Orpheus and Eurydice

Orpheus and Eurydice (I)

Orpheus by his songs moved stones and trees.

And when his wife Eurydice died, bitten by a snake, he went down to Hades, being fain to bring her up, and he persuaded Pluto to send her up.

The god promised to do so, if on the way Orpheus would not turn round until he should come to his own house.

But he disobeyed and, turning round, beheld his wife; so she turned back.

Orpheus and Eurydice (II)

Orpheus’s voice soothed nature, but it was not enough to prevent a snakebite from killing his wife, Eurydice. Bereft, he convinced Hades and Pluto to return her from the underworld. Their only condition was that he not turn to see as she traveled. But his ache was so great that he disobeyed and was compelled to view her face. As their eyes met, she was forced to turn back.

Eurydice and Orpheus (III)

All he needed was to keep his face pointed in the right direction. His hubris was just too great. He knew the strength of his voice could calm even the strongest weather, yet why would he not take seriously the demands of Hades and Pluto? I could have been free. I could have returned. But in his humanity, Orpheus blew it.


By: Katie Volkmar


Where can the Golden Fleece be found?

Beyond the rocks that clash like thunder in the sea.

Beyond the fouled table of the blind prophet Phineus.

Beyond the den of the Harpies, bird-women with cruel claws.

In far Colchis, nestled in a grove, watched by an unsleeping serpent.

Sail there, Jason, with your brave crew – picked men of Hellas – to the country where harsh Aeëtes, son of the Sun, reigns. Brave the seas in your talking ship, with Hera as your guide. Fulfill the impossible tasks, to win the Fleece…and Medea’s love.


By: Thomas R. Keith

Cain and Abel

When the time arrived for Cain and Abel to offer their sacrifices to God, Abel went above and beyond while Cain gave what he thought was more reasonable.

Once the sacrifices were received, God was very disappointed in Cain’s offering but was extremely pleased with Abel’s offering.

Cain knew deep down that he could have been less selfish with his sacrifice and accepted God’s rejection, but Abel was furious because he wanted God to show him more appreciation. Abel committed suicide because he couldn’t appreciate what God thought was right for him, and Cain received everything that Abel ever wanted.


By: Jon Kabongo

The Woman Who Raised the Sky: A Legend from Ghana

Reach! Reach as high as you can, but you cannot touch the sky.

How did the sky get up there, so far away? Long ago, it was just overhead. Here’s what happened:

A woman took her pestle for pounding fufu. The pestle was long, and the woman was strong. Each time she lifted the pestle up, boom: it hit the sky! She kept pounding the fufu in the mortar, and the pestle kept hitting the sky: boom! boom! Every time her pestle hit the sky, the sky went higher and higher.

That is why the sky is so high today.


By: Laura Gibbs

The Danger of a Nonexistent Donkey: A Swahili Tale

A boy found a few coins in the street. “We can buy chickens!” he said.

“Yes!” said his father. “The chickens will lay eggs, and we’ll sell the eggs to buy goats.”

“Yes!” said the son. “The goats will breed, and we’ll sell the kids to buy a donkey, and you’ll give me the donkey to ride.”

“No!” shouted the father. “The donkey is mine!”

“No!” shouted the son. “The donkey is mine!”

“Mine!” shouted the father.

“Mine!” shouted the son.

And then the father hit his son and blinded him in one eye.

All because of a nonexistent donkey.


By: Laura Gibbs

The Pious Cat and the Mouse: Another Swahili Tale

There was once a cat who pretended to be very pious, as if he were a great saint.

A mouse approached this holy cat, seeking wisdom. “Enlighten me, O Cat!” squeaked the mouse.

“Come closer,” said the cat. “I’m hard of hearing. Come closer!”

“He is devoted to God,” the mouse thought to himself. “Surely I have nothing to fear.” So the mouse got close enough to shout into the cat’s ear, whereupon the cat seized him.

“O Holy One!” shrieked the mouse. “What happened to your devotion?”

