The Banana Split | Ep. 183

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

What’s the quickest thing you can think of?

A train? A jet? A cheetah?

Those are all quick things, to be sure. But none of them are as quick as your mind!

In today’s story, we’ll meet an animal who’s not so fast on her feet. But when it comes to brainpower, she's the quickest one around!

Our story is called “The Banana Split.” It was inspired by tales told in Panama: the Central American country that bridges North and South America.

Voices in this episode include Feodor Chin, Jessica Rau, Dawn Ursula, Jim Conroy, and Amirah Vann. Grown-ups, you can see Amirah Vann in Tyler Perry’s A Jazzman’s Blues, currently streaming on Netflix. Kids, you can hear Jim Conroy in the animated series Jellystone on HBO Max and Fetch! With Ruff Ruffman on PBS.

This episode was adapted for Circle Round by Rebecca Sheir. It was edited by Nora Saks. 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 have that you can share with someone else?

Maybe you can share one of your toys with a sibling or share your dessert with a friend at lunchtime. Maybe you can share a story with a grown-up or share a joke.
Find some paper and draw a picture of you sharing. Then, when you’re done, go out there and share for real!

Musical Spotlight: Latin Percussion

Members of the Latin percussion family include (left to right): tambourine, cabasa, bongo drums, egg shakers, maracas, and guiro. (Courtesy of Eric Shimelonis)
Members of the Latin percussion family include (left to right): tambourine, cabasa, bongo drums, egg shakers, maracas, and guiro. (Courtesy of Eric Shimelonis)

Latin percussion uses an exciting variety of drums, blocks, bells, and other objects that you play by hitting or striking them. Some of these instruments play specific notes, while others make a boom or chick sound. Latin music relies on a collection of these noisemakers each taking their turn and adding their sound to a more complex beat, as you’ll hear in this week’s episode.


NARRATOR: In a tropical forest full of towering trees, dangling vines, and twisting rivers, there lived a Monkey.

Monkey made his home at the top of the one and only banana plant in the forest. At the tippy-tippy-top of the thick green stem, yellow clusters of sweet, succulent bananas dangled high above the ground.

And all the animals in the forest longed to eat them! Like Cuckoo…

CUCKOO: I could really go for a banana snack right about now!

NARRATOR: …and Porcupine…

PORCUPINE: Me too! My tummy is rumbling!

NARRATOR: …and Toucan.

TOUCAN: I bet those bananas are so tasty!

NARRATOR: But whenever Cuckoo, Porcupine, and Toucan asked Monkey if he would share his bananas with them…?

CUCKOO: Well? Whuddya say, Monkey?

PORCUPINE: Could you share some bananas with us?

TOUCAN: Pleeeeeease???

NARRATOR: …the answer was always the same.

MONKEY: Share…? With you…? No way! These bananas are mine!

NARRATOR: The animals realized that asking Monkey to split his fruit was getting them nowhere. So they decided to try bargaining with him.
Cuckoo offered to sing a nightly lullaby.

CUCKOO: If you share some of your bananas, I'll sing you such beautiful music, Monkey! Just one minute of my song and you'll be fast asleep!

NARRATOR: Porcupine offered one of his sharp, spiky quills.

PORCUPINE: You can use my quills for all sorts of things, Monkey! Catching insects to eat, digging in the sand, you can even use them as a backscratcher! For those hard-to-reach spots!

NARRATOR: And Toucan offered one of her red and yellow feathers.

TOUCAN: My feathers are so colorful and bright! They’ll look amazing with your brown and white fur!

NARRATOR: But no matter what the animals offered in exchange, Monkey refused to budge.

MONKEY: Listen, folks. You can offer me gifts and presents until you’re blue in the face. I’m not sharing my bananas! No way, no how!

NARRATOR: The more Monkey hoarded the bananas, the more the other animals craved them. So they decided to get advice from the wisest animal around: Tortoise.
Tortoise lived deep in the heart of the forest, so it was evening by the time Cuckoo, Toucan, and Porcupine reached her nest. The clever creature was sound asleep, with her head, legs, and tail tucked deep within her brown and yellow shell.

CUCKOO: Pssst! Tortoise!

PORCUPINE: We’re sorry to bother you like this…

TOUCAN: …but we need your help!

NARRATOR: Slowly, Tortoise poked out her head.

