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Notes to The Eating Contest [Boots and the Troll]

(12/21/97)

A couple of days ago, in the course of a fifth grade residency, I had an individual session with a smart kid who has a severe stammer. He had (more or less randomly] gotten the fairy-tale-book version of this tale to work on, He had done nothing with it; it was way out of his league, as written; he really couldn't finish a sentence half of the time. I don't believe he'd read it.

Now, back when *I* was in fifth grade (long, long ago!) a fellow came into our school to do a storytelling assembly, and he told a version of this same story. It was wonderful, such a suprise. He never came back, and I suspect that the story seemed a little too violent to our teachers. But it didn't seem violent to me at the time-- it was funny. I remember it fondly to this day; along with my grandmother's Grimm stories, and hearing Sarah Cleveland in the late sixties at a festival, it has to be counted one of my key ear-openers.

So, while I don't tell this story, on some deep level I know it pretty well. Sentence by sentence, phrase by phrase, I told it to the boy, and had him repeat it back to me, sentence or phrase at a time. I gave him the moves & voices at the same time as the words. He liked it a lot ["It's cool"] and told it back to me several times over the next couple of days.He stammered, but had fun with it, and had no trouble getting through the whole thing.

I was never able to get him in front of a group, but he promised to tell it to his teacher and a friend, and his teacher promised to make room for that to happen.

The following is pretty much what he ended up doing. It's *very* stripped down-- as few words as possible. It tells well, and I suspect that the original source was not unlike it. The source tale, as written out by the Norwegian collectors Asbjornsen and Moë, is in the Dover Book "East of the Sun, West of the Moon," authorship attributed to the translator, George Dasent.

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