“I have no idea,” said the cat as he swallowed the mouse.


By: Laura Gibbs

Rabbit Races the Earth: A Legend from Uganda

Rabbit said to Earth, “You’re so lazy! You never move.”

Earth just laughed. “You don’t know what you’re talking about, Rabbit! I’m always moving, and I move faster than you do.”

“You’re wrong!” Rabbit retorted. “And I’ll prove it. Let’s race!”

Then Rabbit started running. He ran and ran, as fast as he could, and then he stopped, sure he had won.

But to Rabbit’s surprise, there was Earth, right there under his feet. Earth had gotten there first.

“I’ll show you!” he shouted, and then he ran and ran and ran some more.

Rabbit kept running until he died.


By: Laura Gibbs

The Dog and His Image

A dog, with a bit of meat in his mouth, was crossing a river. Looking down he saw his image in the water, and thought it was another dog, with a bigger piece. So he dropped what he had, and jumped into the water to make a new friend, who was obviously quite gifted with locating snacks. Thus he gained two things: a friend and co-forager.


By: Melissa Wells

Nasruddin and The Visitor

One day a man came to the house of Nasruddin and knocked on the door, yelling, “Is anyone home?”

From within, Nasruddin replied, “No!”

“O Nasruddin,” said the man, “you say that you are not at home, but yet you yourself responded.”

Nasruddin replied, “But did you not see the ‘no soliciting’ sign posted by the door?”


By: Melissa Wells

Children Are a Blessing

Luigi surrendered to age, sadly gazing over the garden he had no strength to dig. He wished his son Franco were home, but Franco was in jail. Luigi wrote to his son, recalling how he’d helped turn the hard, dry earth.

“Dear Pop,” replied Franco, “choose your spot carefully. You don’t want to dig up the bodies.” He signed the letter with love.

The next day, FBI and police tore up the entire plot, finding nothing but dirt. They apologized and went away scratching their heads.

Franco’s next message: Go ahead and plant now. That’s the best I could do.


By: Jennifer Nardine

The Visitors

At dusk, she left her studio, her last bit of material cut and laid out on the workbench.

Morning came and she arose, finding a shirt sewn with great craftsmanship. Perplexed, she sold it and bought material for two dresses.

That night, the pattern repeated and she bought supplies for four jackets.

After many nights, she waited up and secretly watched. She saw two people, shabbily dressed.

The next night, the pair arrived to find exquisite clothes in just their sizes. They danced in their new clothes, never to return, and the shopkeeper lived prosperously ever after.


By: Katherine Punteney

Fashion over Fit… from Andersen’s The Red Shoes

“Aren’t my new dancing shoes so lovely,” she thought. The blood had finally soaked through evenly, creating a shining scarlet satin.


By: Jennifer Nardine

Brer Rabbit’s Long Ears: An African American Tale

When Rabbit boarded old Noah’s ark, he had short little ears, kind of like a mouse. Not like Rabbits today.

Times were hard there in the ark: forty days and nights of rain, and even Noah got nervous when the ark started leaking.

All the animals were gossiping and spreading rumors, and Rabbit listened at every keyhole to hear everybody’s business. Elephant ate too much, Dog snored, Goat wouldn’t share his tobacco, and so on.

By the time they reached land, Rabbit’s ears had grown tall from stretching to listen at keyholes, and Rabbit’s ears are long to this day.


By: Laura Gibbs

Preacher Rabbit: Another African American Tale

The animals got together for a revival meeting. The preachers preached; then they started confessing their sins.

Preacher Racoon confessed, “I’ve been raiding other folks’ gardens.”

Preacher Dog confessed, “Brethren, I’ve been eating other folks’ lambs.”

Preacher Rooster confessed, “Every time I see a chicken, I take her to bed.”

Preacher Fox confessed, “I drink too much, way too much.”

Everybody was confessing, except for Preacher Rabbit.

“Haven’t you got something to confess?” they asked.

“I confess that I do love to gossip,” said Rabbit, “and I thank you for all you’ve told me today!” Then he ran off, laughing.


