The Dust-Up | Ep. 201

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

Have you ever gotten into an argument?

It’s natural to disagree with others from time to time, and get into quarrels and quibbles. But we’re about to meet two characters whose constant arguing leads to  such a falling-out, such a fight – such a dust-up – that they’re never the same again!

Our story is called “The Dust-Up.” It was inspired by tales told in many African countries, including Angola, Kenya, and Namibia.

Voices in this episode include Feodor Chin, Jessica Rau, Erika Rose, Jefferson A. Russell, along with real-life duo Jackie Chung and Louis Ozawa.

Jackie Chung stars on Amazon’s hit series The Summer I Turned Pretty; season two is dropping soon. Grown-ups: watch for Jackie in Wayne Wang’s latest feature film Coming Home Again. Louis Ozawa stars on Amazon’s popular series Hunters, as well as Apple TV’s critically-acclaimed series Pachinko. Grown-ups: watch for Louis in the upcoming 4th Season of Jack Ryan on Amazon.

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

For generations, people used their imaginations to create stories about why different animals are the way they are. So why not use your imagination to create a story of your own?

Pick an animal, any animal, and make up a story to explain why your animal looks, acts, or sounds the way it does today. For instance, why do camels have humps? Why are rabbits so skittish? Why do mice squeak?

Get some paper, and divide a piece of paper into squares. Then in each square, draw a scene from your story, start to finish; this method is what people in movies and TV call a “storyboard.”

Once your storyboard is complete, show it to a grown-up as you tell them your tale. And if you’d like, show it to us! Ask a grown-up to take a picture of you and your storyboard, then email it to

Musical Spotlight: African Shakers and Drums

The Healing Force ensemble performs with traditional African percussion instruments like drums and rattling gourd shekeres. (courtesy of North Charleston)
The Healing Force ensemble performs with traditional African percussion instruments like drums and rattling gourd shekeres. (courtesy of North Charleston)

The shekere (shaker) is a West African percussion instrument made from a dried gourd covered with a woven netting of beads; you may tighten or loosen the netting to achieve different sounds. To play the instrument you slap the bottom of the gourd while shaking and twisting the netting in rhythmic patterns.

The drum has been called the heartbeat or soul of many African communities. Varieties of this ancient instrument have served a crucial role in African life for generations, and have been played in times of peace and war, planting and harvesting, birth and death.

The African drum serves not just to entertain with its rhythm, but to help people celebrate, mourn, and communicate; for centuries, African ‘talking drums’ were a way for tribes to transmit messages across great distances.


NARRATOR: Way way back, long before people came about, the world was roamed – and ruled – by animals.

But back then, not all of the animals looked the way they do now.

Baboon, for instance, had a furry bottom. And Zebra had hair that was as white as milk, from the tip of her muzzle to the end of her swishy tail.

BABOON: Wait a second, wait a second! What kind of monkey business is this? Are you saying something’s going to happen to my furry bottom?

ZEBRA: And what about my milky white hair? It’s my pride and joy! Are you saying it’s going to change somehow?

NARRATOR: Well… yes! That’s what this story is all about! Baboon: you’ll eventually have a bottom that’s completely hairless.

BABOON: (GASP!) I will?!?

NARRATOR: You will! And Zebra, your pure-white hair will eventually be white and black – striped, actually!

ZEBRA: (GASP) It will?!??

NARRATOR: It will!

BABOON: I gotta say – having a naked bottom sounds horrible! A real bum deal! (beat) Ha! Get it? Bum deal? Bum? As in, backside?

ZEBRA: Very funny, Baboon. But losing my pure white coat sounds even worse!

BABOON: At least you won’t have a bald spot!

ZEBRA: But stripes sound so tacky!

BABOON: I would take stripes any day over a naked derriere!

NARRATOR: Um, Baboon? Zebra? With all due respect, can we please get on with our story?

ZEBRA: Alright.


ZEBRA: But only if my character has a bigger part!

BABOON: Your character?!? All that happens to you is your hair changes color. I LOSE my hair! The hair on my bootie gets the boot! Ha! Get it? Bootie…? Boot…?

NARRATOR: Oh yeah, we get it. But can we focus, please? I need both of you to pay attention, follow along with the story, and we’ll hear what happens.


It all began one summer, when the rains ceased to fall and a drought spread across the land. Deep cracks appeared where the rivers, streams, and watering holes once glittered. The animals began to worry, and after weeks of nonstop heat, the king of the animals – Lion – called everyone together for an emergency meeting.

