Story: “The Little Rooster and the Turkish Sultan” from Twenty Tellable Tales by Margaret Read McDonald *
Props: Crown or similar for Sultan; Treasure chest (optional)
Presenters: Three; Two works also
Audience: K-2 (fine for preschool too)
Here’s a great story for oral telling, which I first learned from Margaret Read McDonald’s Twenty Tellable Tales. For our K-2 Book Adventure on “Magic Tales and Tricks,” though, we acted it out with three people. I was the Sultan, Sheila the Servant, and Terri was Rooster (using a puppet). Terri narrated the Rooster parts and I narrated the Sultan parts: Terri: “One day a Rooster found a diamond button. And he put it in his pocket." Steven: “A Turkish Sultan was walking by and he told his Servant: ‘I want you to grab that Rooster and take away his diamond button.’” Like that…
With three people, we could add some fun physical pieces that you don’t get as a solo teller. When the Sultan tells the Servant to put the Rooster into the well, Sheila and Terri play aournd a bit as the Servant tries to grab the Rooster who zips just out of her reach a couple times. When Sheila finally gets the puppet, she whips it off Terri’s hand and throws it into the audience (which for now is the well...later they are the fire and the beehive). Then Terri recovers it and continues the story.... "the Little Rooster had a magic stomach…” This pattern goes on as the Rooster uses his magic stomach to swallow all of the water from the well; then empties the water to put out the fire; and then swallows all of the bees in the hive. Each segment has a mini-chase and a Rooster-toss. Oh, and when the water comes out to douse the fire, I squirt the audience with a water bottle.
We talked about ways to do the next part, where the Sultan sits on the Rooster and the bees come out. Was there a way we could have the Rooster inside the pants? First we’d need to find some suitable baggy pants, and we just didn't have any handy. Maybe we could have worked it out, but we settled for Sultan just sitting upon Rooster, then getting stung. I’ve always enjoyed Rooster’s final trick: the audience thinks that once the Sultan gives up and the diamond button is returned, it’s all over, but Rooster uses his magic stomach to swallow up the Sultan’s treasure as well.
We also used this story to promote our K-2 Book Adventure program at the schools. We only had two people for this, so we dropped the Servant and had the Sultan do the grabbing and tossing of the Rooster. We told it to the point where the Rooster has just put out the fire with the water from the well, and the Sultan gets his next idea, which is to “take that Rooster, and put him……well, if you want to find out where the Rooster goes next, come to the library for the whole story." It never feels quite right to leave them hanging like that, but it does work as a hook…
* Other versions of this tale include: The Valiant Red Rooster by Eric Kimmel, illustrated by Katya Arnold; The Little Rooster and the Diamond Button by Celia Lottridge; Little Rooster’s Diamond Button by Margaret Read McDonald, Illustrated by Will Terry