Bibliographic Information (best version for telling):

            Tales from the Story Hat, “Koi and the Kola Nuts”, p. 54.  Aardema, Verna.  New York:  Coward-McCann, Inc.  1960.


Ethnic Origin:  




Running Time:          6 minutes



Power Center(s):

            Generosity, courage of young boy alone in the world with no resources.  Gratitude by those he helped comes in time to save him during various tests.





            Snake, ants, alligator

            Mean old man


            People of his home village and his new village (background)



            Koi, cheated of his inheritance, leaves home.

            Meeting snake

            Meeting ants

            Meeting alligator

            Coming to village

            Test 1: cut down tree – snake helps

            Test 2: retrieve grain – ants help        

            Test 3: find ring – alligator helps



            Koi, the son of a chief, is cheated of his proper inheritance.  On his travels to find a new home, he gives away what little he has, and helps a snake cure its mother, a troop of ants avoid the wrath of forest demon, and an alligator avoid wrath of rainmaker.  When he comes to a new village, he asks to live with them, but they are afraid of a stranger.  He is tested in his new village – he must cut tree down to fall in forest, recover scattered grain, and find a ring in water.  He is helped by animals he helped, and wins a place in the village and the daughter of the chief.




Rhymes/Special Phrases/"Flavor":

            The importance of the kola nut, its medicinal qualities and its place as a symbol of wealth, which the hero gives away without expectation of reward. 


Audience (why is this story appropriate for the audience? developmental characteristics?):

            Pre-school children have an awareness of smaller being picked on by bigger, which is the motivation of the hero’s journey, and which occurs throughout the story to him and to the animals.  Their direct experience with this problem may resonate in the hero’s experience.  They are open to the fantastic element of talking animals, and might respond to the idea of the weaker helping each other in times of need, although it may challenge their thinking.  The story also has elements of repetition, with small changes that enhance the familiarity of the repeated situations.  (Piaget)


Bibliographic information on other versions/variants (at least two)?

            Animals helping the hero succeed with tests are found in many cultures:

            “The Queen Bee” in Grimm’s Fairy Tales. New York: Grosset & Dunlap, 1945.  (SILS J398 Grimm).

            “The Princess with the Golden Hair” in Bungling Pedro: & Other Majorcan Tales, retold by Alexander Mehdevi.  New York: Knopf, 1970.  (SILS J398.2 Mehdevi)

            “Benito the Faithful” in Once in the First Times; Folk Tales from the Philippines, by Elizabeth Hough Sechrist:  Philadelphia, Macrae Smith Co., 1949.   




Brief comparison of all versions/variants in terms of language, rhythm, "tellability," "flavor," content, etc.  Stress the differences in style rather than those of content.

            “The Queen Bee”, the Grimm Brother’s variant, has three princes traveling together, with the elder two provoking animals and failing tests which the youngest succeeds at, with the help of the animals.  This version is fine for telling, but it is the standard Grimm formula, which makes it hard (for me) to read without skimming – nothing seems to set it apart from several other of their tales, in my reading.  In addition, the youngest prince doesn’t do anything – he just hurries his mischief-making brothers away from the animals they would harass, so there is no personal element to me.


            “The Princess with the Golden Hair”, which comes from Majorca via Alexander Mehdevi, offers additional detail, which makes it a little long for telling, except to an older audience.  As in “The Queen Bee”, the nature of the princess’ enchantment and the series of tests seem abrupt, as if she forgets to tell the hero that he has a series of tests to overcome.  (I liked the fickle nature of the chief in “Koi” – that seemed more “plausible”.)  To me, the major test is the defeat of the two giants, but that is the first, and easiest feat to accomplish.


            “Benito the Faithful” seems to combine two Grimm standards – the proving of the faithful subject and the tested hero, which makes it a long  story.  The real difference is that Benito, after succeeding at all his tasks, is actually the downfall of the King; however, the King is not set up as a bad character in this telling, which makes the title a problem!  Although the ocean is one of the obstacles Benito must cross, there is little else of  Filipino flavor to the story.