sound up a steep, steep hill. At the very top, he came upon a clearing.

And what he saw there made his jaw drop!

What do you think Boots spied when he reached the clearing? We’ll find out, after a quick break.


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

When we left off, Boots and his brothers were journeying to the royal palace. The queen promised a rich reward to anyone who could chop down the enchanted vines covering the castle walls, then dig a well and fill it with water.

Before Elias, Tobias and Boots left the family farm, their mother told them to always stay curious, ask questions and don’t rest until you find the answer.

So when the brothers heard a chop-chop-chopping sound in the forest, Boots set out to investigate.

He came upon a clearing, surrounded by a tangle of fallen trees. Each tree had been hacked cleanly across the trunk. And what did Boots spot flying through the air but a tiny little axe, no bigger than your thumb!

BOOTS: Yikes!

NARRATOR: Boots ducked down as the axe whizzed overhead. Suddenly, the axe stopped, spun around… and came to rest at Boots’ feet.

AXE: Hey! Nice boots there, friend! A tad on the big side maybe, but nice all the same!

NARRATOR: Boots’ eyes widened.

BOOTS: (curious, mystified) What are you?

AXE: Why, I’m an axe, of course!

BOOTS: And you stay in this clearing and chop and chop all by yourself?

AXE: I do! But not anymore!

NARRATOR: Boots cocked his head.

BOOTS: What do you mean, “not anymore”?

AXE: Well, now that you’re here, I can stop! I’ve been waiting a long time for you, friend, and now, I can come with you!  So, what do you say we make like a tree and leave? (giggle)

NARRATOR: Boots reached for the axe.

BOOTS: (chuckles) Alright! If you say so!

NARRATOR: Then, he dropped the axe into his satchel and headed back to his smirking brothers.

ELIAS: (smirking) Well, little brother...?

TOBIAS: (smirking) Did you discover what was making that chopping sound?

NARRATOR: Boots grinned.

BOOTS: Actually, you know what? I did! And you were right, guys. It was an axe chopping a tree. Now what do you say we call it a night? The three of us still have quite a journey ahead!

NARRATOR: The next day, the brothers walked until the sun went down. Just as they were setting up camp on a rocky hill…

[digging sound]

BOOTS: Hmm! I wonder what’s making that sound?

NARRATOR: As with the night before, Elias and Tobias rolled their eyes.

ELIAS: (sarcastic) Well, gee, Boots!

TOBIAS: (sarcastic) Given that it’s a digging sound…

ELIAS: ...maybe it’s, wait for it…

ELIAS/TOBIAS: (slow, mocking) … a shovel???

ELIAS/TOBIAS: (mocking laughter)

BOOTS: Alright, alright. Make fun of me. But Mother told us to always stay curious, and I’m curious to learn what’s making that sound! I mean, how could a simple shovel possibly break through all this hard stone?

NARRATOR: So Boots picked up his satchel and scrambled over the rocks. He followed the digging sound all the way to a pit. When he peered over the edge, what did he see but a tiny little shovel, no longer than your pointer finger! And it was scooping into the stone and scattering fragments of rock all over the place!

BOOTS: Woah!

NARRATOR: Boots covered his face as shards of stone came hurtling his way. Just then, the shovel sprang out of the pit and came to a stop at Boots’ feet.

SHOVEL: Hiya! Fancy boots, friend! I’d wear mine a wee bit smaller — if I had feet — but hey, to each their own!

NARRATOR: Boots gaped at the shovel.

BOOTS: (curious, mystified) What are you?

SHOVEL: What does it look like? I’m a shovel!

BOOTS: And you stay in this pit and dig and dig all by yourself?

SHOVEL: I do! But not anymore!

NARRATOR: Boots thought back to his encounter with the axe.

BOOTS: Hang on — you haven’t been waiting for me, have you?

SHOVEL: Actually, I have! And now, I can finally stop digging and come with you! So how about we make like a rock, and roll!?

NARRATOR: Boots picked up the shovel.

BOOTS: (laughing) OK, then! If you say so!

NARRATOR: Boots dropped the shovel in his satchel, next to the tiny axe, then returned to his sneering brothers.

ELIAS: (sneering) So, little brother...?

TOBIAS: (sneering) Did you learn what was making that digging sound?

NARRATOR: Boots beamed.

BOOTS: Actually, I did! And again, you two were right! It was a shovel. Now, how about we hit the hay, huh? We still have a way to go before we reach the palace!

NARRATOR: The next day, the brothers walked until the sun went down. Just as they were setting up camp in a grassy meadow...

[rippling sound]

BOOTS: Hmm! I wonder what’s making that sound?

NARRATOR: As with the night before and the night before that, Elias and Tobias rolled their eyes.

ELIAS: (sarcastic) Well, golly, Boots!

TOBIAS: (sarcastic) Given that it’s a rippling sound…

ELIAS: ...maybe it’s, call me crazy, but…

ELIAS/TOBIAS: (slow, mocking) … a stream?

ELIAS/TOBIAS: (mocking laughter)

BOOTS: Yeah, yeah, yeah. Poke fun at me again. But remember — Mother told us to always stay curious! And I’m curious to learn what’s making that rippling sound! I mean, there’s not a stream or brook or creek in sight!

NARRATOR: So Boots grabbed his satchel and set out across the meadow. He followed the rippling sound to a stream. And when he followed the stream to its source, he discovered all of the water was trickling out ... of a hazelnut!


NARRATOR: Boots stooped down to get a closer look. As he did, droplets of water splashed his feet.

NUT: How ya doing, friend? Oh, sorry about the dribble. Those big, floppy boots of yours waterproof?

