Tiny Tales series

Welcome to the homepage for the TINY TALES series of
traditional myths and folktales retold in 100 words.

Each completed book is free to read online as a Pressbook or you can download a free digital file (PDF, mobi, epub); you can also listen to a free audiobook. In addition, you can purchase a Kindle version or paperback version from Amazon. There are EIGHT books available as of January 22: seven books of stories, along with a teaching guide. (Plus, there's are two books of 100-word stories by my students from Fall 2020 and Spring 2021!)

1. Tiny Tales of Nasruddin 
2. Tiny Tales from India
3. Tiny Tales from Aesop
4. Tiny Tales Teaching Guide
8. Tiny Tales from the Mahabharata


I've decided to spend the next two years focusing on animal stories from Africa... I'm not exactly sure what books will come first, but I'm collecting animal stories, and I'll publish the books as they take shape.

Vetula et canicula eius

Centum Verba: De uxore casta

Miles nobilem uxorem castam et decoram habebat. Ad peregrinandum perrexit, et uxor domi remansit. 
Iuvenis militis uxorem ardenti amore coepit amare, et saepe illuc ibat, sed nihil valuit: domina casta per omnia eum sprevit. 
Quodam die iuvenis dolens ac tristis obviam habuit vetulam sanctam reputatam quae causam eius tristitiae quaesivit. Iuvenis omnia narravit, et vetula ait, "Cum Dei adiutorio te curabo."
Vetula ista caniculam habebat, et panem sinapi confectum ei dedit; prae amaritudine oculi caniculae lacrimabantur.
Tunc ad domum dominae castae perrexit.
Domina caniculam lacrimantem respexit et admirabatur.
Vetula ei ait, "Haec canicula erat filia mea, casta nimis et decora. ...

Centum Verba: De vetulae filia

... Iuvenis quidam eam vehementer adamavit, sed adeo casta erat ut omnino sperneret eius amorem. Tantum dolens prae dolore, iuvenis mortuus est, pro qua culpa Deus convertit filiam meam in caniculam, sicut tu vides." 
Domina exclamavit, "Heu me! Simili modo me quidam iuvenis diligit et pro amore meo infirmatur." 
Vetula haec audiens ait, "Carissima domina, noli amorem iuvenis spernere ne forte et tu muteris in caniculam sicut filia mea."
Ait domina vetulae, "Bona matrona, adiuva me! Nolo in caniculam mutari! Rogo ut iuvenem ad me ducas."
Vetula perrexit et iuvenem secum duxit; cum domina dormivit, et sic per vetulam adulterium commisit.

Inspired by: Gesta Romanorum.
Notes: This story is number 28 in Oesterley, with an English translation in Swan. I have shortened the story; you can find the full Latin text here: Vetula et canicula eius. This story is also found in Petrus Alphonsi, and from Alphonsi it entered into the Aesop tradition, as you can see in this illustration from Steinhowel's Aesop:

The Mean Old Grandmother

"No food for you," the mean grandmother said to her granddaughter, "unless you guess my name."
Thus the granddaughter went hungry.
Crab pitied the poor girl, so when she to came to fetch water, he whispered, "Her name is Sarjmoti-Amoa-Oplem-Dadja."
The girl thanked him and ran home, but forgot the name. She went back and begged Crab to repeat it. Reluctantly he whispered again: "Sarjmoti-Amoa-Oplem-Dadja."
"Sarjmoti-Amoa-Oplem-Dadja," cried the granddaughter, "feed me!"
The woman realized Crab must have betrayed her. He ran, but not fast enough. She threw her calabash at him, and it stuck! 
That's how Crab got his shell.

Inspired by: The Orphan Girl and other stories: West African folk tales by Buchi Offodile.
Notes: This is a story from the Gurunsi people of Burkina Faso: "How the Crab Got its Shell." You can read the original story at the Internet Archive. The full version of the story is full of wonderful details! Compare a similar story about Anansi from the West Indies: Anansi and the Witch's Name.

The Wildcat and the Nightjar

Wildcat and Nightjar were friends.
One day, Wildcat growled, "I'm going to eat you!"
Nightjar flapped her wings and fluttered away in fear.
Wildcat just laughed. "Oh, I was only joking, my dear friend." Then she added, "But seriously, one of my kittens is sick. I need two of your feathers to make medicine."
Reassured, Nightjar gave her two feathers. "I'm glad to help," she said.
Wildcat made the same request the next day, and the next, and the next.
Finally, Nightjar had no feathers left, so she was unable to fly.
That's when Wildcat grabbed Nightjar and ate her.