By: Laura Gibbs

Brer Rabbit and the Briar Patch

Brer Rabbit was in a fix, entangled in Brer Fox’s clutches. He wriggled and writhed while Brer Fox smiled, putting the pot on to boil.

Old Fox asked Rabbit, “Now what spices and herbs go best with you? I like a sweet and spicy feel.”

Spotting a briar patch, wily Brer Rabbit suggested, “Briar leaves are sometimes tasty. They’re kind of earthy like parsley, with a little nip like oregano.”

Brer Fox licked his chops and thought, “I’m no dummy. He’ll face the thorns, not I,” and he heaved Brer Rabbit into the briar patch.

Brer Rabbit hopped off, grinning.


By: Jennifer Nardine

Boys Will Be Boys, or Peter Rabbit’s Diary

I HATE chamomile tea! It tickles my nose and dries out my throat. And why do the girls get milk and blackberries? It’s so unfair!

It’s not like I meant to lose my blue jacket. I wanted some variety in my diet, just like the nutritionists say. Is that too much to ask? And they’re just growing there, row after row of tomatoes and lettuce and carrots and…yum!

And everyone is so mean! Sparrows just teased me about getting tangled, the mouse wouldn’t tell me the way, and old man what’s-his-name tried to skewer me on his rake!


By: Jennifer Nardine

Selkie Daydream

I will waken tomorrow and somehow be able to leave, despite the love we share. My love of the sea, my mother, grows stronger each day. I think she may win next sunrise. My babes will still know me, in my seal skin, as the same mother who loves them. We will dance along the shore, skipping in and out of the tides, looking for fur on their bodies, melding fingers and toes, some fine new whiskers. We will submerge at last, into deep waters, forgetting our home on land. If not, some will stay behind, rocks on the shore.


By: Jennifer Nardine



A young girl lay upon a willow tree’s branch over a flowing stream when the trio — maiden, mother, and crone – paused in the shade. The water looked cool and inviting, so the red-haired maiden set aside her bow. The laughing mother and the crone, green eyes twinkling, also waded in. Their eyes met as they dove while the girl watched, entranced. The surface broke; a single figure stood, sparkling with droplets. Fiery tresses fell back as she looked up, green eyes dancing as she saw the girl. Her gentle laughter carried back on the breeze well after she disappeared.


She watched as the eons passed and the world changed. Men relegated Her to consort, making way for Him, reshaping society until few remembered when She was all, not just mother and child. She watched her daughters’ stars fading away, forgetting their place and ceding their power to the sons in peace’s name. Yet war, not peace, still ruled. She looked to Him and saw it was time; so, rising from her ever-twilit flower-strewn hills, She walked into the sea, dissolving into uncounted shining stars that floated back to the sand, then soared to alight in each daughter’s soul.


Earth wept, then earth raged as land, seas and creatures died. Tidal waves, firestorms, and earthquakes shook from her core, a battle cry finally heard. They fought back, the men — the sons — at the helm, overcome with hubris: they could bend nature to heel. Lines were drawn, sons and daughters on each side, and the earth felt despair. But the daughters’ stars and the flames in some sons reached out, weaving a shining net. Then threads met and meshed into one, more than each fiber weighed together, and three strands reached to earth – maiden, mother, crone. She smiled.


By: Jennifer Nardine


She could never regret marrying the handsome night-hunting stranger.

Sure, he had turned out to be a canine shapeshifter, whom her brothers casually killed outside his lodge one night before he could reassume human appearance. And yes, her family banished her, saying she smelled like a dog.

Still, she loved the puppies she birthed and played games with them as joyfully and tenderly as any mother.

When footprints around their solitary camp betrayed them shifting into child form in her absences, she cunningly trapped two boys and a girl permanently in that state.

From these descended all the Tłı̨chǫ people.


By: Jim Stauffer


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Tiny Tales from the Digital Pedagogy Lab 2021 Copyright © 2021 by Laura Gibbs is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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