Long ago, there were two cats who lived together in the hills of Japan. One was a very big black cat and the other was a small white cat. They were good friends and never quarreled until one day when each of them found a fresh rice cake.
  The big cat held his rice cake and called, “Look! I have found this. This will be the most delicious rice cake.” But the small cat held up his own rice cake and said, “Yes, but just look at mine. It looks more delicious than a fat mouse.”
  As each held up his cake to show the other, they found that the big cat's rice cake was small and the little cat’s rice cake was larger.
  “That's not fair at all,” the big cat said. “I am bigger than you, so I should have the bigger rice cake. Give me yours.”
  But the little cat said, “No, that's not so. Because I am small, I need more food to grow big. I don't want to talk with you any more.”
  The two cats began to fight and run after each other around the trees. At last the big black cat stopped and took a rest. “This will never do,” he said, “We will be fighting for another week like this. Let’s go to see the wise monkey of the forest. He'll make our rice cakes the same size. Then it is fair.”
  “Very well,” said the small cat, because he wanted to stop fighting, too.
  The two cats ran into the woods to look for the wise monkey. He lived in the tops of the trees.
  “Mr. Monkey, Mr. Monkey,” the big cat called. “We want you to stop a quarrel for us.”
  At last they found the wise old monkey, with a pair of scales. The two cats held out their rice cakes. Then the monkey said slowly, “You are right to come to me. I will put an end to your quarrelling. Give me your rice cakes. The monkey put one rice cake on each side. Of course the scales didn't balance, because the big rice cake was heavier. He said, “One rice cake is a little heavier than the other.” He quickly took the larger one and ate a little. Again, he put one rice cake on each side of the scales. Now the smaller rice cake was heavier. He ate a little of the smaller rice cake.
  The big cat got angry and said, “You have eaten a lot. They must be equal by now.” But the monkey didn’t listen to him and at last he ate up both rice cakes. Then he looked at the two cats and said, “Well, well, they are now both eaten up. There is nothing more for you to quarrel about.” The monkey ran away quickly into the woods.
  The big cat said. “I feel foolish.”
  The small cat said, “I am as foolish as you.”
  The two hungry cats went down the road.

Difficult Words : quarrel, delicious, fair, greedy, sclales, equally

Based on 'The Foolish Cats' in The Sea of Gold and Other Tales from Japan, New York: Charles Sribne's Sons, 1965.


  The Giant had been away from his house for seven years. After seven years, he came back to his house. His house had a very large garden full of beautiful flowers and green trees. When he arrived his house he saw the children playing in his garden. He got angry and cried, “What are you doing here? This is my garden. You cannot play here. Go away.”
  The children saw the angry Giant and ran away. But they had no place to play. They tried to play on the road, but the road was very dusty and full of hard stones. They didn't like it. They talked about the beautiful garden inside. “How happy we were in the garden!”
  Then the Spring came, and all over the country there were little flowers and little birds. Only in the garden of the Giant it was still winter. The Snow and the Frost were very happy in the garden. “Spring has forgotten this garden. We will live here all the year round. We must ask the North Wind to come and stay with us.” They enjoyed the weather very much.
  But the Giant said, “I cannot understand why the Spring is so late in coming. I hope there will be a change in the weather.” But the Spring never came, because he was so selfish.
  One morning the Giant was lying in bed, he heard lovely music. He said, “It is the most beautiful music in the world. The Spring has come at last.”
  He jumped out of bed. The birds were flying and singing a song. The flowers were laughing. And a lot of children were sitting in the branches of the trees. In every tree he could see there was a little child. And the trees were very glad to have the children come back again. But the Giant got angry again and cried to the children,“What are you doing here? This is my garden. You must not play here. Go away.”
  As soon as the children heard his cry, they got off the tree and ran away quickly. All the children ran away. Then again, it was winter.
  The giant looked around the garden. The Giant found one child in one corner of the garden. He was very small, but he was bright and charming. The child said to the Giant, “Help me climb up this big tree.” The Giant was charmed by the child and put him on the top of the tree. Then the corner suddenly became warm and bright. The Giant's heart melted. He became very kind. “How selfish I have been! I will knock down the wall. All the children can play in my garden.”
  All day long children played in the garden and in the evening they came to the Giant and said good bye. One evening, the Giant asked, “Where is your little friend? The boy I put on the top of the big tree.”The children answered, “We don't know.” The Giant loved him the best, so he tried hard to look for him. But he couldn't find him at all.
  Years went by. The Giant grew very old and weak. One day, the children found the Giant lying dead under the big tree with the little boy.

