"The Pancake." In Told Under the Green Umbrella. Selected by the Literature Committee of the Association for Childhood Education. New York: MacMillan, 1930

Ethnic Origin: Norwegian

Running Time: 5 minutes

Power Center(s):

Pancake turns itself. Why? Itís humorous.

Pancake rolls out of the house. Why? Itís humorous.

Pancake eaten. Why? Itís humorous.


Mother (Goody Poody)

7 Children


Henny Penny

Ducky Wucky

Gander Pander

Piggy Wiggy






A mother is frying up a pancake. Her seven children vie for the first pancake by complimenting their mother. The pancake turns itself and tries to leave the pan. After being cooked on the other side, it is able to escape. The mother and the children run after it. As the pancake rolls along, many different animals want to eat it. Near the end Piggy Wiggy befriends the pancake by offering to keep it safe in the wood. Pancake and Piggy Wiggy reach a brook that Piggy Wiggy can easily cross. However, Pancake cannot cross the brook. Piggy Wiggy offers to take Pancake across on his snout. Then, he immediately gulps down the Pancake.

Rhymes/Special Phrases/"Flavor"

Bide a bit




Ouf Ouf

Good day, pancake

Twinkling of an eye

Goody Poody

Henny Penny

Ducky Wucky

Gander Pander

Piggy Wiggy


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

5 year olds

This age group is in Piagetís Preoperational Stage. During this stage, it is important for students to have repitition. Not only does this story provide repetition in itís plot, it is also repetition of a story that is familiar to them. Most of the children will be familiar with "The Gingerbread Boy." The variant, "The Pancake" is so similar in basic plot to "The Gingerbread Boy" that it should be comfortable. At the same time, the characters are different so it will be exciting and new. This story provides a great way for children to assimilate ideas into their existing framework ("The Gingerbread Boy").

Huck states that this age has rapid language development. This is a great time to tell a story using different character names than children are accustomed to hearing.

These children are in the Initiative vs Guilt stage of Ericksonís stages of development. One component of this is a tendency for imaginative play. The fun character names and the visualization of a pancake rolling away from people and animals are enough to spark this ageís imagination.

Source recommending this story/collection as good for storytelling?

Greene, Ellin. Storytelling Art and Technique. New Providence, New Jersey: R. R. Bowker, 1996.

This book recommends "The Gingerbread Boy" for this age group. Therefore, I inferred from this that a variant of the same story from another country would be good for this age group, especially for the older age range. Most likely children have heard, "The Gingerbread Boy," but it is unlikely five year olds have heard "The Pancake."

Also, it is included in:

Time for Fairy Tales Old and New. Compiled by Mary Hill Arbuthnot. Chicago: Scott, Foresman and Company, 1952.

The preface explains that the book is divided up by country. In each section, the simpler tales for young children are in the beginning. "The Pancake" is one of the first stories in the Scandinavian Folk Tales Section.

Bibliographic information on other versions/variants:

"The Pancake." Time for Fairy Tales Old and New. Compiled by Mary Hill Arbuthnot. Chicago: Scott, Foresman and Company, 1952.

"The Pancake." Nursery Tales Around the World. Selected and retold by Judy Sierra. New York: Clarion Books, 1996.


Gingerbread Boy (United States)

Johny Cake (England)

The Bun (Russian)


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

Arbuthnotís versionís word choice is slightly different than the others. Examples include, "bairds," "holla," "Goody Poody" and the repetition of the phrase " I may well slip through your Ö" This is completed according to who the Pancake is talking to in the story. For example, when Pancake is taunting Henny Penny he says feet. Another difference is the inclusion of a limping father in this version. He is referred to as the "Goodman." However, he is not an important part of the story. He is described as limping, but no explanation is given as to why he limps. I got the impression that the limping ailment was included in the story because a healthy man should never be outrun by a pancake. This version was the longest because it included the most characters wanting to catch and eat Pancake.

This version also had similiarities to the version I chose. They include some of the same names for characters "Henny Penny, Ducky Lucky, Goosey Poosey, Gander Pander, Piggy Wiggy, and Cocky Locky." Also, the Pig makes the sound "ouf ouf" and swallows the pancake in "one gulp" in both versions. Other common phrases in these two versions are "bide a bit" and "twinkling of an eye."

Sierraís selection seems to be Americanized. One can see this in diction such as "whoa," "good day pancake" and "stop awhile." Other differences are in plot. No father is included in this version. Also, the Pancake is swallowed in three bites, not one gulp. Only five characters other than the mother and seven children are included in this version. They are Manny Panny, Goosey Poosey, Henny Penny, Ducky Lucky, and Piggy Wiggy.

The version I chose to tell includes a father. Instead of limping he is on crutches. I have chosen not to include him in my retelling. Other characters in this version include Manny Panny, Henny Penny, Cocky Locky, Ducky Lucky, Goosey Poosey, Gander Pander, and Piggy Wiggy. I am not including all these characters in my retelling.

Similarities in all three versions include the description of the Pancake "bubbling and frizzlingí while it is frying. Word such as "brook" and "wood" are common to all these versions. Although some characters vary from version to version, there is always a mother and her seven children. All three versions end with a similar quote. "As the poor Pancake could go no farther, why this story can go no farther."

By Kerri Meeks