LION: My friends! As this drought rages on, the rivers, streams, and watering holes are drying up one by one. We need water to survive! Do any of you know how we might find some?

NARRATOR: Lion glanced around at his friends, then tilted his great shaggy head toward Giraffe.

LION: Giraffe! Your long, graceful neck allows you to see far and wide! Have you spotted water anywhere?

GIRAFFE: I’m afraid I haven’t, Lion! But I’ll keep looking!

LION: I appreciate that, Giraffe. Has anyone else seen water anywhere?

NARRATOR: Lion’s golden eyes roved the group, before landing on bushy little Meerkat.

LION: Meerkat! You have dozens of critters in your family. Have any of you come across some water?

MEERKAT: Sorry, Lion. But our mob spends most of our time burrowing underground! And we haven’t found any water there.

LION: Right, right. Of course. Anyone else?

NARRATOR: Lion pointed a paw at Cheetah.

LION: Cheetah! You’re constantly sprinting across the plains with those fast legs of yours. By any chance have you found some water?

CHEETAH: I wish I could say yes, Lion! But so far, nothing.

LION: Alright then. Anyone else? Anyone?

NARRATOR: Lion waited for a response. He waited, and waited… then he fixed his bright eyes on Zebra.

LION: Zebra! We haven’t heard from you yet. Have you come across any water during your travels across the plains? Zebra…?

ZEBRA: Oh! Is it my turn now?

NARRATOR: Yes, Zebra! It is!

BABOON: Don’t you remember what the Narrator said about following along with the story? Were you not paying attention before?

ZEBRA: I was totally paying attention, Baboon!

BABOON: Well obviously you weren’t!

NARRATOR: Come on, you two! The story has barely begun. So Zebra? Can you move things along here? Please?

ZEBRA: Sure! … Um, where were we again?

LION: I asked if you had come across any water during your travels around the plains.

ZEBRA: Oh! Right! Water! Actually, Lion… I haven’t come across any water! But you know what I have come across? Mile after mile of sun-baked earth! And with every step I take, big clouds of dust coat my sparkling-white fur with schmutz! Look at me! I’m a mess!

LION: I’m sorry to hear that, Zebra. It’s dangerously dry out there. Which is why we need water, and we need it fast!

NARRATOR: Lion sighed and slumped his shoulders. Then his glance fell on Baboon.

LION: Baboon! You’ve been awfully quiet.

ZEBRA: …for once!


ZEBRA: Sorry.

LION: So, Baboon! Have you found any water?

BABOON: Have I found any water!!??! You ask: have I found any water!!??!! Lion, I haven’t had a drink in so long, my throat is drier than this meeting! Ha! Get it? Dry? Like boring? This meeting is so dry and boring?!?

ZEBRA: That joke was so funny I forgot to laugh!

LION: Friends! Please! This is a serious situation! We animals need water if we’re going to survive! So here’s what I propose. We set off across the plains together, and we search high and low for a river, stream, or watering hole. After all, many pairs of eyes are better than one. Whuddya say?

GIRAFFE: That plan works for me, Lion!

MEERKAT: Me too!

CHEETAH: Me three!

LION: Thank you Giraffe, Meerkat, and Cheetah! But we haven’t heard from everyone. Zebra? Baboon? What do you think?

ZEBRA: Well… to be perfectly honest, trekking across the dusty plains beneath a blazing sun and getting my fur all dingy doesn’t sound like a whole lot of fun, ya know?

BABOON: Of course ‘it doesn’t sound like fun,’ Zebra! But you heard what Lion said! This is a matter of life and death! Without any water, water we gonna do?!?? Ha! Get it? “What are”? “Water”? Ha! I crack me up!

ZEBRA: Alright fine, Lion. You can count me in. But wouldn’t it be better if we didn’t all travel together? We could cover more ground if we separated and spread out.

LION: That’s a good point, Zebra! How about if we travel… in pairs?! Couples! Two animals will walk together and keep their eyes peeled. I’ll travel with Giraffe, Meerkat will travel with Cheetah, and Zebra – you’ll travel with Baboon!

ZEBRA: Wait, what?!? You’re making me scour the plains with that wisecracker?

BABOON: Oh! So you think I’m “wise,” do you? Thank you very much!

ZEBRA: Uch. That’s not what I meant!

