Thursday’s Tale: The Boy Who Wanted the WilliesFolktales on Stage by Aaron Shepard
Published by Shepard Publications on September 1, 2003
Pages: 180
Format: eBook
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Folktales on Stage is a collection of 16 reader's theater scripts for young readers, adapted by award-winning children's author Aaron Shepard from his own folktale retellings. A wide variety of countries and cultures is represented, including Native America, Africa, the Middle East, Russia, Southeast Asia, and China. The scripts may be freely copied for educational, noncommercial purposes. While aiming mostly at ages 8 to 15, the collection features a full range of reading levels.


Today’s story comes from Folktales on Stage by Aaron Shepherd. The book is a very nice collection of scripts for children. Some were new to me and others familiar. There are funny stories and tales with a moral lesson. The scripts are clear and appropriate for children. If I worked with a group of kids, whether in school or storytime, I think it would be a nice addition to my shelves.

Shepherd based “The Boy Who Wanted the Willies” on a tale by the Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm, “The Story of a Boy Who Went Forth to Learn Fear” but added a lot of changes and embellishments.

There was once a boy, Hans, who was never afraid of anything, mostly because he didn’t have enough sense to be afraid. One evening Hans and his sister were walking by a graveyard when the sister said the place gave her the willies. Hans asked what the willies were and his sister told him the willies are when you get so scared, you shiver and shake. The boy decided he wanted to get the willies. At this point the script has the sister look at the audience and shake her head in disgust. It’s a funny little story if you included other’s reactions to the boy, whether they be spoken or not.

Hans said goodbye to his family and went out, determined to look for the willies. He told everyone he met along the way and many tried to scare him, but none succeeded. Finally he met a king who told him about a haunted castle that was sure to give him the willies if he spent the night. However, he also told Hans that no one who gone there had ever lived through the night. Adding, that if he did stay alive, he could break the spell and find the castle treasure.

It was midnight when Hans entered the castle. When the clock struck one, he saw two men, a vampire and a werewolf, playing cards. They invited him to join and of course the boy lost. First the vampire threatened to drain his blood, but Hans broke off one of his fangs. Then the werewolf pounced, but Hans ducked out of the way and the werewolf went through the window. Hans sat back down in front of the fire, still wondering when he would get the willies.

At two o’clock a parade of skeletons came in, banging out a rhythm with their various bones. At first Hans dance with them, but when they went faster and faster and wouldn’t stop, he ended up breaking them apart by swinging a chair around. He tossed the bones out the window and settled back in.

At three o’clock, a voice bellowed down the chimney, “Look out below.” And down came a giant body, then arms and legs, and finally a giant head. The boy, assuming it was a puzzle, put the giant back together. Once he was whole again, the giant jumped up, exclaiming that the spell was broken and had Hans follow him to the treasure. The giant wanted Hans to do all the work, but Hans told the giant to do the digging and hauling until there were three pots of gold in the great haul, one for the king, one for the poor, and one for Hans. Then the giant fell apart again and flew up the chimney.

Hans, thinking it was nice to be rich, but still wondering when he would get the willies, settled back into the chair by the fire for the rest of the night.

The king lets Hans live in the castle, and once he is grown up he married the king’s daughter. The soon have triplets.

PRINCESS: Dearest, would you like to name them?
HANS: Certainly! Their names are Willy . . . Willy . . . and Willy!
PRINCESS: (confused) But why all the same?
HANS: (triumphantly, to audience) Because now I’ll have the Willies!
ALL (except Hans): (to audience, give a look of disbelief and dismay)

Cute, huh? In a cheesy, silly way that I can picture kids laughing at.

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

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