‘Naming The Tree’ | Circle Round 103 | Circle Round – WBUR

Ever heard the saying, Bigger is better?

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Well guess what?

Its not necessarily true!

In todays story, well meet a character whos anything but big. But when it comes to patience, focus and creativity shes huge!

Our story is called Naming the Tree. Versions of this tale come from parts of Africa. Our adaptation continues our 2020 summer series with the Boston Symphony Orchestra, and features musical accompaniment by BSO tuba player Mike Roylance.

Voices in this episode include Gabriela Fernandez Coffey, Kevin Corbett, Jessica Rau, Jefferson Russell, Chris Tucci, Craig Wallace, Laura K. Welsh and Chloe Coleman. Kids, you can see Chloe in Timmy Failure: Mistakes Were Made on Disney+. And grown-ups, look for Chloe in Upload on Amazon, Big Little Lies on HBO, as well as the feature film, My Spy.

Coloring Page

ADULTS! PRINT THISso everyone can color while listening. Were also keeping an album so share your picture onFacebook,Twitter,Instagram, and tag it with #CircleRound. We'd love to see it! To access all the coloring pages for past episodes clickHERE.Our resident artist is Sabina Hahn and you can learn more about herHERE.

Things To Think About After Listening

Think about a time you felt strong - in body, or mind, or both.

Find a piece of paper and something to draw with, then create a picture that shows your experience. Once youre done, show it to a grown-up in your life, and tell them all about it. Then ask your grown-up to describe a time they felt strong.

Musical Spotlight: Tuba

Appearing first in the mid-1800s, the tuba is one of the newer instruments in the modern orchestra. Its also the lowest-pitched member of the brass family. Composer Eric Shimelonis chose the tuba to accompany this story because its deep, booming sound echoes the rich, low voice of Elephant - and suggests the slower, steadier pace of Tortoise!


NARRATOR: Long ago back when animals ruled the earth a great drought came to the land.

Not one drop of rain fell from the sky, so the ground grew scorched, baked and dusty and the long, tall grass shriveled, withered and wilted.

The great drought led to a great famine, and the animals roamed the plains, searching for something anything! to fill their bellies.

But they couldnt find a thing to eat.


ANIMAL 1: / ANIMAL 2: / ANIMAL 3: / ANIMAL 4: / ANIMAL 5: Wooooowwwwwww!

NARRATOR: Miraculously, sprouting up in the middle of the vast, sunburnt plains was a lofty, leafy tree, with a thick, gnarled trunk. The trees strong, sturdy branches were bursting with ripe, fragrant, juicy fruit all of them different colors of the rainbow!

As the animals gaped at the tree with watering mouths, Elephant used his strong, grey trunk to grasp one of the plump fruits. He gave the fruit a tug but it held fast to the branch.

ELEPHANT: Ahhhh just as I suspected!

NARRATOR: Elephant let go of the fruit and turned to his fellow animals.

ELEPHANT: My friends! Ive heard stories about this tree... Legend has it its a magic tree! And its rainbow-colored fruit will cling to its branches and never come off... unless we can say the trees name.

NARRATOR: The animals were intrigued.

ANIMAL 1: Okay

ANIMAL 2: So, whats the name of the tree, Elephant?

ANIMAL 3: Yes! Whats the name of the tree!?

ANIMAL 4: Tell us what it's called!

ANIMAL 5: Tell us the name!

ANIMAL 1: / ANIMAL 2: / ANIMAL 3: / ANIMAL 4: / ANIMAL 5: (ad-lib excited pleas to hear the trees name, to say the name and get fruit, how hungry they are, etc.)

NARRATOR: Elephant held up his trunk. The animals quieted down.

ELEPHANT: The truth is, my friends... I dont actually know the trees name! The only one who does know is the king of the beasts himself Lion! (beat) So... my question is which one of you will go and ask Lion the name of the tree?

NARRATOR: The animals exchanged a nervous glance. All of them knew that Lion lived far across the plains, over the hills, and deep within the jungle! The great creature rarely emerged from his den, and he was always grouchy, grumbly and grumpy.

ELEPHANT: (encouraging) Oh, come now, friends! Surely one of you can visit Lion and find out the name of the tree...? So that we can enjoy this succulent, sweet-smelling fruit...? (beat) Anyone? (getting discouraged/frustrated) Anyone?

TORTOISE: Ill do it, Elephant!

NARRATOR: The animals all stared at Tortoise.

TORTOISE: Ill go and ask Lion the name of the tree!

NARRATOR: Elephant knelt down, lowered his trunk, and gave Tortoises tiny head a gentle pat.

ELEPHANT: (almost condescending) Oh, Tortoise. I appreciate your offer. But look at you! Youre so small! So slow! By the time you return from Lions den, all of us will have wasted away from hunger!

NARRATOR: Elephant got back to his feet.

ELEPHANT: No. We want to send someone whos swift... and nimble! Someone like

NARRATOR: His eyes darted from animal to animal.