LION: Alright, friends. There’s no time to waste. Let’s all couple up and head out in different directions. The first pair to find a river, stream, or watering hole will light a fire and send up a smoke signal. Then the others can hurry over and get a drink. So grab your partners… and let’s go!

NARRATOR: What do you think will happen as the animals search for water?

BABOON: …And will Baboon be the hero who saves the day?

ZEBRA: You mean, will Zebra be the hero who saves the day?

BABOON: But you won’t!

ZEBRA: How do you know that?

BABOON: I just do! I have a feeling about you!

ZEBRA: What kind of feeling?

BABOON: A not very good one!

ZEBRA: Well that’s not very nice!

BABOON: Can you blame me?

ZEBRA: Why are you so impossible?

BABOON: Well I’m not half as impossible as you are!

ZEBRA: But I’m not!

BABOON: Yes you are!

NARRATOR: …And will Zebra and Baboon finally get along?

…Or at least let us finish the story?

ZEBRA: Uch! You’re ridiculous!

BABOON: No, you’re ridiculous!

ZEBRA: I can’t believe I have to be paired up with you!

BABOON: I can’t believe I have to be paired up with you!

NARRATOR: We’ll find out, after a quick break.


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

NARRATOR: Before the break, a drought was raging, and Zebra and Baboon got paired up to –

BABOON: You mean, “Baboon and Zebra”! I still think I should have the bigger part in this story, so my name should go before Zebra’s.

ZEBRA: Nuh-uh! My name should go before Baboon’s!

BABOON: It should not!

ZEBRA: Come on! I totally deserve top billing!

BABOON: In your dreams!

NARRATOR: Okay! Baboon! Zebra!

ZEBRA: I think you mean “Zebra! Baboon!”

NARRATOR: Does it really matter? The point is, we just got back from the break, which means we’ve left our listeners hanging in suspense, which means we really need to get on with our story! So, as I was saying… “Before the break, a drought was raging, and – all the animals got paired up to find water. Whichever pair tracked down a river, stream, or watering hole first was to light a fire and send up a smoke signal.

Lion and Giraffe went one way. Meerkat and Cheetah went another way. And snowy-haired Zebra and furry-bottomed Baboon went yet another way, as they trekked across the dry and dusty plains.

They trekked…and they trekked…until finally…

BABOON: Wait a minute!

ZEBRA: What is that?!??

BABOON: Could it be…


NARRATOR: Indeed! Sparkling and shimmering before them was a crystal-clear watering hole. 

BABOON: I’m so parched, I have got to take a drink!

ZEBRA: Not so fast, Baboon! We have to light a fire, so we can send up a smoke signal and alert the others!

BABOON: Oh. Right. Fine.

NARRATOR: The pair got to work collecting stones and setting them in a circle beside the watering hole. Then they gathered wooden sticks, placed them inside the circle of stones, and set the sticks ablaze.

BABOON: Okay! Now that the fire is lit, I’m having a drink!

ZEBRA: Why should you get the first drink? We spotted this watering hole together!

BABOON: Maybe so, but look at me! I deserve the first drink far more than you do. After all, with this heavy fur covering my body, I’m shvitzing over here!

ZEBRA: Well I’m shvitzing too! I may not have fur, but I have hair. Hair, by the way, which used to be snowy-white before it got all dingy from the dust!

BABOON: Ohhhh, boo-hoo! Your pure white coat got a little bit dirty! You poor thing!

ZEBRA: All I’m saying is maybe I deserve the first drink!

BABOON: And maybe I do!

ZEBRA: I’m bigger, so I need more water!

BABOON: You’re a bigger diva, maybe!

ZEBRA: Because I don’t want to get my white hair all dirty?

BABOON: Yeah! Total diva move!

NARRATOR: Well, as you can imagine, this bickering went on and on. Until at last, Zebra flared her nostrils and stamped her hoof.

ZEBRA: Baboon? I think there’s only one way to settle this argument.

NARRATOR: Baboon hunched his shoulders and puffed his chest.

BABOON: For once I agree with you, Zebra! You ready to rumble?

ZEBRA: Ready as I’ll ever be!

NARRATOR: Now I think it’s pretty clear that there wasn’t “just one way to settle this argument.” Baboon and Zebra could have talked out their problem. They could have worked out a solution like, say, taking the first drink together, then taking turns until the other animals arrived.

In short, they could have used their words.

But instead…

BABOON: Alright, Zebra. Ready or not…

ZEBRA:here I come! 

NARRATOR: … they used their might – and began to wrestle!