TORTOISE: Did someone call out to me? Who’s there?

NARRATOR: She opened one eye, then the other. When she spotted Cuckoo, Porcupine, and Toucan, she popped out her legs and tail and flashed her friends a sleepy smile.

TORTOISE: Oh, hello there, folks! (Yawns) I was just getting some shuteye. But if you need a helping hand, my sleep can wait! What seems to be the trouble?

NARRATOR: So Cuckoo, Porcupine, and Toucan told Tortoise all about Monkey, and his refusal to share his fruit.

TORTOISE: I hear you, friends. It is troubling how Monkey keeps all those beautiful bananas to himself! He has enough fruit to last him for months!

CUCKOO: Right??? All we want is for Monkey to share!

PORCUPINE: And let the rest of us have some bananas for a change!

TOUCAN: Is there anything you can do?

NARRATOR: Tortoise closed her eyes. At first, the other animals thought she had fallen back asleep. But then she blinked her eyes open and broke into a grin.

TORTOISE: You know what, friends? I believe I know a way to set Monkey straight. You just leave everything to me!

NARRATOR: Tortoise knew that Monkey took a big drink at the river each morning, to wash down all the bananas he’d gobbled up for breakfast. So the next day, as the sun was rising in the bright blue sky, Tortoise shuffled over to the water’s edge.
Sure enough, there on the riverbank was Monkey – slurping up cool, clear water in loud, greedy gulps.

MONKEY: (Ad-lib non-verbal slurping-up water in loud, greedy gulps)

TORTOISE: Good morning, Monkey!

MONKEY: (Ad-lib more non-verbal slurping-up water in loud, greedy gulps)

TORTOISE: (A bit louder) I said… Good morning, Monkey!

MONKEY: (Ad-lib more non-verbal slurping-up water in loud, greedy gulps)

TORTOISE: Oh, dear. This will never do. (Clears throat) (Yells) Good morning, Monkey!

NARRATOR: Monkey spun around.

MONKEY: (Ad-lib spit) Tortoise! You scared the living daylights out of me! What are you doing sneaking up on a guy while he’s washing down his breakfast? And what a breakfast it was! I must have eaten six bunches of bananas, at least! Each one riper and sweeter than the last! Oh, you should have tasted them! Not that you ever will, of course. Since they’re mine, all mine!

NARRATOR: Tortoise waited for Monkey’s laughter to subside. Then she flashed him her sweetest smile.

TORTOISE: Gosh! Those bananas sure sound delicious, Monkey. But I know better than to ask you to give me some of those bright yellow fruits. So instead… how about if I win them?

MONKEY: “Win them”? What do you mean?

TORTOISE: I’ll make you a bet, Monkey. A wager. I’ll bet you half of all the bananas on the plant that if you and I race to the top of it… I'll beat you!

NARRATOR: Monkey was quiet as he considered Tortoise’s bet. Then… he cracked up!

MONKEY: (Laughing) You…?!? Beat me?!? To the top of the banana plant?!? But you’re a crawling, lumbering tortoise! And I’m a speedy, nimble monkey! You wouldn’t stand a chance racing against me!

TORTOISE: Well, there’s only one way to find out, isn’t there? So, what do you say? Shall we race? And if I reach the top first, we split the bananas and you give me half?

MONKEY: But what if I reach the top first?

TORTOISE: Oh! That’s easy! Then I get nothing! And you keep all the bananas to yourself, just as you’ve always done.

NARRATOR: Monkey stared at Tortoise’s thick, bulky shell… her short, stubby legs.

MONKEY: Alright, Tortoise. I accept your bet. We’ll race. And if you win, we’ll split the bananas and you’ll get half. But to be honest, the whole idea sounds positively bananas to me! (Laughter.)

[Theme music in]

NARRATOR: Will Tortoise actually win the race and walk away with half the bananas?

Or will Monkey get to keep them all to himself?

We’ll find out what happens, 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 Banana Split.”

[Theme music out]

NARRATOR: Before the break, Tortoise wanted to teach Monkey a lesson about sharing. So she bet the greedy fellow six bunches of bananas that she could beat him to the top of the banana plant. Monkey gladly accepted.

MONKEY: But when you lose, Tortoise – and goodness knows you’re bound to lose – keep in mind that this whole thing was your suggestion, not mine!

