I have a fondness for just-so stories, the ones that tell why people or animals are the way they are. Today’s tale, “Why the Bananas Belong to the Monkey,” comes from Brazil. I have to admit that I chose this one because I’ve been on a bit of a banana kick lately. I’ve had one for breakfast most mornings, whether with eggs or in a smoothie.

“Once upon a time when the world had just been made and there was only one kind of banana, but very many kinds of monkeys, there was a little old woman who had a big garden full of banana trees.” It was difficult for the woman to gather them all, so she made a bargain with the largest monkey, promising him half of the bananas if he would gather them all for her. He got all the bananas but of course kept the best ones for himself and gave the old lady the small ones.

The old woman was understandably angry and thought of a way to get back at the monkey. She made a boy out of wax and put a basketful of fresh ripe delicious bananas on its head. The monkey asked for a banana, but the boy of course didn’t answer. When the monkey hit the boy, the monkey’s hand got stuck. The monkey asked and threatened, then hit the wax boy again, getting his other hand stuck, then both feet, then his whole body. At that point he called for help and a whole batch of monkeys came running, all shapes and sizes.

The smallest monkey came up with a plan. All the monkeys climbed up into the tallest tree and formed a pyramid reaching as high as possible. The monkey with the loudest voice was at the top and called for the sun’s help. The sun’s rays melted the wax and the biggest monkey was free.

When the old woman saw what happened she was discouraged and gave up, moving somewhere far away and growing cabbages instead of bananas. The monkeys had the big garden of bananas all to themselves, and “from that day to this the monkeys have thought that they own all the bananas.”

I just thought it was a fun story and, of course, shows the value of the smallest to help the largest, a common fable theme, and that working together can solve problems.  I can just picture the old lady getting frustrated and angry – even the sun’s on the monkeys’ side – and moving away in a huff. You can read the story here.

Thursday’s Tales is a weekly event here at Carol’s Notebook. Fairy tales, folktales, tall tales, even re-tellings, I love them all.


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