BABOON: It’s no use, Zebra! I’ll make sure you never drink from my watering hole!

ZEBRA: Your watering hole?!? We’ll see about that!

NARRATOR: As Zebra and Baboon began to tussle and tumble, the other animals came scurrying over.

LION: Zebra and Baboon! We saw your smoke signal! It’s so great that the two of you found – Oh boy!

GIRAFFE: What is going on here?!?

MEERKAT: It looks like a wrestling match!

CHEETAH: What a ruckus!

LION: Baboon! Zebra! Stop this fighting at once!

BABOON: No way, Lion! I won’t stop until Zebra lets me have the first drink at this watering hole that I found!

ZEBRA: And I won’t stop until Baboon lets me have the first drink at this watering hole that I found!

NARRATOR: But as Baboon and Zebra continued their wrangling and tangling, they couldn’t help but grow wearier…and wearier…until Zebra gritted her teeth, took a big breath, then extended her  hind legs in a kick!

ZEBRA: Hi-yah!

NARRATOR: …a kick so powerful, it sent Baboon sailing through the air!

BABOON: Woahhhhhhh!

NARRATOR: He sailed higher and higher, until he came back down again and landed right on his furry rump!


NARRATOR: Zebra, meanwhile, was all out of breath – and all out of balance! She stumbled on her wobbly legs and toppled backwards… right into the fire!

ZEBRA: Yahhhh!

NARRATOR: The other animals rushed to Zebra’s aid.

LION: Okay, Zebra! Listen up!

GIRAFFE: We want you to stop…

MEERKAT: …drop…

CHEETAH: .. and roll!!!!

NARRATOR: So she did! But even after the flames were out, something was left behind. The sizzling-hot sticks had singed long black stripes all over Zebra’s body, from the tip of her muzzle to the end of her swishy tail.

ZEBRA: Ohhhhh! So that’s how I finally earn my stripes! Who knew?

NARRATOR: Baboon, meanwhile, was slowly staggering to his feet. But as he dusted off his furry body, he noticed something was different: his rear end… was bare! When his rump had landed on the ground, the shaggy fur had torn right off!

BABOON: Boy oh boy! I’ve heard of ‘hitting rock bottom’... I guess this is the part where I hit bare bottom! Heh. Get it?

NARRATOR: And so… thanks to Zebra and Baboon’s big dust-up… they finally paid the price for their quarreling and quibbling. Zebra lost her beloved white hair, Baboon lost his furry bottom, and they’ve never been the same since.

ZEBRA: Wait a second, wait a second! You’re not going to end the story there, are you? 

BABOON: Yeah! This whole “paying the price” thing? What a depressing way to wrap things up!

NARRATOR: Well it’s nice to see you two agreeing on something for a change!

But actually… there is one thing we could add – something far less depressing. Because believe it or not, your black-and-white stripes, Zebra? And your bare bottom, Baboon? They might not be the worst things to have!

Zebra, some scientists say your stripes help keep you from overheating! The black stripes absorb more heat from the sun than the white ones do, so they create these mini-breezes that blow across your body – like a built-in air conditioner!

ZEBRA: Cool!

NARRATOR: Literally!

And Baboon, since members of your species sit on their rumps so much – instead of squatting like other monkeys do – your bare bottom helps keep you comfy! The skin is padded, and it doesn’t have any nerve endings, so it’s like a natural cushion!

BABOON: Huh! Whaddya know?

NARRATOR: So… as long as the two of you can get along from now on, everybody wins! And you’re both better off in the end.

ZEBRA: Well… it’s more like Baboon is barer off in the end… Ha! Get it? Barer? Like, bare? His rear end is bare? 

BABOON: Actually…That’s pretty funny, Zebra. Nicely done.

ZEBRA: Well, I learned from the best!

BABOON: You really mean that? Or are you trying to make a monkey out of me?

ZEBRA: I’m serious, Baboon! I’m starting to like horsing around with you!

BABOON: Don’t you mean monkeying around…?

ZEBRA: Does it really need to be that black and white…?

BABOON: Oh, Zebra! Your humor is of a different stripe!

ZEBRA: Well I don’t mean to get on a high horse, but I guess I am pretty funny!

BABOON: If you’re not funny, then I’m a monkey’s uncle!

ZEBRA: Ha! I see what you did there.

BABOON: Monkey see, monkey do!

ZEBRA: Oh, Baboon. Aren’t you a horse of a different color!

BABOON: Actually, youre a horse of no color at all!

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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