Difficult Words: dusty, frost, selfish, melt

‘The Selfish Giant’ in The Poems and Fairy Tales of Oscar Wilde, New York: Random House, 1957.

The Wolves and the Lion

  Once there was a great lion in a jungle. He was king of the jungle. When he wanted to eat, he came out of his cave and roared. The smaller animals were very frightened and ran out of their homes. Then, of course, the lion saw them, and caught and killed and ate them up at once.
  The lion ate a lot of animals. And at last not an animal was left in the jungle except the lion himself and two little wolves. They were good friends.
  The two wolves ran away from the lion many times. So they were now thin and tired and could not run fast any more. One day the lion came near to the wolves. The mother wolf cried, “Oh, Father! The lion is going to catch and eat us this time!”
  “Poor! Nonsense, Mother!”said the father wolf. “Come, we can run a bit faster!” So they ran, ran, ran faster, and the lion could not catch them this time.
  Two or three days later, those cunning little wolves walked towards the lion. When the lion saw them coming, he stood up and roared in his terrible voice, “You poor little wolves, come here and be eaten, at once! Why didn’t you come before?”
  The father wolf said,“Indeed Lion, we thought we should come before. And we wanted to come before. But when we started to come, another great lion came out of the woods and roared at us. It frightened us too much. So we could come to you. We had to run away.”
  The lion roared, “There’s no other lion in this jungle, and you know it!”
  “Indeed, indeed, Lion,” said the wolf,” But indeed there is another lion! And he is much bigger than you. His face is much more terrible.”
  At that the lion stood up and roared. “Take me to this lion. I'll eat him up and then I'll eat you up.” The little wolves walked ahead, and the lion walked behind. They led him to a round, deep well of clear water. The wolf said, “He lives down there, Lion! He lives down there.”
  The lion came near and looked down into the water. And a lion's face looked back at him out of the water! When he saw that, the lion roared and showed his teeth. And the lion in the water showed his teeth, too. The lion above roared again, and made a terrible face. But the lion in the water made just as terrible a face and roared. The lion above got angry. He jumped down into the well after the other lion.
  Of course, as you know very well, there wasn't any other lion! It was only the reflection in the water! So the poor old lion was deep in the well, but he couldn't get out of it. When he was dead the little wolves took hands and danced round the well, and sang: The lion is dead!
     The lion is dead!
     We have killed the great lion
     who was going to eat us.

Difficult Words: frighten, well, reflection

‘The Little Jackals and the Lion’ in Favorite Fairy Tales Told in India, Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1973.