ELEPHANT: like Hare! (beat) Hare, why dont you go across the plains, over the hills and into the jungle to ask Lion the name of the tree?

NARRATOR: Hare wiggled her slender ears and twitched her whiskery nose.

HARE: (flattered, becoming more confident) Well I am swift and nimble! The swiftest and nimblest, in fact! (beat) You know what? Ill do it!

NARRATOR: So swift, nimble Hare jumped across the plains, hopped over the hills, and leaped through the jungle, all the way to Lions den.

HARE: (cheery, chirpy) Hi there, Lion! Do you have a minute?

NARRATOR: Unbeknownst to Hare, Lion was about to settle down for a nap. The great beast lifted his shaggy, golden head and rolled his big, amber eyes.

LION: (tired, grumpy) I suppose I have a minute - but thats all! (beat) (grudging) What is it, Hare?

HARE: Well, Lion It hasnt rained in ages, and the animals are very hungry. But we found the magic tree in the middle of the plains! The one that grows juicy, rainbow-colored fruits! So I wonder, could you please tell me the trees name...?

NARRATOR: Lion opened his mighty jaws and let out a yawn.

LION: (yawn) So you wish to know the name of the magic tree in the middle of the plains that grows juicy, rainbow-colored fruits...? (beat) The name of the tree is (slowly) UWUNGELEMA [uh-WOONG-uh-LAY-muh]. [note: the oo is like spoon or moon.]

HARE: (slowly repeating) Uwungelema? [uh-WOONG-uh-LAY-muh] [note: the oo is like spoon or moon.]

LION: Thats right! Say that name and you and the other animals can eat as many juicy, rainbow-colored fruits as you want. (beat) Now beat it, Hare. I have a cat nap to take.

NARRATOR: Hares heart and legs were racing as she scurried away from Lions den.

HARE: (as she runs, super-excited) Oh boy oh boy oh boy! Well be stuffing ourselves on juicy, rainbow-colored fruit in no time thanks to my swift, nimble feet! (beat) Lets see how fast these babies can go!

NARRATOR: Hare began sprinting faster...

HARE: Woo-hoo-hoo!

NARRATOR: ...and faster

HARE: Look at me!!!

NARRATOR: ...and soon she was going so fast that as she burst out of the jungle and headed toward the hills...

HARE: (gasp)

NARRATOR: ...her paw got snagged in a vine hanging from a baobab tree!

HARE: Oh no!

NARRATOR: Hare wriggled this way and that as she scrambled to untangle herself from the creeper.

HARE: (fighting to untangle) Oh, come on! Come on!

NARRATOR: And when she finally broke free

HARE: Whew!

NARRATOR: ...she sped back over the hills and across the plains at such a breakneck pace, her slender body looked like a blur.

When Hare returned to the magic tree, Elephant and the other animals leaned in with hopeful eyes and bated breath.

ELEPHANT: Well, Hare? Tell us! Whats the name of the tree?

NARRATOR: Hare grinned.

HARE: (proudly) Okay, everybody. The name of the tree is (realizing shes unable to remember)... is ummmm

NARRATOR: Hare wracked her brain, trying to remember what Lion told her. But her unexpected tango with the vine had knocked the trees name right out of her head!

HARE: The name is... uhhhh ummmm (beat) (defeated, sheepish) I forgot!!!

NARRATOR: The animals faces dropped. Elephant shrugged.

ELEPHANT: Thats okay, Hare, thats okay. Well just have to send someone else.

TORTOISE: Well...? What about me?

NARRATOR: Once again, all eyes turned to Tortoise.

TORTOISE: I told you, Elephant! Ill do it! Ill go ask Lion the name of the tree!

NARRATOR: Elephant shook his head.

ELEPHANT: Thats very sweet of you, Tortoise. But like I said, youre just too small and slow! And besides, after what happened with Hare, we need someone who will actually remember what Lion tells them... Someone who wont forget... Someone who (beat, a-ha moment) wait a minute!

NARRATOR: His eyes lit up.

ELEPHANT: Thats me! Elephants never forget!

NARRATOR: It was true! Elephant had an excellent memory.

So, with his wrinkly, grey tail swinging behind him, Elephant set off for Lions den, to find out the name of the magic tree.

NARRATOR: What do you think will happen next?

Will Elephant learn the trees name and remember it?

Well find out, after a quick break.

[theme music in]

NARRATOR: Welcome back to Circle Round. Im Rebecca Sheir. Today our story is called Naming the Tree.

NARRATOR: Before the break, during a great drought and famine, the animals found a magical tree that was actually bearing fruit!

But the animals couldnt pick the fruit until they said the name of the tree and the only one who knew the trees name was Lion, who lived across the plains, over the hills, and deep within the jungle.

First, Lion told the name to Hare, but the swift, nimble creature rushed away so quickly that she got caught in a vine! And the name vanished from her head!

So Elephant volunteered.

The massive creature tromped across the plains, tramped over the hills, and trundled through the jungle, all the way to Lions den.

Read more here:

'Naming The Tree' | Circle Round 103 | Circle Round - WBUR

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