Inspired byKaonde Proverbs by John C. Ganly.
Notes: Quite a few of Ganly's proverbs are associated with stories, and he provides the story in the commentary that goes with the proverb. This is proverb 243 in his collection, which also includes the Kaonde original (collected near Solwezi Town in Zambia) and a summary of the story told here.
243. The wildcat and the nightjar were friends.
Kapaka ne lubafwa baubile bulunda.

photo by Arno Meintjes

The Partridge and the Puff-Adder

The partridge smelled smoke. Then she saw the flames. The grass was on fire! She needed to fly away.
Just as she was taking flight, the puff-adder shouted at her, "Dear ssssissssster, don't leave me! I will burn to death here. Pleasssssse take me with you!"
Feeling sorry for the helpless snake, the partridge grabbed him up in her beak and carried him away to safety.
But instead of thanking her, as soon as they alighted on the ground away from the fire, the puff-adder devoured the partridge.
So the proverb warns us:
Mercy caused the partridge to be eaten.

Inspired byKaonde Proverbs by John C. Ganly.
Notes: Quite a few of Ganly's proverbs are associated with stories, and he provides the story in the commentary that goes with the proverb. This is proverb 61 in his collection, which also includes the Kaonde original (collected near Solwezi Town in Zambia):
61. Mercy caused the partridge to be eaten.
Lusa lwajile nkwaji.
(The partridge is "nkwaji").

Rex et Puer

Centum Verba: Conradus Rex

Conradus regnavit, et quidam comes, iram regis metuens, cum uxore in silvam fugit. 
Dum in silva venaretur, Conradus in comitis tugurium advenit, nescius, nocte superveniente. 
Eadem nocte, comitis uxor filium peperit.
Conradus vocem audivit: "Accipe, accipe, accipe." Expergefactus a somno, cogitabat "Quid signat ista vox?" et statim obdormivit. 
Secunda vice audivit vocem: "Redde, redde, redde." Tremefactus est valde. "Quid est hoc?" Iterum obdormivit. 
Tertia vice audivit vocem: "Fuge, fuge, fuge, O rex! Hic puer gener tuus erit." Commota sunt omnia viscera regis. 
Mane surgens, duos armigeros ad se vocavit. "Parvulum auferte," imperavit, "et, per medium scindentes, cor eius mihi apportate." 

Centum Verba: Henricus Puer

Regis armigeri, conterriti, de gremio matris puerum rapuerunt,  sed, misericordia moti, in arbore reposuerunt ne a feris devoraretur, et, leporem scindentes, cor leporis regi detulerunt. 
Dux in silva transiens puerum vagientem audivit. Dum filium non haberet, puerum uxori attulit. Suum genitum fingentes, puerum Henricum vocaverunt. 
Henricus corpore pulcher erat, ore facundus et omnibus gratiosus.
Rex, cum videret ducis filium omnibus gratiosum, dubitare coepit ne post se regnaret et ne iste sit quem occidi mandaverat. Volens esse securus, reginae litteras manibus suis scripsit: "Mox ut istas litteras receperis, nuntium hunc necabis," et, Henricum ad se vocans, ei imperavit litteras reginae perferre.

Centum Verba: Regis Litterae

Henricus, ad reginam pergens, in ecclesia hospitatus est. 
Dum quiesceret, sacerdos, curiositate ductus, eius bursam aperuit. Litteras legens, scelus abhorruit. Radens subtiliter regis verba "Nuntium hunc necabis," scripsit "Filiam nostram in uxorem nuntio dabis." 
Cumque regina istas litteras legisset, regis sigillo munitas et de manu eius scriptas, nuptias celebravit et filiam Henrico in uxorem dedit.
Dum regi narraretur quod nuptiae filiae suae celebratae essent, obstupuit, sed, veritatem ab armigeris et duce et sacerdote comperiens, ordinationi Dei resistendum non esse vidit, sicut vox dixerat: "Hic puer gener tuus erit." 
Henricum igitur suum generum esse approbavit et post in imperio regnare instituit.

Inspired by: Gesta Romanorum.
Notes: This story is number 20 in Oesterley, with an English translation in Swan. I have shortened the story; you can find the full Latin text here: De Rege et Puero. The full Latin text says that the queen resided in Aachen, Aquisgranum in Latin.

The Chameleon and the Snake

Chameleon and Snake were friends.
"Snake, I'm going to show you something special," said Chameleon one day. "Watch! I can change colors!" He climbed a tree trunk, turning brown to match. Then he walked on a leaf and turned green. "Am I amazing or what?!"
Not saying anything in reply, Snake rubbed against the tree trunk, and her skin came off. All of it. She had completely new skin, bright and shining.
Chameleon stared at his friend in wonder, embarrassed about his boasting. He could change color, it was true, but Snake had outdone him, changing old skin for new.

Inspired by: Kaonde Proverbs by John C. Ganly.
Notes: Quite a few of Ganly's proverbs are associated with stories, and he provides the story in the commentary that goes with the proverb: the chameleon boasted about changing colors, but then the snake did somethign even more remarkable, shedding its skin. This is proverb 14 in his collection, which also includes the Kaonde original (collected near Solwezi Town in Zambia):
14. The chameleon and the snake are friends.
Longolo ne mulolo bauba bulunda.
(longolo is the chameleon, and mulolo is the snake)
"We should be careful about boasting to others, because they might be more clever than we are."