TORTOISE: Oh don’t you worry, Monkey. I’ll keep that in mind!

NARRATOR: Cuckoo, Porcupine, and Toucan volunteered to be the race’s referees. Standing at the mossy, grassy base of the banana plant, they helped kick off the race.

CUCKOO: On your mark!


TOUCAN: Goooooo!

NARRATOR: Quick as a wink, Monkey began to climb.

MONKEY: (Ad-lib climbing)

NARRATOR: He pulled with his strong hands, he pushed with his nimble feet, he even used his long tail like a rope, wrapping it around the banana plant’s thick stem as he sprang higher and higher.

Tortoise, meanwhile, was far, far below… huffing and puffing as she clung to the stem. She’d barely shambled up a few feet before Cuckoo, Porcupine, and Toucan cried out.

CUCKOO: Monkey reached the top first!

PORCUPINE: He’s the winner of the race!

TOUCAN: Now we’ll never get any bananas!

NARRATOR: Tortoise knew she’d been bested, but she kept on climbing. When she finally reached the top, Monkey was smirking from ear to ear.

MONKEY: Oh, hello, Tortoise! Long time, no see! Glad you could join the party, my friend!

NARRATOR: Tortoise sighed and gave Monkey a tired smile.

TORTOISE: Congratulations, Monkey. You won the race. You’re definitely a quick one!

MONKEY: “Quick”!? I’m downright zippy! Snappy! Fleet of feet!

TORTOISE: That may be true. But there’s more than one way to be quick. So… I wonder if I could interest you in another bet? This time, I’ll bet you half the bananas on the banana plant that I can reach the ground faster than you can!

NARRATOR: Monkey scoffed.

MONKEY: Oh come now, Tortoise! You must be a few bananas short of a bunch! Look how high up we are! The grass and moss surrounding this banana plant are way below us. It’ll take an awkward creature like you forever to get back down again!

TORTOISE: So, is that a ‘yes,’ then…? Will you accept my bet and race me to the bottom?

MONKEY: Of course it’s a yes!

NARRATOR: Monkey leaned over and called down through the canopy.

MONKEY: (Calling down) Cuckoo? Porcupine? Toucan? We’re having another race! This time, to the bottom! That silly tortoise still thinks she can beat me! Can you get us started?

NARRATOR: Cuckoo, Porcupine, and Toucan had witnessed how badly Monkey had beaten Tortoise in the race up the plant. They had no idea how the slow, plodding, heavy-shelled creature could possibly beat Monkey going down! But the three animals exchanged a look, then a shrug, and then…

CUCKOO: On your mark!


TOUCAN: Goooooo!

NARRATOR: In the blink of an eye, Monkey began scrambling and swinging down the banana plant.

MONKEY: (Ad-lib climbing down)

NARRATOR: Tortoise, however… did not move.
Instead, she took a breath… closed her eyes… then tucked her head, feet, and tail safe inside her thick, hard, brown and yellow shell.

And then… she dropped like a rock!

TORTOISE: [SOT: muffled or reverbed a bit, as if head is inside shell] Here we gooooooooo!!!!!

NARRATOR: Down, down, down she fell. Until she landed… safe and sound on the grassy, mossy ground below.

TORTOISE: [SOT: muffled or reverbed a bit, as if head is inside shell] Oooooof! Made it!

NARRATOR: Monkey, meanwhile, was completely unaware of Turtle’s rapid descent. He’d been too busy climbing down to see a thing!

So you can imagine his shock when he reached the base of the banana plant and saw his opponent standing there, with a triumphant smile on her wrinkly face!

TORTOISE: (Relishing the change to echo Monkey’s earlier words) Oh, hello, Monkey! Long time, no see! Glad you could join the party, my friend!

MONKEY: But wait! How did you get down here before I did?

TORTOISE: It’s like I said, Monkey! There’s more than one way to be quick! You have your fleet feet… I have my quick mind. And now I have half the bananas in this banana plant, too!

NARRATOR: Well, what else could Monkey do but split the bananas with Tortoise? And that night, Tortoise, Cuckoo, Porcupine, and Toucan enjoyed a sweet, succulent banana feast.

As for Monkey, he never again hogged all the bananas to himself. Instead, he shared them. Because he knew that despite his swift, nimble hands, feet and tail, when it came to true quickness, Tortoise was truly the top banana.

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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