Bibliographic Information (best version for telling):

Martin, Rafe. The Brave Little Parrot, taken from More Best-Loved Stories Told at the National Storytelling Festival. Selected by National Association for the Preservation and Perpetuation of Storytelling. National Storytelling Press: Jonesboro, Tennessee, 1992. 194-196.

Ethnic Origin:

Buddhist/Indian Jataka Tale

Running Time:

Approximately 8 minutes

Power Center(s):

Little parrot desperately trying to extinguish fire

Eagle/god crying tears of shame


Brave little parrot and the compassionate eagle/god


Parrot- the little parrot, happily flitting about in her forest home

Fire- lightning strikes a tree that bursts into flame, wind spreads fire throughout forest, terrified animals

River- little parrot dips herself to rush back and try to extinguish the flames

Eagle tears- eagle sheds tears of shame that extinguish the fire


A little parrot fights forest fire while gods above laugh at her efforts. One god shows compassion and helps her extinguish the flames and save the forest animals.

Rhymes/Special Phrases/"Flavor":

Little drops of water fell down like jewels into the flames *tshsss* and vanished

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

This story would be appropriate for many ages, but it's especially suitable for younger audiences. Younger children will be able to see themselves in the little parrot. According to Charlotte Huck's developmental growth ideas, children of this age will be able to empathize with the little parrot. Erik Erikson also says children of this age deal with inferiority issues, which they will see when the eagle tries to convince the little parrot that her efforts are useless. I think everyone needs to see that even one person (or a little parrot) can make a difference.

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

Parrot Bodhisat. The Teaching of Buddha. Society for the Promotion of Buddhism: Tokyo? 1966. 139.

Martin, Rafe. The Brave Little Parrot. The Hungry Tigress. Parallax Press: Berkeley, California, 1990.

The Lion and the Mouse. Aesop's Fables. Illustrated by Charles Santore. Jelly Bean Press: New York, 1988.

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.

Every story version or variant had a different way of emphasizing that even the smallest creatures can make a difference. The Parrot Bodhisat version was actually more like a fable/parable with a minimum of description- very much like one of the Aesop's fables. I found a number of other versions with no direct author, but they all seemed to be "borrowed" from the Martin versions. The different versions by Martin were interesting- the main story that I used was actually a transcription of him telling the story rather than one of the few he'd actually written. Some had changed the laughing gods in the story into angels to Christianize it, but then it just doesn't sound right. Martin's versions seem to flow better and stick more to the story's tradition.