"Slow Train to Arkansas." in Terrapin’s Pot of Sense, Harold Courlander.

Ethnic Origin

US African American

Running Time

5-6 Minutes

Power Center

Tortoise tricking the rabbit (appearing places before the rabbit)


Tortoise and the rabbit


Tortoise and rabbit under the tree

Tortoise and rabbit at the mid point

Tortoise and rabbit at the creek

Tortoise and rabbit at the mid point

Tortoise and rabbit under the tree


Tortoise challenged rabbit to a race. Unknown to rabbit the tortoise has asked two friends to be at the mid-point and the creek to help him trick the rabbit. The rabbit reaches the midpoint and the creek where the tortoise challenges a race back to the tree. When the rabbit reaches the tree the tortoise is there waiting.


BAMM (sound effect)

I am here I beat you this far

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

Repetition in story, characters that are easy to remember and recognizable to the preschool age

Sources recommending it as good for storytelling?

Storytellers Sourcebook

Bibliographic information

Magic Horns: Folk Tales from Africa, "the hare and the tortoise", Retold by Forbes Stuart

The Ox of the Wonderful Horns and Other African FolkTales, "Tortoise, Hare and the Sweet Potatoes, by Ashley Bryan

Brief comparison of all versions/variants in terms of language, rhythm, tellability, flavor, content.

Bryan -- the language was simple and the tale was tellable, but wouldn’t be appropriate for preschool children.

Stuart – the story did not have a rhythm that would make it easy for telling. It was also longer than the other stories. It make work for a different teller and older audience.

Courlander – the language was simple. The tale was tellable and left room for me to make the story mine, through description and dialogue