The Tengu's Magic Nose Fan

  Once there was a young man named Kotaro. He did nothing all day but played with a pair of dice. He didn't like working. He would say to the other young men of the village, “Come along with me, gambling is much more fun than working!” If he could find on one to play with, he would sit alone, play with his dice and try to think of something bad.
  One day, Kotaro had nothing to do and went for a walk in the woods. When the sun grew hot, he sat under a tree and took out his dice. As he sat there and shook them and tossed them on the ground, he suddenly heard a sound behind him. Kotaro turned quickly and found a large red nose. Behind the large nose was a goblin. “H-h-h-h-help! It's a tengu!” Kotaro shouted and stood up to run away.
  But the tengu held him by the neck and said, “Ho! Wait a moment. Tell me the game you play with. What do you have in your hand?”
Kotaro said, “Y-y-y-yes, sir. These -- these are -- d-d-d-dice. If you carry them with you, you will get some money someday.”
  The tengu reached out a hairy red arm and took the dice from Kotaro. He took them in his hand and said. “Hmmm, they make a pleasant sound. If you give me your dice, I shall give you my fan.” He showed a big round fan in front of Kotaro.
  Kotaro was very fond of his dice, so, he didn't want an old fan.
  Then the tengu said, “This is a fan, you know. It is a special nose fan.”
  “A nose fan?” Kotaro asked. “Is it to cool your nose?”
  The tengu laughed a lot “No, foolish boy. Fan it with one side and your nose will grow. Fan it with the other side and your nose will become small.”
  “All right, I’ll give you my dice,” Kotaro said. He went home quickly with his nose fan.
  The next morning, when he walked in front of the house of the richest man of the village, he saw the beautiful daughter of the house come out through the gate.
  “Ah, now for some fun!” Kotaro thought. He ran toward the young girl, and waved his fan in front of her face. Flap, flap -- flap. Then he ran away. Suddenly the young girl cried “My nose! Something has happened to my nose!”It grew and grew and grew, until at last it was a foot long. The poor young girl didn't go out of her room and cried until she had no more tears.
  All the doctors of the country came to her house. “Hmmm, a very strange case. Alas we cannot make the girl's nose small again. We have no medicine at all to make a long nose short.”
  Finally, the father set up a sign in the village
“If you help my daughter, I shall give you anything.” Kotaro saw the sign and said to himself, ”Now is my chance!” With his fan in a small black bag, he went to the house of the rich man. “I believe I can cure your daughter. I have no medicine, but I have special magic powers. With the power I can cure her.”
  The father led him to his daughter's room. He said, “Sir, if you can help my child, I shall give you anything. My daughter, my house, my money -- they are all yours.”
  Kotaro sat down beside the young girl and examined her nose. “Hmmmm. A very strange case! Please close your eyes.” He quickly took out his tengu fan and flapped it several times in front of her nose. Flap, flap. Her nose grew shorter. Flap, flap -- flap, flap. Her nose grew shorter still. Then he put his fan back in his bag and said to the girl, “Open your eyes. There you are. I believe I have cured your nose.”
  The father came in and saw her daughter’s nose. You have done what no doctor could do. Now to keep my promise, I shall give you my daughter for your wife and anything to you.”
  From that moment, Kotaro was given a beautiful room in the big house, and a purse filled with golden coins. And then he was served the most delicious meal.
  “I have done quite well for myself with this fan,” Kotaro said to himself. “The people in this house are all fools.” With all the excitement, he grew very hot and tired. He stepped out into the garden to cool himself. “I'll just close my eyes and rest for a while.” He felt tired and sleepy, so he forgot that the fan in his hand was the very magic fan. As he fanned himself, his nose began to grow. It grew and it grew and it grew. It grew longer and longer until it grew right through the floor of heaven.
  Now at that moment, the people heaven were trying to build a bridge across the Milky Way. As they looked for a good-sized log, they found Kotaro’s long nose. They quickly tied Kotaro's nose to the bridge in heaven.
  Then Kotaro woke up. “Ouch! What's happened to my nose? Help, help!” Quickly, he turned his fan over and fanned as hard as he could. “Hurry, hurry! Grow short, grow short!”
  Slowly his nose began to grow shorter, but as it was tied to the bridge in heaven, Kotaro's body had to fly up. Up and up he flew, but he dropped his fan. There he stopped, hanging between heaven and earth. “Help! Save me! Somebody, do something.”
  Kotaro shouted and called but of course no one heard him or saw him, and no one at all could help him.

Difficult Words: dice, goblin, tear, cure

‘The Tengu’s Magic Nose Fan’ in The Sea of Gold and Other Tales from Japan, New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1965.


  There once was a man and his name was Isaac. He was poor. So again and again he went hungry. One night he had a dream. In his dream, a voice told him to go to the capital city and look for a treasure under the bridge by the Royal Palace.
  When he woke up, he thought “It's only a dream.” The dream came back another time. And after a few days the dream came back a third time. He said, “Maybe it’s true.” He set out on a trip. Most of the way he walked. He walked through forests. He crossed over mountains. At last he reached the capital city. When he cam to the bridge by the Royal Palace, He found that it was guarded day and night. He couldn’t look for the treasure. Yet he returned to the bridge every morning and walked about it until dark.
  One day, the captain of the guardsmen asked him, “Why are you here?” Isaac told him the dream. The captain laughed and said, “You poor fellow! What a pity you wore your shoes out for a dream. Listen, if I believe a dream, I will go right now to my town and I'll look for a treasure under the stove in the house of a fellow named Isaac.”
  Isaac said,“Thank you!” to the captain and started on his long way home. He crossed over mountains. He walked through forests. Most of the way he walked. At last, he reached his own town. When he got home, he dug under his stove, and there he found the
treasure. He built a big church for the people of the town. In one of its corners he put a sign saying: Sometimes one must travel far to discover a good thing which is near.