NARRATOR: Boots gawked at the hazelnut.

BOOTS: What… are you?

NUT: Can’t you tell? I’m a hazelnut!

BOOTS: And you sit here and trickle and trickle, all by yourself?

NUT: I do! But those days are over.

NARRATOR: Boots thought back to his encounter with the shovel, and with the axe.

BOOTS: Let me guess. You’ve been waiting for me?

NUT: Bingo! And now, I can finally stop and come with you! So, let’s make like a river and run!

NARRATOR: Boots scooped up the hazelnut.

BOOTS: (amused) Well, then! If you say so!

NARRATOR: He found some moss and plugged up the crack in the nut. Then he placed the nut in his satchel, next to the shovel and the axe, and found his way back to his snickering brothers.

ELIAS: (snickering) What’s up, little brother...?

TOBIAS: (snickering) Did you and your “curiosity” discover what was making that rippling sound?

NARRATOR: Boots nodded.

BOOTS: Actually, yes! And once more, you two were right! It was a stream. Now, let’s hit the sack. If we stay on course, we’ll get to the palace tomorrow!

NARRATOR: When the brothers arrived, they found the queen slumped over in her throne. She rubbed her temples, let out a sigh, then looked at Elias, Tobias and Boots with tired eyes.

QUEEN: (downtrodden, pessimistic) Welcome, gentlemen. Would you believe you’re the last three people in this entire kingdom to show up? Every single one of your fellow citizens has failed to fulfill my challenge. But hey, might as well give it one more try.

NARRATOR: She waved a hand toward the thick, thorny vines twisting up, down and across the castle walls.

QUEEN: Let’s start with chopping down these vines. Who will try first?

NARRATOR: The brothers had decided they would go from oldest to youngest. So Elias stepped forward and bowed.

ELIAS: Allow me, Your Majesty!

NARRATOR: Elias took an axe from one of the royal guards. Then he took a deep breath, heaved the axe over his shoulder, and began to chop.

But even though he hacked and whacked with all his might, he couldn’t make a dent!

ELIAS: (groan of exhaustion/disappointment)

QUEEN: Well, so much for that.

NARRATOR: The Queen motioned for Tobias to give it a try. Just like Elias, Tobias hacked and whacked with every muscle in his body, but he couldn’t make a dent, either.

TOBIAS: (groan of exhaustion/disappointment)

NARRATOR: The Queen furrowed her brow and pointed at Boots.

QUEEN: (doubtful) It’s all up to you, young man. Though at this point, I suspect my palace will never see sunlight again!

BOOTS: Oh, don’t you worry, Your Highness. I’ve got this!

NARRATOR: Boots reached into his satchel and pulled out the tiny axe. Immediately, his brothers began to chuckle.

ELIAS: You’re going to chop down those enchanted vines with that little thing?

TOBIAS: That axe is no bigger than my thumb!

ELIAS: It couldn’t even clip a flower!

NARRATOR: Boots paid them no attention. Instead, he held the little axe up high.

BOOTS: (to the axe) OK! Chop and chop away, little friend!

NARRATOR: To everyone’s astonishment, the tiny axe flew out of Boots’ hand and whizzed toward the vines. It whirled through the air, chopping and chopping until all of the vines came crashing to the ground… and glorious rays of sunlight streamed through each and every window!

Elias, Tobias and the queen all stared at Boots.

ELIAS: But, how did you...?

TOBIAS: Where did you...?

QUEEN: (gaining hope, but still cautious) That was most impressive, young man! But you won’t earn your rich reward until you fulfill the second part of my challenge and dig that well!

BOOTS: You’ve got it!

NARRATOR: Boots reached into his satchel and pulled out the shovel — the teeny-tiny one that’s no longer than your pointer finger.

BOOTS: (to the shovel) Dig and dig away, little friend!

NARRATOR: Immediately, the tiny shovel leaped out of Boots’ hand and dove toward the ground. Fragments of rock exploded in the air as the shovel dug deeper and deeper.

ELIAS: What in the…?!

TOBIAS: No way!

QUEEN: That’s magnificent, young man! But how will you fill a well that deep with water?

BOOTS: Not to worry, Your Highness.

NARRATOR: Again, Boots reached into his satchel — and can you guess what he pulled out?

That’s right: the hazelnut!

He plucked the moss out of the crack, then dropped the nut into the well.

BOOTS: (to the nut) Trickle and trickle away, little friend!

NARRATOR: Instantly, the hazelnut began trickling and trickling until the well was filled to the brim with fresh, glittering water.

QUEEN: You’ve done it, young man! Now you may claim your rich reward. In exchange for all three tasks you’ve accomplished, I will send you home with gold. As much gold as you can carry!

BOOTS: Thank you, Your Highness!

NARRATOR: Boots held up his satchel.

BOOTS: If you don’t mind, I’ll take as much gold as you can fit inside this shoulder bag. And…

NARRATOR: He kicked off his boots.

BOOTS: much gold as you can fit inside these big, floppy boots! You see, my family’s been struggling to get by, and I’ll gladly walk back to our farm barefoot if it means we can put that much more food on the table.

NARRATOR: The queen gazed at the big, floppy boots. Then she gazed at Boots and smiled.

QUEEN: Consider it done!

NARRATOR: That night, the brothers began their long journey across the kingdom. Boots carried his gold-filled satchel, and Elias and Tobias each carried one big, floppy, gold-filled boot.

But Boots wasn’t traveling barefoot.

No. After leaving the palace, his older brothers insisted they stop at the marketplace. They marched right up to a shoemaker, and told Boots to pick out a brand new pair of shoes, all his own.

Then, the three brothers headed home, laughing and smiling every step of the way.

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



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