Cabral, Len. “The Lion’s Whisker.” In Len Cabral’s Storytelling Book. New York: Neal-Schuman, 1997.
Ethnic Origin: Ethiopian
Running Time: 11 minutes
The power centers are patience, perseverance, and love. I want the audience to see the power of love. I want them to understand that you cannot force someone to love you, but if you have patience and persevere you can win their love.
Characters: Sonya, the stepmother, son, father, and witch doctor
Scenes: Stepson at the death of his mother,
Sonya confronting her stepson on his feelings,
Sonya at the witch doctor’s hut,
Sonya at the mountain lion’s cave,
Sonya brings the whisker back to the witch doctor,
Sonya uses patience to win the boy’s love.
Mother dies and leaves son feeling angry and confused. Father remarries Sonya. Sonya tries to force her love on her stepson. Son runs away and father finds him and brings back. Sonya goes to the witch doctor to get love potion to make stepson love her. Witch doctor tells her he needs whisker of ferocious mountain lion. Sonya takes four pieces of meat to mountain lion’s cave. She slowly woos the mountain lion and jerks out a whisker. Takes whisker back to witch doctor who burns it and tells her she must approach her son the same way she approached the mountain lion. Sonya slowly woos her stepson and wins his love.
“Ferocious mountain lion”
“Use your wits”
This story I chose for adults so that they can see that they cannot force a child to have feelings that they don’t want. I want them to see that patience, love and perseverance can bring a child around and help them deal with the anger and confusion that they may have. You can’t force a child to talk about his feelings; sometimes you must give them love and attention without smothering them. There is always room in your heart to love another and you are not betraying anyone by allowing more love into your heart.
Bibliographic information on other versions/variants:
Ashabranner, Brent and Russell Davis. “The Lion’s Whiskers.” In The Lion’s Whiskers and Other Ethiopian Tales. North Haven, Connecticut: Linnet Books, 1997.
Courlander, Harold. “The Tiger’s Whisker.” In The Tiger’s Whisker and Other Tales and Legends from Asia and the Pacific. New York: Harcourt Brace, 1959.
Crossley-Holland, Kevin, ed. “The Tiger’s Whisker.” In The Young Oxford Book of Folk Tales. New York: Oxford University Press, 1998.
Day, Nancy Raines. The Lion’s Whiskers: An Ethiopian Folktale. New York: Scholastic, 1995.
DeSpain, Pleasant, storyteller. “The Lion’s Whisker.” In Thirty-three Multicultural Tales to Tell. Little Rock: August House, 1993.
Estes, Clarissa Pinkola. “The Crescent Moon Bear.” In Women Who Run With the Wolves. New York: Ballantine, May 1992.
Forest, Heather. “The Tiger’s Whisker.” In Wisdom Tales From Around the World. Little Rock: August House, 1996.
Kurtz, Jane. Pulling the Lion’s Tail. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1995.
MacDonald, Margaret Read. Compiler. “The Lion’s Whisker.” In Peace Tales, World Folktales To Talk About. Retold by Pleasant DeSpain. Hamden, Connecticut: Linnet Books, 1992.
Brief comparison of all versions/variants in terms of language, rhythm, “tellability,” “flavor,” content, etc.
The reason I picked Cabral’s version of “The Lion’s Whisker” was because it was already arranged and was suitable for storytelling. It flowed well and I like the powerful parent/child theme versus the husband and wife theme some of the variant’s had. The Ashabramer and Davis version is very similar to Cabral’s since this is the version Cabral based his story on. This version had more details that I incorporated in my story, but it did not flow as well and is really a story within a story. The MacDonald’s version of "The Lion’s Whisker" is probably originally based on Ashabramer’s version. It is more of a bare boned version; it leaves out the flowery language. It also abbreviates the ending, which makes it less dramatic and takes some of the power away from the story.
The Young Oxford Book of Folk Tales variant of the “Tiger’s Whisker came from Japan and deals with the husband and wife theme. The story is more drawn out and focuses more on tenacity than love. Courlander’s variant, “The Tiger’s Whisker, is a Korean Tale, but it is very similar to the one that is suppose to be from Japan. It makes me think that the origins are the same since they even use the same names for the characters. Courlander's is more emotional and has more dialog, but I don’t think it flows as well for storytelling. I like the rhythm of the dialog and it has several phrases that I liked.
I loved the language used in Heather Forest’s “The Tiger’s Whisker’s. If I were going to tell the husband and wife variant, I would have based it on this one. It is very emotional and has good rhythm and details that make it more applicable to today. Estes’s has an interesting variant, “The Crescent Moon Bear.” I didn’t find it as realistic as some of the other variants. It has very flowery language and it also has a power of women theme running throughout the story. It deals more with patience over coming rage. It doesn’t really deal with love, which makes it a less powerful story to me.
Pulling the Lion’s Tail has a new twist; it is the stepdaughter trying to win the love of a young stepmother in an arranged marriage. The theme is on patience and it makes a nice picture book. I’m not sure I like the idea of encouraging a child to pull the lion’s whisker even in theory. I think the story does not have the power of some of the older variants, but it has nice rhythm and language.
DeSpain has a variant of “The Lion’s Whisker” that deals with the husband and wife theme, but instead of being disturbed from war he is just unhappy with his marriage. I think this took some of the power from the story. It is different when someone is emotionally disturbed and afraid to trust and love. The idea that she is trying to win in my mind an ungrateful, unhappy husband doesn’t do much for the tellability and power for me. It is still a good story, but it reminds me of some story a Baptist preacher would tell to try and get women to be subservient to their husbands.
Day’s version of “The Lion’s Whiskers,” I loved as far as reading it. It is expanded and has many details that make it more realistic and believable. If I had found this one earlier in my preparation, I might have adapted this version, but it still does not flow as well as Cabral’s and would require some alterations. Overall, Cabral’s is a simpler version that seems best suited for storytelling.