Difficult Words: treasure, Royal Palace, dug<dig

‘The Treasure’, Uri Shulevitz, New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux.

A Lion and a Mouse

  Once a upon a time a lion was walking through the jungle. He was the king of the animals and all the animals were afraid of him.
  But one day a small mouse was building his net just in the lion's path and the lion stepped on the nest. The lion said, “Something is moving under my foot. What's that? Oh, It's a mouse. What are you doing here?” The mouse answered, “I am building my nest here. “
  The lion got angry and thought he would eat up the mouse for his supper. But then, the mouse said to him, “Will you be kind enough to save my life? Don't eat me up!” Because the lion didn’t feel very hungry, he let the mouse go on his way.
  Two or three days later, the same lion was caught in a hunter's trap. He cried out for help but none of the animals of the forest came near him. A mouse came from behind the tree. He was saved by the lion. He heard the roaring lion and ran to see what was the matter. When he saw that the lion was caught in the trap, he jumped up on the lion's back and ran along the rope of the trap. Then he began to bite the rope little by little. After a while, the mouse bit off some ropes and the lion weent free. The lion was saved by the little mouse.

Difficult Words: path, nest, trap, bit<bite

‘Town Mouse and Country Mouse’ in Favorite Fables and Fairy Tales, London: Bracken Books, 1988.

The Two Sillies

  Once upon a time there was an old woman and a young girl who wanted to get married, but she was so silly that no one wanted to marry her. One day there was a knock at the door, and her mother jumped up to answer it. She opened the door, and there, in front of her, was a handsome young man who said,”I've fell in love with your daughter.” The mother, with joy, sent her daughter down to the cellar to draw a jug of beer. Since her daughter didn't come back, the mother went down to see what had happened to her and found her sitting on the stairs, with her head in her hands, beside her the beer was running all over the floor, because she had forgotten to turn off the tap. “What are you doing here?” asked the mother. "I was wondering what I will call my first child after I am married to the young man,” said the woman. The mother sat down beside her daughter and said, “I will think about it with you, my dear.”
  In the room there is no one except the young man. At last he grew impatient waiting all alone and went down himself to see what they could all be doing. He found two of them sitting on the stairs while beside them the beer was running all over the floor. “What in the world are you doing that you don't come upstairs and that you let the beer run all over the floor?” he asked. “Oh, my young man,” said the mother, “We were wondering. What will you call your first child?”
  The young man looked at them with surprise. “Well that does it!” he exclaimed. “I'm going away. When I have found two people sillier than you, I will come back and marry your daughter.”
  So the young man rushed out and walked across the farmlands until he reached an orchard. He stopped
suddenly when he saw a worker knocking down walnuts and trying to throw them into a cart with a fork. “What are you doing there?” he asked. “I want to take my walnuts to the market,” said the worker,” but I can't seem to get them into my cart very easily.”“Get a basket,” the young man advised. “Then put the walnuts into the basket and empty it into the cart.”“How very clever you are,” said the worker, went off for a basket. The young man said to himself, “I have already found someone more foolish than those two.”
  So he continued to walk until he reached a poor house. He noticed a pair of trousers fastened to the side of the house and a tall man who was jumping with all his power into the air so that he could hit the two legs of the trousers as he came down. “What is going on, sir?” the young man asked. “This is the first pair of trousers I've ever had,” answered the tall man, “and I can't seem to get them on.”“It would be much better if you held them up with your hands,” explained the young man, “and then put your legs one after the other in each hole.”“Dear me,” said the tall man, shaking his head, “you are sharper than I am, for that never occurred to me.” Then he took down the trousers and went inside to put them on.
  “Hmmm...,” thought the young man. “I've succeeded in finding two people more foolish than my bride and her mother.” With that, the young man went back and married the young woman. And, in the course of time, they had a great many children.

Difficult Words: silly, cellar, jug, tap, impatient

‘The Three Sillies’ in Creative Storytelling, New York, McGrow-Hill Book Company.
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